For more than a century, Charles Haddon Spurgeon's sermons have been consistently recognized, and their usefulness and impact have continued to the present day, even in the outdated English of the author's own day.
Why then should expositions already so successful and of such stature and proven usefulness require adaptation, revision, rewrite or even editing? The answer is obvious. To increase its usefulness to today's reader, the language in which it was originally written needs updating.
Though his sermons have served other generations well, just as they came from the pen of the author in the nineteenth century, they still could be lost to present and future generations, simply because, to them, the language is neither readily nor fully understandable.
My goal, however, has not been to reduce the original writing to the vernacular of our day. It is designed primarily for you who desire to read and study comfortably and at ease in the language of our time. Only obviously archaic terminology and passages obscured by expressions not totally familiar in our day have been revised. However, neither Spurgeon's meaning nor intent have been tampered with.
All Scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION © 1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Christ's People-Imitators of Him
April 29, 1855Transcription and Updated Text copyright © Tony Capoccia, 1999
C. H. SPURGEON
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus”-Acts 4:13.
Behold! what a change divine grace will work in a person, and in a very short a time. That same Peter, who, when Jesus was arrested, only followed Christ from a distance, and called down curses on himself and swore that he did not even know Him. This same Peter, is now to be found side by side with the loving John, boldly declaring that there is salvation in no other name except that of Jesus Christ, and preaching the resurrection of the dead, through the sacrifice of his dying Lord.
The Scribes and Pharisees soon discover the reason of his boldness. They correctly guessed that it rested not in his learning or his talents, for neither Peter nor John had been educated; they had been trained as fishermen; their education was a knowledge of the sea-of the fisherman's craft; they had no other skills; their boldness could not therefore spring from the self-sufficiency of knowledge, but from the Spirit of the living God.
Nor did they acquire their courage from their standing in society; for rank will confer a sort of dignity upon a man, and make him speak with a feigned authority, even when he has no talent or genius; but these men were, as it says in the original Greek text, idiotai, which would means “private men,” who stood in no official capacity; men without rank or standing. When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unschooled and ordinary individuals, they marveled, and they came to a right conclusion as to the source of their power-they had been living with Jesus. Their conversation with the Prince of light and glory, and backed up, as they might have also known, by the influence of the Holy Spirit, without which even that eminently holy example of Christ would have been in vain, all this had made them bold for their Master's cause.
Oh! my brethren, it would be good if this proclamation, which was forced from
the lips of enemies, could also be compelled by our own example. If we could
live like Peter and John; if our lives were living epistles “known and read by
everybody;” if, whenever we were seen, men would take note of us, that we had
been with Jesus, it would be a wonderful thing for this world, and a blessed
thing for us. It is concerning this that I am speaking to you this morning; and
as God gives me grace, I will endeavor to stir up your minds by way of
remembrance, and urge you also to imitate Jesus Christ, our heavenly pattern,
that men may understand that you are disciples of the Holy Son of God.
This morning, I will first tell you what a Christian should be; secondly, I will tell you when he should be so; thirdly, why he should be so; and then fourthly how he can be so.
I. As God may help us then, first of all, we will speak of WHAT A BELIEVER SHOULD BE.
A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ. You have read various descriptions of the life of Christ, beautifully and eloquently written, and you have admired the talent of the persons who could write so well; but the best life of Christ is his living biography, written out in the words and actions of His people. If we, my brethren, were what we profess to be; if the Spirit of the Lord were in the heart of all his children, and if, instead of having an abundance of people who only go through the motions of Christianity, if instead, we were all true possessors of that vital grace, then I would tell you not only what we ought to be, but what we should be: we should be pictures of Christ, yes, such striking representations of Him that the world would not have to examine us for hours, and say, “Well, it seems somewhat of a likeness;” rather that they would, when they first looked at us, exclaim, “He has been with Jesus; he has been taught of Him; he is like Him; he has caught the very idea of the holy Man of Nazareth, and he expands it out into his very life and every day actions.”
