Luke 11:23
Lasting power shows solid worth. The corrupt empire falls; the false system is exploded; the demoralizing custom is discarded. That which, under all changes, shows itself strong and enduring, is proved to be sound and good. But add the element of benignity. Jesus Christ adduces his beneficent power in the expulsion of evil spirits from the bodies of men as a convincing evidence of the Divine presence; that being done, "no doubt the kingdom of God is come." Power for good, for healing, for restoring, for transforming, such power continuing for many generations and acting under all skies, - "no doubt" that is from above; it is of God. If we find that Christianity has proved itself to be the one great benignant power in the world, exerting a gracious, redeeming, elevating influence on humanity, then "no doubt the kingdom of God is come" upon us. We shall see that this is so if we consider -

I. THE STATE OF SOCIETY WHEN JESUS CAME. And we have to take into our account the parental tyranny; the position of woman in her state of inferiority and even degradation; the universal sentiment toward the stranger or the foreigner, spoken of and treated as a "barbarian" and an enemy; the prevalence of war, and its conduct with every imaginable cruelty and the most shocking recklessness of life; the prevalence of slavery under a system in which the slaves were regarded and treated as absolutely without any rights or claims whatsoever; the existence of gladiatorial shows, in which the lives of hundreds of strong men in the midst of life were sacrificed for sport to men and even to women; the common usage of infanticide; the abundance of pauperism, existing to such an extent that in the time of Caesar "nearly three-fourths of the whole population of the city of Rome were on the roll of public succor;" the institution of torture; the practice of licentious shows, and of unnatural and unnameable vices. We have here no more than a bare outline of the evils which existed in the world when "Jesus was born at Bethlehem."

II. WHAT AMELIORATION CHRISTIANITY HAS WROUGHT AND IS WORKING. Three things have to be mentioned - one to be admitted, and the other two to be maintained.

1. That there have been one or two auxiliary forces in the field, which have contributed towards the elevation of mankind; but theirs has been very much indeed the smaller share.

2. That Christianity was prevented from doing all it would have done by being bitterly opposed.

3. That its action has been most pitifully weakened by its truth having been so greatly corrupted. But what, notwithstanding, has it accomplished .9

(1) It has cast out the demon of parental tyranny, and made the child to be the object of respect and kindness.

(2) It has raised woman, and made her the helpmeet, in every way, of her husband, causing her to be treated with deference and consideration.

(3) It has mitigated the terrible severities of war, carrying its red cross of succor into the very midst of the battle-field, and, to a large extent, removing its hideous savagery.

(4) It has gone far towards exorcising the demon of slavery.

(5) It has abolished the shameful scenes of the old Roman arena.

(6) It has extinguished infanticide and torture wherever it has authority to legislate.

(7) It is carrying on a stern and victorious campaign against impurity and intemperance.

(8) It has built hospitals, lunatic asylums, reformatories, orphanages, almshouses, by the hundred, by the thousand.

(9) It has opened the school-door in which youth everywhere is prepared for the duties, the joys, and the conflicts of life.

(10) It has sent forth its many hundreds of heralds to carry light, peace, love, purity, wisdom, into the haunts of superstition, violence, and vice.

(11) It is penetrating the worst slums of our great cities, seeking out the prod, me, the abandoned, the criminal; and with its touch of holy pity, which surely proceeds from "the finger of God," it is casting out the demons of sin and shame. At the present rate of progress, another half-century will see a most wonderful and glorious change in the aspect of the human world.

III. THE CONCLUSION THAT WE DRAW. If Christianity has done, is doing, will do, all this, then "no doubt "in its advent we have the coming of the "kingdom of God." No doubt Christ has that to say to us which it is infinitely worth our while to know; that to do for us it is our highest privilege to have done on our behalf; that to be to us which it is immeasurably desirable he should be. Let us learn of him; be led by him into paths of sacred service; and invite him to become our personal Lord and Savior. - C.







He that Is not with Me is against Me.
There is no device by which the god of this world more fatally deceives the souls of unwary men, than by leading them to suppose that they can take neutral ground in regard to the character and cause of Christ. Now, in proof of the assertion that neutrality in regard to the character and cause of Christ is impossible, let me —

1. Adduce the testimony of the Word of God. The text is explicit. "He that is not for Me is against Me, and He that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad." The same thing is taught in language not less explicit in our Saviour's sermon on the mount. "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other; ye cannot serve God and Mammon." Take another passage equally decisive. "The friendship of the world is enmity with God." Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is an enemy of God.

