“But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”—1 Cor. 1:23, 24
1. A gospel rejected – 9:20
2. A gospel triumphant – 28:51
3. A gospel admired – 36:37
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I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in his dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering, love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the peculiar redemption which Christ made for his elect and chosen people; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having believed. Such a gospel I abhor. The gospel of the Bible is not such a gospel as that.
But how many are there externally religious, with whose characters you could find no fault, but who have never had the regenerating influence of the Holy Ghost; who never were made to lie prostrate on their face before Calvary’s cross; who never turned a wishful eye to yonder Saviour crucified; who never put their trust in him that was slain for the sons of men. They love a superficial religion, but when a man talks deeper than that, they set it down for cant. You may love all that is external about religion, just as you may love a man for his clothes—caring nothing for the man himself. If so, I know you are one of those who reject the gospel. You will hear me preach; and while I speak about the externals, you will hear me with attention; whilst I plead for morality, and argue against drunkenness, or show the heinousness of Sabbath-breaking, all well and good; but if once I say, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye can in no wise enter into the kingdom of God;” if once I tell you that you must be elected of God—that you must be purchased with the Saviour’s blood—that you must be converted by the Holy Ghost—you say, “He is a fanatic! Away with him, away with him! We do not want to hear that any more.” Christ crucified, is to the Jew—the ceremonialist—a stumblingblock.
He likes to hear true doctrine; but it never penetrates his inner man. You never see him weep. Preach to him about Christ crucified, a glorious subject, and you never see a tear roll down his cheek; tell him of the mighty influence of the Holy Ghost—he admires you for it, but he never had the hand of the Holy Spirit on his soul; tell him about communion with God, plunging into Godhead’s deepest sea, and being lost in its immensity—the man loves to hear, but he never experiences, he has never communed with Christ; and accordingly when once you begin to strike home, when you lay him on the table, take out your dissecting knife, begin to cut him up, and show him his own heart, let him see what it is by nature, and what it must become by grace—the man starts, he cannot stand that; he wants none of that—Christ received in the heart and accepted. Albeit, that he loves it enough in the head, ’tis to him a stumblingblock, and he casts it away. Do you see yourselves here, my friends?
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
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