In enlarging upon this point, it will be necessary to assume, that when we affirm that men should be such and such a thing, we refer to the people of God. We do not wish to speak to them in any legal way. We are not under the law, but under grace. Christians are required to keep all of God's commands; but the reason why they do so is not because the law is binding upon them, but rather, because the gospel constrains them; they believe, that having been redeemed by divine blood; having been purchased by Jesus Christ, they are more compelled to keep His commands, than they would have been if they were under the law; they hold themselves to be ten thousand times more in debt to God, than they could have been under the Mosaic Law. Not of force; not of compulsion; not through fear of the whip; not through legal bondage; but through pure, love and gratitude to God, they lay themselves out for His service, seeking to be "true Israelites, in whom there is nothing false."
I have made it a point, to declare what I did, to ensure that no one would think that I am preaching works as the way of salvation; I will yield to none of this, for I will always maintain-that we are saved by grace, and not by ourselves; but I must equally testify, that when a person is saved and filled with the grace of God, then good works will always be produced.
Again, when I say that a believer should be a striking likeness and picture
of Jesus, I do not suppose that any one Christian will perfectly exhibit all the
features of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; yet, my brethren, the fact that
perfection is beyond our reach, should not diminish the eagerness of our desire
to attain it. The artist, when he paints, knows very well that he shall not be
able to surpass that famous Greek artist Apelles; but that does not discourage
him; he carefully uses his brush, that he may, at least in some humble measure,
resemble the great master. Likewise the sculptor, though persuaded that he will
not rival the celebrated Greek sculptor Praxiteles, he will still chip out the
marble, and seek to fashion it to be as accurate to the model as possible. In
the same way, the Christian; though he feels he never can mount to the heights
of complete excellence, and perceives that he can never become, on earth, the
exact image of Christ, still he holds it up before him as his goal, and measures
his own deficiencies by the distance between himself and Jesus. This he will do;
forgetting all he has attained, he will press forward, crying, Excelsior!
Forward! Advance! going higher still, desiring to be conformed more and more
to the image of Christ Jesus.
1. First, then, a Christian should be like Christ in his boldness.
This is a virtue now-a-days called impudence, which is the quality of being
offensively bold, but the grace is equally valuable by whatever name it may be
called. I suppose if the Jewish leaders had given a definition of Peter and
John, they would have called them impudent fellows.
Jesus Christ and His disciples were noted for their courage. “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Jesus Christ never bowed down to the rich, nor to the great and noble; He stood erect, a man before men-the prophet of the people; speaking out boldly and freely what He thought.
A perfect example of this is found in that mighty deed of His, when going to the city where He had lived and been brought up. Knowing that a prophet had no honor in his own country, the sacred scroll was put into His hands (He had only just begun His ministry), yet without tremor He unrolled the sacred volume, and what did he take for his text? Most men, coming to their own neighborhood, would have chosen a subject adapted to the desires of the people, in order to earn fame. But what doctrine did Jesus preach that morning? One which in our age is scorned and hated-the doctrine of election.
He opened the Scriptures, and began to read: “There were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed-only Naaman the Syrian."
Then he began to tell, how God saves whom He pleases, and rescues whom He chooses. Oh! how they gnashed their teeth at Him, dragged Him out, and would have thrown Him off the cliff. Don’t you admire his resolute courage? He saw their teeth gnashing; He knew their hearts were hot with hatred, while their mouths foamed with revenge and hostility; still He stood like the angel who shut the lions' mouths; He did not feared them; faithfully He proclaimed what He knew to be the truth of God, and still read on, despite them all. So, it was in all of His sermons and messages. If he saw a Scribe or a Pharisee in the congregation, He did not keep hold back any part of the truth, but pointing His finger, He said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” And when one of the experts in the law came, saying, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us;” He turned around and said “You experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”
Jesus preached and taught only honest truth; He never knew the fear of man;
No one caused Him to tremble; He stood out among all of God's chosen ones,
careless of man's esteem. My friends, be like Christ in this. If you are true
servants of God, be like Jesus Christ, be bold for your master; never blush to
admit that you are a Christian; your profession of faith will never disgrace
you; be careful that you never disgrace your faith. Your love of Christ will
never dishonor you; it may bring some temporary scorn from your friends, or
slander from your enemies; but live on, and you shall live down their slander;
live on, and you shall stand among the glorified, honored even by those who
hissed at you, when Jesus shall come to be glorified by His angels, and admired
by them that love Him. Be like Jesus, very bold for your God, so that when they
shall see your boldness, they may say, “He has been with Jesus.”
