Friday, November 13, 2009

Go, And Teach All Nations (Part II)

A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, April 21st, 1861, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, by Charles Spurgeon

PART II: The Argument

I have endeavored to be brief, but, I find I have been long, and therefore pass at once to the argument with which the text commences. The ARGUMENT is this: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth, go ye, therefore, and teach all nations.”

Three things here. Christ had suffered, bled and died; he had now risen from the dead. As the effect of his finished work, he has as mediator received all power in heaven and in earth. There is no allusion here to His inherent power that is not given to Him: that is His native right. He has, as God, all power in heaven and in earth.

The text relates to Him as mediator. As mediator he had not this power once; he was weak, he was despised, he was forsaken even of His God. But now, having finished the work was given Him to do, His Father honors Him. He is about to lift Him to His right hand, and gives Him, as a result of His resurrection, all power in heaven and in earth.

Three things, then. First, this is the picture of the Church’s history, and therefore, she should teach all nations. Secondly, his is the Church’s right. Thirdly, it is the Church’s might; and for all these reasons, she ought to teach all nations.

First is the Church’s picture. Christ suffers, bleeds, dies. Do you give up His cause? Do you look upon it as forlorn and desolate? He is nailed to the tree; the world abhors Him, fools gaze and sinners laugh. Do you lay down your weapons and say it is idle to defend such a man as this? It is all over now, He bows His head upon the cross. “It is finished,” saith He; and do your unbelieving hearts say, “Ay, indeed, it is finished; His career is over, His hopes are blighted, His prospects withered?”

Ah! Little do you know that His shame was the mother of His future glory; that the stooping was the rising, that the crown of thorns was in fact the fruitful root out of which sprang the eternal crown of glory. He is put into the grave: do you say that there is the grave of all your faith could believe, or your hope could suggest? He rises, brethren, and His resurrection takes effect and fruit from the fact that He died and was buried.

Do you not see the picture? We have been sending out heralds of the cross these eighteen hundred years; they have landed on many a shore to die. Fever has taken its hundreds, cruel men have slain their scores, from the first day until now, the record of the mission is written in blood. Somewhere or other there must always be martyrs for Christ.

It seems as if the Church never cold plough a wave without a spray of gore. She is still in Madagascar persecuted, afflicted, tormented, still are her ministers hunted about like partridges upon the mountains, and her blood is dying the shambles of her slayers. Do you give up all hope? Shall we, as we look upon the tombs of our missionaries, say that Christ’s cause is dead? Brethren, as you turn over the long roll, and read the names of one after another who sleep in Jesus, shall you say, “Let us close the doors of the Mission House; let us cease our contributions, it is clear the case is hopeless, and the cause can never have success?” Nay, rather, the Church must suffer that she may reign, she must die that she may live, she must be stained with blood, that she may be robed in purple, she must go down into the earth, and seem to be buried and forgotten, that the earth may help the woman, that she may be delivered of the man child.

Courage! Courage! Courage! The past is hopeful, because to the naked eye it seemeth hopeless. The cause is glorious because it has been put to shame. Now, now let us gather the fruits of the bloody sowing: let us now reap the harvest of the deep ploughing of agony and suffering which our ancestors have endured.

I think that no true-hearted Christian will ever give up any enterprise which God has laid upon him, because he fears its ultimate success. “Difficult,” said Napoleon, “is not a French word.” “Doubtful,” is not a Christian word. We are sure to succeed; the Gospel must conquer. It is possible for heaven and earth to pass away, but, it is not possible for God’s Word to fail, and therefore, it is utterly impossible that any nation, or kindred, or tongue should to the end stand out against the attacks of love, against the invasion of the armies of King Jesus.

Thus, then, you see, a fair argument can be built upon the text. Inasmuch as Christ is to His people a picture of what they are to be, inasmuch as by His suffering all power was given to Him in heaven and in earth, so after the sufferings of the Church, the wounds of her martyrs, and her deaths of her confessors, power shall be given unto her in heaven and in earth, and she shall reign with Christ over the nations gloriously.

We now take a second view of the argument. This is the Church’s right. All power is given to Christ in heaven and in earth. What then? Why this? Kings and princes, potentates and power, are ye aware that your thrones have been given away? Do ye know it, ye crowned heads, that your crowns have been given- given away from you to one who claims to be King of kings and Lord of lords? Do ye pass decrees forbidding the Gospel to be preached? We laugh at you! Ye have no power to prevent it, for all power is given unto Christ in heaven and in earth.

Do ye say the missionary has no right upon your shore? The virgin daughter of Zion shaketh her head at you, and laugheth you to scorn. She has right anywhere and everywhere; she has rights in heaven without limit, and rights in earth without bound, for all power is given to her head in heaven and in earth, and she therefore has a patent, a claim which is not to be disputed, to take to herself all countries and all kingdoms, because the power above is given unto Christ.

What is that man doing on yonder shore? He has landed on an island in the South Seas; he is an intruder, banish him at once! Sirs, mind what you do , for surely ye fight against God. But, the man is sent away, he comes back again or if not he, another. A severer edict is passed this time, “Let us slay him, that the inheritance may still be ours.” But another comes, and another and another. Why do you stand up and take counsel together against the Lord, and against His anointed? These men are not intruders, they are ambassadors come to make peace, nay, more.

