In just a couple days, episode 50 will drop. It’s hard to believe Spurgeon Audio has come this far from those first few raw episodes I recorded in Jon’s studio. I had no real idea what, exactly, I wanted this to be, other than a chance to share with others the words that were inspiring me in my walk. In that time I have passed through some deep, deep valleys as well as witnessed beautiful heights.
And so many of you have passed through those times with me, at a distance. The encouragement I’ve gotten from so many as I’ve developed this platform by God’s grace and through His wisdom has been incredibly gracious and kind. I continue to covet all your prayers and I am hoping to continue to build relationships with the brethren as I seek to bless you in any way I can.
A few stats
I have purposefully not dwelt on numbers much with this podcast, because I don’t want to be sitting around obsessing over download numbers and Alexa ratings. But I did want to share a few numbers that make me very happy:
The number one streamed and downloaded episode is Episode 35: The Glorious Gospel. If there is any episode that I hope will hold the theme of this podcast, it is that one both in title and in substance. I hope that as long as I am able to produce this, that I will never waver from that.
The third-most is Episode 34: Earthquake but not Heartquake. I recorded this one shortly before the beginning of one of my darkest times, and certainly God led me through the truth of the words I read that day. I hope it has strengthened others in their own struggles.
The list of countries that I have seen listeners coming from is mindboggling. It is incredibly humbling to know you have given your time to listen to this podcast, and I hope you will continue to join in.
My desire is to begin to release this podcast more regularly. I have not been as disciplined as I could be in this effort and I want to become more focused on producing content here, both original work and more Spurgeon sermons.
There are a couple things I would like to ask for input or advice on before I sign out here:
I have steadfastly refused and will continue to refuse to ask for donations. I believe that if you are desiring to give money to support a ministry, it’s best given to your own local body. I am, however, considering monetizing either through ads or sponsorships of some kind. If you have thoughts or helpful input on this I welcome any and all advice and direction.
I have been using the same music for a while, and I’m hoping to find more to share. If you are an artist looking for platforms to get ears on your tunes, or if you’re just interested in collaborating, I would love to hear from you. I’m not looking for free handouts, and I hope you will consider dropping me a line.
The impure in heart cannot see any need of being born again. They say, “We admit that we are not quite all that we should be, but we can easily be made all right. As to the talk about a new creation, we do not see any need of that. We have made a few mistakes which will be rectified by experience. And there have been some errors of life which we trust may be condoned by future watchfulness and care.” But if the unrenewed man’s heart were pure, he would see that his nature has been an evil thing from the beginning and he would realize that thoughts of evil as naturally rise in us as sparks do from a fire! And he would feel that it would be a dreadful thing that such a nature as that should remain unchanged.–C.H. Spurgeon
We’re getting near the end of the Beatitudes series, and I am grateful to all of you for bearing with me in the incredible slowness of producing this series. I won’t belabor you all with my tales of busyness of late but suffice it to say, I have desires to have this podcast ramp up and be produced more frequently. I will probably talk or write more about what that looks like at a later date but for now I want to talk about the text.
Jesus tells us that the pure in heart are blessed because they will see God. There are a lot of ways to understand that idea. First, I want to remind you that this section, as Charles Spurgeon noted heavily in the earlier sermons, is not about classes of Christians, but about what someone does and what someone is when they are in Christ. All of it, including and especially purity of heart, is the sovereign and gracious work of God in the hearts of His children, and by it we come to see Him.
Certainly we will see Him in the life to come, not just that He will be before our eyes, but we will see Him as He truly is—our King, our Father, our Lord, who we will live with and worship in ways far deeper than we can conceive of in this present world full of sin and death. Those things will be gone, and forgotten. Work will not be full of drudgery and disappointment, but will bear perfect fruit in accordance with what is set before us. Rest will be complete in Christ, and joy will be the byword of eternal life in a remade and perfect world.
