1 Corinthians 12:28-31
And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings…
1. It has been thought that these were assistant-ministers, or assistant-deacons, or deaconesses, or attendants, who took care that strangers were accommodated, and managed various details. But whoever they were, they were thought worthy to be mentioned with apostles, teachers, etc. Probably they had no official standing, but were the sort of brethren who can always stop a gap, and who are only too glad to make themselves serviceable in any capacity.
2. Bunyan has described that part of their work, which is most valuable. He describes Help as coming to Christian when he was in the Slough of Despond. When we were going through a pass in Northern Italy, we saw, some three or four miles from the top, a man with a spade, who came down and saluted us. By and by we came to deep snow, and the man cleared a footway, and when we came to a very ugly piece of road, he carried some of the party on his back. Ere long came one of his companions with refreshments. These men were "helps," who spent their lives where their services would be requisite. They would have been worth nothing down in the plains. "Helps" are of no use to a man when he can help himself. And just as the Royal Humane Society keep their men along the borders of the lakes in the parks when the ice is forming, so a little knot of Christian people should always be ready in every church, to give assistance wherever it may be required. Let me —
I. GIVE A FEW DIRECTIONS TO THESE "HELPS." When you meet sinners in the Slough of Despond —
1. Get them to state their case. When Help went to Christian he said first, "What are you doing there? How did you get there?" I have found that the mere act of stating a difficulty has been the very means of at once removing it.
2. Enter, as much as lieth in you, into their case. Sympathy is a great power.
3. Comfort them with the promises. Help told Christian that there were good steps all the way through the mire. Now, you can point these poor sinking ones to the steps.
4. Instruct them more fully in the plan of salvation.
5. Tell them your own experience. Many have been able to get out of the Slough in this way. We have gone along the same road, and it would be very hard if we could not describe it.
6. Pray with them. When you cannot tell the sinner what you want to say, you can sometimes tell it to God in the sinner's hearing. As certainly as the electric fluid bears the message from one place to another, and the laws of gravitation move the spheres, so certainly is prayer a mysterious but real power.
II. DESCRIBE THOSE WHO CAN HELP. A true "help" must have —
1. A tender heart. There are some people who seem to be prepared by Divine grace on purpose to be soul-winners, just as there are some people who seem to be born nurses..
2. A quick eye. There is a way of getting the eye sensitively acute with regard to sinners.
3. Quick ears. When they have these they listen, and by and by they hear a splash, and though it may be very dark and misty, they go to the rescue.
4. Rapid feet.
5. A loving face. Cheerfulness commends itself, especially to a troubled heart.
6. A firm foot. If I have to pull a brother out of the Slough, I must know how to stand fast myself, or I may fall in. Full assurance is not necessary to salvation, but it is very necessary to your success as a helper of others.
7. A strong hand.
8. A bending back. You cannot pull them out if you stand bolt upright. It is said that the sermons of are in bad Latin, not because Augustine was not a good scholar, but because the dog-Latin of the day suited his turn best to get hold of men. That preaching is best which fisherwomen understand. "But the dignity of the pulpit!" says one. Well, the "dignity" of a war-chariot lies in the captives dragged at its wheels, and the "dignity of the pulpit" lies in the number of souls converted to God. You must condescend to men of low estate.
III. INCITE "HELPS" TO GREATER EARNESTNESS.
1. Souls want help. Is not that enough? The cry of misery is a sufficient argument for mercy.
2. Remember how you were helped yourselves when you were in a like condition. Repay the obligation.
3. Christ deserves it. The lost lamb out there is His lamb; will you not care for it? That sinner is your Saviour's blood-bought one; he is a prodigal, but he is your Father's son, and consequently your own brother.
4. You would not want any other argument, did you know how blessed the work is in itself. Would you acquire knowledge? grow in grace? shake off despondency? help others.
5. You are called to this work. Your Master has hired you; it is not for you to pick and choose. To-night, then, try to do some practical service for your Master. If you do not, you will probably get the rod for correction.
6. We are getting nearer heaven, and sinners are getting nearer hell.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.