They are delegates from heaven, come to learn the rightful heritage of King Jesus. Ye, by putting them away as intruders, have denied the rights of Christ, but, to deny is one thing and to disprove another. He hath still aright to you, and therefore hath the missionary still a right to whithersoever he will, preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ.

Once or twice in my life I have met with some miserable little ministers, who, when I have gone into a village to preach, have questioned my right to preach in the village, because I ought to have asked them first, or to have consulted them. Can Christian men look upon a district as their own dominion? Or recon God’s servant as a poacher on their estates, or a brigand in their own territories? Is there any place on this earth so that man can shut out God’s ministers? We once for all put our foot on any claim so ridiculous.

Wherever there is found a man there is found a minister free to preach. The whole world is our parish, we know of no fetter upon our feet, and no gag upon our lips. Though kings should pass laws, the servants of Christ can bear the penalty, but they cannot disobey their Master. Though the Emperor should say the Gospel should not be preached by any unauthorized denomination in France, as I have heard he has said of late, we care not for him.

What cares the Church for a thousand Emperors? Their resolutions are mockery, their laws waste paper. The Church never was yet vassal to the state, or servile slave to municipalities and powers, and she neither can nor will be. At all the laws of states she laughs and utterly defies them, if they come in the ways of the laws of Christ which says, “Teach the Gospel to every creature.” Brethren, I say, the Church has a right anywhere and everywhere- a right not because she is tolerated; the word is insult, not because the law permits, the law permitting or not permitting, tolerated or not, everywhere beneath the arch of God’s heaven, God’s servants have a right to preach.

Oh, that they would claim the right and teach and preach Jesus Christ continually!

But, now, lastly, it seems the argument of the text contains the Church’s might. “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth; go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Ye have power to teach, fear not. Let this be your encouragement; you must succeed, you shall prevail. There lived another man saved Christ, who could say, ”All power is given me on earth.” Canute put his thrown by the side of the sea, but the waves wet his person, and proved to his flattering courtiers that he is but a man.

What power have kings over the lightning, or of the rushing winds? Can they control he tides, or bid the moon stand still? Power is not given unto man, even here on earth. Much less can any man say that all power in heaven belonged to him? This is a singular expression. One which only could be used by Christ, and if any other should attempt to use it, were an imposition, or a blasphemy, but the Lord Jesus Christ can say today, as He said then, “All power is given unto me in Heaven and in earth.”

Let us think then all power is given to Christ in providence. Over common daily events He has supreme authority. You have launched upon the sea, upon a mission voyage; He rules the waves, and wings the winds. Fear not, for tempest is His trembling slave. You have come near the shore, but, there are hidden reefs and sunken rocks. Fear not, for all the power in the lowest deep has been given unto Him to guide you safely, and to bring you to your desired haven.

A band of men meet you upon the shore, brandishing their weapons. You are unarmed, you have nothing but the Word. You shall now prove that “more is He that is with you, than all they that be with them.” Go, in this your might.

All power is given to Christ-- powers over the wills of men as well as over the waves of the sea. But, political occurrences prevent your landing on a certain country, through treaties, or a want of treaties. There is no room for the missionary in such-and-such an empire. Pray! And the gates shall be opened; plead, and the bars of brass shall be cut in twain.

Christ has power over politics. He can make wars, and create peace, with a view to the propagation of His Word. He can change the hearts of princes, and preside in the counsels of senates. He can cause nations which have long been shut up to be opened to the truth. And, indeed, what a wonderful proof we have had of late, that all power belongs unto Christ, for human skill has been yoked to the chariot of the Gospel.

How wondrously, my brethren, have the inventions of man of late years progressed! How could we have preached the Gospel to all nations - how could we have even known that America existed, if it had not been that the Lord put it in the mind of Columbus to discover the New World? And how wearisome our life, if with the ordinary slow navigation of the ancient times we had to journey among all nations! But now we are carried across the waves so rapidly that distance is annihilated, and time forgotten.

Truly God has opened up the world, and brought it to our threshold. If He has not made a smaller world, at least He has made it more convenient and nearer to our hand. And then see how countries, which once could not be reached, have been opened to us.

The “Celestial King of China”, the rebel prince, invites us to come and preach. He does not merely permit - he invites. He builds places of worship. He is prepared, he says, that his brethren should come and teach him, and teach all his subjects, for they are imperfectly taught in the things of God. And the Imperial Sovereign of China, too, though he does not invite, permit’s the missionaries to go among his millions.

There is perfect liberty for us to preach to four hundred million persons who before had never seen the light of Calvary. And there is India, too, given up to our dominion, and the old Company, which always impeded us, rolled up in its shroud and laid in its grave. And there are other lands and other places which once seemed to be environed by impassable mountains, into which we have now a road.

Oh, for the will to dash through that road riding upon he white horses of salvation! Oh, for the heart, the soul, and the spirit to avail ourselves of the golden opportunity, and to preach Christ where He has never been preached before. All power, then, we can clearly see, over everything in this world has been given to Christ, and has been used for the propagation of truth.