But I think there is a way that we see God in this life as well, though invisibly. Then we will see perfectly, but now we see with eyes of faith that let us see God’s hand in our circumstances and in those around us. Not in some kind of superstitious way, but in the way that lets us trust fully in the truth of the words of Paul in Romans 8, that all things truly do work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
This way of seeing God in this world involves seeing Him in the midst of suffering and happiness, in our deepest and most heartfelt needs and in times of abundance. We see Him because He demonstrates His faithfulness to us in all those times, even when we turn faithless, even when we are seeking solace in fleshly foolishness, because He is God and because He is good. And as we walk in humility, we rest fully in Him because we see Him working faithfully.
So I pray that I will remain faithful and continue to look to Him with eyes of faith, and I pray that the same is true of you. Not because faith is some kind of blind thing, but because with the faith granted to us by the Holy Spirit we look to Christ, and see the perfect will of God worked out in our lives and in our world. Let us worship Him together, my brothers and sisters, because He is good and faithful, and because He is so gracious to purify our hearts in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
…[T]he merciful Christian is not one who shuts anybody out. He is not one who thinks anyone beneath his notice. He would be glad if he could bring to Jesus the most fallen and the most depraved! And those dear brothers and sisters who are the most completely occupied in this holy work we honor, for the lower they have to go, the greater is their honor, in the sight of God, in being permitted thus to rake the very kennels of sin to find jewels for Christ, for surely, the brightest gems in His crown will come out of the darkest and foulest places where they have been lost! “Blessed are the merciful” who care for the fallen, for those that have gone astray—“for they shall obtain mercy.” – Charles Spurgeon
We’re drawing near the end of this series, and I found this one of the most blessing and convicting sermons to read through. The truth is that each Christian, when we desire to sit under any instruction, must turn the light of truth on his own heart first. We cannot be sitting in pride towards others while hiding our own sins under a rock–the only way we can hope to bring the truth of the deadliness of sin and the true life in Jesus to another, is if we put off all arrogance, all self-aggrandizement and conceit, and humble ourselves before the throne.
In doing this we follow the path of Jesus. We follow after Him when we turn to God and confess our sins, trusting His promise of forgiveness and cleansing. We follow after Him when we listen to and obey God’s Word. We follow after Him when we hear of someone who is hurting, and we give compassionately to serve them and heal them. We follow after Him when we give without fear of loss, when we cry out in faith to God for provision, when we endure frustration and fear and insult for the sake of giving glory to Jesus. And we follow after Jesus when we live a life in prayer, because we know our weaknesses and faults and continue to pray to our Father for exactly what we should pray to Him for: for the strength and will to continue to live in that state of mercy towards others.
The Christian faith is no stranger to controversy, and certainly this age has served both to improve communication as well as to provide ample opportunities to inflame disagreements. I am tempted to tie this comment to the most recent controversies over social justice but the truth is, this applies to all disagreements and controversies: brethren, show mercy to each other.
Hot and angry battles over important matters are understandable, but I have seen people anathematizing others quite literally over this issue. I’ve seen people say things that are honestly shocking to me, about brothers in the faith, implying such that says if one does not take up their rhetoric and position that they are not worthy to be called Christians. I’m really trying hard here to not call out individuals because this is not a single-issue thing either–I’ve seen it happen in similar ways over all kinds of issues the church engages the world on, everything from taxation to abortion to traffic stops.
Now I don’t want to give the impression that I’m saying, “Don’t disagree, don’t have passionate and well-considered positions on important issues.” Nor am I trying to say “Side A is well-considered and Side B is just stupid and reactionary.” What I am saying is, let’s not engage this issue the way the world is. And in saying that I can tell you that I have certainly had to keep myself in check and walk away when I would have engaged on this or other things in angry and un-Christlike ways. And to be sure, I have been guilty of this many times.
