Application Sermon By Charles Spurgeon
I hope, believers, your hearts are going up in prayer. What a scene lies before us! If someone had told us that a mass of people would gather to listen to the gospel, hundreds would have doubted it. We have had no gorgeous ceremony to attract the multitudes. There’s not even the sound of the organ.
I declined its pealing notes, so we wouldn’t seem to depend on it in the slightest degree for anything from a thread even to a shoe buckle. I didn’t want anything to hinder the preaching of the gospel. The preaching of the cross is enough to draw the people and enough to save the people. If we include anything else, we lose our power and cut away the locks which make us strong.
The application of the text is just this: Why shouldn’t we, on this very spot, have instantaneous cures of sick souls? Why shouldn’t there be scores, hundreds, thousands, who hear the gracious words, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk? I believe it’s possible, and I hope it will be done.
Let me talk with you who doubt this matter. You still think that you must wait. You’ve waited long enough, and you’re becoming weary, but still you stick to the old plan. Hopeless as it is, you still grab at it as drowning men do at straw.
I want to show you that this is all wrong. Regeneration is an instantaneous work, and justification is an instantaneous gift. Man fell in a moment. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was desirable to the eyes, and a tree of covetousness to understand, she took of its fruit and ate and gave also unto her husband with her; and he ate (Genesis 3:6).
When Eve plucked the fruit, and Adam ate it, it didn’t require six months to bring them into a state of condemnation. It didn’t require several years of continued sin to cast them out of paradise. Their eyes were opened by the forbidden fruit. They saw that they were naked and hid themselves from God.
Surely, Christ won’t be longer about his work than the devil was about his. Is it reasonable to think that the devil destroyed us in a moment, and Jesus is unable to save us in a moment? Glory be to God, he has far more power to deliver than any which Satan uses for man’s destruction.
Look at the biblical illustrations of salvation. I will only mention three. Noah built an ark, and that was a type of salvation. Christ has built the ark for us, and we have nothing to do with building it.
But when was Noah saved? Does anyone say, “He was saved after he had been in the ark a month, had put everything in order inside the ark, and then looked out on the deluge and felt his danger”? No! Noah was saved the moment he entered the ark, and the Lord shut him in. When he had been in the ark a second, he was as secure as when he had been there a month.
Take the cue of the Passover. When were the Jews safe from the destroying angel who went through the land of Egypt? Were they safe after the blood which was sprinkled on the door had been looked at and considered for a week or two? No! The moment the blood was sprinkled, the house was secured.
And the moment a sinner believes and trusts in the crucified Son of God, he is pardoned at once. He receives salvation in full through Christ’s blood.
One more instance: the brazen serpent.
When the brazen serpent was lifted up, what were the wounded supposed to do? Were they told to wait until the brazen serpent was pushed into their faces or until the venom of the serpent showed certain symptoms in their flesh? No, they were commanded to look, and they did look.
Were they healed in six months? No. They were healed as soon as their eyes met the serpent of brass, and the cure was complete. And as soon as your eye meets Christ, poor trembler, you are saved. Even though you were drunk and up to your neck in sin yesterday, if you look to my once-slain-but-now-exalted Master today, you will find eternal life.
Again, let’s consider some biblical instances. Did the dying thief wait at the pool of religious rituals? You know how soon his believing prayer was heard. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).
Did the three thousand at Pentecost wait for some great thing? No, they believed and were baptized. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized each one of you into the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-38).
Look at the jailer of Philippi. It was the dead of night, the prison was shaken, and the jailer was alarmed. After he realized everyone was accounted for, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Did Paul say, “Well, you must use the means and look for a blessing upon the ordinances”? No! He said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house,” and that very night he baptized him.
And the keeper of the prison, awaking out of his sleep and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm, for we are all here.
Then he called for a light and came inside and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house (Acts 16:27-31). Paul didn’t take as much time as some think is so necessary. He believed as I do, that there is life in a look at Jesus. He asked men to look, and by looking, they lived.
