Psalms 96:1 (KJV)
ALWAYS LOOK UP TO GOD!
Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, the woman replied. It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said ˜You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.
You won’t die! the serpent replied to the woman. God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.
The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. The she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. (Genesis 3:1-6)
Disguised as a shrewd serpent, Satan came to tempt Eve. Satan had once been a glorious angel, but he rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven. Satan tempted Eve by getting her to doubt God’s goodness. He implied that God was strict, stingy, and selfish for not wanting Eve to share his knowledge of good and evil. Satan made Eve forget all that God had given her and, instead, focus on what God had forbidden.
Satan succeeded in getting Eve to sin. Ever since then, he’s been busy getting people to sin. He even tempted Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11). But Jesus did not sin! Why does Satan tempt humanity? Temptation is Satan’s invitation to adopt his kind of life and give up on God’s kind of life. But Satan is a created being and has definite limitations; he will not be the final victor. God will.
How could Eve have resisted temptation? By following the same guidelines we can follow. First, we must realize that being tempted is not a sin. We have not sinned until we give in to the temptation. Then, to resist temptation, we must (1) pray for strength to resist, (2) run, sometimes literally, and (3) say no when confronted with what we know is wrong.
Like Eve, we fall into trouble when we dwell on what God forbids rather than on the blessings and promises God gives us. Take time to consider all you do have and thank God for it. Then your doubts won’t lead you into sin.
15Â â€œI am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2Â He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3Â You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Â Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5Â â€œI am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.6Â If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7Â If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8Â This is to my Fatherâ€™s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9Â â€œAs the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10Â If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Fatherâ€™s commands and remain in his love. 11Â I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12Â My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Â Greater love has no one than this: to lay down oneâ€™s life for oneâ€™s friends. 14Â You are my friends if you do what I command. 15Â I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his masterâ€™s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16Â You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruitâ€”fruit that will lastâ€”and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17Â This is my command: Love each other.
18Â â€œIf the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19Â If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Â Remember what I told you: â€˜A servant is not greater than his master.â€™ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21Â They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22Â If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.23Â Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24Â If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25Â But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: â€˜They hated me without reason.â€™
26Â â€œWhen the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Fatherâ€”the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Fatherâ€”he will testify about me. 27Â And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 1
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THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT—JOY
DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, FEBRUARY 6, 1881,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is joy.”
OBSERVE, “the fruit of the Spirit,” for the product of the Spirit of God is one. As some fruits are easily divisible
into several parts, so you perceive that the fruit of the Spirit, though it is but one, is threefold, no, it makes three times
three—“love, joy, peace; longsuffering, gentleness, goodness; faith, meekness, temperance”—all one! Perhaps “love” is
put first not only because it is a right royal virtue, nearest akin to the Divine perfection, but because it is a comprehensive
Grace and contains all the others. All the commandments are fulfilled in one word and that word is “love.” And all the
fruits of the Spirit are contained in that one most sweet, most blessed, most heavenly, most God-like Grace of love. See
that you abound in love to the great Father and all His family, for if you fail in the first point, how can you succeed in
the second? Above all things, put on love, which is the bond of perfectness.
As for joy, if it is not the first product of the Spirit of God, it is next to the first, and we may be sure that the order in
which it is placed by the Inspired Apostle is meant to be instructive. The fruit of the Spirit is love, first, as comprehensive
of the rest—then joy rising out of it. It is remarkable that joy should take so eminent a place! It attains unto the first
three and is but one place lower than the first. Look at it in its high position and if you have missed it, or if you have depreciated it, revise your judgment and endeavor with all your heart to attain to it, for depend upon it—this fruit of the
Spirit is of the utmost value!
This morning, as I can only speak upon one theme, I leave love for another occasion and treat only of joy. May its
Divine Author, the Holy Spirit, teach us how to speak of it to our profit and His Glory! It is quite true that the Spirit of
God produces sorrow, for one of His first effects upon the soul is holy grief. He enlightens us as to our lost condition,
convicting us of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. And the first result upon our heart is astonishment and lamentation. Even when we look to Christ, by the work of the Spirit one of the first fruits is sorrow—“They shall look on Him
whom they have pierced and they shall mourn for Him, and be in bitterness for Him as one that is in bitterness for his
But this sorrow is not the ultimate objective of the Spirit’s work—it is a means to an end. Even as the travail of the
mother leads up to the joy of birth, so do the pangs of repentance lead up to the joy of pardon and acceptance. The sorrow is, to use a Scriptural figure, the blade, but the full corn in the ear is joy. Sorrow helps the fruit on, but the fruit,
itself, is joy. The tears of godly grief for sin are all meant to sparkle into the diamonds of joy in pardoning love. This
teaches us, then, that we are not to look upon bondage as being the objective of the work of the Spirit of God, or the design of the Lord in a work of Grace. Many are under bondage to the Law—they attempt to keep the commands of
God—not out of love, but from slavish fear. They dread the lash of punishment and tremble like slaves. But to Believers
it is said, “You are not under the Law, but under Grace” and, “You have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear;
but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
To be in bondage under the Law, to be afraid of being cast away by God and visited with destruction on account of
sin after we have trusted in Jesus—this is not the work of the Spirit of God in Believers, but the black offspring of unbelief or ignorance of the Grace of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord! Neither is a painful dread or a servile terror a
fruit of the Spirit. Many worship the Lord Jesus, Himself, at a distance—they know not that Believers are “a people near
unto Him.” They are afraid of God and they never delight in Him. They attend to worship, not because they rejoice in it,
but because they think it must be done. Their secret feeling is—“What a weariness it is,” but necessity compels. They
know nothing of a child’s joy in sure and full forgiveness, spoken by the Father’s own lips as He pressed them to His
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His kiss was never warm upon their cheek. The ring was never on their finger, nor the best robe upon their shoulders. The music and the dancing of the joyous family who are in harmony with the father’s joy over the lost son have
never charmed their ears. They are still under dread, which is the fruit of superstition rather than “the fruit of the
Spirit.” Many things they do and suffer and all in vain—if the Son did but make them free, they would be free, indeed! I
know some whom I am very far from despising, but whom, on the contrary, I greatly value, whose religion, sincere as I
know it is, is sadly tinged with gloomy colors. They are afraid of Assurance, for they dread presumption! They dare not
speak of their own salvation with the certainty with which the Bible saints were known to speak of it—they always say,
“I hope,” and, “I trust.”
They would seem to be total abstainers from joy! They are suspicious of it lest it should be carnal excitement or visionary hope. They hang their heads like bulrushes and go mourning all their days as if the religion of Christ knew no
higher festival than a funeral and all its robes were the garments of despair! Brothers and Sisters, despondency is not the
fruit of the Spirit! Make no mistake, depression is frequently the fruit of indigestion, or of satanic temptation, or of unbelief, or of some harbored sin, but, “the fruit of the Spirit is joy.” Constantly looking within your own self instead of
looking alone to Christ is enough to breed misery in any heart.
I have also known gloomy expressions to be the fruit of affectation, the fruit of the unwise imitation of some undoubtedly good person who was of a downcast spirit. Some of the best of men have had a melancholy turn, but they
would have been better men if this had been overcome. Imitate their many virtues—but take the pot of ointment and pick
out the dead flies. O my Brethren, look well to it that you bring forth the genuine, holy, sacred, delicious fruit of the
Spirit which, in one of its forms, is “joy.” Do not covet the counterfeit of earthly joy, but seek to the good Spirit to bear
the true fruit in you.