I sincerely hope that we can see public and open discussion on this and other issues within the body in a way that gives glory to Christ. That may mean that folks step out from behind their podcasts and Twitter accounts and do something literally in some kind of open forum–but why shouldn’t we want that? And certainly that may still not mean that we come to agreement, but at least we can see a bold reminder of the fact that whether you believe that the concept of social justice has a place within the church or whether you believe it is a danger to the gospel–the position that I take, for the record–we can be reminded that we are all brothers and sisters bought by the blood of Christ.
Engage with your opponent with the object of showing love and mercy. Let us bear fruit in keeping with repentance towards each other, and I think in this case it means each one of us beginning any discussion by taking a look at ourselves, being reminded of the mercy the Lord has shown us faithfully in keeping His promises to His children, and showing that same mercy to our own brethren. Pray for the one you disagree with, talk with him in seeking peace not in some humanistic sense but in the sense that demonstrates that we have been granted peace of an eternal and immeasurably greater sense with God. Do it for the sake of the name of Christ, and let truth not be forgotten but rather let it be sought in a spirit of love.
There is nothing in this world that is more real than hunger and thirst—and the truly blessed man has such a real passion, desire and craving after righteousness that it can only be likened to hunger and thirst. He must have his sins pardoned, he must be clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and he must be sanctified! And he feels that it will break his heart if he cannot get rid of sin. He pines, he longs, and he prays to be made holy! He cannot be satisfied without this righteousness—and his hungering and thirsting for it is a very real thing. – Charles Spurgeon
I had to spend time wrestling with a heavy weight on my heart for a while before I was able to really get this episode under way. No one specific thing seemed to hinder me, but I ended up seeking counsel from many good brothers who aided me in and with prayer and much truth, and I am incredibly grateful to them that I am now able to be here creating this.
The truth Charles Spurgeon speaks about the Beatitudes, that each one succeeds and builds upon the one before it logically and in a sort of “order of salvation” sense, is beginning to be demonstrated as we get to one of the greatest promises a believer in Jesus can cling to: when you ache with desire for righteousness, you will be satisfied.
When you feel the awareness of the glory and purity of God revealed in Jesus and you feel so very unworthy to be in His presence, remember: you will be satisfied.
When you cry out for freedom from desperately clinging sins and false identities that call you into evil ways of life, that call you by names of a dead man, you have the right, the privilege, and the charge to look to the cross, and to the empty grave, and to know: Jesus satisfies all charges against you; Jesus takes away even the sins you haven’t committed yet; Jesus gives you His perfect and complete righteousness like a garment that will never wear out and never be soiled.
Alive and imperishable
Paul takes the ideas that Jesus teaches here and discusses them in great detail especially in Romans. Chapter 6 opens with the truth about the relationship of the believer in Christ to sin: we are dead to it.
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.For one who has died has been set free from sin.Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.–Romans 6:6-11
It doesn’t mean that in this world we will never sin (chapter 7 goes on to discuss that), but that we have been set free from sin both in guilt and in fact. We do not have to say yes to our sin, and in fact should continue to faithfully say no to it because we can and we must. That is the hunger of the one who has been changed by the Holy Spirit; that is the holy thirst of the one who bows the knee to Jesus in joy and adoration.
Let’s put away the big words for a moment though: this is about the way God changes a man when He saves him. Each step we’ve taken, from the eyes opening to the reality of how much we actually need God and how inadequate we are on our own, to the mourning of our hearts over that truth and the humility of heart that comes as a result, and now the new taste, the new desires we have. But even though this hunger and thirst is something that we as believers now have by the grace of God, we have to feed that hunger, we need to drink our fill of God’s goodness and righteousness!
Jonathan Edwards said of this deep-seated need, “There is no such thing as excess in our taking of this spiritual food. There is no such virtue as temperance in spiritual feasting.” And even more importantly: for those in Christ, there is no cutting us off from that feast. When we stumble and sin, we are not turned away by a shocked God shaking his head saying “Well, geez, I thought you were better than this…maybe come back after you’ve washed up.” No, we are to come right to that table and leave behind the sinful junk food, because God has provided a strengthening meal and a refreshing drink that restores.