Just as no one feature will give a portrait of a man; so the one virtue of boldness will never make you like Christ. There have been some who have been noble men, but have carried their courage to excess; they have thus been exaggerations of Christ, and not portraits of Him. We must mix with our boldness the loveliness of Jesus' disposition. Let courage be the brass, let love be the gold. Let us mix the two together; so we produce a rich metal, fit to be manufactured into the beautiful gate of the temple. Let your love and courage be mingled together. The Christian who is bold may indeed accomplish wonders. John Knox accomplished a lot, but he might have done more if he had had a little love. Luther was a conqueror-and we honor his name!-still, we who look upon him from a distance, think that if he had sometimes mixed a little mildness with it-if, while he had been resolute in action, he had also been gentle in manner, and spoken somewhat more mildly, he might have done even more good than he did.
So brethren, while we too are bold, let us always imitate the loving Jesus. The child comes to him; He takes him on His knee, and says, “"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.” A widow has just lost her only son; Jesus weeps at the funeral, and with a word, restores life to the dead man. He sees a paralytic, a leper, or a bed-ridden man; He speaks, they rise, and are healed. He lived for others, not for Himself. His constant labors were without any motive, except the good of those who lived in the world. And we all know the mighty sacrifice He made, when He humble Himself by laying down His life for man-when on the cross, trembling with agony, and hanging in the shame and suffering of crucifixion, He submitted to death for our sakes, that we might be saved.
Observe that love is summed up in Christ! He was one mighty pillar of
benevolence. As God is love, so Christ is love. Oh, you Christians, you be
loving also. Let you love and your generosity beam out on all men. Do not say,
“keep warm and well fed,” but “give food and comfort to all.” If you
cannot imitate unlock the prison doors-if you cannot visit that sad house of
misery, yet each in your proper sphere, speak kind words, do kind actions; live
out Christ again in the kindness of your life. If there is one virtue which most
commends Christians, it is that of kindness; it is to love the people of God, to
love the church, to love the world, to love everyone. But oh how many Crab-tree
Christians are found in our churches, who have mixed such a vast amount of
vinegar, and such a tremendous quantity of rudeness in their dispositions, that
they can scarcely speak one good word to you: they think it is impossible to
defend Christianity except by passionate agitation; they cannot speak for their
dishonored Master without being angry with their opponent; and if anything is
wrong, whether it be in the home, the church, or anywhere else, they conceive it
to be their duty to set their faces like flint, and to defy everybody. They are
like isolated icebergs, no one cares to go near them. They float about on the
sea of forgetfulness, until at last they are melted and gone; and though, they
were saved souls, and we will be happy to meet them in heaven, we are precious
glad to get rid of them from the earth. They were always so disagreeable in
their disposition, that we would rather live an eternity with them in heaven
than five minutes on earth. Do not be like them, my brethren. Imitate Christ in
you loving spirits; speak kindly, act kindly, and do kindly, that men may say of
you, “He has been with Jesus.”
2. Another great feature in the life of Christ was His deep and sincere humility; which we must also imitate.
While we will not cringe or bow (far from it; we are those who are free because the truth makes free; we walk through this world equal to everyone, inferior to none) yet we would endeavor to be like Christ, continually humble. Oh, you proud Christian (for though it is a paradox, there are some Christians who are full of pride), if you are a Christian, I beg you to look at your Master, look at Him talking to the children, bending from the majesty of His divinity to speak to mankind on earth, living among the peasants of Galilee, and then-yes, we see a depth of condescension that is unparalleled-God washing His disciples' feet, and wiping them with the towel after supper. This is your Master, whom you profess to worship; this is your Lord, whom you adore. And you, some of you who count yourselves Christians, cannot speak to a person who is not dressed in the same kind of clothing as yourselves, or who do not have exactly as much money per year as you have.
