Saturday, September 20, 2014

Preaching Divine Providence: A pair of timeless and wonderful sermons, one old and one new, to bookend your weekend

In 1857, Charles Haddon Spurgeon ascended the pulpit at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, and delivered a wonderful sermon called God's Providence.

Charles Spurgeon was an absolutely amazing pastor. His very life defines both submission, and workhorse. Of Spurgeon, Justin Taylor sums up Spurgeon's prodigious output,
He often worked 18 hours a day. His collected sermons fill 63 volumes (the largest set by a single author in church history). He read six books a week and could recall their contents. He read through The Pilgrim's Progress more than 100 times. 14,460 people were added to his church's membership, and he did most of the membership interviews himself. He trained 900 men to the pastorate. He founded an orphanage, edited a magazine, produced more than 140 books, and is said to have received 500 letters a week to respond to. More than 25,000 copies of his sermons were printed each week. He often preached 10 times a week in various churches. He did all this while suffering from gout, rheumatism, and Bright's disease—living only to the age of 57. And I think his wife was sick most of that time.
One of Spurgeon's early sermons was called "God's Providence." Spurgeon set his reasoning forth at the beginning of his text.
I am constantly talking about providence in my preaching, and I thought it quite as well to devote a whole sermon to explain what I believe are God's great wonder-working processes which we call Providence.
I love God's providence because I love God's sovereignty. The doctrine of Providence is a favorite doctrine of mine, as regular readers know. Providence of God is defined
The providence of God may be defined as His guardianship and care for His creatures and creation. Also, any manifestation of such care may be described as providence. "There is probably no point at which the Christian doctrine of God comes more into conflict with contemporary worldviews than in the matter of God’s providence. Providence means that God has not abandoned the world that he created, but rather works within that creation to manage all things according to the “immutable counsel of His own will” (Westminster Confession of Faith, V, i).
It's a comfort to ponder how involved God is in the affairs of men, His care of the saved, and His working all things together for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28).

In Spurgeon's exposition of a passage from Ezekiel, he used the biblical remarkable imagery of the wheels within wheels and the cherubim who are unique and distinct from all other creatures to illustrate Providence.

The sermon was delivered in 1857 but published October 15th, 1908. Spurgeon opened with comforting words:
WHILE READING THE SCRIPTURES, we tried to hint at the practical benefits of the doctrine of Providence. We attempted to explain that portion of Scripture which teaches us to "take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow will take thought for the things of itself." Our blessed Lord had there uttered very precious words to drive away our fears, to keep us from distrust and from distress, and to enable us so to rely upon Providence that we may say, he that feeds the ravens, and clothes the lilies, will never suffer me to famish nor to be naked.

He is a good God. Spurgeon's sermons are a blessing and this one in particular is a favorite of mine. I hope you like it too.

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In October 2013, Pastor Phil Johnson delivered a sermon as part of the Strange Fire conference at John MacArthur's Grace Community Church. It is called Providence IS Remarkable. The Conference was a direct rebuttal to the Charismatic movement, which is polluting the minds and hearts of Christians and false Christians all over the world. In this sermon, Johnson relates the true reasons for the miracles of times past and points to the miracle of today, God's providence. In his sermon, Johnson explained:
Verse 29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground, apart from your Father.” That doesn’t merely mean that God watches and observes that. It means without His expressed decree and permission, even a sparrow doesn’t die. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. “Fear not, therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows. Really He gives them miraculous power and He tells them, “I’m sending you out in the midst of wolves, you’re going to be attacked,” and instead of saying use that power to silence your opposition, He says, “Just bear in mind God’s there and He’s involved with you.”

I cannot stress this enough. When the Lord wants to reassure the Apostles that Almighty God is directly and personally and lovingly involved in their experience, and not only in their triumphs and successes, but also in their trials and sufferings. Jesus doesn’t point them to the miracles. He doesn’t talk about dreams and visions, or other mystical phenomena. He doesn’t tell them to listen for a still small voice inside their own heads, and He certainly doesn’t tell them that their words have creative power, so, you know, when you encounter opposition, just go ahead and make a positive confession.

Instead, Jesus teaches them a truth we know as the doctrine of providence. He stresses the fact that God is intimately involved in all the details of our lives, even when we can’t consciously sense His presence, even when we don’t understand what He’s doing or why He’s doing it.
Thinking about providence from heaven is remarkable in that it reduces us to a puddle of love in knowing our Great God is intimately involved with His people. No remote, uncaring, or unaware sovereign is He, but a Shepherd actively caring for the most lowly of His lambs. It's uplifting to ponder these things. (Philippians 4:8).

Here is the Grace To You video with transcript

Here is the stand-alone sermon on Youtube:




Whether old or new, there are sermons out there, and books, and essays, from men the Lord has raised up in truth to convict us, edify us, and comfort us. God's word is uniquely worth pondering. He has left no generation alone and has always used His people as vessels for this work. And He always will, until the Day He calls us home and we are with Him personally!

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