There Is A River: One of Spurgeon’s Gems in the Treasury of David

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“There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.”
– Psalm 46:4, NKJV

The Treasury of David by Charles Spurgeon is laced with many a gem. The following is once such a gem in commentary over the 46th psalm.

There is a river. Divine grace like a smoothly flowing, fertilising, full, and never failing river, yields refreshment and consolation to believers. This is the river of the water of life, of which the church above as well as the church below partakes evermore. It is no boisterous ocean, but a placid stream, it is not stayed in its course by earthquakes or crumbling mountains, it follows its serene course without disturbance. Happy are they who know from their own experience that there is such a river of God. The streams whereof in their various influences, for they are many, shall make glad the city of God, by assuring the citizens that Zion’s Lord will unfailingly supply all their needs. The streams are not transient like Cherith, nor muddy like the Nile, nor furious like Kishon, nor treacherous like Job’s deceitful brooks, neither are their waters “naught” like those of Jericho, they are clear, cool, fresh, abundant, and gladdening. The great fear of an Eastern city in time of war was lest the water supply should be cut off during a siege; if that were secured the city could hold out against attacks for an indefinite period. In this verse, Jerusalem, which represents the church of God, is described as well supplied with water, to set forth the fact that in seasons of trial all sufficient grace will be given to enable us to endure unto the end. The church is like a well ordered city, surrounded with mighty walls of truth and justice, garrisoned by omnipotence, fairly built and adorned by infinite wisdom: its burgesses the saints enjoy high privileges; they trade with far off lands, they live in the smile of the King; and as a great river is the very making and mainstay of a town, so is the broad river of everlasting love, and grace their joy and bliss. The church is peculiarly the City of God, of his designing, building, election, purchasing and indwelling. It is dedicated to his praise, and glorified by his presence. The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. This was the peculiar glory of Jerusalem, that the Lord within her walls had a place where he peculiarly revealed himself, and this is the choice privilege of the saints, concerning which we may cry with wonder, “Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” To be a temple for the Holy Ghost is the delightful portion of each saint, to be the living temple for the Lord our God is also the high honour of the church in her corporate capacity. Our God is here called by a worthy title, indicating his power, majesty, sublimity, and excellency; and it is worthy of note that under this character he dwells in the church. We have not a great God in nature, and a little God in grace; no, the church contains as clear and convincing a revelation of God as the works of nature, and even more amazing in the excellent glory which shines between the cherubim overshadowing that mercy seat which is the centre and gathering place of the people of the living God. To have the Most High dwelling within her members, is to make the church on earth like the church in heaven.

Here we see that the city of God is Christ’s Church, and the river of God is God’s Spirit. The Spirit gladdens the Church just as the river gladdens the city.

 

The Ghostly Tale of Spurgeon and the Séance of 1928 by Christian George

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[The original link to this article can be found here. For all things Spurgeon, please visit The Spurgeon Center.]

On October 21, 1928, the ghost of Charles Spurgeon was raised from the dead. Or so the clairvoyant claimed. In a series of séances supervised by Canadian surgeon and paranormal researcher Thomas Glen Hamilton, the “entity” of the late Victorian evangelist made his presence known several times to a group of hand-clasped gatherers. According to Hamilton’s published report, Spurgeon even requested a hymn to be sung.

Three years later, Spurgeon’s ghost “returned” to preach a sermon on revival. His text—preached from beyond the grave—was Isaiah 52:10: “All the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”

In a pitch-dark room on April 26, 1931, the entranced medium closed her eyes and scribbled the words (allegedly spoken by Spurgeon): “The main instrumental cause of a great revival must be the bold, faithful, fearless preaching of the truth of the Divine Spirit from the Lord our God.”

Raising Spurgeon from the Grave

Spurgeon often suffered from “depression of spirit.” At times the preacher’s emotions peaked; at times they plummeted. “I am much tossed up and down,” Spurgeon said, “and although my joy is greater than the most of men, my depression of spirit is such as few can have an idea of.” The majority of his life was forged on the “anvil of affliction.”

Yet God raised Spurgeon from the grave on more than one occasion. Like in 1856, when seven people died at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall and Spurgeon almost quit the ministry. Or when Spurgeon came under attack in the media and fell into great anxiety.