You might see this even more clearly if I remind you that the work of salvation is all done. There is nothing for a sinner to do in order to be saved. It’s all done for him. You want washing. The bath doesn’t need filling.
“There is a fountain filled with blood.” You want clothing. You don’t have to make the garment, because the robe is ready. The garment of Christ’s righteousness is woven from the top to the bottom, and all you have to do is put it on.
If some work remained for you to do, it might be a longer process, but all the doing is accomplished by Christ. Salvation is not of works, but of grace. To accept what Christ presents to you does not require a work of time.
I’ll put it another way: salvation itself cannot take place over a long time, even where it seems to be most gradual. When we look at it closely, it turns out to be the work of a moment.
We have a dead man. Now, if that man is raised from the dead, there must be an instant in which he was dead and another instant in which he was alive. The actual enlivening must be the work of a moment. At first, the life may be very feeble, but there must be a time when it begins. There must be a line between life and death. We can’t always see it ourselves, but God sees it.
A man can’t be somewhere between dead and alive. He’s either alive or dead. In the same way, you are either dead in sin or alive unto God, and the process can’t involve a long period of time.
Finally, it doesn’t take a century, or a year, for God to say, “I forgive you.” The judge pronounces the sentence, and the criminal is acquitted.
If God says to you this morning, “I absolve you,” then you are absolved, and you may go in peace. I must share my own case. I never found mercy by waiting. I never obtained a gleam of hope by depending on religious rituals. I found salvation by believing.
I heard a simple minister of the gospel say, “Look and live! Look to Jesus! He bleeds in the garden, and he dies on the tree! Trust him! Trust in what he suffered instead of you, and if you trust him, you will be saved.”
The Lord knows I had heard that gospel many times before, but I had not obeyed it. That time, it came with power to my soul, and I did look. The moment I looked to Christ, I lost my burden.
“But,” someone might say, “how do you know?”
“Did you ever carry a burden yourself?”
“Oh, yes,” they say.
“Did you know when it was off? How did you know?”
“Oh,” they say, “I felt so different. I knew when my burden was on, and, consequently, I knew when it was off.”
It was the same in my case. I only wish some of you felt the burden of sin as I felt it, when I was waiting at the pool of Bethesda. I’m amazed that my waiting didn’t land me in hell. But when I heard the word “Look,” I looked, and my burden was gone.
I wondered where it went, but I haven’t seen it since, and I’ll never see it again. It went into the Master’s tomb, and it lies forever buried there. God has said it. I have undone, as a cloud, thy rebellions, and thy sins, as a mist (Isaiah 44:22).
You who are needy, come to my Master.
Those of you who have been disappointed with rituals and ceremonies, feelings and impressions, and all the hopes of the flesh, come at my Master’s command and look up to him! He’s not here in the flesh, because he has risen.
He has risen to plead for sinners, and Therefore he is able also to save to the uttermost those that come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).
If there were some way I could know how to preach the gospel so that you would feel it, I would go to any school to learn! The Lord knows I would willingly consent to lose my eyes to get greater power in my ministry – and lose my arms, legs, and all my members.
I would be willing to die if I could only be honored by the Holy Spirit to win your souls to God. I beg you, brothers and sisters, you who have power in prayer, pray for the Lord to bring sinners to Christ.
Let me say, in all seriousness, to you who have heard the word today, I have told you the plan of salvation plainly. If you don’t accept it, I am clear of your blood. I shake my skirts of the blood of your souls. If you don’t come to my Lord and Master, I must bear swift witness against you at the day of judgment.
I have told you the way. I can’t tell it to you more simply. I beg you to follow it! Look to Jesus! But if you refuse it, when you rise from the dead and stand before the great white throne, do me the justice to acknowledge that I begged you and attempted to persuade you to escape.
I did my best to urge you to flee from the wrath to come. I pray for the Lord to save each one of you, and his shall be the praise forever. Amen.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was an English Baptist pastor. He is still known to people as the Prince of Preachers. Charles Spurgeon throughout his life evangelized about 10 million people and often preached 10 times a week in different places.