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Faith and Life

Written by: Spurgeon, C.H.    Posted on: 04/02/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN


                                                  Faith and Life

                                                        A Sermon                                                         (No. 551)                           Delivered on Sunday Morning, January 24th, 1864, by the                                               Rev. C. H. SPURGEON,                                     At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

              "Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith               with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; grace and peace be multiplied               unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath               given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath               called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by               these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world               through lust."2 Peter 1:1-4.

                  THE two most important things in our holy religion are faith and life. He who shall rightly understand these                   two words is not far from being a master in experimental theology. Faith and life! these are vital points to                   a Christian. They possess so intimate a connection with each other that they are by no means to be                   severed; God hath so joined them together, let no man seek to put them asunder. You shall never find           true faith unattended by true godliness; on the other hand, you shall never discover a truly holy life which has not           for its root and foundation a living faith upon the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Woe unto those who           seek after the one without the other! There be some who cultivate faith and forget holiness; these may be very           high in orthodoxy, but they shall be very deep in damnation, in that day when God shall condemn those who hold           the truth in unrighteousness, and make the doctrine of Christ to pander to their lusts. There are others who have           strained after holiness of life, but have denied the faith; these are comparable unto the Pharisees of old, of whom           the Master said, they were "whitewashed sepulchres;" they were fair to look upon externally, but inwardly,           because the living faith was not there, they were full of dead men's bones and all manner of uncleanness. Ye must           have faith, for this is the foundation; ye must have holiness of life, for this is the superstructure. Of what avail is           the mere foundation of a building to a man in the day of tempest? Can he hide himself among sunken stones and           concrete? He wants a house to cover him, as well as a foundation upon which that house might have been built;           even so we need the superstructure of spiritual life if we would have comfort in the day of doubt. But seek not a           holy life without faith, for that would be to erect a house which can afford no permanent shelter, because it has no           foundation on a rocka house which must come down with a tremendous crash in the day when the rain           descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon it. Let faith and life be put together, and, like           the two abutments of an arch, they shall make your piety strong. Like the horses of Pharaoh's chariot, they pull           together gloriously. Like light and heat streaming from the same sun, they are alike full of blessing. Like the two           pillars of the temple, they are for glory and for beauty. They are two streams from the fountain of grace; two           lamps lit with holy fire; two olive-trees watered by heavenly care; two stars carried in Jesus' hand. The Lord grant           that we may have both of these to perfection, that his name may be praised.               Now, it will be clear to all, that in the four verses before us, our apostle has most excellently set forth the           necessity of these two thingstwice over he insists upon the faith, and twice over upon holiness of life. We will           take the first occasion first.               I. Observe, in the first place, what he says concerning the character and the origin of faith, and then           concerning the character and origin of spiritual life.               "Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us           through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." So far the faith. "Grace and peace be multiplied           unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us           all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue."           These two verses, you see, concern the spiritual life which comes with the faith.               Let us begin where Peter begins, with the FAITH. You have here a description of true saving faith.               First, you have a description of its source. He says, "to them that have obtained like precious faith." See,           then, my brethren, faith does not grow in man's heart by nature; it is a thing which is obtained. It is not a matter           which springs up by a process of education, or by the example and excellent instruction of our parents; it is a thing           which has to be obtained. Not imitation, but regeneration; not development, but conversion. All our good things           come from without us, only evil can be educed from within us. Now, that which is obtained by us must be given           to us; and well are we taught in Scripture that "faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God." Although faith is the           act of man, yet it is the work of God. