Spurgeon on Affliction and Prosperity

Brother, beware of the smooth places of the way; if you are treading them, or if the way be rough, thank God for it. If God should always rock us in the cradle of prosperity; if we were always dandled on the knees of fortune; if we had not some stain on the alabaster pillar; if there were not a few clouds in the sky; if we had not some bitter drops in the wine of this life, we should become intoxicated with pleasure, we should dream “we stand;” and stand we should, but it would be upon a pinnacle; like the man asleep upon the mast, each moment we should be in jeopardy.

We bless God, then, for our afflictions; we thank him for our changes; we extol his name for losses of property; for we feel that had he not chastened us thus, we might have become too secure. Continued worldly prosperity is a fiery trial.

“Afflictions, though they seem severe,
In mercy oft are sent.”


C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).

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Posted by on March 10, 2018 in Quotes


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Spurgeon on Pride

It is an old and common saying, that “coming events cast their shadows before them;” the wise man teaches us that a haughty heart is the prophetic prelude of evil. Pride is as safely the sign of destruction as the change of mercury in the weather-glass is the sign of rain…Let David’s aching heart show that there is an eclipse of a man’s glory when he dotes upon his own greatness. 2 Sam. 24:10. See Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty builder of Babylon, creeping on the earth, devouring grass like oxen, until his nails had grown like bird’s claws, and his hair like eagle’s feathers. Dan. 4:33. Pride made the boaster a beast, as once before it made an angel a devil. God hates high looks, and never fails to bring them down…pride can get into the Christian’s heart as well as into the sinner’s; it can delude him into dreaming that he is “rich and increased in goods, and hath need of nothing.” Art thou glorying in thy graces or thy talents…If we forget to live at the foot of the cross in deepest lowliness of spirit, God will not forget to make us smart under his rod…“He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
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Posted by on March 7, 2018 in Quotes


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Spurgeon on God’s Consistency

“Though we are always changing, Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place throughout all generations.” The Christian knows no change with regard to God. He may be rich to-day and poor to-morrow; he may be sickly to-day and well to-morrow; he may be in happiness to-day, to-morrow he may be distressed—but there is no change with regard to his relationship to God. If he loved me yesterday, he loves me to-day. My unmoving mansion of rest is my blessed Lord. Let prospects be blighted; let hopes be blasted; let joy be withered; let mildews destroy everything; I have lost nothing of what I have in God. He is “my strong habitation whereunto I can continually resort.” I am a pilgrim in the world, but at home in my God. In the earth I wander, but in God I dwell in a quiet habitation.
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
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Posted by on February 27, 2018 in Quotes


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Spurgeon on Prosperity

“There are many who know ‘how to be abased’ who have not learned “how to abound.” When they are set upon the top of a pinnacle their heads grow dizzy, and they are ready to fall. The Christian far oftener disgraces his profession in prosperity than in adversity. It is a dangerous thing to be prosperous. The crucible of adversity is a less severe trial to the Christian than the refining pot of prosperity…Many have asked for mercies that they might satisfy their own hearts’ lust. Fullness of bread has often…brought on wantonness of spirit. When we have much of God’s providential mercies, it often happens that we have but little of God’s grace, and little gratitude for the bounties we have received. We are full and we forget God: satisfied with earth, we are content to do without heaven. Rest assured it is harder to know how to be full than it is to know how to be hungry—so desperate is the tendency of human nature to pride and forgetfulness of God.”
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
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Posted by on February 10, 2018 in Christian Growth


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Section 3: The danger of a Casual Attitude toward Sin

Section 3: The danger of a Casual Attitude toward Sin

As I mentioned in our last section, there were two major problems confronting John’s audience that were undermining their Christian experience in general and their confidence in their Christian position in particular. The first of these problems was a casual attitude toward sin. We cannot underestimate the debilitating nature of sin in the lives of saints. The Bible is full of examples of unnecessary pain and personal destruction that followed seasons where men who loved God became complacent and embraced a casual attitude toward sin. Think of David, Solomon, and Jacob as just a few examples. It is true that “the wages of sin is death” and “sin when it is finished brings forth death.” Notice where John starts his letter: verses 5-8 “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth…If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Again in 2:1 “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” And yet again in 3:2-5 We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure…And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.” He is concerned by a casual attitude toward sin and the temptation to embrace the destructive doctrines of false teachers. Let me mention a few ways that a casual attitude toward sin will muddy the waters of this issue of confidence.

