02 January 2010

The Presence of God Is the Best Privilege of His Church

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The Following Excerpt is from "Jehovah-Shammah: A Glorious Name for the New Year," published 4 January 1891—about a year before Spurgeon's death.

f the Lord be among us, the consequences will be, first, the conservation of true doctrine. The true God is not with a lie: he will not give his countenance to falsehood. Those who preach other than according to his word, abide not under his blessing; but are in great danger of his curse. If any man speak another gospel (which is not another, but there be some that trouble us), God is not with him, and any transient prosperity which he may enjoy, will be blown away as the chaff. God is with those who speak the truth faithfully, hold it devoutly, believe it firmly, and live upon it as their daily bread. May it always, be said of this church, the Lord is there," and therefore they are sound in the faith, reverent towards Holy Scripture, and zealous for the honor of Christ! Trust-deeds and confessions of faith are useful in their way, even as laws are useful to society; but as laws cannot secure obedience to themselves, so articles of belief cannot create faith, or secure honesty; and to men without conscience, they are not worth the paper they are written upon. No subscription to articles can keep out the unscrupulous. Wolves leap into the fold however carefully you watch the door. The fact is, the most of people say, "Yes, that doctrine is in the creed, and is not to be denied; but you need not preach it. Put it on the shelf as an ornament, and let us hear no more about it." Truth must be written on the heart as well as in the book. If the Lord be among his people, they will cling to the eternal verities, and love the doctrine of the cross, not by force of law, but because divine truth is the life of their souls.

Where God is present, the preservation of purity will be found. The church is nothing if it is not holy. It is worse—it is a den of thieves. Setting the seal of its pestilent example upon evil living, it becomes the servant of Satan, and the destroyer of souls. Who is to keep the church pure? None but God himself. If the Lord is there, holiness will abound, and fruits of the Spirit will be seen on all sides; but if the Lord be once withdrawn, then flesh and blood will rule, and gender towards corruption, after its own manner; and the church will become a synagogue of formalists. Pray, my brethren, continually, that the Lord may dwell in our Zion, to maintain us in all holy obedience and purity of life.

Where God is, there is the constant renewal of vitality. A dead church is a reeking Golgotha, a breeding-place of evils, a home of devils. The tombs may be newly whitewashed, but they are none the less open sepulchres, haunts of unclean spirits. A church all alive is a little heaven, the resort of angels, the temple of the Holy Ghost. In some of our churches everybody seems to be a little colder than everybody else. The members are holy icicles. A general frost has paralyzed everybody; and though some are colder than others, yet all are below zero. There are no flowing rills of refreshment, but everything is bound hard and fast with the frost of indifference. Oh, that the Lord would send forth his wind, and melt the glaciers! Oh, that the Spirit of God would chase winter out of every heart and every church! No human power can keep a church from the frostbite which numbs and kills. Except the Lord be there, growth, life, warmth—are all impossible. Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, but cry day and night to him, O Lord, abide with us. Go forth with our armies. Make us to be the living children of the living God"!

When the Lord is there, next, there is continuing power. With God there is power in the ministry, power in prayer, power in all holy work. We may do a vast deal of work, and yet nothing may come of it; and, on the other hand, we may only be able to do comparatively little, and yet great results may flow therefrom: for results depend not on the quantity of the machinery, but on the presence of the Lord.

Do you not all know persons who are not peculiarly gifted, and yet are eminently useful? You do not remark anything about them that is specially noticeable, and yet their whole career enlists attention by its power. Their words tell, for there is character behind them. A consistent life gives force to a plain testimony. It is not so much what is said as who says it? But that is not all: God himself is at the back of the man who is living for him. He causes him to speak in his name, so that none of his words fall to the ground. Is it not said of the godly, "His leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper"? This is so with every church where the Lord abides. His presence makes it a power with its children and adherents, a power with the neighborhood, and a power with the age. Its example, its testimony, its effort tells. God uses it, and therefore it answers its end. The power is with God; but the church is the instrument by which that power exercises itself. He uses a living people for the display of living power, and he gives to them both life and power, more and more abundantly. As we desire power with which to labor for God, we must pray that the God of power will remain in our midst.