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness;" but that heart must, first           of all, have been renewed by divine grace before it ever can be capable of the act of saving faith. Faith, we say, is           man's act, for we are commanded to "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," and we shall be saved. At the same time,           faith is God's gift, and wherever we find it, we may know that it did not come there from the force of nature, but           from a work of divine grace. How this magnifies the grace of God, my brethren, and how low this casts human           nature! Faith. Is it not one of the simplest things? Merely to depend upon the blood and righteousness of the Lord           Jesus Christ, does it not seem one of the easiest of virtues? To be nothing, and to let him be everythingto be           still, and to let him work for me, does not this seem to be the most elementary of all the Christian graces? Indeed,           so it is; and yet, even to this first principle and rudiment, poor human nature is so fallen and so utterly undone,           that it cannot attain unto! Brethren, the Lord must not only open the gates of heaven to us at last, but he must           open the gates of our heart to faith at the first. It is not enough for us to know that he must make us perfect in           every good work to do his will, but we must be taught that he must even give us a desire after Christ; and when           this is given, he must enable us to give the grip of the hand of faith whereby Jesus Christ becomes our Saviour and           Lord. Now, the question comes (and we will try and make the text of today, a text of examination all the way           through) have we obtained this faith? Are we conscious that we have been operated upon by the Holy Spirit? Is           there a vital principle in us which was not there originally? Do we know today the folly of carnal confidence? Have           we a hope that we have been enabled through divine grace to cast away all our own righteousness and every           dependence, and are we now, whether we sink or swim, resting entirely upon the person, the righteousness, the           blood, the intercession, the precious merit of our Lord Jesus Christ? If not, we have cause enough to tremble; but           if we have, the while the apostle writes, "Unto them that have obtained like precious faith," he writes to us, and           across the interval of centuries his benediction comes as full and fresh as ever, "Grace and peace be multiplied           unto you."               Peter having described the origin of this faith, proceeds to describe its object. The word "through" in our           translation, might, quite as correctly, have been rendered "in""faith in the righteousness of our God and our           Saviour Jesus Christ." True faith, then, is a faith in Jesus Christ, but it is a faith in Jesus Christ as divine. That           man who believes in Jesus Christ as simply a prophet, as only a great teacher, has not the faith which will save           him. Charity would make us hope for many Unitarians, but honesty compels us to condemn them without           exception, so far as vital godliness is concerned. It matters not how intelligent may be their conversation, nor how           charitable may be their manners, nor how patriotic may be their spirit, if they reject Jesus Christ as very God of           very God, we believe they shall without doubt perish everlastingly. Our Lord uttered no dubious words when he           said, "He that believeth not shall be damned," and we must not attempt to be more liberal than the Lord himself.           Little allowance can I make for one who receives Jesus the prophet, and rejects him as God. It is an atrocious           outrage upon common sense for a man to profess to be a believer in Christ at all, if he does not receive his           divinity. I would undertake, at any time, to prove to a demonstration, that if Christ were not God, he was the           grossest impostor who ever lived. One of two things, he was either divine or a villain. There is no stopping           between the two. I cannot imagine a character more evil than that which would be borne by a man who should           lead his followers to adore him as God, without ever putting in a word by way of caveat, to stop their idolatry;           nay, who should have spoken in terms so ambiguous, that two thousand years after his death, there should be           found millions of persons resting upon him as God. I say, if he were not God, the atrocity of his having palmed           himself upon us, his disciples, as God, puts aside altogether from consideration any of the apparent virtues of his           life. He was the grossest of all deceivers, if he was not "very God of very God." O beloved, you and I have found           no difficulties here; when we have beheld the record of his miracles, when we have listened to the testimony of his           divine Father, when we have heard the word of the inspired apostles, when we have felt the majesty of his own           divine influence in our own hearts, we have graciously accepted him as "the Wonderful, the Counsellor, the           mighty God, the everlasting Father;" and, as John bear witness of him and said, "The Word was in the beginning           with God, and the Word was God," even so have we received him; so that at this day, he that was born of the           virgin Mary, Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews, is to us "God over all, blessed for ever."

