«Sermon #2010 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 1 THE WORD A SWORD NO. 2010 DELIVERED ON THURSDAY EVENING, MAY 17, 1887, BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE ...»
Sermon #2010 Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 1
THE WORD A SWORD
DELIVERED ON THURSDAY EVENING, MAY 17, 1887,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
“For the Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12.
THOSE who are fond of a labyrinth of exposition will find a maze perplexing to the last degree if they will read the various commentators and expositors upon this verse. This is the question—By the Word of God, are we here to understand the Incarnate Word, the Divine Logos, who was in the beginning with God? Or does the passage relate to this inspired Book, and to the Gospel, which is the kernel of it, as it is set forth in the preaching of the Truth in the power of the Holy Spirit?
You shall find Dr. John Owen, with a very large number of eminent servants of God, defending the first theory, that the Son of God is doubtless here spoken of. And I confess that they seem to me to defend it with arguments which I should not like to controvert. Much more is to be said on this side of the question than I can here bring before you. On the other side, we find John Calvin, with an equally grand array of divines, all declaring that it must be the Book that is meant, the Gospel, the Revelation of God in the Book. Their interpretation of the passage is not to be set aside and I feel convinced that they all give as good reasons for their interpretation as those who come to the other conclusion.
Where such Doctors differ, I am not inclined to present any interpretation of my own which can be set in competition with theirs though I may venture to propound one which comprehends them all and so comes into conflict with none. It is a happy circumstance if we can see a way to agree with all those who did not themselves agree. But I have been greatly instructed by the mere fact that it should be difficult to know whether in this passage the Holy Spirit is speaking of the Christ of God, or the Book of God.
This shows us a great Truth of God which we might not otherwise have so clearly noted. How much that can be said of the Lord Jesus may be also said of the inspired volume! How closely are these two allied! How certainly do those who despise the one reject the other! How intimately are the Word made flesh and the Word uttered by inspired men, joined together!
It may be most accurate to interpret this passage as relating both to the Word of God Incarnate and the Word of God Inspired. Weave the two into one thought, for God has joined them together, and you will then see fresh lights and new meanings in the text. The Word of God, namely, this Revelation of Himself in Holy Scripture, is all it is here described to be, because Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God, is in it. He does, as it were, incarnate Himself as the Divine Truth in this visible and manifest Revelation. And thus it becomes living and powerful, dividing and discerning.
As the Christ reveals God, so this Book reveals Christ, and therefore it partakes, as the Word of God, in all the attributes of the Incarnate Word. And we may say many of the same things of the written Word as of the embodied Word.
In fact, they are now so linked together that it would be impossible to divide them. This I like to think of, because there are some nowadays who deny every doctrine of Revelation and yet, indeed, they praise the Christ. The Teacher is spoken of in the most flattering style and then His teaching is rejected, except so far as it may coincide with the philosophy of the moment.
They talk much about Jesus, while that which is the real Jesus, namely, His Gospel and His inspired Word, they cast away. I believe I do but correctly describe them when I say that, like Judas, they betray the Son of Man with a kiss. They even go so far as to cry up the names of the doctrines, though they use them in a different sense that they may deceive.
They talk of loyalty to Christ and reverence for the Sermon on the Mount—but they use vain words. I am charged with Volume 34 www.spurgeongems.org 1 The Word a Sword Sermon #2010 sowing suspicion. I do sow it and desire to sow it. Too many Christian people are content to hear anything so long as it is put forth by a clever man, in a taking manner.
I want them to try the spirits, whether they are of God, for many false prophets have gone forth into the world. What God has joined together, these modern thinkers willfully put asunder and separate the Revealer from His own Revelation. I believe the Savior thinks their homage to be more insulting than their scorn would be. Well may He do so, for they bow before Him and say, “Hail, Master!” while their foot is on the blood of His Covenant and their souls abhor the doctrine of His substitutionary sacrifice.
They are crucifying the Lord afresh and putting Him to an open shame by denying the Lord that bought them, by daring to deride His purchase of His people as a “mercantile transaction,” and I know not what of blasphemy beside. Christ and His Word must go together. What is true of the Christ is here predicated both of Him and of His Word. Behold this day the everlasting Gospel has Christ within it. He rides in it as in a chariot. He rides in it as, of old, Jehovah “did ride upon a cherub and did fly—yes, He did fly upon the wings of the wind.” It is only because Jesus is not dead that the Word becomes living and effectual, “and sharper than any two-edged sword.” If you leave Christ out of it, you have left out its vitality and power. As I have told you that we will not have Christ without the Word, so neither will we have the Word without Christ. If you leave Christ out of Scripture, you have left out the essential Truth of God which it is written to declare. Yes, if you leave out of it Christ as a Substitute, Christ in His death, Christ in His garments dyed in blood, you have left out of it all that is living and powerful. How often have we reminded you that as concerning the Gospel, even as concerning every man, “the blood is the life thereof”—a bloodless Gospel is a lifeless Gospel!
A famous picture has been lately produced, which represents our Lord before Pilate. It has deservedly won great attention. A certain excellent newspaper which brings out for a very cheap price a large number of engravings, has given an engraving of this picture. But, inasmuch as the painting was too large for the paper to print it all, they have copied a portion of it. It is interesting to note that they have given us Pilate here and Caiaphas there but since there was no room for Jesus upon the sheet, they have left out that part of the design. When I saw the picture, I thought that it was wonderfully characteristic of a great deal of modern preaching.
See Pilate here, Caiaphas there, and the Jews yonder—but the Victim, bound and scourged for human sin—is omitted.