In England, it is true that a gold coin will not speak to a shilling, and a
shilling will not notice a sixpence, and a sixpence will sneer at a penny. But
it should not be so with Christians. We ought to forget social class, position
and rank, when we come into Christ's church. Remember, Christian, who your
Master was-a man of the poor. He lived with them; He ate with them. And will you
walk with lofty heads and stiff necks, looking with hateful contempt upon your
inferior fellowmen? What are you? The meanest of all, because your deceit and
adornments make you proud. You are a pitiful, despicable soul! How small you
look in God's sight! Christ was humble; He stooped to do anything which might
serve others. He had no pride; He was a humble man, a friend of prostitutes,
drunkards, and sinners of all kind, living and walking with them. So, Christian,
be like thy Master-one who can stoop; yes, be one who considers others better
than himself, and counts it his honor to sit with the poorest of Christ's
people, and says, “If my name is written in the obscurest part of the book of
life, it is enough for me, so unworthy am I of His notice!” Be like Christ in
So might I continue, dear brethren, speaking of the various characteristics of Christ Jesus; but you can think of them as well as I can, therefore I shall not do so. It is easy for you to sit down and paint Jesus Christ, for you have Him drawn out here in His word. I find that time would fail me if I were to give you an entire likeness of Jesus; but let me say, imitate him in his holiness. Was He zealous for His master? So you should be too. Did Jesus always go about doing good. Then do not waste time-it is too precious. Was Jesus self-denying, never looking to His own interest? Then you also must deny self. Was He devout? So also should be fervent in your prayers. Did Jesus obey His Father's will? So also you must submit yourselves to Him. Was He patient? So you also must learn to endure. And best of all, like the best picture of Jesus, try to forgive your enemies as He did; and let those sublime words of you Master, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” always ring in your ears. When you are provoke to revenge; when hot anger starts, control it at once, and do not let it not dash forward with you headlong. Remember, anger is temporary insanity. Forgive as you hope to be forgiven. Heap coals of fire on the head of your enemy by your kindness to him. Remember, doing good for evil, is god-like. Be god-like, then; and in all ways, and by all means, so live that your enemies may say, “He has been with Jesus.”
II. Now, WHEN SHOULD CHRISTIANS IMITATE CHRIST?
There is an idea in the world that persons ought to be very religious on a Sunday, but it does not matter what they are on Monday. How many holy preachers are there on a Sunday, who are very unholy preachers during the rest of the week! How many are there who come up to church with a solemn appearance, who join in the singing and profess to pray, yet who in reality have no part in the matter, but who are “full of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity!” This is true of some of you who are present here today.
When should a Christian, then, be like Jesus Christ? Is there a time when he may strip off his uniform-when the warrior may unbuckle his armor, and become like other men? Oh! no; at all times and in every place let the Christian be what he professes to be. I remember talking some time ago with a person who said, “I do not like visitors who come to my house and introduce religion; I think we ought to have religion on Sunday, when we go to church, but not in the living room.” I suggested to the individual that we would need to purchase a great number of beds, if there should be no religion except in church. “How is that?” was the question. “Why,” I replied, “we would need to have beds placed in all our places of worship, for surely we need religion to die with, and consequently, every one would want to die in church.” Yes, we all need the comforts of God in our last days; but how can we expect to enjoy them unless we obey the precepts of Christianity during life? My brethren, let me say, be like Christ at all times.
1. Imitate Him in public.
Most of us live publicly; many of us are called to work before our fellowmen every day. We are watched; our words are listened too; our lives are examined-and often taken apart in pieces. The eagle-eyed, vigilant world observes everything we do, and sharp critics come after us. Let us live the life of Christ in public. Let us take care that we exhibit our Master, and not ourselves-so that we can say, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Be careful that you carry this into the church too, you who are church-members. Be like Christ in the church. How many are there of you like Diotrephes, seeking pre-eminence? How many are trying to have some dignity and power over their fellow Christians, instead of remembering that it is the fundamental rule of all our churches, that all men are equal-all are brethren, and should be treated as such. Carry out the spirit of Christ, then, in your churches, wherever you are; let your fellow members say to you, “He has been with Jesus.”
2. But, most of all, be careful to have Christianity in your homes.
A Christian home is the best proof of true devotion. It is not my church, it is my home-it is not my minister, it is my family-who can best judge me; it is the child, the wife, the friend, that can most clearly discern my real character. A good man will improve his household. Rowland Hill once said, he would not believe a man to be a true Christian if his wife, his children, and even the dog and cat, were not better off because of him. That is being a true Christian. If your household is not the better because of your Christianity-if men cannot say, “This is a better house than others,” then do not be deceived-you do not have the grace of God. If you happened to have a servant in your house, and they left you employment, Let them never say, “Well, this is a strange sort of a religious family; there was no prayer in the morning, and there was no prayer at night, I was kept at home all day Sunday. Once every couple of weeks, perhaps, I was allowed to go out in the afternoon, when there was nowhere to go where I could hear a gospel sermon. My master and mistress went to a place where of course they heard the blessed gospel of God-that was all for them; as for me, I might be able to find an overworked assistant pastor in the afternoon.” Surely, Christian men will not act in that way. No! Carry out your godliness in your family. Let everyone say that you have practical Christianity. Let it be known and read in the house, as well as in the world. Take care of your character there; for what we are at home, we really are. Our life outside the home is often nothing but the actor's part of a great scene, but at home the mask is removed, and men are what they seem. Be careful how you live at home.
