Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Plan Of The Cross

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

The Plan Of The Cross

What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. (1 Corinthians 2:12) 

     The course of our fallen race has been a succession of failures. Whenever there has been an apparent rise, it has been followed by a real fall. Into ever-increasing darkness the human mind seems resolved to plunge itself in its struggles after a false light. When men have been fools, they have danced in a delirium of sin. When they have been sober, they have given themselves up to a phantom wisdom of their own that has revealed their folly more than ever. It is a sad story, the story of mankind! Read it in the light of God’s Word and it will bring tears from your very heart.

     The only hope for man was that God should interpose. And He has interposed, as though He began a new creation or worked a resurrection out of the kingdom of death. God has come into human history and here the bright lights begin. … See yonder avalanche rushing down the steep mountainside? Such is humanity left to itself. Lo, God in Christ Jesus throws Himself in the way. He so interposes as to be crushed beneath the descending rocks. But beloved, He rises from the dreadful burial. He stops the avalanche in its terrible path. He hurls back the tremendous mass and changes the whole aspect of history. … 

     The plan of the Cross is to conquer death by death, to remove sin by the endurance of the penalty, to work mightily by suffering terribly, and to glorify Christ by shame.

From Grace For Grace

This sermon reminds me of the poignant words from Isaac Watts—

When I survey the wondrous Cross 
On which the Prince of Glory died, 
My richest gain I count but loss, 
And pour contempt on all my pride. 
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, 
Save in the death of Christ my God! 
All the vain things that charm me most, 
I sacrifice them to His blood.
 

All of man’s attempts to control his universe, or determine his fate, or even make himself acceptable to God have been an abysmal failure. So God Himself stepped in, but He came in a way that no one could have imagined and no one could claim as their idea. The prophet Isaiah said it this way, “The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, He was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so His own arm achieved salvation for Him, and His own righteousness sustained Him” (Isaiah 59:15-16). 

It is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone that we have hope of our salvation. And for that we give all glory to God alone. Sola Deo gloria!

 

It’s Not About Me

After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done… (2 Chronicles 32:1). 

After three very long chapters outlining Hezekiah’s faithfulness to obey God and restore worship in the temple, how would you expect this sentence to be completed: 

“After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done… 

  • …God gave Hezekiah abundant blessings”? 
  • …Hezekiah never had any problems”?
  • …all of Hezekiah’s enemies were afraid of him”? 

Actually, the full sentence says, “After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah.” 

What?! That doesn’t seem fair! 

Shouldn’t it be something like, “If I do these good things then God will do good things for me”? Or even, “If bad guys do bad things then God will do bad things to them”? 

But this wasn’t about Hezekiah. It wasn’t even about Sennacherib. It was about God’s glory. 

Jonah had delivered God’s message of judgment on Nineveh and the people had repented. But then they had begun to backslide from that. God was mercifully giving them another chance to repent. Sennacherib felt he was invincible and didn’t need to turn to Yahweh. So God had to demonstrate “with [Sennacherib] is only the arm of flesh” (vv. 8, 10-19). 

God’s judgment fell, Sennacherib was assassinated, Judah was delivered, and God was glorified (vv. 21-23). 

It is shortsighted of me to say, “But God, I did everything faithfully so this bad thing shouldn’t be happening to me.” 

It’s not about me! It never has been. It’s all about God’s glory. 

Yes, Hezekiah reaped the benefit of Sennacherib’s defeat, but it wasn’t because God was “paying Hezekiah back” for the good he had done. God was still being glorified when “many brought offerings to Jerusalem for the Lord and valuable gifts for Hezekiah king of Judah. From then on he was highly regarded by all the nations.”

Sennacherib was defeated and Hezekiah was saved for the same reason: God was glorified in doing so! 

Whenever you walk through a dark time, you too might be tempted to say, “God, this isn’t fair!” But remember, it’s not about you—it’s about God being glorified. Perhaps God gains greater glory and you gain greater rewards by Him delivering you through an enemy’s attack, not delivering you from the attack. Whatever God is doing, He is doing it for His glory. 