Next episode we will continue this as we dig into the kind of person that God is making us into in Christ. Thank you all for your continued prayers and support, and I encourage you to subscribe to the podcast and follow at the links below.
At this present moment, who is the mightier? Caesar with his legions or Christ with His cross? We know who will be the victor before long–Mohammed with his sharp scimitar or Christ with His Doctrine of Love. When all earthly forces are overthrown, Christ’s Kingdom will still stand. Nothing is mightier than meekness. And it is the meek who inherit the earth in that sense.–Charles Spurgeon
This week I got to teach some of the little kids at my church, and had the opportunity to talk to them about what it meant for Jesus to humble himself, to go from His glory upon the throne of Heaven, to becoming a man of low status and submitting to a life of a servant, and an ignominious death. As I did I thought about this sermon I would be recording, and it seems that the text that lesson was based on is incredibly fitting to it, so I want to first read this passage:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing,that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.—Philippians 2:1-18
Now of course, I didn’t exactly exegete this whole text for the 4 year olds, but rather I concentrated on the main points and tried to make it clear to them in a way they could understand and talk about with their parents later. This passage, however, is such a deep and rich one, that it truly deserves to be read alongside Jesus’ words of promise to the meek, as the way by which one who desires to have such a title attached to himself can achieve such a thing.
Christ the servant King
The Son of God gave up all, for the sake of glorifying God, for the sake of salvation for His people, and for the sake of showing the way by which one can walk in peace with God. It is in this way that the Christian shows his love, and it is by our love that we are known–love for each other, and love for God. There cannot be love without this heart of service, without meekness setting the tone of life.
On a personal level, to be quite honest, it is one of those things that drives me to my knees. I know exactly how much my heart does not want to be meek, how self-seeking I can be, and how much love I do not show. My desire is to put self-seeking away, and that means daily battle with the flesh. Many days I feel so very distant from that goal, and yet the Lord has patiently and lovingly led me along each day. He has heard my prayers and shown me grace in new ways every day. That, I think, is something every Christian can praise His name for daily.
Meekness, real humility, is something that a man on his own cannot fully appreciate. It is only in the great shadow of the throne of God that it truly reaches its greatest meaning. It is therefore incumbent upon all of us as Christians, to truly represent that attitude. It is humble, first and foremost, to go to God and wait upon Him in our greatest and least needs. It is humble to serve others with a loving heart, not expecting payment but wanting to benefit them. And it is humble to confess your sins, before God and before your brothers and sisters, and let them die of exposure nailed to the cross.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that every Sunday you need to get up before the pastor speaks with a laundry list of offenses. But as Christians, I believe that one of the deadliest things we can engage in is allowing any sin to take even the smallest root and be hidden away from anybody who can truly speak truth into our lives. God certainly knows, and He will not be mocked. Certainly we are seeing the results of God upending hidden sin, throughout the world and throughout the church, right now.
We need to be humble before God with our sinfulness, meek and gracious to others as servants, and yet also trusting to God for provision and for truth. I recently encountered a quote from one of John Piper’s books that has stuck with me hard: “Oh how rare are the pastors who speak with a tender heart and have a theological backbone of steel.” To be meek is not to be a doormat, it isn’t to be halfhearted or to refuse to engage in discussion. Too often, however, true patience, tenderness, and love seem to be absent by those who claim the name of Christ.
