Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Soul of Religion

What wretched communities some churches are, where the soul of religion is absent. There is a company of people called a Christian church, and a man called a minister who gives them a pious essay every Sunday morning, and they go in and out, and go home, and there is an end of the whole thing: meanwhile their neighbors are perishing for lack of knowledge, but they care nothing, the heathen are dying without Christ, but they heed it not. So much is given to the cause of God as must be paid out of sheer necessity for the maintenance of outward ordinances, but there is no zeal, no consecration, no fervor of love. May we never come down to this.

O my beloved, I long to see among us yet more and more abundantly the spirit of divine life, energetic life, fervent, self-denying life, life which consumes everything to achieve God’s glory. Beloved, ye have this and may have more of it, but ye may also lose it. Life and power may soon depart; pastor and people may alike sleep in spiritual sloth, and then at such times, the power having gone from the church, its energy is no longer felt among the unconverted. A living church grasps with a hundred hands all that comes near to it; it is a mighty soul-saving institution, which with its far-reaching nets draws thousands from the sea of death. A living church attracts even the Sabbath-breaker, and arouses the infidel. It startles those whom it does not save. When the church is in this state her converts are plenteous; then her teaching and preaching are with power, and truth pushes down its adversaries....

I tremble lest we should go to sleep, and do nothing: I am alarmed lest there should be no conversions, and nobody caring that there should be any, and yet everything seeming to be prosperous. I know that people may be growing more respectable, and appearing to be more pious than ever they were, and yet everything may be going back. God forbid that the dry rot of indifference should seize upon the heart of the church while she yet appears to be sound and strong. Before that occurs may God be pleased to take me home.

From a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled "And Why Not?," delivered November 12, 1876.


Cristake said...

Very moving words... and very rooted in reality. I would add, if I may, that beyond the church is the man itself, after all everyone of us is responsible for his/hers soul - we compose a church, and sometimes a rotten apple makes the others bad, too. Never in the other way... except the moment when Holy Spirit helps us.
Last weekend I have been with a friend on a little journey to a zone with some monasteries, mountains and forests, thinking that would be a good wash of mind and soul. Surprise... I returned with a dirtier mind, more confused and so on - simply because I didn't had enough pious thoughts, I paid attention to worthless things (and there were lots of them) etc. I am now confused, even scared... if I cannot do something peaceful and good for myself, how could I do it for my brethren? I do not have enough love, probably not enough faith, too... and I don't know what to say more.

Br'er Shaygetz said...

If you could get it right...and keep it that way...you would then be a self righteous man, proud of your piety and absolutely worthless to our Saviour...You are always a treasure my brother, I do hope this finds you blessed and at peace in the Lord....

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
(Rom 7:14-25)

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
(1Co 1:25-31)

Cristake said...

Thank you for the kind words, sir. I read carefully these verses - thank you for sharing them. In fact, that example in Matthew 20 (1:15), with the vineyard master and the payment of his workers, made me astonished not long ago, seeing clearer than ever how twisted our every day reasoning can be. Our thinking seems so right and correct, but is so often rotten at a subtle level...

Have a nice weekend with your loved ones,sir. Best regards,