3. Yet again, my brethren, before I leave this point, imitate Jesus in secret.
When no eye sees you except the eye of God, when darkness covers you, when you are shut up from the observation of humanity, even then be like Jesus Christ. Remember His fervent love, His secret devotion-how, after preaching all day long, He stole away in the midnight shades to cry for help from His God. Remember how His entire life was constantly sustained by fresh inspirations of the Holy Spirit, derived by prayer. Take care of your secret life; let it be such that you will not be ashamed to have it exposed at the last great day. Your inner life is written in the book of God, and it shall one day be open before you. If the entire life of some of you were known, it would be no life at all; it would be a death. Yes, even of some true Christians we may say it is hardly a life at all. It is a dragging on of an existence-one quick prayer a day-one breathing, just enough to keep their souls alive, but no more.
O, my brethren, strive to be more like Jesus Christ. These are times when we
need more secret prayer. I have been filled with great fear all this week. I do
not know whether it is true; but when I feel such a thing I like to tell it to
those of you who belong to my own church and congregation. I am concerned that
you have ceased to pray as earnestly as you once did. I remember your earnest
groans and petitions-how you would assemble together in multitudes, and cry out
to God to help his servant. Do you still pray in private? Have you forgotten me?
Have you ceased to cry out to God? Oh! my friends, with all the pleas that a man
can use, let me plead with you. Remember who I am, and what I am-a child, having
a small amount of education, learning, ability and talent; and here am I called
upon week after week, to preach to this crowd of people. Won’t you still plead
for me, my beloved? Hasn’t God been pleased to hear your prayers ten thousand
times? And will you now stop praying, when a mighty revival is taking place in
many churches? Will you now stop your petitions? Oh! no; go to your houses, fall
upon your knees, cry aloud to God to enable you still to hold up your hands like
Moses on the hill, that Joshua below may fight and overcome the Amalekites. Now
is the time for victory; shall we lose it? This is the high tide that will float
us over the sand-bar; now let us put out the oars; let us pull by earnest
prayer, crying for God the Spirit to fill the sails with His mighty winds! You
who love God, in every church and every true denomination, wrestle for your
ministers; pray for them; asking God to pour out His Spirit? What is the reason
why we are to be denied Revivals? Why not this hour, as one mighty gathering, we
fall down before Him and beg Him, for His Son's sake, to revive his faltering
church? Then all would men discern that we are truly the disciples of Christ.
III. But now, thirdly, WHY SHOULD CHRISTIANS IMITATE CHRIST?
1. The answer comes very naturally and easily, Christians should be like Christ, first, for their own sakes.
For the sake of their honesty, let them not be found liars before God and men. If they wish to be kept from sin and preserved from going astray, let them imitate Jesus. For their own happiness' sake, if they want to enjoy holy and happy communion with Jesus; if they would be lifted up above the cares and troubles of this world, let them imitate Jesus Christ. Oh! my brethren, there is nothing that can be such an advantage to you, like the imitation of Jesus-it will prosper you, and assist you, and make you rapidly walk towards heaven, so keep your head upwards towards the sky, and your eyes radiant with glory. It is when, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you are enabled to walk with Jesus in His very footsteps, and tread in his ways, you are most happy and you are most known to be the sons of God. For your own sake, my brethren, I say, be like Christ.