I will close with greetings to my brothers visiting my area for the SBC 2018 convention. Hard things have come to light and I implore you to heed the words of Dr. Al Mohler as you get ready to come together. Do not let Baptist politics or fear of losing face keep you from seeking after the Lord in obedience. Do not let a fear of liberalism infiltrating keep you from exposing sin to the light, and likewise, do not fall for the claim that because sin has been exposed, the antidote to it is biblical compromise. Heed the words of the apostle Paul:
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.–Romans 12:9-21
Surely, if the Savior has divine power, as the text declares to proclaim liberty to the captive, and if He can break open prison doors, and set free those convicted and condemned, He is just the one who can comfort your soul and mine, though we are mourning in Zion! Let us rejoice at His coming and cry, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Happy are we that we live in an age when Jesus breaks the gates of brass, and cuts the bars of iron in sunder! – Charles Spurgeon
It may strike you as a little confusing as to why I’m suddenly reading a sermon out of Isaiah, when this is supposed to be a series on the Beatitudes. The sad fact is, as far as I can tell, Charles Spurgeon never preached a sermon explicitly on Matthew 5:4, which of course reads, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” I did not want to simply skip the passage, however, and certainly the idea that Jesus speaks to in this verse is one that is found throughout Scripture, so it made sense to pick a sermon that spoke to the same subject. I also wanted to cover it for personal reasons, especially because I am now passing roughly one year since what could be termed “my Weathertop.”
But as the good Brother Spurgeon says in his sermon, mourning for the believer is not something that is simply dreaded or to be avoided. On the contrary, a believer mourns with hope in their heart. Though there is pain and heartache now, the believer in Christ thinks of God’s promises in His Word. Ecclesiastes 7:2, for example:
It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.
We will die. It is the result of the curse of sin on all of us, and whether it’s tomorrow or a hundred years from now, whether because we get hit by a bus or because we can’t physically endure one more moment of a long life. And we look to Paul’s words, as he spoke to Christians who faced persecution:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can beagainst us?He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So we can readily see, in a broad picture, why one might believe that those who mourn are blessed. And even more, as was noted in the sermon, the kind of mourning that a believer does is done in such a way as to drive us to prayer, to communion with God, to once again nail our sins to the cross.
Those whose eyes are opened by God to their poverty of spirit are blessed, because that moment is the moment they come into their grand inheritance of the kingdom. Yet on this earth we are surrounded still by darkness, we are still plagued by sinful desires that seek to upend a life in Christ and seek after foolish things that bring no life, and we mourn all of that. We mourn our own sinfulness and we mourn our dry times, we mourn the ways that we have foolishly sinned and stumbled and rebelled. But in that mourning, there is joyfulness, there is the comfort of the Lord, because that is the state of heart that leads us to bow in humility before the mercy seat, and to worship and rejoice in God’s incredible love and graciousness towards us.
“And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.” -Luke 23:27 Amid the rabble rout which hounded the Redeemer to his doom, there were some gracious souls whose bitter anguish sought vent in wailing and lamentations–fit music to accompany that march of woe. When my soul…
“No proud man reigns–he is the slave of his boastings, the serf of his own loftiness. The ambitious worldling grasps after a kingdom, but he does not possess one. The humble in heart are content and in that contentment they are made to reign high!” – Charles Spurgeon
Let’s take a moment and look again at the full text of the Beatitudes:
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”–Matthew 5:1-11
We are at the beginning, and one thing that strikes me right away is that in the same way, this is how the life of a believer in Christ begins: we become aware of what we really need. The lack of fulfillment, the lack of peace, the lack of righteousness–these are attempts to express in limited words what are needs in the deepest parts of our being. More even than that, someone who is about to take the first step on this journey has come face to face with two facts: 1) There is a God, who made me and made everything, and who has been generous to me in ways that are unspeakably great, and 2) I am guilty of great sin against this God, because I have been eating His food, drinking His drink, breathing His air, and taking every last bit of it for granted, believing that it is mine by all rights. Paul describes this person in Romans 1:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.Claiming to be wise, they became fools,and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.–Romans 1:18-23
And at the close of the same chapter, he reveals the depths of darkness such hearts descend to:
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.–Romans 1:28-32
Reborn to the deepest need
But we’re talking about the person who sees this in themselves in a way he’s never seen it before. He perceives that he has spent his life taking from God without gratitude, hating Him who made him, blaming Him for his pain all the while not taking it to Him for healing, and compounding sin upon sin–and his eyes are opened by the grace of God through His Holy Spirit. He sees his true state, and he mourns it. He is in the temple of God beside the tax collector who cries out “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!”