Sola Deo gloria!

Links & Quotes

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“God made humans in His image so that the world would be filled with reflectors of God. Images of God. Seven billion statues of God. So that nobody would miss the point of creation.” —John Piper

“I do not admire the extreme of one virtue unless you show me at the same time the extreme of the opposite virtue. One shows one’s greatness not by being at an extremity but by being simultaneously at two extremities and filling all the space between.” —Blaise Pascal

“The most striking thing about Our Lord is the union of great ferocity with extreme tenderness.” —C.S. Lewis

“Our Lord in His infinite wisdom and superabundant love, sets so high a value upon His people’s faith, that He will not screen them from those trials by which faith is strengthened.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Christians are priests, but how priests if they offer no sacrifice? Christians are lights, but how are they lights unless they shine for others? Christians are sent into the world, even as Christ was sent into the world, but how are they sent unless they are sent to pray? Christians are meant not only to be blessed themselves, but in them shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, but how if you refuse to pray?” —Charles Spurgeon

John Stonestreet shares some alarming information that makes pornography a public health threat.

 

Horatius Bonar On Healing

Horatius Bonar“The Lord ends speaking and begins working; He comes down from the pulpit and enters the hospital [Matthew 8:1-3]. Such is His whole life: words and deeds intermingled; words of health and deeds of health.

“[The leper] wants to be made clean, and he casts himself on Christ for this. He is the Hyssop, the Water, the Blood, the Ashes, the Priest, the Physician, all in one. Thus we still come, doubting neither the willingness nor the power, yet casting ourselves on the will of the Lord; not presuming to dictate, yet appealing to His sovereign grace. As the needy, the sick, the unclean, we come; for the whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.

“… Jesus speaks, ‘I will, be thou clean.’ … It is the voice of authority. It reminds us of Genesis 1:2-3. He speaks as One Who knew that He could cure. Not hesitatingly. Nor are the words a prayer, but a command. He speaks, and it is done. … Thus love, authority, and power are all conjoined. It is the voice of Omnipotence.

He is the same Christ still; with the same love, and authority, and power. He is still the Healer, and the worst of diseases fly from His touch and voice. Let us go to Him with all that afflicts us. … Be persuaded to present thyself to Him, just as thou art. Give this divine Healer thy simple confidence. Take Him for what He is, and He will take thee for what thou art. Thus shalt thou meet in love; thou to be healed, and He to heal; thou to have the joy of being healed, and He to have the joy of healing thee, and to announce to heaven, in the presence of the angels of God, that another leper has been healed!” —Horatius Bonar (emphasis added)

Rewards

RewardsJesus says there are only two types of rewards we can receive: from God, or from men.

Men reward because of appearance. That is, the more visible or pious or charitable our acts, the more rewards men give (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16). However, these outward-only acts get “no reward from your Father in Heaven” (6:1).

God rewards what’s done for His eyes only, and for His glory only. He rewards abundantly, even when no one else seems to notice (6:4, 6, 18).

So Jesus advises us to not seek the rewards or treasures of men, because they are fickle and liable to loss. God’s rewards, however, are eternally secure and of infinite value (6:19-21). When my focus is on loving God and serving others, rewards in Heaven are the result (6:25-34).

I cannot live for the applause of men and the applause of God (6:24). So I choose only the applause from nail-scarred Hands!