2. Next, for religion's sake, strive to imitate Jesus.
Oh! poor Christianity, you have been painfully shot at by cruel foes, but you have not been wounded one-half as much by them as by your friends. None have hurt you, O, Christianity, so much as those who profess to be Christians. Who have made these wounds in your fair hand of godliness? I say, the professor of Christianity has done this, who has not lived up to his profession; the man who with pretences enters the fold, being nothing but a wolf in sheep's clothing. Such men, injure the gospel more than others; more than the laughing atheist, more than the sneering critic. These men profess to love our cause, but actually hurt it by his actions which contradicts his love. Christian, do you love our cause? Is the name of the dear Redeemer precious to you? Do you want to see the kingdoms of the world become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ? Do you wish to see the proud man humbled and the mighty humiliated? Do you long for the souls of perishing sinners, and are you desirous to win them, and save their souls from the everlasting burning? Would you prevent their fall into the regions of the damned? Does your heart yearn over your fellowman? Do you long to see them forgiven? Then be consistent with your Christianity.
Walk before God in the land of the living. Behave as an elect
man should do. Remember what kind of people we ought to be-we must be people of
holy conversation and godliness. This is the best way to convert the world; yes,
such conduct would do more than even the efforts of missionary agencies,
excellent as they are. Just let men see that our conduct is superior to others,
then they will believe there is something in our Christianity; but, if they see
that our life is contrary to what we profess, what will they say? “These
Christian people are no better than others! Why should we join them?” And they
are right in what they say. It is but common-sense judgment. Oh! my friends, if
you love Christianity for her own sake, be consistent, and walk in the love of
God. Follow Christ Jesus.
3. Then, to put it in the strongest form I can, let me say, for Christ's sake, endeavor to be like Him.
Oh! If I could only bring the dying Jesus here, and let Him speak to you! My own tongue is tied this morning, but I would make His blood, His scars, and His wounds speak. Jesus would stand here, show you His hands this morning, and say, “My friends, look at Me! these hands were pierced for you; and look here at my side. It was opened as the fountain of your salvation. See my feet; there entered the cruel nails. Each of these bones were dislocated for your sake. These eyes gushed with torrents of tears. This head was crowned with thorns. These cheeks were hit with fists; this beard was plucked out; My body became the center and focus of agony. I hung quivering in the burning sun; and all for you, my people. And will you not love Me now? I beg you to be like me. Is there any fault in Me? Oh! no. You believe that I am fairer than ten thousand, and altogether lovely. Have I ever injured you? Rather haven’t I done everything for your salvation? And do I not sit at my Father's throne, and even now intercede on your behalf? If you love me,”-Christian, listen to these words; let the sweet syllables ring forever in your ears, like the prolonged sounding of silver-toned bells-“if you love Me, if you love Me, keep my commandments.” Oh, Christian, let that “if” be put to you this morning. “If you love Me.” Glorious Redeemer! is it an “if” at all? You precious, bleeding Lamb, can there be an “if?” What, when I see Your blood gushing from You; is it an “if?” Yes, I weep to say it is an “if.” Often times my thoughts make it “if,” and often my words make it “if.” But yet I think my soul feels it is not “if.”
Oh, Christian, can you say, “Yes, I love You, I know that I love You. Lord,
“Lord, you know all things; You know that I love You.” “Well, then,”
says Jesus, looking down with a glance of affectionate admiration, “since
you love Me, keep my commandments.” O beloved, what mightier reason can I give
than this? It is the argument of love and affection. Be like Christ, since
gratitude demands obedience; then the world will know that you have been with
IV. Ah! then you wept; and I perceive you felt the force of pity, and some of you are asking, “HOW CAN I IMITATE CHRIST?”
It is my business, then, before you depart, to tell you how you can become
transformed into the image of Christ.
1. In the first place, then, my beloved friends, in answer to your question, let me say, you must know Christ as your Redeemer before you can follow Him as your example.
Much is said about the example of Jesus, and we scarcely find a man now who does not believe that our Lord was an excellent and holy man, much to be admired. But as excellent as His example was, it would be impossible to imitate it, had He not also been our sacrifice. Do you this morning know that His blood was shed for you? Can you join with me in this verse-
“O the sweet wonders of that cross,
Where God the Savior loved and died;
Her noblest life my spirit draws
From His dear wounds and bleeding side.”
If so, you are ready to imitate Christ. But do not seek to copy Him until you are bathed in the fountain filled with blood drawn from His veins. It is not possible for you to imitate Christ without being washed in His blood; your passions will be too strong and corrupt, and you will be building without a foundation, a structure, which will be about as stable as a dream. You cannot mold your life to His pattern until you have had His spirit, till you have been clothed in His righteousness.
