Thursday, June 23, 2016

simeon on the gospel

I'm enjoying reading An Exhibition of the Law, the Gospel and the Holy Spirit, by Charles Simeon (1759-1836).  This is a selection of sermon outlines taken from his Horae Homileticae Commentary (21 volumes).  Simeon served faithfully as pastor at Holy Trinity Church in Cambridge (UK) for 53 years.  The many trials and oppositions he faced are related by John Piper in "Brothers, We Must Not Mind a Little Suffering"  Bishop Handley Moule's biography of Simeon can be downloaded for very little cost.  It's a very readable account of the life of Charles Simeon, who is an outstanding example of faithfulness in ministry, as well as, a preacher of great simplicity, clarity, and power.  

Here are some highlights from Simeon's teaching on the gospel...

It is the pride of the human heart which interposes the great obstacle to men's reception of the Gospel. They are averse to see the extent of their necessities: they will contend for some remnant of goodness or power in themselves, that shall lessen their obligations to the grace of God. But let a man acknowledge himself as wholly and for ever lost, and then he will be prepared to hear of a Saviour, and to embrace the salvation that is provided for him in the Gospel.

The first thought which occurs to men is, that they must do something to merit and to earn salvation.

The truth is, as the first gift of a Saviour sprang altogether from the sovereign grace of God, so must salvation in all its parts; seeing that "we have not of ourselves a sufficiency even to think a good thought." (2 Cor. 3:5) It is by faith alone that the good work of salvation must be wrought in us. We must first believe God's record respecting his dear Son: then, in the exercise of the same faith, we must look to his Son for the communication of his purchased benefits. So, throughout our whole continuance on earth, "the life which we live in the flesh, we must live by faith in the Son of God, who has loved us, and given himself for us." (Gal. 2:20)

Let any one reflect, for a moment. What other way is there for any soul of man to participate the benefits which God has treasured up for us in his dear Son? Is there any other way of our being united to him, "as branches of the living Vine;" or of our "receiving out of his fullness the grace" that we stand in need of? is there any other way, I say, than by faith? If we look into the Scriptures, we shall find that faith is continually represented as the means whereby alone we can either receive from God any spiritual blessing, (John 1:12) or perform unto him any acceptable service. (Heb. 11:6)

I grant, that we must repent. But repentance will neither atone for past sin, nor stand in the place of future obedience: and even repentance itself must be given us by the Lord Jesus Christ, "who is exalted to the right hand of God, to give repentance, no less than remission of sins." (Acts 5:31) I grant, also, that when we have believed in Christ, we must walk in his ways, and yield obedience to his commandments. But this obedience cannot supersede the necessity of faith: on the contrary, it can exist only as the fruit of faith: and, instead of purchasing salvation for us, it is itself a part of that very salvation which the Lord Jesus Christ purchased for us upon the cross. Now these truths have been greatly controverted, in every age of the Church.

There is nothing under heaven more plain and simple than the way of salvation as prescribed for us in the Gospel.

For his guilt [the believer] applies to himself the atoning blood of Christ: for his pollution and weakness, he looks to the Holy Spirit to begin and carry on a work of grace within him. By looking to Christ, he obtains peace with God and in his own conscience: and, by yielding himself to the influences of God's Holy Spirit, he becomes renewed and sanctified in all his powers. His renovated health begins immediately to appear.

We must feel, and deeply mourn over, our lost estate. "The whole need not a physician, but they that are sick:" and the remedy can be of no use to us, if we be not sensible of our disease.

We must look to Christ for the justification, and to the Holy Spirit for the sanctification, of our souls.

No higher honor can be conferred on mortal man than to be sent forth by God to minister unto his fellow-sinners "the glorious Gospel of the blessed God."


Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge


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