In the late 1880s, Spurgeon couldn’t even open his hand because rheumatoid gout had frozen his fingers closed. Each of these dark seasons in his life prepared Spurgeon to say, “There is no greater mercy that I know of on earth than good health except it be sickness; and that has often been a greater mercy to me than health.”

“Affliction is the best bit of furniture in my house. It is the best book in a minister’s library.”

Suffering was the secret of Spurgeon’s ministry because it enabled him to emphathize with others whose spirits were low. In other words, God never let Spurgeon suffer from having never to suffer.

For the Christian, sinking spirits produce “perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). What is hope without suffering? How would we identify light without darkness? God often uses our own darkness to show others the Light of World. He uses our own weakness to make others strong. Hope must always be extracted from affliction, for, as the Puritans used to say, only in the valley do we receive the vision.

Spiritual Revival Cannot Be Conjured

Did the medium really raise Spurgeon’s spirit from the grave in 1928? Sorry for the Halloween mythbust, but no. As it turns out, she had memorized a few cherrypicked paragraphs from Spurgeon’s 1858 sermon “The Great Revival.”

Ironically, the point of Spurgeon’s sermon, spoken through the spiritualist, was that true revival cannot be conjured up by our clever tactics, innovative inventions, or even by preaching great sermons. “Do not imagine,” Spurgeon said, “when you hear of a sermon being made useful, that it was the sermon itself that did the work.”

“If men were not such idiots as to doubt God, they would never sink so low as to believe in spiritualism.”

Spiritual revival cannot be summoned; it must be sent. From first to last, spiritual awakening is the work of God—designed, manufactured, and delivered by the One who specializes in resurrection. Spurgeon said:

“Because He lives, I shall live also, and I spring to my legs again and fight with my depressions of spirit and my down castings, and get the victory through it; and so may you do, and so you must, for there is no other way of escaping from it. In your most depressed seasons you are to get joy and peace through believing.”

In 1887, the Downgrade Controversy plummetted Spurgeon into a stressful spiral that resulted in his betrayal, abandonment, depression, illness, and eventual death. His wife, Susannah, claimed that the controversy killed him prematurely at the age of 57. Yet even in that midnight moment, Spurgeon saw a light flickering in the future.

Spurgeon prophesied, “I am quite willing to be eaten by dogs for the next fifty years. But the more distant future shall vindicate me.”

Spurgeon’s Spirit Still Speaks

Did Spurgeon believe in ghosts? Yes and no. He acknowledged the strange return of Samuel’s spirit (1 Samuel 28). But Spurgeon also denounced the “pretended communion” of spiritualism gaining popularly in London. He believed séances capitalized on the suffering of the bereft and took advantage of those who lost loved ones.

The spookiest thing about the séances of the 1920s and 30s is that if the medium had kept quoting from Spurgeon’s sermon, she would have uttered the following words:

“My soul has been made exceedingly full of happiness, by the tidings of a great revival of religion throughout the United States.”

The clairvoyant was correct. Spurgeon’s spirit has returned through the legacies of the Spurgeon LibrarySpurgeon’s College, and Spurgeons Children’s Charity, which celebrated their 150th anniversary this year and continues to offer light, love, and compassion to families throughout the United Kingdom.

Christians have always lived with the forward-looking hope that God will not leave his children in the dark. As John saw from his Patmos cave, one day God will “wipe every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21:4). True hope is not found through incantations or spiritual gimmicks. It’s not found in self-help remedies or sola bootsrapa doctrines. Instead, our hope derives from the triumphant Christ who stormed the gates of Hell, put the devil on the defensive, and declares, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

On this Halloween, keep in mind that the enemy is afraid of you! You are making noises beneath his bed. You are hiding in his closet.

Like Abel who “still speaks, even though he is dead” (Hebrews 11:4), Spurgeon’s spirit still speaks. So treat yourself to one of his sermons and see how God raises your own spirit from the grave.

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Volume 1 and 2 of The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon can be purchased in Standard or Collector’s Editions.

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A Mental Buffet // 2 Mar 2017

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Some reading material for the eager mind and the hungry soul.

