My Saturday nights are reserved for reading Spurgeon. As I’ve shared before, this is one of my favorite personal routines. I have a ten volume set of his sermons, and look to complete the first book (volumes 1 and 2) by year’s end.
These sermons prepare my heart for Sunday morning worship. Often his words from the night before will sneak their way into my thoughts for the next day. Such was the case with his message delivered on November 2, 1856, “The Exaltation of Christ” from Philippians 2:9-11.
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the Name which is above every name, so that at the Name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
An excerpt from his message is below. But first, you need to know that this was Mr. Spurgeon’s first time back in the pulpit following a disaster at the Music Hall of Royal Surrey Gardens (10,000+ in attendance). Some fools had yelled “fire” during his message, which then created a panic, crushing many, resulting in the loss of seven lives and twenty-eight hospitalized.
Knowing this little tidbit made me all the more interested in C.H. Spurgeon’s selection of this text from Philippians. What do you say to the people after seeing something so surreal? His point is one not to be forgotten: bow your knee. Whatever our ordeal, regardless of the big mess in our lives, in spite of the stress, we are to exalt Christ:
Sometimes I hope to live to see that all-auspicious era—that halcyon age of this world, so much oppressed with grief and sorrow by the tyranny of its own habitants. I hope to see the time, when it shall be said, “Shout, for the great Shepherd reigns, and his unsuffering kingdom now is come”—when earth shall be one great orchestra of praise, and every man shall sing the glorious hallelujah anthem of the King of kings. But even now, while waiting for that era, my soul rejoices in the fact, that every knee does virtually bow, though not willingly, yet really.
Does the scoffer, when he mouths high heaven, think that he insults God? He thinks so, but his insult dies long ere it reaches half-way to the stars. Does he conceive, when in his malice he forges a sword against Christ, that his weapon shall prosper? If he does, I can well conceive the derision of God, when he sees the wildest rebel, the most abandoned despiser, still working out his great decrees, still doing that which God hath eternally ordained, and in the midst of his wild rebellion still running in the very track which in some mysterious way before all eternity had been marked as the track in which that being should certainly move.
“The wild steeds of earth have broken their bridles, the reins are out of the hands of the charioteer”—so some say; but they are not, or if they are, the steeds run the same round as they would have done had the Almighty grasped the reins still. The world has not gone to confusion; chance is not God; God is still Master, and let men do what they will, and hate the truth we now prize, they shall after all do what God wills, and their direst rebellion shall prove but a species of obedience, though they know it not.
But thou wilt say, “Why dost thou yet find fault; for who hath resisted such a will as that?” “Nay, but O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, why hast Thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory.”
Who is he that shall blame Him? Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! He is God—know that, ye inhabitants of the land; and all things, after all, shall serve His will.
I like what Luther says in his bold hymn, where, notwithstanding all that those who are haters of predestination choose to affirm, he knew and boldly declared, “He everywhere hath sway, and all things serve His might.”
Notwithstanding all they do, there is God’s sway, after all. Go on, reviler! God knoweth how to make all thy revilings into songs! Go on, thou warrior against God, if thou wilt; know this, thy sword shall help to magnify God, and carve out glory for Christ, when thou thoughtest the slaughter of His church. It shall come to pass that all thou dost shall be frustrated; for God maketh the diviners mad, and saith, “Where is the wisdom of the scribe? Where is the wisdom of the wise?” Surely, “Him hath God exalted, and given Him a Name which is above every name.”
And now, lastly, beloved, if it be true, as it is, that Christ is so exalted that He is to have a Name above every name, and every knee is to bow to Him, will we not bow our knees this morning before His Majesty?
You must, whether you will or no, one day bow your knee. O iron-sinewed sinner, bow thy knee now! Thou wilt have to bow it, man, in that day when the lightnings shall be loosed, and the thunders shall roll in wild fury: thou wilt have to bow thy knee then. Oh! Bow it now!
“Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.”
O Lord of hosts! Bend the knees of men! Make us all the willing subjects of Thy grace, lest afterward, we should be the unwilling slaves of Thy terror; dragged with chains of vengeance down to hell. O that now those that are on earth might willingly bend their knees lest in hell it should be fulfilled, “Things under the earth shall bow the knee before Him.”
God bless you, my friends, I can say no more but that. God bless you, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.