                                                  "Jesus is worthy to receive                                                   Honour and power divine:                                             And blessings more than we can give,                                                   Be Lord for ever thine."

          Now, beloved friends, have we heartily and joyfully received Jesus Christ as God? My hearer, if thou hast not, I           pray thee seek of God the faith that saves, for thou hast it not as yet, nor art thou in the way to it. Who but a God           could bear the weight of sin? Who but a God shall be the "same yesterday, to-day, and for ever?" Concerning           whom but a God could it be said, "I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." We           have to do with Christ, and we should be consumed if he changed; inasmuch, then, as he does not change, and we           are not consumed, he must be divine, and our soul rolls the entire burden of its care and guilt upon the mighty           shoulders of the everlasting God, who

                                              "Bears the earth's huge pillars up,                                               And spreads the heavens abroad."

              Remark in further dwelling upon the text, that the apostle has put in another word beside "God", and that is,           "of God and our Saviour." As if the glory of the Godhead might be too bright for us, he has attempered it by           gentler words "our Saviour." Now, to trust Jesus Christ as divine, will save no man, unless there be added to this a           resting in him as the great propitiatory sacrifice. Jesus Christ is our Saviour because he became a substitute for           guilty man. He having taken upon himself the form of manhood by union with our nature, stood in the room,           place, and stead of sinners. When the whole tempest of divine wrath was about to spend itself on man, he endured           it all for his elect; when the great whip of the law must fall, he bared his own shoulders to the lash; when the cry           was heard, "Awake, O sword!" it was against Christ the Shepherd, against the man who was the fellow to the           eternal God. And because he thus suffered in the place and stead of man, he received power from on high to           become the Saviour of man, and to bring many sons into glory, because he had been made perfect through           suffering. Now, have we received Jesus Christ as our Saviour? Happy art thou, if thou hast laid thy hand upon the           head of him who was slain for sinners. Be glad, and rejoice in the Lord without ceasing, if today that blessed           Redeemer who has ascended upon high has become thy Saviour, delivered thee from sin, passing by thy           transgressions, and making thee to be accepted in the beloved. A Saviour is he to us when he delivers us from the           curse, punishment, guilt and power of sin, "He shall save his people from their sins." O thou great God, be thou           my Saviour, mighty to save.               But be pleased to notice the word "righteousness." It is a faith in the righteousness of our God and our           Saviour. In these days, certain divines have tried to get rid of all idea of atonement; they have taught that faith in           Jesus Christ would save men, apart from any faith in him as a sacrifice. Ah, brethren, it does not say, "faith in the           teaching of God our Saviour;" I do not find here that it is written, "faith in the character of God our Saviour, as           our exemplar." No, but "faith in the righteousness of God our Saviour." That righteousness, like a white robe,           must be cast around us. I have not received Jesus Christ at all, but I am an adversary and an enemy to him, unless           I have received him as Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord our righteousness. There is his perfect life; that life was a life           for me; it contains all the virtues, in it there is no spot; it keeps the law of God, and makes it honourable; my faith           takes that righteousness of Jesus Christ, and it is cast about me, and I am then so beauteously, nay, so perfectly           arrayed, that even the eye of God can see neither spot nor blemish in me. Have we, then, today a faith in the           righteousness of God our Saviour? For no faith but this can ever bring the soul into a condition of acceptance           before the Most High. 'Why," saith one, "these are the very simplicities of the gospel." Beloved, I know they are,           and, therefore, do we deal them out this morning, for, thanks be to God, it is the simplicities which lie at the           foundation; and it is rather by simplicities than by mysteries that a Christian is to try himself and to see whether he           be in the faith or no. Put the question, brethren, have we, then, this like precious faith in God and our Saviour           Jesus Christ?               Our apostle has not finished the description, without saying that it is "like precious faith." All faith is the same           sort of faith. Our faith may not be like that of Peter, in degree, but if it be genuine, it is like it as to its nature, its           origin, its objects, and its results. Here is a blessed equality. Speak of "liberty, equality, and fraternity," you shall           only find these things carried out within the Church of Christ. There is indeed a blessed equality here, for the           poorest little-faith who ever crept into heaven on its hands and knees, has a like precious faith with the mighty           apostle Peter. I say, brethren, if the one be gold, so is the other; if the one can move mountains, so can the other;           for remember, that the privileges of mountain-moving, and of plucking up the trees, and casting them into the sea,           are not given to great faith, but "if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed," it shall be done. Little faith has a           royal descent and is as truly of divine birth as is the greatest and fullest assurance which ever made glad the heart           of man, hence it ensures the same inheritance at the last, and the same safety by the way. It is "like precious           faith."               