I. In speaking upon this joy I shall notice, first, the fact that IT IS BROUGHT FORTH. Brothers and Sisters, the
Spirit of God is not barren! If He is in you, He must and will inevitably produce His own legitimate fruit—and “the fruit
of the Spirit is joy.” We know this to be a fact because we, ourselves, are witnesses of it. Joy is our portion and we are
cheered and comforted in the Savior. “What?” you ask, “are we not depressed and sorrowful at times?” Yea, verily, and
yet what Christian man or woman among us would make an exchange with the happiest of all worldlings? Your lot is
somewhat hard, my Brother, and sometimes your spirit sinks within you. But do you not count yourself to be, even at
your worst, happier than the worldling at his best? Come, would you not take your poverty, even with your mourning,
rather than accept his wealth with all his hilarity and give up your hope in God?
I am persuaded you would—you would not change your blest estate for a monarch’s crown! Well, then, that which
you would not change is a good thing and full of joy to your heart. Brothers and Sisters, we experience extraordinary
joys at times. Some are of an equable temperament and they are almost to be envied, for a stream of gentle joy always
glides through their spirit. Others of us are of a more excitable character and, consequently, we fall very flat at times.
Yes, but then we have our high days and holidays and mounting times—and then we outsoar the wings of eagles! Heaven
itself can hardly know more ecstatic joy than we have occasionally felt! We shall be vessels of greater capacity in Heaven,
but even here we are, at times, full to the brim with joy—I mean the same joy which makes Heaven so glad.
At times God is pleased to inundate the spirit with a flood of joy and we are witnesses that, “happy is the people
whose God is the Lord.” We do not dance before the Ark every day, but when we do, our joy is such as no worldling can
understand—it is far above and out of his sight. Besides our own witness, the whole history of the Church goes to show
that God’s people are a joyful people. I am sure that if in reading the history of the first Christian centuries you are asked
to point out the men to be envied for their joy, you would point to the Believers in Jesus. There is a room in Rome which
is filled with the busts of the emperors. I have looked at their heads—they look like a collection of prizefighters and murderers—and I could scarcely discover on any countenance a trace of joy.
Brutal passions and cruel thoughts deprived the lords of Rome of all chance of joy. There were honorable exceptions
to their rule, but taking them all round you would look in vain for moral excellence among the Caesars. And lacking this
thing of beauty, they missed that which is a joy. Turn, now, to the poor, hunted Christians and read the inscriptions left
by them in the catacombs! They are so calm and peaceful that you say instinctively—a joyous people were known to
gather here! Those who have been most eminent in service and in suffering for Christ’s sake have been of a triumphant
spirit, dauntless because supported by an inner joy! Their calm courage made them the wonder of the age. The true Chris-
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tian is a different type of manhood from the self-indulgent tyrant. There is almost as much advance from the coarseness of
vice to holiness as there is from the chimpanzee to the man!
I do not know how much Tiberius and Caligula and Nero used to sing. Happy men they certainly were not. I can
hardly imagine them singing except at their drunken orgies and then in the same tone as tigers growl! But I do know that
Paul and Silas sang praises unto God with their feet in the stocks and the prisoners heard them! And I know, also, that
this was the mark of the Christians of the first age, that, when they assembled on the Lord’s Day, it was not to groan but
to sing praises to the name of one Christos, whom they worshipped as God. High joys were common, then, when the
Bridegroom comforted His bride in the dens and caves of the earth. Those pioneers of our holy faith were destitute, afflicted, tormented—yet were they men of whom the world was not worthy—and men who counted it all joy to suffer
persecution for Christ’s sake.
Now, if in the very worst times God’s people have been a happy people, I am sure they are so now. I would appeal to
the biographies of men of our own day and challenge any question as to the statement that their lives have been among
the most desirable of human existences for they possessed a joy which cheered their sorrows, blessed their labors, sweetened their trials and sustained them in the hour of death. With some Christians, this fruit of the Spirit is perpetual, or
almost so. I do not doubt that many walk with God as Enoch did throughout the whole day of their life, always peaceful
and joyful in the Lord. I have met with some dear Brothers and Sisters of that kind, whose breath has been praise, whose
life has been song! How I envy them and chide my own heart that I cannot always abide in their choice condition! It is to
be accomplished and we will press forward till we are “always rejoicing.”
But with others, joy is not constant and yet it is frequent. David had his mourning times when tears were his meat,
day and night, and yet God was his exceeding joy. How thankful we ought to be for the portrait of David’s inner self
which is presented to us in the Book of Psalms. With all his grief, what joys he had! David was, on the whole, a joyous
man. His Book of Psalms has in it lyrics of delight—the most glad hymns that ever leaped from human tongues! David
is, I believe, the type of a great majority of the people of God who, if not, “always rejoicing,” are yet often so. Please remember that the utmost fullness of joy can hardly be enjoyed always in this mortal life. I believe that the human frame is
not, in this world, capable of perpetual ecstasy.
Look at the sun, but look not too long lest you are blinded by excessive light. Taste of honey, but eat not much of it
or it will no longer please the palate. Let your ears be charmed with the Hallelujah chorus, but do not dream that you
could endure its harmonies all the hours of the day—before long you would cry out for eloquent pauses and sweet reliefs
of silence! Too much, even, of delight will weary our feeble hearts and we shall need to come down from the mountain.
Our bodies require a portion of sleep and that which is inevitable to the flesh has its likeness in the spirit—it must be
quiet and still. I believe it is inevitable, also, more or less, that the loftiest joy should be balanced by a sinking of heart. I
do not say that depression is certain to follow delight, but usually some kind of faintness comes over the finite spirit after
it has been lifted up into communion with the Infinite.
Do not, therefore, set too much store by your own feelings as evidences of Divine Grace. “The fruit of the Spirit is
joy,” but you may not, at this moment, be conscious of joy. Trees are not always bearing fruit and yet “their substance is
in them when they lose their leaves.” Some young people say, “Oh, we know we are saved because we are so happy.” It is
by no means a sure evidence, for joy may be carnal, unfounded, unspiritual. Certain Christians are afraid that they cannot be in a saved state because they are not joyous, but we are saved by faith and not by joy! I was struck with the remark
of Ebenezer Erskine when he was dying and someone said to him, “I hope you have, now and then, a blink to bear up
your spirit under affliction.” He promptly replied, “I know more of words than of blinks,” that is to say he had rather
trust a promise of God than his own glimpses of Heaven! And so would I.
The Word of God is a more sure testimony to the soul than all the raptures a man can feel! I would sooner walk in
the dark and hold hard to a promise of my God than trust in the light of the brightest day that ever dawned!. Precious as
the fruit is, do not put the fruit where the root should be. Please remember that joy is not the root of Grace in the soul—
it is the fruit and must not be put out of its proper position. “The fruit of the Spirit is joy” and it is brought forth in Believers, but not alike in all. But to all Believers there is a measure of joy.
II. Secondly, THIS JOY IS OF A SINGULAR CHARACTER. It is singular for this reason, that it often ripens under
the most remarkable circumstances. As I have already said, the highest joy of Christians has often been experienced in 4 The Fruit of the Spirit—Joy Sermon #1582
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their times of greatest distress. Tried Believers have been happy when smarting under pain, or wasting away with disease.
