Sermon Shorts from Spurgeon — Sermon 26: The Two Effects of the Gospel

Again the minister of the gospel is called a fisherman. Now a fisherman is not responsible for the quantity of fish he catches, but for the way he fishes. That is a mercy for some ministers, I am sure, for they have neither caught fish, for neither caught fish nor even attracted any round their nets. They have been spending all their life fishing with most elegant silk lines, and gold and silver hooks; they always use nicely polished phrases; but the fish will not bite for all that, whereas we of a rougher order have put the hook into the jaws of hundreds. However, if we cast the gospel net in the right place, even if we catch none, the Master will find no fault with us He will say, “Fisherman! didst thou labour? Didst thou throw the net into the sea in the time of storms?” “Yes, my Lord, I did.” “What hast thou caught?” “Only one or two.” “Well, I could have sent thee a shoal, if it so pleased me; it is not thy fault; I give in my sovereignty where I please; or withhold when I choose; but as for thee, thou hast well laboured, therefore there is thy reward.”

From the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 1, Sermon 26 by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Sermon Shorts from Spurgeon — Sermon 23: Thoughts on the Last Battle

If ye would be saved by works, men and brethren, ye must be as holy as the angels, ye must be as pure and as immaculate as Jesus; for the law requires perfection, and nothing short of it; and God, with unflinching vengeance, will smite every man low who cannot bring him a perfect obedience. If I cannot, when I come before his throne, plead a perfect righteousness as being mine, God will say, “you have not fulfilled the demands of my law; depart, accursed one! You have sinned, and you must die.” “Ah,” says one, “can we ever have a perfect righteousness, then? Yes, I will tell you of that … thanks be unto Christ, who giveth us the victory through his blood and through his righteousness, who adorns us as a bride in her jewels as a husband arrays his wife with ornaments.

From the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 1, Sermon 23 by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Sermon Shorts from Spurgeon — Sermon 22: A Caution to the Presumptuous

There are some persons here, who never attend a place of worship very likely; they do not profess to be religious; but I am sure they would be astonished if I were to tell them, that I know some professedly religious people who are accepted in some churches as being true children of God, who yet make it a habit of stopping away from the house of God, because they conceive they are so advanced that they do not want it. You smile at such a thing as that. They boast such deep experience within; they have a volume of sweet sermons at home, and they will stop and read them; they need not go to the house of God, for they are fat and flourishing. They conceit themselves that they have received food enough seven years ago to last them the next ten years. They imagine that old food will feed their souls now. These are your presumptuous men. They are not to be found at the Lord’s table, eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ, in the holy emblems of bread and wine. You do not see them in their closets; you do not find them searching the Scriptures with holy curiosity. They think they stand—they shall never be moved; they fancy that means are intended for weaker Christians; and leaving those means, they fall. They will not have the shoe to put upon the foot, and therefore the flint cutteth them; they will not put on the armour, and therefore the enemy wounds them—sometimes well- nigh unto death. In this deep quagmire of neglect of the means, many a haughty professor has been smothered.

From the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 1, Sermon 22 by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Church Meetings – Part 5: What Functions Are Required at a Church Meeting?

When we go to church, depending on your particular denomination or tradition, there are certain things which are expected. These include, music, singing, taking an offering, prayer(s), reading of Scripture, and preaching or teaching. Churches perform these functions and others regularly. We often have choirs, worship leaders, praise bands, and designated people who pray and preach. But what is actually required in the Bible for a meeting of a church?

Many of the current programs and ministries which many churches engage in, while often fulfilling a biblical function, are not absolutely necessary to fulfill that function.  Should we praise and worship God?  Yes.  Does that require a praise band and a worship leader?  No.  We can accomplish praise and worship without those things.  Should we study the Bible and have pastors/teachers to help us understand and apply it?  Yes.  Does that require attending a church service or Sunday School in a church building at a prescribed time and date?  No.  It requires a meeting of believers, anywhere, with a capable pastor/teacher.  Should we fellowship with other believers?  Yes.  Does that require that we meet primarily with those Christians who are members of our “local church” at scheduled times?  No.  We can meet with Christians wherever we live and work at any time/place. And are all these functions required at every meeting of believers? No.