Just like that: that is one who will inherit the kingdom of heaven. Not because he has done anything or said magic words, not because he has atoned for his sins–he could never hope to atone for such a mountain–but yet here he is, someone who has come face to face with his complete poverty of spirit, with the fact that all the achievements of his life will be like ashes in the wind one day, and that eternity is a vastness which he cannot comprehend, yet he feels its great weight on him. He counts himself at the center of the mass included in Paul’s words from Romans, “For all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God,” and as one who is due to receive a great sum in pay, “For the wages of sin is death.”
This was me, when I had my eyes opened to the reality of my life and my heart. The amazing thing about this, however, is that God never leaves us there. He didn’t leave me sitting with a handful of nothing except promises of judgment, He instead turned me to the next truth, the one that follows from this: in seeing this deep poverty which I am unable to overcome, I can instead look to His promise that instead of striving to fill myself with things that only frustrate and never soothe, I will be inheriting something so great I can hardly conceive of it.
“The kingdom of heaven is like…”
Yet, that kingdom is not one of lording authority over another. It is not like an earthly kingdom, but as Jesus said, “The one who would be greatest, must be the servant of all.” So our sense of poverty of spirit drives us back to the beginning, back to humility and to service.
So what if you don’t feel like this? What if you don’t feel that you are poor in spirit, but that you have been deprived, that you have not been given a fair shake? This world is fractured by sin and our lives in it are hard. We enter it in pain and leave it in pain. We only are able to get what we need through great toil, because our first parents did not trust God to be God and instead tried to stand alongside Him. So if you are someone who hears this and reacts in anger, and says “Well maybe I wouldn’t need so much from God if He would just give me what I want! My life has been full of pain and hardship, I have lost everything!” And I don’t begrudge such a person their pain, nor do I pretend it isn’t real.
However, just as much I would also point to the fact that such pain serves a purpose even in its darkest times. It is a reminder to me that this world is not ultimate. It’s a blip in time, a glancing look in the grand scope of eternity, and those who trust in Christ, as the Lord himself said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel,who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29)
The kingdom of heaven turns the world upside down. Suffering finds its complete healing and fulfillment. Pain and heartbreak end, and what has been broken is restored. We look to the future and the fulfillment of the words of John in Revelation 21:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Lean on Him, my friends. If you have tasted that emptiness, that pain and knowledge of your own sin, if you long to know how to soothe the damage done by the evils of the world, look to Jesus! Heed the words of the very next chapter of Revelation, and know that your heart can worship and find real peace.
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
As mentioned on the podcast, below is the full video of the discussion I took part in through my church.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” -Matthew 5:9 This is the seventh of the beatitudes: and seven was the number of perfection among the Hebrews. It may be that the Saviour placed the peacemaker the seventh upon the list because he most nearly approaches the perfect man in…
I wanted to remind again about the ongoing Morning and Evening podcast devotional every day at Theology Mix, which you can subscribe to through any podcast catcher. It was also a good opportunity though, with this particular episode, to remind about the ongoing series here as well. God willing, tomorrow will see part 2 of the Beatitudes series posted with sermon 3156, “The First Beatitude.” Come back tomorrow and listen, download and share!
“Though we are nothing, Christ is All. All that we need to begin with we must find in Him, just as surely as we must look for our ultimate perfecting to the same Source!”–Charles Spurgeon, “The First Beatitude”
“They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house.” -Psalm 36:8 Sheba’s queen was amazed at the sumptuousness of Solomon’s table. She lost all heart when she saw the provision of a single day; and she marvelled equally at the company of servants who were feasted at the royal board. But what is…