20 December 2008

Christ Alone Is Lord of His Church

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
. . . and a word of encouragement for my friends at Grace Community Church, Jacksonville
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from "The First Sermon in the Tabernacle," a sermon delivered on Monday afternoon, March 25th, 1861, at the dedication of the then-new Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. He took the occasion to lament the growing tendency of secular courts and governments to meddle in church affairs, such as cases of church discipline, heresy trials, and other matters over which the state has no valid jurisdiction.

In this passage, Spurgeon puts his finger on what he saw as the gravest danger posed by the established church.

    fear there are times coming when the minister will not be true to his duty unless he goes further, and preaches Christ as the sole King of the Church.

There has been a disposition on the part of the state, especially with regard to the Free Church of Scotland, to exercise power and judgment over church decrees. No king, no queen that ever lived, or can live, has any authority whatever over the church of Christ. The church has none to govern and rule over her but her Lord and her King.

The church can suffer, but she cannot yield; you may break her confessors alive upon the wheel, but she, in her uprightness, will neither bend nor bow. From the sentence of our church there is no appeal whatever on earth. To the court of heaven a man may appeal if the sentence of the church be wrong, but to Caesar never. Neither the best nor the worst of kings or queens may ever dare to put their finger upon the prerogative of Christ as the head of the church.

Up, church of God! If once there be any laws of man passed to govern thee, up, dash them in pieces! Let us each catch up the war cry, and uplift the lion standard of the tribe of Judah; let us challenge the kings of the earth and say, "Who shall rouse him up?" The church is queen above all queens, and Christ her only King. None have jurisdiction or power in the church of Christ save Jesus Christ himself.

If any of our acts violate the civil laws, we are men and citizens, and we acknowledge the right of a state to govern us as individuals. None of us wish to be less subjects of the realm because we are kings and priests unto God. But as members of Christian churches we maintain that the excommunication of a Christian church can never be reversed by the civil power, or by any state act, nor are its censures to be examined, much less to be removed, mitigated, or even judged.

We must have, as Christ's church, a full recognition of His imperial rights, and the day will come when the state will not only tolerate us as a mere society, but admit that as we profess to be the church of Christ, we have a right by that very fact to be self-governing, and never to be interfered with in any sense whatever, so far as our ecclesiastical affairs are concerned.

Christ must be preached, then, and exalted in all these respects, or else we have not preached a full Christ.

C. H. Spurgeon


Chris said...

These words are absolutely beautiful for us to hear today, for they are entirely biblical, unapologetically truthful, and socially unacceptable! Oh, that the secular kings and queens of politics, academia, and media would see and hear a brave church declare to them, without flinching under politically-correct pressure, just how small and insignificant they really are before the True and Living God--the God before whom they will one day bow and recognize for who He truly is! How appropriate are such words for believers everywhere in 2008, particularly here in America! Methinks that what has happened to these dear brethren in Jacksonville is just the beginning--just the swelling of a very large wave on the horizon!

trogdor said...

Like many other Spurgeon posts, this leaves me in awe of two things: Spurgeon's faithfulness to preach the whole counsel of God such that nary a topic comes up which he didn't directly address, and Phil's ability to find the relevant passages so quickly.

W. Ian Hall said...

Great post. Thanks.

Stefan Ewing said...

"The church can suffer, but she cannot yield; you may break her confessors alive upon the wheel, but she, in her uprightness, will neither bend nor bow."

The church universal and invisible, certainly, and many believers within it; but we know that such a degree of persecution in the US or Canada would quickly separate the wheat from the chaff.

And I'd like to think I'd stand with the wheat; but do I know for certain that a desire to cling to comfort might not stir me up to deny Christ when the moment came, like Peter did? That's something to pray on.

donsands said...

"..might not stir me up to deny Christ when the moment came, like Peter did? That's something to pray on."

Yes, but Jesus' had prayed for Simon Peter. Peter was in the grip of the Good Shepherd, and even the Father, and no one can snatch His sheep away. We may stroll a bit off the path, and even deny the Lord three times, but when we behold His face as Peter did, then we will weep bitterly, those who are genuine sheep, who love Christ in Spirit and in truth.

Another superb word from Spurgeon. Thanks.

Stefan Ewing said...

Don: Thanks for your comment.

It's not that I feel particularly distant from God these days—nor do I doubt my own assurance of salvation, or the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain me through trials—but we see what weaknesses lurked in the hearts of even the likes of Abraham, Moses, David, and even Hezekiah. If these men, then so much more I.

But then, we have been bought with the blood of the only perfect Man who ever lived, praise God! The King of kings and Lord of lords.