Links & Quotes

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“I have no business on the bed of sloth; I have no right to be wandering abroad after private business; I can claim no time which I may set apart for my own follies, or to my own aggrandizement. My true position as a Christian is to be always ministering to God, always standing before His altar. Do I hear you ask how this can be, with your farms and with your merchandise? Know you not, brethren, that whether you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, you may do it all to the glory of God?” —Charles Spurgeon

“It ill becomes a man of God to be ungrateful, or to sponge upon those that are generous.” ―Matthew Henry

Links & Quotes

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“When we look at the love of Christ, we make a wonderful discovery. Love is more a decision than an emotion! Christ-like love applauds good behavior. At the same time Christ-like love refuses to endorse misbehavior. Jesus loved His apostles, but He wasn’t silent when they were faithless. Jesus loved the people in the temple, but He didn’t sit still when they were hypocritical.” —Max Lucado

“One of the great enemies of hope is forgetting God’s promises.” —John Piper

“If you perform deeds of charity with the idea of getting to heaven by them, it is yourself that you are feeding and clothing; all your virtue is not virtue, it is rank selfishness, and Christ will never accept it; you will never hear Him say, ‘Thank you’ for it. You served yourself, and no reward is due. You must first come to the Lord Jesus Christ, and look to Him to save you; you will forever renounce all idea of doing anything to save yourself, and being saved, you will be able to give to the poor without selfishness mixing with your motive.” —Charles Spurgeon

Dave Barringer has a good word for pastors: 8 reasons why being vulnerable is better.

Links & Quotes

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Sheriff David Clarke has a great take on what is behind so many of the protests against the police. Be sure to watch the video of his CNN interview too.

“The fullest obedience and the smallest faith obtain the same thing from God: mercy. A mere mustard seed of faith taps into the mercy of tree-moving power. And flawless obedience leaves us utterly dependent on mercy. The point is this: Whatever the timing or form of God’s mercy, we never rise above the status of beneficiaries of mercy. We are always utterly dependent on the undeserved. Therefore let us humble ourselves and rejoice and ‘glorify God for His mercy!’” —John Piper

“Isn’t it kind of silly to think that tearing someone else down builds you up?” —Sean Covey. Read more of the post The Year Of Speaking Kindly.

Are you single? Check out Being The Third Wheel Is Underrated.

Are you ready to be disgusted? Last year Planned Parenthood not only ended 327,653 lives through abortion, but they also were given $528 million of your tax dollars!

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

“This is the wisdom of God: Purchase the day! Purchase the hour! Purchase the moment! Spend whatever it takes to buy each hour and harness it in the chariot of your highest, eternal goal—the glory of God.” —John Piper

“Yet let the love of righteousness suppress this thirst for ambitiousness…. For this is a great enemy to our faith, if the desire of glory have more room in our hearts than he fear or love of our God….” —Augustine

“No, there is no merit in late hour prayers, but it requires a serious mind and a determined heart to pray past the ordinary into the unusual.” —A.W. Tozer

Frank Viola has funny cartoon asking what if 21st-century Americans lived in Christ’s day?

Detroit Tigers fans, this is a great story about how George Kell won the batting title on the last day of the season.

Scary, scary stuff: China is building up their military specifically to confront the USA.

An interesting look into the minds of voters in the millennial generation.

Good news: the abortion rate in the US is declining. Bad news: our abortion rate continues to rank near the highest quartile among Western nations.

Nearly 500 NFL players were cut this past week, as the NFL teams got down to their 53-man roster. The media, however, is obsessed with just one player: Michael Sam. Can you say, “agenda”?

God’s Blessings Aren’t Primarily For You

God's blessingsGod’s blessings are wonderful, and we should pray for them, but they are showered upon us for a specific purpose.

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us…” is the prayer of the psalmist. Why does he pray this?

“…SO THAT Your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among the nations.” (Psalm 67:1-2)

God’s blessings are sent to His people SO THAT the whole earth will know Him and praise Him, and turn to Him for their salvation.

God’s blessings aren’t primarily for my benefit, but for His!

“And God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us, SO THAT all the ends of the earth will fear Him.” (verses 6-7)

Sola Deo gloria—it’s all for His glory!

So, yes, Lord, pour out Your blessings on me again and again SO THAT all people may know You and Your salvation. May all who see Your blessing on me turn to You as their God too!

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