  • Sin undermines the subjective sense of confidence that the Spirit of God gives us:  There is a difference between what is objectively true, and our subjective experiences connected to the various feelings and passing internal thoughts that we experience on a moment by moment basis. When we are walking in fellowship with the Lord, there is a subjective, emotional aspect of our Christian experience that is healthy and properly aligned with what is objectively true. If we are saved and walking in communion with God, then we are in a position to experience a joyful confidence that is rooted in the internal working of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:14-16 says: “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God…The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Sadly, sin breaks fellowship with God, and consequently undermines this joyful confidence that the Spirit gives us.
  • Sin undermines our ability to properly discern between right and wrong: When Christians take a casual attitude toward sin, in begins to undermine their progress into spiritual maturity. What once was very clear to them becomes clouded. What they once understood, they soon begin to doubt. In Hebrews 5:11-14, we see a group of Christians in that very condition. Notice what is says: “Ye are dull of hearing…and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat…unskilful in the word of righteousness…strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Discernment is a gift from God that comes through personal discipline as we mature in the Christian life. We will not have discernment if we take a casual attitude toward sin.
  • Sin damages our conscience: The conscience is an important faculty given to us by God, but the conscience cannot be our final arbiter in all matters. While it can be healthy and properly shaped by the scriptures, it also can become deadened or twisted by ungodly influences. Paul talks in 1 Corinthians and Romans of Christians who have a weak conscience. He exhorts Timothy numerous times in the Pastoral Epistles to have a good conscience as opposed to an evil conscience. Peter in his epistles also speaks of the importance of having a good conscience, and several New Testament writers talk of the perils of the last days when men will have consciences that has been “seared with a hot iron” and has become “defiled.” It is dangerous to trust a conscience that has been twisted by means of sinful and ungodly influences. Let us never forget that the same faculty that can become hardened over time to allow evil men to justify presumptuous sin can also become a weapon of Satan to cause doubts and anxiety in immature Christians.
  • Sin attacks our fruitfulness: At this point, in our discussion, let’s remember that we are not examining the doctrine of security or justification before God, but rather our sense that we are personally secure in Christ.  Fruitfulness in the Christian life is one of the ways that we and others can see verification that there is new life in Christ.  James writes in James 3: “I will show you my faith by my works…” Paul writes in Romans 8 that those who are after the Sprit “mind the things of the Sprit.” And in 2 Corinthians 5, Paul says that every man in Christ is “a new creature, old things are passed away, all things are become new.” The internal reality of new life in Christ is a spiritual and therefore invisible reality; yet it is not without verifiable evidence. Christ told Nicodemus that the new birth is like the wind. It is invisible, yet verifiable. In John 15, Jesus told the disciples that they could be identified by something that is verifiable, “their love for one another.” Fruitfulness in the Christian life comes by degrees and not in a vacuum. Understanding this, Paul prayed in Philippians 1: that his audience would be “filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ.” Paul’s prayer was rooted in Christ’s statement in John 15 “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” Sin breaks fellowship with God, therefore isolating us from the source of fruitfulness. This is why Peter wrote the following admonition in 2 Peter 1:5-10: “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness…For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall…” Christians who give all diligence to their personal growth into Christlikeness will be transformed by degrees into the image of Christ and will have a steadiness and confidence that indeed they are God’s children.
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Posted by on January 27, 2018 in 1 John Series


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Section 2: Examining this section more closely

Section 2: Examining this section more closely

In our text, John is addressing a very specific problem, lack of assurance of one’s position in Christ. It is his firm conviction that it is possible to be sure of one’s position in Christ. In 1 John 3:19 he writes: “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.” In verse 21 he writes: “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.”  And in 1 John 5:11-13 he writes: “And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life…” Since he has this conviction, and wants his listeners to also have this conviction, he addresses two major problems that are undermining their confidence. In light of the big picture that we just addressed in our last section, John believes that antinomianism (a casual attitude toward sin) and mysticism (an overly emotional rather than rational approach to the Christian life) are at the root of their lack of confidence. We could summarize John’s basic concern with the following statements.

  • He wants his beloved to be confident and joyful in their Christian experience.
  • He wants to warn those who are backsliding to recognize that their doubts are the direct result of their spiritual laziness:
  • He wants to encourage the immature who are prone to irrational thinking to find their confidence in the work or Christ:
  • He wants to encourage those who are growing in the Lord to continue to be confident, because their lives are showing the marks of Christian growth.

What I would like to do in our next sections is discuss how a casual attitude toward sin and an overly emotional, rather than rational approach to the Christian life will muddy the waters of our confidence in Christ.

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Posted by on January 25, 2018 in 1 John Series


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Section 1: Keeping the Big Picture before the Little Details

Section 1: Keeping the Big Picture before the Little Details

John is a pastor and thinks in a pastoral way. The people to whom he is writing are people that he knows well, and the troubles that they are facing as individuals and as a church body are heavy on his heart. He calls them little children and beloved throughout his letter, giving us this sense. We can summarize the big picture with the John’s statement in the opening section of the letter: 1 John 1:3-4 “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” The statement tells us several things about John’s attitude toward the people. First, he views them as genuine Christians. I am not suggesting that everyone who heard the letter read was a genuine Christian, but that was his target audience. Second, these Christians are being targeted by various types of false teachers. Some of these false teachers are preaching a different Christ, others are mystics who claim to have a deeper knowledge of the truth, while still others are teaching a form of antinomianism. Thirdly, John is convinced that the degree to which these Christians are duped by these false teachers will directly cause them to stumble in their Christian experience. Lastly, his primary concern is that by addressing these issues the people can identify error, reject it, and have a sustained fellowship with Christ where they will grow in that walk with the Lord, and experience sustained joy. Doctrinal confusion, unrepentant sin, and mysticism create confusion and keep Christians from experiencing a healthy, joyful walk with the Lord.

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Posted by on January 24, 2018 in 1 John Series


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