Sick beds have been thrones to many saints—they have almost feared to come out of the furnace because the Presence of
the Lord in the midst of the fire has made it none other than the gate of Heaven to their souls! Saints in poverty have been
made exceedingly rich and when they have eaten a dry crust they have found a flavor in it which they never discovered in
the dainties of their abundance.
Many children of God, even when driven away from the outward means of Grace, have, nevertheless, enjoyed such
visits of God, such inlets of Divine Love, that they have wondered from where such joy could come! In the wilderness,
waters leap forth as do streams in the desert. Believers are not dependent upon circumstances. Their joy comes not from
what they have, but from what they are—not from where they are, but from Whose they are—not from what they enjoy,
but from that which was suffered for them by their Lord. It is a singular joy, then, because it often buds, blossoms and
ripens in winter time and when the fig tree does not blossom and there is no herd in the stall. God’s Habakkuks rejoice in
the God of their salvation!
It is a singular joy, too, because it is quite consistent with spiritual conflict. He that is an heir of Heaven may cry, “O
wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” And yet, before the sigh is over, he may sing,
“I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing! Straggling, yet always victorious! Cast
down, but not destroyed! Persecuted, but not forsaken! Troubled and yet, all the while triumphant! Such is the mingled
experience of the saints. Oh, this is the wondrous Grace, this joy which can live side by side with conflict of the sorest
sort. This joy is special because at times it is altogether beyond description. One who was of a sober disposition called it
“joy unspeakable and full of glory.” “Full of glory!”
That is a wonderful expression! A drop of glory is sweet, but, oh, to taste a joy that is full of glory—is that possible
here? Yes and some of us bear witness that it is so—we have felt joy that we dare not tell and could not tell if we dared—
men would turn and tear us apart, condemning us as utterly fanatical or out of our minds if we were to cast these pearls
before them! But, oh, if they could guess what delicious drafts are held within the jeweled chalice of Divine Communion
with our Master, they would be ready to wade through Hell, itself, to drink from them! Our joy is altogether unspeakable joy at times.
One more singularity there is in it, for it is all the while solid, thoughtful, rational joy. The joy of the ungodly is like
the crackling of thorns under a pot—noisy and flashy—but soon over. The ungodly man feels merry, but really, if you
come to look into his mirth, there is nothing in it but flame without fuel, sparkle without solidity. But the Christian’s
joy is such that he has as much reason for it as if it were a deduction from mathematics. He has as just a right to be joyful
as he has to eat his own bread! He is certain of his pardon, for God has told him that a Believer in Christ is not condemned! And he is sure of his acceptance, for he is justified by faith. He knows that he is secure, for Christ has given him
eternal life and said that His sheep shall never perish! He is happy, not for causes at which he guesses, but by Infallible
reasons plainly revealed in God’s Word! This makes Him joyful in the Lord when others wonder that he is so, for he perceives arguments for happiness which are unknown to the thoughtless crowd.
That word, “joyful,” is a very sweet and clear one. “Happiness” is a very dainty word, but yet it is somewhat insecure because it begins with a “hap,” and seems to depend on a chance which may happen to the soul. We say “happy-golucky,” and that is very much the world’s happiness—it is a kind of thing that may hap and may not hap—but there is
no hap in the fruit of the Spirit which is joy! When we are joyful, or full of joy, and that of the best kind, we are favored,
indeed! No man takes this joy from us and a stranger meddles not with it—it is a celestial fruit and earth cannot produce
III. Thirdly, I would now refresh your memories and by the help of the Spirit of God bring back former joys to
you—THIS JOY IS EXPERIENCED BY THE CHRISTIAN UNDER VARIOUS FORMS. Sometimes he experiences it
in hearing the Word of God—it is written concerning Samaria there was great joy in that city because Philip went down
and preached the Gospel to them. Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound! However, joy of hearing lies in believing what you hear. We get joy and peace in believing. When you get a grip of the Word of God—when the glad tidings becomes a message to your own soul and the Spirit speaks it to your own heart, then you say, “Go on, man of God!
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The reason why people grumble at long sermons is often because they do not feed on them. Very seldom the hungry
man murmurs at having too big a meal. It is a delightful thing to hear the Word faithfully preached. Have you not sometimes exclaimed, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings glad tidings”? That is one occasion
of joy. But what joy there is, dear Friends, in the salvation of God when we heartily receive it! Oh, how we bless the God
of our salvation and how we praise Him that He has saved us from our sins and from the wrath to come by giving us everlasting consolation and good hope through Grace, by the sacrifice of His dear Son!
Frequently we revel in the privileges of the Covenant. The joy of my heart, when I think of the doctrine of Election,
is quite inexpressible. That hymn which begins—
“In songs of sublime adoration and praise,
You pilgrims to Zion who press,
Break forth and extol the great Ancient of Days
His rich and distinguishing Grace,”
is often with me and makes my heart merry. Then the doctrine of Redemption, of which I tried to speak last Lord’s Day
[Silver Sockets—Redemption the Foundation, Volume 27, Sermon #1581] how joyous it is! What bliss to know that the
Redeemer lives! “Unto you that believe He is precious” and a fullness of joy flows forth at every remembrance of Him.
Then that doctrine of Justification is the marrow of joy! Oh, to think that we are just in the sight of God through Jesus
All the Doctrines of Grace, especially that of Final Perseverance, are joyful Truths of God! I declare that if you take
Final Perseverance from me, you have robbed the Bible of one of its crowning attractions! Jesus has not given us a transient salvation, but His salvation shall be forever! I will quote again those matchless words of His—“I give unto My
sheep eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hand.” Honey flows here as in the
woods of Jonathan! Put it to your mouth and your eyes shall be enlightened! The joy of God’s people, when they can get
half-an-hour alone and sit down and crack a dish of those nuts called the Doctrines of Grace, is such as philosophical
worldlings might well desire! But the modern gospel has no such wines on the lees well-refined.
But, Brothers and Sisters, our most grand joy is in God Himself! Paul says, “and not only so, but we joy in God
through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Oh, to think of the great Father! What a melting of spirit comes over the child of God if
at midnight he looks up at the stars and considers the Heavens and cries, “What is man, that You are mindful of him?”
To think that He is not only mindful of us, but that He has taken us to be His sons and daughters! To feel the Spirit
within our heart crying, “Abba, Father! Abba, Father!” Oh, this is joy in the most profound sense! How sweet to think
of Jesus Christ the Son, the glorious Incarnate God, the Surety, the Satisfaction, the Representative, the All in All of His
people! We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Nor do we miss the joy of the Spirit when we know that He dwells in us. He sanctifies us, comforts us and guides us in
the road to Heaven. Oh Brothers and Sisters, this is a sea of bliss, the infinite deeps of the eternal godhead! Leap from all
your miseries into this sea of Glory! Plunge into the joy of your Lord! This being so, we have a joy in all God’s ordinances—“with joy do we draw water out of the wells of salvation.” What a joy prayer is—I hope you find it so. The
Lord has said, “I will make them joyful in My house of prayer.” And what a joy it is to get answers to our petitions, even
as our Lord says, “Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.” Has not your joy been full till your eyes have
been dim with tears and you have not hardly dared to tell how wondrously God has answered you? The Mercy Seat is lit
up with joy.