Nowhere in the Bible is there an “order of service” or “service schedule” for a church service. There are no specifics given for a church meeting. By this, I mean that the biblical writers did not receive a revelation from God instructing us in how to conduct a church service. In 1 Corinthians, Paul addressed some problems with how those believers were conducting themselves when meeting, but there are no specifics on what must be included in church meetings. I can confirm that the prayer and edification (building each other up) was a mainstay when Christians met as there are a several references to that. However, how that was done had no consistent specifications.

Therefore, there is great freedom in how churches meet. It is not limited to a building, a local church, or a denomination. In my opinion, we place way too much emphasis on things which do not matter biblically. So if I’m in the workplace and 3 of us get together to pray, it doesn’t matter that one of us is a Methodist, another a Presbyterian, and another a Baptist. We can pray and exhort each other, and biblically, that is an “assembly” of believers. Consider the following:

So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (Romans 12:5)

For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:17)

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Paul was not a member of the local church at either Rome or Corinth. Yet, he considered himself a part of the same body–the body of Christ. This is the focus we are missing in the contemporary Church.

Church Meetings – Part 4: Where Should Churches Meet?

As I stated in a previous article in this series, our modern view of church is typically associated with meeting in a building. We talk about, “Going to church.” By that we usually mean that we’re going to travel to a building and meet with other Christians for a formal assembly of believers. What do the Scriptures reveal about this?

There is no established place for Christians to assemble in the Bible.  The biblical text is clear.  They met in homes.  There was no “church building” for them to meet in. 

[As an aside, I have heard preachers use 1 Corinthians 11:18 as referring to a church building, “For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.” (KJV) There are two issues with the phrase “in the church”. First, the Greek preposition en, translated “in” has a broad array of meanings, depending on the context. Nearly every other English translation (NKJV, NASB, ESV, NIV, HCSB, RSV, et al.) renders it “as” which makes more sense in context. Second, there is no article (“the”) in the Greek text. The absence of the article usually means that it should be translated one of two ways: (1) “as church” indicating the character or quality of the church or (2) “as a church” indicating that the church is indefinite and not a specific one or location. (For you Greek students out there, I’m simplifying this for a general audience. It is understood that there are grammatical constructions which would make the phrase definite and thus require the article in English, but that is not the case here.) Again, context would indicate that it should be “as a church”. The only translation which does not follow this is the KJV. Now I love the KJV, but the Greek text trumps it.]

Again, I’m not saying that having a building is wrong.  I’m just saying that it’s foreign to the Bible.  So, if I meet with Christians at my workplace, even for a few minutes, to share, pray, and maybe even discuss Scripture, is that an assembly of the church?  Think about it before you answer.  We weren’t in a church building, but that’s not a biblical requirement.  We didn’t sing songs, but that’s not a biblical requirement either.  We didn’t take an offering, but since you cannot find even a single reference to a church in the Bible taking an offering for their own use, that’s not an issue either. 

Could it be that Hebrews 10:25 could refer to something other than our traditional concept of a church assembly?  The Greek word for “assembling” (episunagoge) refers to a “gathering together in one place”.  It does not speak to the number of people or a building or a need to have a pastor present or singing or preaching and it certainly does not refer to a denomination.  The context is that we “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works”.  (Heb. 10:24)  And remember, Jesus made a propositional statement in Matthew 18:20 that where 2 or 3 are gathered that He’s there.  It’s something to think about.

In conclusion, an assembly of believers (a church) can occur anywhere. Our concept of “going to church” is shaped by our contemporary view of it. The biblical text requires Christians meeting together and that can occur anywhere Christians are assembled.