Brethren, let us recollect that power is given to Christ in Heaven as well as on earth. All angels bow before Him, and the cherubim and seraphim are ready to obey His high behests (i.e. commands). Power is given to Him over the plenitude of the Holy Spirit; he can pour out the mysterious energy in such abundance that nations can be born in a day. He can clothe His ministers with salvation, and make His priests shout aloud for joy. He has power to intercede with God, and He shall presently send out men to preach, give the people the mind to hear, and give the hearers the will to obey.

We have in the midst of us today our Leader. He is not gone from us. If His flesh and blood be absent yet in body as well as spirit he still lives, adorned with the dew and beauty of His youth. As for the Muslim, his leader has long ago rotted in his coffin; but ours lives, and because He lives His truth and His cause live also.

We have with us today a Leader whose power has not diminished, whose influence in the highest heavens has suffered no impairing. He is universal Lord. Oh, let our efforts be worthy of the power which He has promised. Let our zeal be in some respect akin to His zeal, and let our energy prove that the energy Divine has not been withdrawn.

I wish that I could preach this morning, but, the more earnestly I feel, the more scant are my words with which to express my emotions. I have prayed to God a prayer I shall repeat until the day I die. I have prayed that out of this Church there may go many missionaries. I will never be content with a congregation, or with a Church, or even with ministers, many of whom have gone out of our midst.

God’s people everywhere will I trust aid me in training young soldiers for my Master’s army. God will send the men, and faith will find the means, and we will ourselves send out our own men to proclaim the name of Jesus.

Brethren, it is a singular thing, some young men get the idea in their minds they would like to go to foreign lands, but these are frequently the most unfit men, and have not the power and ability. Now, I would that the Divine call would come to some gifted men.

You who have, perhaps, some wealth of your own, what could be a better object in life than to devote yourself and your substance to the Redeemer’s cause? You young men who have brilliant prospects before you, but who as yet have not the anxieties of a family to maintain, why would it not be a noble thing to surrender your brilliant prospects, that you may become a humble preacher of Christ? The greater the sacrifice, the greater the honor to yourself and the more acceptable to Him.

I have questioned my own conscience, and do not think I could be in the path of duty if I should go abroad and preach the Word, leaving this field of labor. But I think many of my brethren now laboring at home might with the greatest advantage surrender their charges, and leave a land where they would scarce be missed, to go where their presence would be as valuable as the presence of a thousand such as they are here.

Oh, that I long that we may see young men out of the universities, and students in our grammar schools - that we may see our physicians, tradesmen, and educated mechanics, when God has touched their hearts, giving up all they have, that they may teach and preach Christ. We want Vanderkists; we want Judsons and Brainerds over again. It will never do to send out the heathen men who are of no use at home. We cannot send men of third and tenth class abilities; we must send the highest and best. The bravest men must lead the van.

O God, anoint thy servants, we beseech thee; put the fire in their hearts that never can be quenched; make it so hot within their bones that they must die or preach, that they must be down with broken hearts, or be free to preach where Christ was never heard.

Brethren, envy anyone among you - I say again with truth, I envy you - if it shall be your lot to go to China, the country so lately opened to us. I would gladly change places with you. I would renounce the partial case of a settlement in this country, and renounce the responsibilities of so large a congregation as this with pleasure, if I might have your honors. I think sometimes that missionaries in the field - if it be right to compare such great things with such small ones - might say to you, as our English king did to his soldiers at the battle of Agincourt, changing the word for a moment - Have we none out of our sixteen hundred members - have we none out of this congregation of six thousand - who can say, “Here am I, send me?” Jesus! Is there not one? Must heathens perish? Must the gods of the heathens hold their thrones? Must thy kingdom fail? Are there none to own thee, none to maintain thy righteous cause?

If there be none, let us weep, each one of us, because such a calamity has fallen on us. But, if there be any willing to give all for Christ, let us who are compelled to stay at home do our best to help them. Let us see to it that they lack nothing, for we cannot send them out without purse or scrip. Let us fill the purse of the men whose hearts God has filled, and take care of them temporarily, leaving it for God to preserve them spiritually.

May the Lord, the Divine Master add His Blessing to the feeble words that I have uttered, and let me not conclude until I have said, I must teach you too, and this is the teaching of God - “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Trust Him with your soul and He will save you. For “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not, shall be damned.”

Awake, thou Spirit, who of old
Didst fire the watchman of the Church’s youth,
Who faced the foe, unshrinking, bold
Who witnessed day and night the eternal truth
Whose voices through the world are ringing still,
And bringing hosts to know and do thy will!
Oh that thy fire were kindled soon,
That swift from land to land its flame might leap!
Lord, give us but this priceless boon
Of faithful servants, fit for thee to reap
The harvest of the soul; look down and view
How great the harvest, yet the laborers few.
Oh haste to help ere we are lost!
Send forth evangelists, in spirit strong,
Armed with thy Word, a dauntless host,
Bold to attack the rule of ancient wrong
And let them all the earth for thee reclaim,
To be thy kingdom, and to know thy name.

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