What a joyous ordinance is that of praise! We come up to the sanctuary and bring our offering to God and present
Him our oblation, just as the Jew of old brought his bullock or his lamb—and we joyfully present our gift unto the Most
High. Then we begin to sing His praises and our joy is the chief musician upon our stringed instruments. How our spirits
rise as we adore the Lord! The amount of happiness felt in this Tabernacle when we have been singing unto the Lord, can
never be measured! For my own part, I have seemed to stand just outside the wall of the New Jerusalem joining in the
hymns which are sung within the gates of the Eternal City! One joy note has helped another and the volume of sound has
affected every part of our being and stirred us up to vehemence of joy!
And oh, what joy there is in coming to the Lord’s Table! May we experience it tonight, as we have often done before.
The Lord is known to us in the breaking of bread and that knowledge is blissful. But I have scarcely begun the list, for we
have a great joy in the salvation of other people! Perhaps one of the choicest delights we know is when we partake in the
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joy of the good Shepherd over His lost sheep when He calls us together, for we, also, are His friends and His neighbors.
And He bids us rejoice that He has found the sheep which was lost! Especially do we joy and rejoice if the poor wanderer
has been brought back by our means. The jewels of an emperor are nothing compared with the riches we possess in winning a soul for Christ! “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” The joy of harvest is great, the joy of the man who
comes again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Do you know this joy, Brothers and Sisters? If you do not, awaken yourselves and may this sweet fruit of the Spirit
yet be yours. Oh, the joy of seeing Christ exalted! John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” He
called himself the Bridegroom’s friend, and rejoiced greatly in the Bridegroom’s joy. We can sympathize with him when
we can bring about a marriage between Christ and any poor soul—and help to put the ring on the finger. The joy we feel
is of the purest and loveliest order, for it is unselfish and refined. Let Jesus be exalted and we ask no more! If He reigns,
we reign! If He is lifted up, our hearts are more than satisfied! Brethren, if we ever become perfect in heart, we shall joy in
all the Divine will, whatever it may bring us.
I am trying, if I can, to find a joy in rheumatism, but I cannot get up to it yet. I have found a joy when it is over—I
can reach that length—and I can and do bless God for any good result that may come of it. But when the pain is on me, it
is difficult to be joyous about it and so I conclude that my sanctification is incomplete and my conformity to the Divine
will is sadly imperfect. Oh, the splendor of God’s will! If a man were as he ought to be, God’s will would charm him and
he would not wish for the smallest change in it! Poverty, sickness, bereavement, death—all are to be rejoiced in when our
will is merged in the will of God!
What? Would you alter God’s infinitely wise appointment? Would you wish to change the purpose of unerring
Love? Then you are not wholly reconciled to God, for when the head gets quite right the heart climbs where Paul was
when he said, “We glory in tribulations, also, knowing that tribulation works patience, and patience experience.” It
needs a Samson to kill the lion of affliction and you cannot get honey out of it until it is conquered. But we might all be
Samsons if we would but lay hold on the strength of God by faith! Dear Brothers and Sisters, the list of joys which I am
even now only commencing, contains the joy of an easy conscience, the joy of feeling you have done right before God, the
joy of knowing that your objective, though misunderstood and misrepresented, was God’s Glory! This is a jewel to wear
on one’s breast—a quiet conscience.
Then there is the joy of communion with Christ, the joy of fellowship with His saints, the joy of drinking deep into
Christ’s spirit of self-sacrifice. There, too, is the joy of expecting His glorious Advent when He and His saints shall reign
upon the earth and the joy of being with Him forever! The joy of Heaven, the joy of which we have been singing just now.
These joys are countless, but I will pause here and leave you to make a fuller catalog when you are at home. May the Holy
Spirit not only refresh your memories concerning old joys, but bring forth out of His treasury new delights that your joy
may be full!
IV. I must notice, in the fourth place, that THIS FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT MAY BE CHECKED IN ITS GROWTH.
Some of you may have muttered while I have been speaking of this joy, “I do not know much about it.” Perhaps not,
friend—shall I tell you why? Some people are too full of the joy of the world, the joy of getting on in business, the joy of a
large family, the joy of health, the joy of wealth, the joy of human love, or the joy which comes of the pride of life. These
joys may be your idols and you know the joy of the Lord will not stand side by side with an idolatrous delight in the
things of this world! See to that. Dagon must fall if the Ark of the Lord is present—the world must lose its charms if you
are to joy in Christ Jesus.
Our joy is sadly diminished by our unbelief. If you will not believe, neither shall you be established. Ignorance will
do the same to a very large extent. Many a Christian has a thousand reasons for joy which he knows nothing of. Study the
Word and ask for the teaching of the Spirit of God that you may understand it and so shall you discover wells of delight!
Joy is diminished, also, by walking at a distance from God. If you get away from the fire, you will grow cold—the warmest place is right in front of it and the warmest place for a believing heart is close to Christ in daily fellowship with Him.
It may be that indulged in sin is spoiling our joy. “This little hand of mine,” as Mr. Whitfield once said, “can cover up
the sun as far as my eyes are concerned.”
You have only to lift a naughty, rebellions hand and you can shut out the light of God, Himself—any known sin will
do it. Trifling with sin will prove a killjoy to the heart. I believe that many lose the joy of the Lord because they do not Sermon #1582 The Fruit of the Spirit—Joy 7
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put it in the right place. See where it lives. Look at my text—“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy and peace.” There joy
stands in the center—“love” is on one side and “peace” on the other! Find a man who never loved anybody and you have
found a joyless man. This man’s religion begins and ends with looking to his own safety. The only point he longs to know
is—is he saved? He never knows joy, poor creature, how can he? As to peace, where is it? He has none because wherever
he goes he growls, grumbles, snarls and barks at everybody. There is no peace where he is! He is always quarrelling and
then he says, “I have little joy.”
He does not live in the right house for joy! Joy dwells at No. 2. “Love” is No. 1—“joy” is No. 2—“peace” is No. 3
and if you pull down either of the houses on the side, No. 2, in the middle, will tumble down! Joy is the center of a triplet
and you must have it so or not at all—“Love, joy, peace.” Thus I have shown how the growth of joy can be checked. I
pray you do not allow such an evil thing to be worked in your heart.
V. But, lastly, IT OUGHT TO BE CAREFULLY CULTIVATED. There is an obligation upon a Christian to be
happy. Let me say it again—there is a responsibility laid upon a Christian to be cheerful! It is not merely an invitation,
but it is a command—“Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous.” “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say,
Rejoice.” Gloomy Christians who do not resist despondency and strive against it, but who go about as if midnight had
taken up its abode in their eyes and an everlasting frost had settled on their souls are not obeying the commands of God!
The command to rejoice is as undoubted a precept of God as to love the Lord with all your heart. The vows of God are
upon you, O Believer, and they bind you to be joyful!
In this joyfulness you shall find many great advantages. First, it is a great advantage, in itself, to be happy. Who
would not rejoice if he could? Who would not rejoice when God commands him? Rejoicing will nerve you for life’s duties. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” A man who goes about Christ’s work in an unwilling, miserable spirit will
do it badly and feebly. He may do it earnestly, but there will be no life or energy about him. Hear how the sailors, when
they pull the rope, will shout and sing and work all the better for their cheery notes! I do not believe our soldiers would
march to battle with half their present courage if they tramped along in silence. Beat the drums! Let the trumpet sound
forth its martial note! Every man is eager for the fray while soul-stirring music excites him. Let your heart make music
unto God and you will fight valiantly for the Kingdom of your Lord.
Holy joy will also be a great preventive. The man who feels the joy of the Lord will not covet worldly joy. He will
not be tempted to make a God of his possessions or of his talents, or of anything else. He will say, “I have joy in God.
