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Sunday, August 20, 2017
Date Posted:

C. H. Spurgeon

The Priest Is Dispensed With! Part 3

C. H. Spurgeon

III. The last point is this, HOW DO WE KNOW THAT WE ARE BELIEVERS?  It is clear that if we are believers we are saved, but how do we know that we are believers?

First of all, as a general rule, it is a matter of consciousness. How do I know that I breathe? How do I know what that I think? How do I know that I believe that there was once a Saxon Heptarchy? I know I do, and that is enough. Faith is to a large extent a matter of consciousness. A man is not always a like conscious of what is true, for a man might be in such a weak condition that he might say, “I hardly know whether my heart beats,” and yet it will be beating all the time.  Doubts may arise, and will, but as a general rule faith is a matter of consciousness. I live, and if you ask me for proof I reply,  “I know I do.” I believe, and if you ask me how I know it I reply,  “I am sure I do.”

Still there is other evidence. How do I know that I am a believer?  Why, by the very remarkable change which I underwent when I believed; for when a man believes in Jesus Christ there is such a change wrought in him that he must be aware of it. As in the case of the blind man when his eyes were opened he said, “One thing I know, whereas I was blind, now I see.” That poor woman who had the issue of blood so many years, when she touched Christ's garment and was healed, how did she know it? We read that she felt in herself that she was made whole. She had touched the hem of the Lord's garment, and was recovered, and in the same way the believer knows that he has believed.  Suppose a child was born in a coal pit, and has seen no light except that of the candles down below, and, that he is suddenly taken up the shaft to see the sun, and the green fields, and the sweet spring flowers. What a surprise! I cannot wonder if the child should think itself dreaming; but if you were to say to it, “Are you out of the coal pit? can you prove that you are?” why, notwithstanding that the child would hardly know where it was because of its vast surprise, yet would it be sure that it was out of the darkness, convinced by an argument within itself which nobody could refute. So we do know, brethren, that we are born again, for we feel a new life, and live in a new world.  Things we never dreamed of before we have realised now. I remember one who when he was converted said,  “Well, either the world is new or else I am.”  This change is to us strong evidence that faith is in us, and has exercised its power.

Brethren, we have further evidence that we believe, for our affections are so altered. The believer can say that the things he once loved he now hates, and the things he hated he now loves; that which gave him pleasure now causes him pain, and things which were irksome and unpleasant have now become delightful to him.  Especially is there a great change in us with respect to God. We said in our hearts, “No God.”  Not that we dared say, “There is no God;” but we wanted to get away from him; we would have been glad to hear that there was no God. How altered are our affections!  Now our greatest joy is in God, the nearer we can approach to him the better, the very sound of his name is delicious music to us. Now, we know that this change was produced by our believing in him, of that we are confident for the matter is clear. A certain master had a servant whose mind was very much poisoned against him by slanderous tales. Everything the master did the servant miscontsrued, because he considered him to be a tyrant and an oppressor. Now it came to pass that this servant one day learned more concerning his master, and found out that everything he had done was dictated by the most generous motives, and that his master indeed was one of the excellent of the earth. The moment that servant's thoughts of his master changed and he had faith in his goodness, he acted very differently, as you may well conceive; none could be more faithful and diligent than he. Now, we prove that we believe, because we feel towards God so very differently; he is loved in our inmost souls, and we delight to serve him. This would have been utterly impossible if we had not been changed in our feelings toward him by being led to trust him.

We know, also, that we  believe because though very far from perfect we Love holiness and strive after purity. You that have believed in Jesus, do you not now pant after holiness?  Do you not endeavour to do that which is right, and when you are conscious that you have failed does not conscience prick you? Have you not gone on your knees in bit­terness of soul and said, “My God, Help me and deliver me, for I delight in thy commandments; help me to keep thy statutes”?  Right, and truth, and peace are the things you now seek after, whereas time was when these were of small account, and your own selfish pleasure, and your own perverted judgment, were the rule of your being. By this change of conduct we know that we have believed in Jesus Christ.

And, my dear brothers and sisters, we know that we have believed in Jesus Christ because now we have communion with God; we are in the habit of speaking with God in prayer, and hearing the Lord speak with us when we read his word. Some of us have spoken with our Lord Jesus so often that we have grown to be near and dear friends, and whatsoever we ask in prayer he grants us. Answered prayers are sweet testimonies to faith. When the Lord is pleased to deliver us out of trouble, when his Holy Spirit cheers us in depression, when he helps us under difficulties; when he makes us patient under pain - all these things become proofs that we have real faith in him, since our faith has realised him and brought him near, taught us how to live upon him, and so strengthened us in his ways.