He tells us too, that faith is "precious;" and is it not precious? for it deals with precious things, with precious           promises, with precious blood, with a precious redemption, with all the preciousness of the person of our Lord and           Saviour Jesus Christ. Well may that be a precious faith which supplies our greatest want, delivers us from our           greatest danger, and admits us to the greatest glory. Well may that be called "precious faith," which is the symbol           of our election, the evidence of our calling, the root of all our graces, the channel of communion, the weapon of           prevalence, the shield of safety, the substance of hope, the evidence of eternity, the guerdon of immortality, and           the passport of glory. O for more of this inestimably precious faith. Precious faith, indeed it is.               When the apostle, Simon Peter, writes "to them that have obtained like precious faith with us, through the           righteousness of God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ," does he write to you? does he write to me? If not, if we are           not here addressed, remember that we can never expect to hear the voice which says, "Come ye blessed of my           Father;" but we are today in such a condition, that dying as we now are, "Depart ye cursed" must be the thunder           which shall roll in our ears, and drive us down to hell. So much, then, concerning faith.               Now we shall turn to notice with great brevity, the LIFE. "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the           knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain           unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue." Here we have, then,           brethren, the fountain and source of our spiritual life. Just as faith is a boon which is to be obtained, so you will           perceive that our spiritual life is a principle which is given. A thing which is given to us, too, by divine           power"according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness." To give           life at all is the essential attribute of God. This is an attribute which he will not alienate; to save and to destroy           belong unto the Sovereign of heaven. "He can create, and he destroy," is one of the profoundest notes in the           ascription of our praise. Suppose a corpse before us. How great a pretender would he be who should boast that it           was in his power to restore it to life. Certainly, it would be even a greater pretence if anyone should say that he           could give to himself or to another the divine life, the spiritual life by which a man is made a Christian. My           brethren, you who are partakers of the divine nature, know that by nature you were dead in trespasses and sins,           and would have continued so until this day if there had not been an interposition of divine energy on your behalf.           There you lay in the grave of your sin, rotten, corrupt. The voice of the minister called to you, but you did not           hear. You were often bidden to come forth, but ye did not and could not come. But when the Lord said, "Lazarus,           come forth," then Lazarus came forth; and when he said to you, "Live," then you lived also, and the spiritual life           beat within you, with joy and peace through believing. This we ought never to forget, because, let us never fail to           remember, that if our religion is a thing which sprang from ourselves, it is of the flesh, and must die. That which is           born of the flesh in its best and most favourable moments, is flesh, and only that which is born of the Spirit is           spirit. "Ye must be born again." If a man's religious life be only a refinement of his ordinary life, if it be only a high           attainment of the natural existence, then is it not the spiritual life, and does not prepare him for the eternal life           before the throne of God. No, we must have a supernatural spark of heavenly flame kindled within us. Just as           nothing but the soul can quicken the body and make it live, so the Spirit alone can quicken the soul and make the           soul live. We must have the third master-principle infused, or else we shall be but natural men, made after the           image of the first Adam. We must have, I say, the new spirit, or else we shall not be like the second Adam, who           was made a quickening spirit. Only of the Christian can we say that he is spirit, soul, and body; the ungodly man           has only soul and body, and as to spiritual existence, he is as dead as the body would be if there were no soul.           Now the implantation of this new principle, called the spirit, is a work of divine power. Divine power! What           stupendous issues are grasped in that term, divine power! It was this which digged the deep foundations of the           earth and sea! Divine power, it is this which guides the marches of the stars of heaven! Divine power! it is this           which holds up the pillars of the universe, and which one day shall shake them, and hurry all things back to their           native nothingness. Yet the selfsame power which is required to create a world and to sustain it, is required to           make man a Christian, and unless that power be put forth, the spiritual life is not in any one of us.               You will perceive, dear friends, that the apostle Peter wished to see this divine life in a healthy and vigorous           state, and therefore he prays that grace and peace may be multiplied. Divine power is the foundation of this life;           grace is the food it feeds upon, and peace is the element in which it lives most healthily. Give a Christian much           grace, and his spiritual life will be like the life of a man who is well clothed and nurtured; keep the spiritual life           without abundant grace, and it becomes lean, faint, and ready to die; and though die it cannot, yet will it seem as           though it gave up the ghost, unless fresh grace be bestowed. Peace, I say, is the element in which it flourishes           most. Let a Christian be much disturbed in mind, let earthly cares get into his soul, let him have doubts and fears           as to his eternal safety, let him lose a sense of reconciliation to God, let his adoption be but dimly before his eyes,           and you will not see much of the divine life within him. But oh! if God shall smile upon the life within you, and           you get much grace from God, and your soul dwells much in the balmy air of heavenly peace, then shall you be           strong

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