These things I am very thankful for, but they are not my joy.” He will not crave the aesthetic in worship, for his joy will
be in God and His Truth—not in external forms. Some people’s idea of joy in religion lies in fine singing, charming music, pretty dresses, splendid architecture, or showy eloquence. They need this because they do not know the secret joy of
the Lord, for when that holy passion reigns within, you may sit inside four whitewashed walls and not hear a soul speak
for a whole hour and a half and yet you may have as intense a joy as if you listened to the most earnest oratory or the
“Joy in God is suitable to our condition!
Why should the children of a king
Go mourning all their days?”
What are we doing now, some of us? We have been hanging our harps on the willows—let us take them down—the
willow limbs will bend! Thank God we did not break the harps, though we did hang them there. Let us get into our right
position—children of the happy God should, themselves, be happy. Joy is certainly the best preparation for the future.
We are going where, if we learn to groan ever so deeply, our education will be lost, for melancholy utterances are unknown up there! We are going where, if we learn to sing with sacred joy, our education will be useful, for the first thing
we shall hear when we get into Heaven will undoubtedly be, “Hallelujah to God and the Lamb!” And if we have been
joyful on earth we shall say, “Ah, I am at home here!”
To enter Heaven with a joyful soul is only to rise from downstairs to the upper chamber where the music knows no
discord. It is the same song in both places, “Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His blood.” Joy in
the Lord will be very helpful to you as to usefulness. I am sure a Christian man’s usefulness is abridged by dreariness of
spirit. What nice Sunday school teachers some Christians I know of would make! “Come you children, hearken unto me, I
will teach you the miseries of religion!” And the dear Brother begins by telling the children about the Slough of De-8 The Fruit of the Spirit—Joy Sermon #1582
8 http://www.spurgeongems.org Volume 27
spond, Giant Despair and the Valley of the Shadow of Death! He wonders, when he gets home, that the dear children are
not attracted to the ways of godliness! Are they likely to be? A member of a Church who has no joy of the Lord is little
likely to encourage or influence others—they edge away from him.
Even those who try to comfort him find it is to no purpose and so they give him a wide berth. You hear him stand up
to address an assembly of Believers, to tell his experience, and after a very little of it you feel you have had enough. Those
who drink wine will tell you that half a dozen drops of vinegar are more than they need in a glass of wine and those who
carry the cruet about wherever they go are not choice company! I do not find fault with gloomy souls, but they might be
more useful if they could live more in the sunlight! The joy of the Lord is the most injurious to Satan’s empire of anything. I am of the same mind as Luther, who, when he heard any very bad news, used to say, “Come, let us sing a Psalm
and spite the devil.”
There is nothing like it! Whenever anything happens that is rough and ugly and seems to injure the Kingdom of
Christ, say to yourself, “Bless the Lord, glory be to His name.” If the Lord has been dishonored by the falling away of a
false professor, or the failure of the ministry in any place, let us give Him all the more honor, ourselves, and in some
measure make up for all that has happened amiss. And, lastly, holy joy is very pleasing to God. God delights in the joy of
His creatures. He made them to be happy! His first and original design in the creation of all beings is His own Glory in
their happiness. When His people rejoice He rejoices.
Some of you spent Christmas day in the bosom of your families. Possibly you have a large family—10 or 12 were at
home on that day, with a grandchild or two. I will tell you what was your greatest joy on that day—it was to see the
happiness of your children and to mark how they enjoyed what you had provided for them. They are only little children,
some of them, creeping about on the floor, but they pleased you because they were so pleased themselves! The joy of a
little child delights your heart to hear it, for it gives us joy to behold joy in those we love. Suppose your sons and daughters had all come marching in on Christmas day in a very gloomy state of mind—cold, loveless, joyless—suppose that
they did not enjoy anything, but grumbled at you and at one another? You would be quite sad and wish the day to be
soon over and never come again for the next seven years!
Thus in a figure we see that our heavenly Father delights in the delight of His children and is glad to see them grateful and happy and acting as children should do towards such a Parent! Now, Brothers and Sisters, rise as one man and
“Then let our songs abound,
And every tear be dry!
We’re marching thro’
To fairer worlds on high.”
Adapted from The C. H. Spurgeon Collection, Ages Software, 1.800.297.4307
7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”—2Corinthians 5:10.
HIS MORNING WE preached concerning the resurrection of the dead, and it seems consistent with order to carry forward our thoughts this evening, to that which follows immediately after the resurrection, namely: THE GENERAL JUDGMENT; for the dead rise on purpose that they may be judged in their bodies. The Resurrection is the immediate prelude to the Judgment. There is no need that I try to prove to you from Scripture that there will be a general judgment, for the Word of God abounds with proof-passages. You have them in the Old Testament. You find David anticipating that great assize in the Psalms (especially in such as the forty-ninth and fiftieth, the ninety-sixth Psalm, and the three that follow it), FOR MOST ASSUREDLY THE LORD COMETH: HE COMETH TO JUDGE THE EARTH IN RIGHTEOUSNESS. Very solemnly and very tenderly does Solomon in the Ecclesiastes warn the young man, that, let him rejoice as he may and cheer his heart in the days of his youth, for all these things God will bring him into judgment; for God will judge every secret thing. Daniel in the night visions beholds the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven, and drawing near to the Ancient of Days; then he sits upon the throne of judgment AND THE NATIONS ARE GATHERED BEFORE HIM. It was no new doctrine to the Jews; it was received and accepted by them as a most certain fact that there would be a day in which God would judge the earth in righteousness. The New Testament is very express. The twenty-fifth of Matthew, which we read to you just now, contains language, which could not possibly be more clear and definite, from the lips of the Saviour himself. He is the faithful witness, and cannot lie. You are told that before him will be gathered ALL NATIONS, and he shall divide them the one from the other, as the shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats. Other passages there are in abundance, as, for instance, the one that is now before us, which is plain enough. Another we might quote is in the second epistle to the Thessalonians, the first chapter, from the seventh to the tenth verse. Let Us read it, ” And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” The book of the Revelation is very graphic in its depicting that last general judgment. Turn to the twentieth chapter, at the eleventh and twelfth verses. The seer of Patmos says, ” And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Time would fail me to refer you to all the Scriptures. It is asserted over and over again by the Holy Spirit, whose Word is truth, that THERE WILL BE A JUDGMENT OF THE QUICK AND OF THE DEAD.
Beside that direct testimony, it should be remembered there is a convincing argument that so it must needs be, from the very fact that God is just as the Ruler over men. In all human governments there must he an assize held. Government cannot be conducted without its days of session and of trial, and, inasmuch as there is evidently sin and evil in this world, it might fairly be anticipated that there would be a time when God will go on circuit, and when he will call the prisoners before him, and the guilty shall receive their condemnation. Judge for yourselves: is this present state the conclusion of all things? If so, what evidence would you adduce of the divine justice, in the teeth of the fact that the best of men are often in this world the poorest and the most afflicted, while the worst of men acquire wealth, practice oppression, and receive homage from the crowd? Who are they that ride in the high places of the earth? Are they not those, great transgressors, who “wade through slaughter to a throne and shut the gates of mercy on mankind”? Where are the servants of God? They are in obscurity and suffering full often. Do they not sit like Job among the ashes, subjects of little pity, objects of much upbraiding? And where are the enemies of God? Do not many of them wear purple and fine linen and fare sumptuously every day? If there be no hereafter, then Dives has the best of it; and the selfish man who fears not God, is after all, the wisest of men and more to be commended than his fellows. But it cannot be so. Our common sense revolts against the thought. There must be another state in which these anomalies will all be rectified. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most miserable,” says the apostle. The best of men were driven to the worst of straits in those persecuting times for being God’s servants. How say ye then, “Finis coronat opus,” the end crowns the work? That cannot be the final issue of life, or justice itself were frustrated. There must be a restitution for those who suffer unjustly: there must be a punishment for the wicked and the oppressor.
