Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence…
Hearers often allege that preachers deal with subjects in which they have no interest, or with unpractical themes or with mysterious dogmas. No such charge can be preferred against this.
I. THE MATTER UNDER CONSIDERATION. Salvation; which contains within it deliverance —
1. Prom the guilt of our past sins. This is a matter of grave consideration.
(1) God thinks so, or He would not have sent His Son and His Spirit.
(2) The Church thinks so, or earnest men and women would not make such sacrifices to bring men to this salvation.
(3) The angels think so, or there would not be joy in their presence at sinners repenting.
(4) The devils and lost spirits think so, or the one would not endeavour to thwart salvation, nor the others (as Dives) long so ardently for the salvation of their living brethren.Nothing so much concerns any one as this.
(1) What is it to have a healthy body if you have a perishing soul?
(2) What is wealth if that which is more precious than the whole world be lost?
(3) What are honour and reputation if we have to hear, "Depart from Me."
II. WHOSE MATTER IS IT? "Your own."
1. The sin you commit is your own and its condemnation. You may share in other men's sins and they in yours; but a burden lies on you which no one can touch. You must obtain it, for this a personal pardon, or you are undone forever. You must yourself repent, believe, etc.
2. You must personally die, and in that dying we shall have either personal comfort or personal dismay. When death is past, salvation is still "our own." There is a personal heaven for a personal believer. But if you have it not, it will be your own damnation. No one will be condemned for you. A substitute there is now, but not then.
3. You may be tempted to forget your own salvation by thoughts of other people. Reverse the process.
(1) Members of the Church.
(2) Official Christians.
(3) Unpractical doctrinists.
(6) Those who have espoused great public designs. Protestant controversialists, reformers, etc.
III. ANSWERS TO OBJECTIONS.
1. "Is it not all fixed? Don't you believe in predestination? What have we then to do with our own salvation?" Is it not fixed whether you shall be nourished with food today or shall go hungry? Why then will you go home and eat your dinner? You do not reason so wickedly and foolishly about any other subject but this.
2. Do you not believe in full assurance? Yes, but presumption is not assurance, and the most fully assured are those who are most careful about their own salvation.
3. "This is very selfish." Yes, but it is a selfishness that is needful before you can be unselfish. How can you be of any service to others if you are not saved yourself.
IV. RENDER SOME ASSISTANCE. Ask yourself, "Am I saved?"
1. Does God work in you? Have you a work of the Holy Spirit in your soul? If so, you are saved.
2. Does your salvation rest wholly on Christ? If you are hanging on anything but the Cross you are deceived.
3. Have you turned your back on sin?
4. If not, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," etc.
(C. H. Spurgeon)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.