“Well,” some say, “we have been washed in His blood, what shall we do next? We know we have an interest in Him, but we are still very aware of our many deficiencies.” Well, then I say to you, let me entreat you to study Christ's character. This poor Bible is become an almost obsolete book, even with some Christians. There are so many magazines, periodicals, and other transitory material, that we are in danger of neglecting to search the Scriptures. Christian, do you want to know your master? Look at Him. There is a wondrous power about the character of Christ, for the more you gaze on Him, the more you will be conformed to Him. I look at myself in a mirror, I go away, and forget what I looked like. Yet, I look at Christ, and I become like Christ. Look at Him, then; study Him in the gospels, studiously examine His character. “But,” you say, “we have done that, and we have not proceeded very far.”
Then, in the next place, correct your poor copy every day. At night, try and
recount all the actions of the last twenty-four hours, scrupulously putting them
under review. When I have proof-sheets sent to me of my writings, I have to make
the corrections in the margin. I might read them over fifty times, and the
printers would still put in the errors if I did not mark them. So you also must
do this; if you find anything faulty at night, make a mark in the margin, that
you may know where the fault is, and tomorrow may correct it. Do this day after
day, continually noting your faults one by one, so that you may better avoid
them in the future. It was a saying of the old philosophers, that, three times
in the day, we should go over our actions. So let us do this; let us not be
forgetful; let us examine ourselves each night, and see where we have gone
astray, that we may reform our lives.
2. Lastly, the best advice I can give to you, seek more of the Spirit of God; for this is the way to become Christ-like.
Vain are all your attempts to be like Him until you have sought His spirit. Take a cold piece of iron, and attempt to hammer it, if you can, into a certain shape. How fruitless will be your efforts! Lay it on the anvil, grab the blacksmith's hammer with all you might, let blow after blow fall upon it, and you shall have done nothing. Twist it, turn it, use all of your tools, but you shall not be able to fashion it as you would. But put it in the fire, let it be softened and made malleable, then lay it on the anvil, and each stroke shall have a mighty effect, so that you may fashion it into any form that you may desire. Likewise, take your heart, not cold as it is, not stony as it is by nature, but put it into the furnace; there let it be molten, and after that it can be shaped like warm wax, and fashioned into the image of Jesus Christ.
Oh, my brethren, what can I say now to enforce my text, but that, if you are like Christ on earth, you shall be like Him in heaven? If by the power of the Spirit you become followers of Jesus, you shall enter glory. For at heaven's gate there sits an angel, who admits no one who has not the same features as our adorable Lord. There comes a man with a crown on his head, “Yes,” he says, “It is true that you have a crown, but crowns are not the means of access here.” Another approaches, dressed in robes of state and the gown of great learning. “Yes,” says the angel, “it may be good, but gowns and learning are not the marks that shall admit you here.” Another advances, fair, beautiful, and lovely. “Yes,” said the angel, “that might please men on earth, but beauty is not wanted here.” There comes another, who is heralded by fame, and desired by all of mankind; but the angel says, “It may impress men, but you have no right to enter here.” Then there appears another; he had been poor; he had been illiterate; but the angel, as he looks at him, smiles and says, “It is Christ again; a second edition of Jesus Christ is there. Come in, come in. Eternal glory you shalt win. You art like Christ; in heaven you shalt sit, because you are like Him.”
Oh! to be like Christ is to enter heaven; but to be unlike Christ is to descend into hell. Those that are alike shall be gathered together in the end, weeds with weeds, wheat with wheat. If you have sinned with Adam and have died, you shall lie with the spiritually dead forever, however, if you rise in Christ to newness of life; then shall you live with Him throughout eternity. Wheat with wheat, weeds with weeds. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
Go away with this one thought, my brethren, that you can test yourselves by
Christ. If you are like Christ, you are of Christ, and shall be with Christ. If
you are unlike Him, you have no part in the great inheritance. May this poor
sermon help to fan the floor and reveal the chaff; yes, may it lead many of you
to seek to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, to the praise
of His grace. To him be all honor given! Amen.
A copy of this sermon, Preached by Tony Capoccia, is available on Audio Tape Cassette or CD at www.gospelgems.com
Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Spurgeon Collection" by:
Bible Bulletin Board
Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
Websites: www.biblebb.com and www.gospelgems.com
Online since 1986