Not only may this be affirmed from a general sense of justice, but there is in the conscience of most men, if not of all, an assent to this fact. As an old Puritan says, “God holds a petty session in every man’s conscience, which is the earnest of the assize which he will hold by and by; for almost all men judge themselves, and their conscience knows this to be wrong and that to be right. I say ‘almost all,’ for there seems to be in this generation a race of men who have so stultified their conscience that the spark appears to have gone out, and they put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. The lie they seem to approve, but the truth they do not recognize. But let conscience alone and do not stultify her, and you shall find her bearing witness that there is a Judge of all the earth who must do right.” Now this is peculiarly the case when conscience is allowed full play. Men who are busy about their work or entertained with their pleasures, often keep their consciences quiet. As John Bunyan puts it, they shut up Mr Conscience; they blind his windows; they barricade his doors; and as for the great bell on the top of the house, which the old gentleman was wont to ring, they cut the rope of it, so that he cannot get at it, for they do not wish him to disturb the town of Man-soul. But when death comes, it often happens that Mr. Conscience escapes from his prison-house, and then, I warrant you, he will make such a din that there is not a sleeping head in all Man-soul. He will cry out and avenge himself for his constrained silence, and make the man know that there is a something within him not quite dead, which cries out still for justice, and that sin cannot go unchastised. There must be a judgment, then. Scripture asserts it, that would be enough: but by way of collateral evidence the natural order of things requires it; and conscience attests it.
Now we come to consider what our text says about the Judgment. I pray you, brethren, if I should speak coldly tonight on this momentous truth, or fail to excite your attention and stir your deepest emotions, forgive me, and may God forgive me, for I shall have good reason to ask God’s forgiveness, seeing that if ever a topic should arouse the preacher to a zeal for the honor of his Lord and for the welfare of his fellow creatures, and so make him doubly in earnest, it is this. But, then, permit me to say, that, if ever there was a theme quite independent of the speaker, which on its own account alone should command your thoughtfulness, it is that which I now bring before you. I feel no need of oratory or of speech well selected: the bare mention of the fact that such a judgment is impending, and will ere long occur, might well hold you in breathless silence, still the very throbbings of your pulse, and choke the utterance of my lips. The certainty of it, the reality of it, the terrors that accompany it, the impossibility of escaping from it, all appeal to us now and demand our vigilance.
I. Ask ye now, who is it, or who ARE THEY THAT WILL HAVE APPEAR BEFORE THE THRONE OF JUDGMENT? The answer is plain; it admits of no exemption: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” This is very decisive, if there were no other text. We must all appear; that is to say, every one of the human race. We must all appear. And that the godly will not be exempted from this appearance is very clear, for the apostle here is speaking to Christians. He says, “We walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident. We labour” and so on; and then he puts it, “Wemust all appear.” So that, beyond all others, it is certain that all Christians must appear there. The text is quite conclusive upon that point. And if we had not that text, we nave the passage in Matthew, which we have read, in which the sheep are summoned there as certainly as are the goats; and the passage in the Revelation, where all the dead are judged according to the things which are written in the books. They are all there. And if the objection should be raised, “We thought that the sins of the righteous being pardoned, and for ever blotted out, they could never come into judgment,” we have only to remind you, beloved, that if they are so pardoned and blotted out, as they undoubtedly are, the righteous have no reason to fear coming into judgment. They are the persons who covet the judgment, and will be able to strand there to receive a public acquittal from the mouth of the great Judge. Who, among us, wishes, as it were, to be smuggled into heaven unlawfully? Who desires to have it said by the damned in hell, “You were never tried, or else you might have been condemned as we were.” No, brethren, we have a hope that we can stand the trial. The way of righteousness by Christ Jesus enables us to submit ourselves to the most tremendous tests which even that burning day can bring forth. We are not afraid to be put into the balances. We even desire that day when our faith in Jesus Christ is strong and firm; for we say, “who is he that condemneth?” We can challenge the day of judgment. Who is he that shall lay anything to our charge in that day, or at any other, since Christ hath died and hath risen again?It is needful that the righteous should be there that there may not be any partiality in the matter whatever; that the thing may be all clear and straight, and that the rewards of the righteous may be seen to be, though of grace, yet without any violation of the most rigorous justice. Dear brethren, what a day it will be for the righteous! For some of them were—perhaps some here present are—lying under some very terrible accusation of which they are perfectly guiltless. All will be cleared up then, and that will be one great blessing of that day. There will be a resurrection of reputations as well as of bodies. Men call the righteous, fools; then shall they shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. They hounded them to death, as not being fit to live. In early ages they laid to the Christians charges of the most terrible character, which I should count it shame to mention. But then they will all be clear; and those of whom the world was not worthy, who were driven and hunted about find made to dwell in the caves of the earth, they shall come forth as worthy ones, and the world shall know her true aristocracy, earth shall own her true nobility. The men whose names she cast out as evil, all then be held in great repute, for they shall stand out clear and transparent without spot or blemish. It is well that there should be a trial for the righteous, for the clearing of them, the vindication of them, and that it should be public, defying the evil and criticism of all mankind.
“We must all appear.” What a vast assembly, what a prodigious gathering, that of the entire human race! It struck me as I was meditating upon this subject, what would be the thoughts of Father Adam, as he stood there with Mother Eve and looked upon his offspring. It will be the first time in which he has ever had the opportunity of seeing all his children met together. What a sight will he then behold—far stretching, covering all the globe which they inhabit, enough not only to people all earth’s plains, but crown her hill-tops, and cover even the ways of the sea, so numberless must the human race have been, if all the generations that have ever lived, or shall ever live, shall at once rise from the dead. Oh, what a sight will that be! Is it too marvelous for our imagination to picture? Yet it is quite certain that the assemblage will be mustered, and the spectacle will he beheld. Every one from before the Flood, from the days of the Patriarchs, from the times of David, from the Babylonian kingdom, all the legions of Assyria, all the hosts of Persia, all the phalanx of the Greeks, all the vast armies and legions of Rome, the barbarian, the Scythian, the bond, the free, men of every color and of every tongue—they shall all stand in that great day before the Judgment Seat of Christ. There come the kings—no greater than the men they call their slaves. There come the princes—but they have doffed their coronets, for they must stand like common flesh and blood. Here come the judges, to be judged themselves, and the advocates and barristers, needing an advocate on their own account. Here come those that thought themselves too good, and kept the street to themselves. There are the Pharisees, hustled by the Publicans on either side and sunk down to the natural level with them. Mark the peasants rising from the soil; see the teeming myriads from outside the great cities streaming in, countless hosts such as no Alexander or Napoleon ever beheld! See how the servant is as great as his master! “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” are now proclaimed. No kings, no princes, no nobles, can shelter themselves behind their order, assert a privilege or claim an immunity. Alike on one common level they stand together, to be tried before the last tremendous tribunal. There shall come the wicked of every sort. Proud Pharaoh shall be there; Senacherib, the haughty; Herod, that would have slain the young child; Judas, that betrayed his master; Demas, that sold him for gold; and Pilate, who would fain have washed his hands in innocency. There shall come the long list of infallibles, the whole line of popes, to receive their damnation at the Almighty’s hands, and the priests that trod upon the necks of nations, and the tyrants that used the priests as their tools—they shall come to receive the thunderbolts of God which they so richly deserve. Oh, what a scene will it be! These little companies, which look to us so large when they are gathered together beneath this roof, how do they shrink into the drop of a bucket as compared with the ocean of life that shall swell around the throne at the last great Judgment day. They shall all be there.