Once more only upon this point, and then we will come to the practical conclusion: we know that we have believed in the Lord Jesus because we have over and above all this a secret something, indescribable to others, but well‑known by ourselves, which is called in Scripture the witness of the Holy Spirit: for it is written, “The Spirit himself also beareth witness with our spirit that we are born of God.” First our spirit bears witness to our new birth, and then the Spirit of God comes in and bears witness with our spirit to the same effect. Do you know what it means? If you do not I cannot tell you. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.” There comes stealing over the soul sometimes a peace, a joy, a perfect rest, a heavenly deliciousness, a supreme content, in which, though no voice is heard yet are we conscious that there is rushing through our souls, like a strain of heaven's own music, the witness of the Spirit of God. We are sure of it, as sure as we are of our own being, and by that witness we know that we are indeed believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now mark, we may not ask for any witness to begin with beyond the testimony of God, nor will any other witness be given. I charge all of you here present not to say, “I will believe in God when I obtain the inward witness.” No, you are bound to believe in God first, on the sure testimony of his word. If you believe his word you shall know the sweets of grace. To ask for more evidence first is as though a man should say, “Here is a medicine prepared by a physician of great repute, and it is said to be very powerful for driving out the disease from which I suffer: I will take it as soon as I see that I am improving by its means.” The man has lost his reason, has he not? He cannot expect even a partial cure till he has taken the medicine. He cannot expect the result to come before the cause. You must take the good Physician's medicine as a matter of faith, and afterwards your faith will be increased by the beneficial result. You must believe on the Lord Jesus, because of the witness of God concerning him, for that is all the witness you ought to wish for, and all that God will give you. After you have believed, other witnesses will spring up in your soul, as the results of faith, and so your confidence will be strengthened; but just now, beloved, believe in Jesus Christ, and having believed in him you shall know that you are forgiven for his name's sake.

In closing, let me ask every person here, do you believe in Jesus Christ or no? If thou believest thou art saved; if thou believest not thou art condemned already, because thou hast not believed. Remember that.

Let me next ask, are any of you seeking after any witness beyond the witness of God?  If you are, do you not know that virtually you are making God a liar?  For if God says such and such a thing is true, and you seek any further evidence beyond his word, you do in effect say that God's witness is not sufficient, and that God is false.  I pray you behave not so insolently. Accept his naked word, for it is surer than the sight of the eye or the hearing of the ears. Behold how the arch of heaven stands without a single pillar, vast as it is: what sustains it but the word of God? See how this round world hangs on nothing, and yet starts not from her sphere: what maintains her in her course but the bare word of God? That word which rolls the stars along, and has never failed to fulfil its purpose, is that on which you are asked to lean.  Sinner, will you believe your God?  If you will, you shall be established, and blessed, and enriched; but if you still say he is a liar then shall you be as the heath in the desert which shall not see when good cometh, but suffereth perpetual drought. If you rest in Jesus, trusting him, you have done well, but yet you have only done him justice. There is no merit in believing what is true, who but a man of base heart would refuse to do so?  To believe One who cannot lie is by no means a meritorious action, and hence salvation is by faith that it may be by grace; yet faith will bring to you life, love, joy, peace, immortality, and all that heaven can mean.

May God grant you grace to believe; but I pray you do not let the little man in robes stand between you and Christ. Let no one do so. I charge you, never regard anything I say as having any authority in it apart from the word of God.  I reckon it of all crimes the greatest for a man to assume to mediate between men and God.  Little as I respect the devil I prefer him to a priest who pretends to forgive sins; for even the devil has too much honesty about him to pretend to give absolution in God’s name.  There is but one pardoning priest, and he is the Son of the Highest.  His one sacrifice has ended all other sacrifices; his one atonement has rendered all future oblations an imposture.  To‑day as Elias stood on Carmel and cried out against the priests of Baal, so would I.  I count no words too severe. If my every speech should be a thunderbolt and every word a lightning flash, it would not be too strong to protest against the accursed system which once degraded the whole earth to kiss the Pope’s foot, and is degrading our nation still, and that through a so‑called Protestant church. 0, God Almighty, thou God of Latimer and Ridley, God of the martyrs, whose ashes are still among us, wilt thou suffer this people to go back again to false gods and saints and saintesses, and virgins, and crucifixes, relics, and cast clouts and rotten rags; for to this also will they come if thy grace prevent not. Oh, my hearers, Jesus is the only Saviour of the sons of men. Believe in him and live. This is the only gospel: at your peril reject it. I pray you receive it for Christ’s sake.

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