Covenantal Presence – Douglas Wilson

“Christ is not present for the one who has faith, but absent from the one who does not have faith. Rather, He is present covenantally for both.”

 

Why the American South Would’ve Killed Spurgeon – Christian George

“Southern Baptists ranked among Spurgeon’s chief antagonists. The Mississippi Baptist hoped “no Southern Baptist will now purchase any of that incendiary’s books.” The Baptist colporteurs of Virginia were forced to return all copies of his sermons to the publisher. The Alabama Baptist and Mississippi Baptist “gave the Londoner 4,000 miles of an awful raking” and “took the hide off him.” The Southwestern Baptist and other denominational newspapers took the “spoiled child to task and administered due castigation.”

 

God Knows What You Need in Worship – Nick Roen

“Every week, a miracle happens. The Spirit of God that dwells within applies the truth of God’s word to the hearts of his children. By God’s word of truth, we are sanctified (John 17:17), conformed more and more into the image of his Son (Romans 8:29). He takes the same truth proclaimed among us and applies it to our hearts in ways that only he can.

He is our Helper who brings to our remembrance the truth of Christ at the precise moment that we need it most (John 14:26). After all, he knows what our hearts need better than we do (Jeremiah 17:9–10), and the Spirit himself helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26).”

 

Praying with the ‘Holy Apostles’ – Kevin DeYoung

As an individual Christian wanting to pray more effectively, and as one who must lead others in prayer, I’ve benefited from many of the forms and patterns handed down by our fathers in the faith. One example—and one that I’ve used from time to time in our churchwide prayer meetings—comes from the fourth-century work The Constitution of the Holy Apostles.

 

Symptoms of Legalism: Playing the Spiritual Comparison Game – Stephen Altrogge

“When I compare my moral achievements to someone else and then get satisfaction from the difference, that’s legalism! I’m basically saying, “God, thank you that I’m more righteous than that person!”

Honestly, it’s a wonder God doesn’t smite me.”

 

 

John’s Love Letters, Part 2: God is Light

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. -1 John 1:5 ESV

God is light.

This simple statement is gospel for those in darkness.

If you’re in darkness and you’ve never seen light, then you would have no idea what darkness was or even that you lived in darkness. It’s not until the light comes in and actually shows you what darkness is or even the evil things that the darkness is hiding from you do you realize that there is even something other than darkness.

One commentator writes the following,

“It is the property of light to discover all things; and it is perfectly pure and incapable of pollution: when therefore it is said, that “God is light,” we must understand it as designating… Light is perhaps the only thing which is incapable of being polluted; and therefore is peculiarly fit to represent the immaculate purity of God.” – Charles Simeon’s Horae Homileticae

I heard a theologian make an analogy very similar to this one,

When you’re in a completely dark room, you might find something that feels soft and cuddly. You’re convinced it’s harmless. How can something this soft and loveable be this bad, right? But then, one day, someone comes to the door of that room and invites you to come out from the room. You decline on the grounds that you want to stay in the room and cuddle with this thing you’ve found in the dark, but then the person inviting you out of the room opens the door, and shines a light inside the room revealing the thing to which you’ve been clinging to was the leg of a humongous spider knitting it’s web of destruction for you. All this time the darkness was hiding from you the thing that could’ve killed you.

This is what God does for us. He sheds light on our sin.

Still there are those that have not seen their sin for the death that it is. For them, their end is destruction, misery, and judgment. Only God can shine the revealing light of Christ upon their hearts.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. -John 3:18 ESV

We sometimes wonder if our darkness is too dark for God. We never consciously think that or even say it, but we live out that thought by running away from God because of our sin rather than running to God asking Him to take it from us.

The first part of John 3:18 tells us that whoever believes in Him is not condemned. So what must you believe? Simply believe that He is light and that He exposes and rescues from darkness.

Run to Jesus and repent.

“If from the lips of Jesus thou dost never drink sweet honey—if thou art not like the bee, which [sips] sweet luscious liquor from the Rose of Sharon, then out of the selfsame mouth there shall go forth against thee a two-edged sword; and that mouth from which the righteous draw their bread, shall be to thee the mouth of destruction and the cause of thine ill.” – Charles Spurgeon