Now, the most important thought connected with this to me, is that I shall be there; to you young men, that you will be there; to you, ye aged of every sort, thatyou, in propria personae—each one shall be there. Are you rich? Your dainty dress shall be put off. Are you poor? Your rags shall not exempt you from attendance at that court. None shall say—I am too obscure.” You must come up from that hiding place. None shall say, “I am too public.” You must come down from that pedestal. Everyone must be there. Note the word “We”, “We must all appear.”
And still further, note the word, “appear.” ” We must all appear.” No disguise will be possible. Ye cannot come there dressed in masquerade of profession or attired in robes of state, but we must appear; we must be seen through, must be displayed, must be revealed; off will come your garments, and your spirit will be judged of God, not after appearance, but according to the inward heart. Oh, what a day that will be when every man shall see himself, and every man shall see his, fellow, and the eyes of angels and the eyes of devils, and the eyes of God upon the throne, shall see us through and through. Let these thoughts dwell upon your minds, while you take this for the answer to our first enquiry, “Who is to be judged?”
II. Our second question is, Who will be the judge? “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” That Christ should be appointed judge of all mankind is most proper and fitting. Our British law ordains that a man shall be tried by his peers, and there is justice in the statute. Now the Lord God will judge men, but at the same time it will be in the person of Jesus Christ the man. Men shall be judged by a man. He that was once judged by men shall judge men. Jesus knows what man should be; he has been under the law himself in deep humility, who is ordained to administer the law in high authority. He can hold the scales of justice evenly, for he has stood in man’s place and borne and braved man’s temptations; he therefore is the most fit judge that could be selected. I have sometimes heard and read sermons in which the preacher said that a Christian ought to rejoice that his judge is his friend. There may be no impropriety intended, still it seems to me rather a questionable suggestion. I should not like to put it use that way myself; because any judge that was partial to his friends when he sat on the judgment seat would deserve to come off the seat immediately. As a judge I expect no favoritism from Christ. I expect when he sits there he will deal out even-handed justice to all. I cannot see how it is right for any minister to hold it forth that we should find encouragement in the judge being our friend. Friend or no friend, we shall go in for a fair trial every one of us, and Christ will not be a respecter of persons. Of him whom God has appointed to judge the world, it shall not be said when the assize is over that he winked at the crimes of some and extenuated them, while he searched out the faults of others and convicted them. He will be fair and upright throughout. He is our friend, I grant you, and he will be our friend and Saviour for ever; but, as a judge, we must keep to the thought, and believe and maintain it that he will be impartial to all the sons of men. You will have a fair trial, man. He that will judge you will not take sides against you. We have sometimes thought that men have been shielded from the punishment they deserved, because they were of a certain clerical profession, or because they occupied a certain official position. A poor labourer who kills his wife shall be hanged, but when another matt of superior station does the like deed of violence, and stains his hands with the blood of her whom he had vowed to love and cherish, the capital sentence shall not be executed upon him. Everywhere we see in the world that with the best intentions justice somehow or other does squint a little. Even in this country there is just the slightest possible turning of the scale, and God grant that may be cured ere long. I do not think it is intentional; and I hope the nation will not long have to complain about it. There ought to be the same justice for the poorest beggar that crawls into a casual ward, as for his Lordship that owns the broadest acres in all England. Before the law, at least, all men ought to stand equal. So shall it be with the Judge of all the earth. Fiat justia, ruat coelum. Christ will by all means hold the scales even. Thou shalt have a fair trial and a full trial, too. There shall be no concealment of anything in thy favour, and no, keeping back of anything against thee. No witnesses shall be borne across the sea to keep them out of the way. They shall all be there, and all testimony shall be there, and all that is wanted to condemn or to acquit shall be produced in full court at that trial, and hence it will be a final trial. From that court there will be no appeal. If Christ, saith ” Cursed!” cursed must they be for ever. If Christ saith “Blessed!”, blessed shall they be for aye. Well, this is what we have to expect then, to stand before the throne of the man Christ Jesus the Son of God, and there to be judged.
III. Now the third point is, WHAT WILL BE RULE OF JUDGEMENT? The text says that “every one may receive the things done in his body according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Then it would appear that our actions will be taken in evidence at the last. Not our profession, not our boastings, but our actions will be taken in evidence at the last, and every man shall receive according to what he hath done in the body. That implies that everything done by us in this body will be known. It is all recorded; it will be all brought to light. Hence, in that day every secret sin will be published. What was done in the chamber, what was hidden by the darkness, shall be published as upon the housetop—every secret thing. With great care you have concealed it, most dexterously you have covered it up; but it shall be brought out to your own astonishment to form a part of your judgment. There, hypocritical actions as well as secret sins will be laid bare. The Pharisee who devoured the widow’s house and made a long prayer, will find that widow’s house brought against him, and the long prayer too; for the long prayer will then be understood as having been a long lie against God from beginning to end. Oh, how fine we can make some things look With the aid of paint and varnish and gilt; but at the last day off will come the varnish and veneer, and the true metal, the real substance, will then be seen.
When it is said that everything that is done in the body will be brought up as evidence against us or for us, remember this includes every omission as well as every commission; for that which is not done that ought to have been done is as greatly sinful as the doing of that which ought not to be done. Did not you notice when we were reading the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew, how those on the left hand were condemned, not for what they did, but for what they did not do: “I was an hungry, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink.” Where would some of you stand, according to this rule, who have lived in neglect of holiness, and neglect of faith, and neglect of repentance, before God all your days? Bethink yourselves, I pray you.