Furthermore, whenever it can be said of an assembly, "the Lord is there," unity will be created and fostered. Show me a church that quarrels, a church that is split up into cliques, a church that is divided with personal ambitions, contrary doctrines and opposing schemes, and I am sure that the Lord is not there. Where there are envyings, jealousies, suspicions, backbitings, and dislikes, I know that the Holy Dove, who hates confusion, has taken his flight. God is love, and he will only dwell where love reigns. He is the God of peace, and will not endure strife. The children of God should be knit together. It would indeed be a shameful sight should children of his family fall out, and chide, and fight Saints who dwell with God love each other "with a pure heart, fervently." Some professors act as if they hated each other: I may not say, "with a pure heart," but I will say, "fervently." Where God is present the church is edified in love, and grows up, like a building fitly framed together, to be a holy temple in the Lord. Oh, for more of this unity!

Where the Lord is there is sure to be happiness. What meetings we have when the Lord is here! It is a prayer-meeting; but when you have said that, you have not fully described it, for it is far more. It was an unusual meeting for prayer, for, God being there, every prayer was spoken into his ear, and all the desires and petitions of the saints were prompted by his Holy Spirit. Why, the very room was lit up with the glory of the Lord; and whether we were in heaven or not we could hardly tell. What happy times we have in preaching the word of the Lord, when God's own presence is realized! His paths drop fatness. What joyous seasons we have frequently enjoyed at the communion table! The provision is but bread and wine; but when, by faith, we perceive the real and spiritual presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the breaking of the bread we eat his flesh, and in the fruit of the vine we drink his blood. When we have gathered in the Lord's presence we have sung—

"No beams of cedar or of fir
Can with thy courts on earth compare;
And here we wait, until thy love
Raise us to nobler seats above."

At the Master's table I have often been so blest that I would not have exchanged places with Gabriel. The Lord was there: what more could I desire? Joy, delight, rapture, ecstasy—what word shall I use?—all these have waited around the table of fellowship, as musicians at a king's banquet. If God be there, our heaven is there.

C. H. Spurgeon


Philip C said...

"Salvation is Here and it lives in me". Just thank God that He is risen and He cleansed us from sin. So we can be where He is.

Stefan Ewing said...

What a marvellous and humbling description of a living church.

At our New Year's Eve service, members give testimonies of God's work in their lives over the past year: through personal difficulties, witnessing opportunities, verses that have been pressed upon their hearts.

It makes one tremble to step back and consider that this is evidence of the Holy Spirit at work among a community of believers: through thousands of individual acts in hundreds of individual lives, that all work together to a common purpose of building up the Kingdom of God for His glory.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Stefan Ewing said...

It also makes one tremble to be reminded that God is at work in our lives not so much for our own sakes (though that is a side benefit), but for the sake of serving in His church, and beyond that for the sake of His kingdom and His glory.

Unknown said...


(Feel free to delete this afterward because it is totally off topic.)

Quick question: What do you use to edit Pyromaniacs? Do you use the default Blogger web interface? I am just seeking further customization with my own Blogger blog and I am seeking to do some formatting things on my blog like you guys have here (non-underlined links, etc.). Direct me to your email if that is a better mode of communication.

Blogging for Christ's renown,
- Trevor

SamWise said...

"But as laws cannot secure obedience to themselves, so articles of belief cannot create faith, or secure honesty; and to men without conscience, they are not worth the paper they are written upon."

If this warning were applied to many "Bible" schools and seminaries, half of their faculties would be on the streets starting Emerging "communities" of faiths (with couches)! Opps...that's already happening!

Anonymous said...

"If the Lord be among us"...would we be so fixated upon new translations of the Bible in the English language?

DJP said...

That comment makes no sense.