Possibly, in the case of the publication, the figure of the Christ will appear in the next issue. But even if He should appear in the next sermon of our preachers of the new theology, it will be as a moral example and not as the Substitute for the guilty, the Sin-bearer by whose death we are redeemed. When we hear a sermon with no Christ in it, we hope that He will come out next Sunday. At the same time, the preaching is, so far, spoilt and the presentation of the Gospel is entirely erroneous so long as the principal Figure is left out.
Oh, it is a sad thing to have to stand in any house of prayer and listen to the preaching and then have to cry, “They have taken away my Lord and I know not where they have laid Him”! Rest assured that they have laid Him in a tomb. You may be quite certain of that. They have put Him away as a dead thing and to them He is as good as dead. True Believer, you may comfort your heart with this recollection—He will rise again. He cannot be held by the bonds of death in any sense. And, though His own Church should bury Him and lay the huge lid of the most enormous sarcophagus of heresy upon Him, the Redeemer will rise again and His Truth with Him and He and His Word will live and reign together forever and ever.
Brethren, you will understand I am going to speak about the Word of God as being like the Lord Jesus, the Revelation of God. This inspired volume is that Gospel whereby you have received life unless you have heard it in vain. It is this Gospel, with Jesus within it, Jesus working by it—which is said to be living and effectual and “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” I shall only talk with you in very simple style. First, concerning the qualities of the Word of God. And, secondly, concerning certain practical lessons which these qualities suggest to us.
I. First let me speak CONCERNING THE QUALITIES OF THE WORD OF GOD. It is “quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.” The Word of God is said to be “quick.” I am sorry the translators have used that word because it is apt to be mistaken as meaning speedy and that is not the meaning at all. It means alive, or living. “Quick” is the old English word for alive and so we read of the “quick and the dead.” The Word of God is alive. This is a living Book. This is a mystery which only living men, quickened by the Spirit of God, will fully comprehend. Take up any other book except the Bible and there may be a measure of power in it, but there is not that indescribable vitality in it which breathes and speaks—and pleads and conquers in the case of this sacred volume.
www.spurgeongems.org Volume 34 Sermon #2010 The Word a Sword 3 We have in the book market many excellent selections of choice passages from great authors and in a few instances the persons who have made the extracts have been at the pains to place under their quotations from Scripture the name “David,” or “Jesus,” but this is worse than needless. There is a style of majesty about God’s Word and with this majesty a vividness never found elsewhere. No other writing has within it a heavenly life whereby it works miracles and even imparts life to its reader. It is a living and incorruptible seed. It moves, it stirs itself, it lives, it communes with living men as a living Word. Solomon says concerning it, “When you go, it shall lead you. When you sleep, it shall keep you. And when you awake, it shall talk with you.” Have you ever known what that means? Why, the Book has wrestled with me. The Book has smitten me. The Book has comforted me. The Book has smiled on me. The Book has frowned on me. The Book has clasped my hand. The Book has warmed my heart. The Book weeps with me and sings with me. It whispers to me and it preaches to me. It maps my way and holds up my goings. It was to me the Young Man’s Best Companion and it is still my Morning and Evening Chaplain. It is a living Book—all over alive—from its first chapter to its last word it is full of a strange, mystic vitality which makes it have pre-eminence over every other writing for every living child of God.
See, my Brothers and Sisters, our words, our books, our spoken or our printed words by-and-by die out. How many books there are which nobody will ever read now because they are out of date? There are many books that I could read profitably when I was a youth but they would teach me nothing now. There are also certain religious works which I could read with pleasure during the first ten years of my spiritual life. But I should never think of reading them now, any more than I should think of reading the “a-b ab,” and the “b-a ba,” of my childhood. Christian experience causes us to outgrow the works which were the textbooks of our youth.
We may outgrow teachers and pastors but not Apostles and Prophets. That human system which was once vigorous and influential may grow old, and at length lose all vitality. But the Word of God is always fresh and new and full of force. No wrinkle mars its brow—no trembling is in its foot. Here, in the Old and New Testaments, we have at once the oldest and the newest of books. Homer and Hesiod are infants to the more ancient parts of this venerable volume, and yet the Gospel which it contains is as truly new as this morning’s newspaper. I say again that our words come and go—as the trees of the forest multiply their leaves only to cast them off as withered things—so the thoughts and theories of men are but for the season and then they fade and rot into nothingness.
“The grass withers and the flower thereof falls away—but the Word of the Lord endures forever.” Its vitality is such as it can impart to its readers. Hence, you will often find, when you converse with Revelation, that if you yourself are dead when you begin to read, it does not matter—you will be quickened as you peruse it. You need not bring life to the Scripture. You shall draw life from the Scripture. Oftentimes a single verse has made us start up—as Lazarus came forth at the call of the Lord Jesus. When our soul has been faint and ready to die, a single word, applied to the heart by the Spirit of God, has aroused us.
It is a quickening as well as a living Word. I am so glad of this because at times I feel altogether dead. But the Word of God is not dead. And coming to it we are like the dead man, who, when he was put into the grave of the Prophet, rose again as soon as he touched his bones. Even these bones of the Prophets, these words of theirs spoken and written thousands of years ago, will impart life to those who come into contact with them. The Word of God is thus exceedingly alive. I may add it is so alive that you need never be afraid that it will become extinct.
They dream—they dream that they have put us among the antiquities—those of us who preach the old Gospel that our fathers loved! They sneer at the doctrines of the Apostles and of the Reformers and declare that Believers in them are left high and dry—the relics of an age which has long since ebbed away. Yes, so they say! But what they say may not after all be true.