Recollect, too, that all our words will be brought up. For every idle word that man shall speak he will have to give an account. And all our thoughts, too, for these lie at the bottom of our actions and give the true colour to them good or bad. Our motives, our heart sins, especially, our hatred of Christ, our neglect of the gospel, our unbelief—all of these shall be read aloud and published unreservedly. “Well,” saith one, “who then can be saved?” Ah! indeed, who then can be saved? Let me tell you who will be. There will come forward those who have believed in Jesus, and albeit they have many sins to which they might well plead guilty, they will be able to say, “Great God, thou didst provide for us a substitute, and thou didst say that if we would accept him he should be a substitute for us and take our sins upon himself, and we did accept him and our sins were laid upon him, and we have now no sins; they have been transferred from us to the great Saviour, substitute and sacrifice.” And in that day there will be none who can put in a demurrer to that plea: it will hold good; for God has said, “Whosoever believeth on Christ Jesus shall never be condemned.” Then will the actions of the righteous, the gracious actions, be brought forth to prove that they had faith. For that faith which never evidences itself by good works is a dead faith and a faith that will never save a soul. Now, if the dying thief were brought up, he would say, “My sins were laid on Jesus.” “Ay, but how about your good works? Thou must have some evidence of thy faith,” Satan might reply. Then would the recording angel say, “The dying thief said to his fellow thief who was dying with him, ‘Wherefore art thou railing? In his last moments he did what he could; he rebuked the thief that was dying with him and made a good confession of his Lord. There was the evidence of the sincerity of his faith.” Dear hearer, will there lie any evidence of the sincerity of your faith? If your faith has no evidence before the Lord, what will you do? Suppose you thought you had a faith and went on drinking. Suppose you did as I know some have done here, go straight from this place into the public house? Or suppose you joined the Christian church and remained a drunkard? Ay, and women have done that also as well as men. Suppose you professed to have faith in Christ and yet cheated in your weights and measures and common dealings? Do you think that God will never requite these things at your hands? Oh, sirs, if ye be no better than other men in your conduct, ye are no better than other men in your character, and ye will stand no better than other men in the judgment day. If your actions are not superior to theirs, you may profess what you will about your faith, but you are deceived, and, as deceivers, you will be discovered at the last great day. If grace does not make us differ from other men, it is not the grace which God gives his elect. We are not perfect, but all God’s saints keep their eyes on the great standard of perfection, and, with strong desire, aim to walk worthy of their high calling of God and to bring forth works which prove that they love God; and if we have not these signs following faith, or if they are not put in as evidence for us, at the last great day we shall not be able to prove our faith. It will be proof positive that you hated God; for a man must hate God indeed who will spurn his counsels, give no heed to his reproof, scorn his grace, and dare the vengeance of him who points out the way of escape and the path that leadeth to life. He that will not be saved by God’s mercy proves that he hates the God of mercy. If God gives his own Son to die and men will not trust in his Son, will not have him as their Saviour, that one sin, if they had no other, would at once prove that they were enemies of God and black at heart. But if thy faith be in Jesus, if thou lovest Jesus, if thy heart goes out to Jesus, if thy life be influenced by Jesus, if thou makest him thy example as well as thy Saviour, there will be evidence—thou canst not see it, but there will be evidence—in thy favour. For notice those gracious things, when the evidence was brought, and Christ said, “I was an hungry, and ye gave me no meat, thirsty and ye gave me no drink,” they said, “O Lord, we never knew this.” Should any man stand up here and say, “I have plenty of evidence to prove my faith,” I should reply, “Hold your tongue, sir! Hold your tongue! I am afraid you have no faith at all, or you would not be talking about your evidence.” But if you are saying, “Oh, I am afraid I have not the evidence that will stand me in good stead at the last,” yet if all the while you have been feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked, and doing all you can for Christ, I would tell you not to be afraid. The master will find witnesses to say, “That man relieved me when I was in poverty. He knew I was one of Christ’s and he came and helped me.” And another will come and say (perhaps it will be an angel), “I saw him when he was alone in his chamber and heard him pray for his enemies.” And the Lord will say, “I read his heart when I saw how he put up with rebuke, and slander, and persecution, and would not make any answer for my sake. He did it all as evidence that my grace was in his heart.” You will not have to fetch up the witnesses: the judge will call them, for he knows all about your case; and as he calls up the witness, will be surprised to find how even the ungodly will be obliged to consent to the just salvation of the righteous. Oh, how the secret deeds and the true heart-sincerity of the righteous, when thus unveiled, will make devils bite their tongues in wrath to think that there was so much of grace given to the sons of men, with which to defeat persecution, to overcome temptation, and to follow on in obedience to the Lord. Oh yes, the deeds, the deeds, the deeds of men—not their prating, not their profession, not their talk, but their deeds (though nobody shall be saved by the merits of his deeds)—their deeds shall be the evidence of their grace, or their deeds shall be the evidence of their unbelief; and so, by their works shall they stand before the Lord, or by their world shall they be condemned as evidence and nothing more.
IV. Now the last point is this: What is the object of this judgment? Will sentence of acquittal and condemnation be given, and then the whole thing be over? Far from it. The judgment is with a view to the thereafter—”That every man may receive the things done in his body.” The Lord will grant unto his people an abundant reward for all that they have done. Not that they deserve any reward, but that God first gave them grace to do good works, then took their good works as evidence of a renewed heart, and then gave them a reward for what they had done. Oh, what a bliss it will be to hear it said, “Well done, good and faithful servant,”—and to find that you have worked for Christ when nobody knew it, to find that Christ took stock of it all,—to you that served the Lord under misrepresentation, to find that the Lord Jesus cleared the chaff away from the wheat, and knew that you were one of his precious ones. For him, then, to say, “Enter into the joy of thy Lord,” oh, what a bliss will it be to you.
But to the ungodly how terrible. They are to receive the things that they have done; that is to say, the punishment due,—not every man alike, but the greater sinner the greater doom; to the man who sinned against light a greater damnation than to the man who had not the same light,—Sodom and Gomorrah their place, Tyre and Sidon their place, and then to Capernaum and Bethsaida their place of more intolerable torment, because they had the Gospel and rejected it—so the Lord himself tells us. And the punishment will not only be meted out in proportion to the transgression, but it will be a development of the evil actions done in the evil consequences to be endured, as every man shall eat the fruit of his own ways. Sin, after the natural order, ripens into sorrow. This is not a blind fate, but it is the operation of a divine law, wise and invariable. Oh, how dreadful it will be for the malicious man to have for ever to gnaw his own envious heart, to find his malice come home to him, as birds come home to roost, to hoot for ever in his own soul; for the lustful man to feel lust burning in every vein, which he can never gratify;—for the drunkard to have a thirst, which not even a drop of water can allay;—for the glutton who has fared sumptuously every day, to be in hunger perpetually; and the soul that has been wrathful to be for ever wrathful, with the fire of wrath for ever burning like a volcano in his soul; and the rebel against God for ever a rebel, cursing God whom he cannot touch, and finding his curses come back upon himself.
There is no punishment worse than for a man who is sinfully disposed to gratify his lusts, to satiate his bad propensities, and to multiply and fatten his vices. Only let men grow into what they would be, and then see what they would be like! Take away the policemen in some parts of London, and give the people plenty of money, and let their do just as they like. Last Saturday, it might be, there were half-a-dozen broken heads, and wives and children were in one general skirmish. Keep those people together: let their vigor continue unimpaired by age or decay, while they keep on developing their characters. Why, they would be worse than a herd of tigers! Let them give way to their rage and anger, with nothing to check their passions; let miserly, greedy people for ever go on with their greed. It makes them miserable here, but let these things be indulged in for ever, and what worse hell do you want? Oh, sin is hell and holiness is heaven. Men will receive the things done in their body. If God has made them to love him, they shall go on to love him; if God has made them trust him, they shall go on to trust in him; if God has made them to be like Christ, they shall go on to be like Christ, and they shall receive the things done in their body as a reward; but if a man has lived in sin, “he that is filthy shall be filthy still”; he that has been unbelieving shall be unbelieving still. This, then, shall be the worm that never dieth, and the fire which never shall be quenched, to which shall be added the wrath of God forever and ever. Oh, that we may have grace every one of us to flee to Christ! There is our only safety. Simple faith in Jesus is the basis for the character which will evidence at last that you are chosen of God. A simple belief in the merit of the Lord Jesus, wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, is the rock foundation upon which shall he built up, by the same divine hands, the character which shall evidence that the kingdom was prepared for us from before the foundations of the world. God work in us such a character, for Christ’s sake. Amen.