2. The same is evident from the nature of the human mind, and the laws under which it acts. Every man has some commanding principle of action, some supreme object of affection and pursuit; and he can have but one such object.

3. The truth of our doctrine is proved from the nature of the Divine requirements. These requirements are positive in their character, and cannot be satisfied with mere negative obedience.

4. The character and cause of Christ are in their nature such as render it impossible for any to feel indifferent or take neutral ground in respect to them.

5. The disclosures and decisions of the judgment day prove that neutrality in regard to Christ and religion is impossible.In conclusion, I am led to remark —

1. It may be expected that those who assume neutral ground will take it unkindly when their deception and danger are exposed.

2. If all who are not for Christ are against him, then it is immensely important that this truth should be clearly set forth and fully known.

(J. Hawes, D. D.)

I. The DISGRACEFULNESS of being against Christ. In order to make this appear a little, you will observe —

1. Nothing shows men more than their attractions and aversions. Mark the objects of their choice and of their preference; see with whom they most readily and pleasingly associate; and then call to remembrance the adage, "Tell me a man's company, and I will tell you his character." Congeniality is the inducement and the bond of union. To be against some individuals would expose you to general indignation. Which of you would like to be opposed to a Thornton, a Reynolds, a Howard, a Leighton, a Fenelon: But here we have the brightness of God's glory, and the express image of His person.

2. Again: nothing is more unreasonable, vile, and shameful than to oppose a Benefactor and Friend, who has laid you under peculiar obligations, upon whom you had no claim, and who has yet spared no expense, no pains, in order to serve you.

II. The DANGER of befog against Christ.

1. Can you overcome Him?

2. Can you endure Him?

3. Can you escape from Him?

III. The POSSIBILITY of being against Him.

1. He has a people, and they that persecute them persecute Him.

2. He has a cause in this world: the gospel of our salvation. And how it has been opposed! It offends because it is the enemy of self and sin, and because of its sanctifying influence.

3. He has also a providential agency on earth; and the dispensations of His providence are designed to promote the purposes of His grace. Yet with some this is all in vain. They will have none of Him.

IV. The evidence of being against Him. The question is, Are you with Him? Are you with Him in sentiment, in disposition, in action, in pursuit: Are you with Him as scholars are with their teacher, as servants are with their master, as soldiers are with their commander, as subjects are with their sovereign: Does He occupy the highest place in your regard? Does He dwell in your hearts by faith: Do you say, "Other lords besides Thee have had dominion over me, but henceforth will I make mention of Thy name"? And do you feel what is done against Him as done against yourselves:

(W. Jay.)

I. THE DESIGN CHRIST IS CARRYING ON. Redemption.

II. THAT NO MAN CAN BE INDIFFERENT TOWARDS IT.

1. The design which Christ is pursuing is the greatest of all possible designs in every point of view.

(1)It is great in its origin.

(2)Great in extent.

(3)Great in duration.

2. The great design which Christ is pursuing is totally opposed to all the selfish designs of mankind.

3. Christ, in carrying on His great, comprehensive, and benevolent design, employs all mankind as instruments in promoting it.

4. None of the inhabitants of the invisible world are indifferent towards the great and interesting design which Christ has undertaken, and is determined to accomplish.

1. If none can be indifferent towards the design which Christ is carrying on, then none have any ground to imagine that they are neuters in religion.

2. If none can be indifferent towards the design which Christ is carrying on, then all who do not act for Him, act against Him. As all must be for Him or against Him in their hearts, so all must be for Him or against Him in their conduct.

3. If all who are with Christ are united to Him in His great and glorious design, then all who are united to Him are more firmly united to one another than any other persons in the world.

4. If all who are not for Christ are against Him. then the most regular and amiable sinners may be as much against Him as any other sinners.

5. We learn from what has been said the great criminality of sinners. They are all against Christ in their hearts and in their conduct, without a single exception. And by opposing this great and glorious purpose they oppose the glory of God, and all the holiness and happiness in the universe. Is this a small error, or a mere venial fault: Is it not a sin of the first magnitude? Can they be guilty of a greater?

6. This subject shows the imminent danger of all who are against Christ and opposing His great and glorious design.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

We are all either "gatherers" or "scatterers"; either workmen in the erection of a vast spiritual fabric, or destroyers who lay its honour in the dust.

1. We remind you, then, in the first place, that you are "scattering" Christ's seed in the world, if you are not "gathering" it. The absence of the Christian temper in your daily conduct, the absence of Christian charitableness in your judgment of your fellow-men — nay, the mere absence of all concern for the glory and spread of the Redeemer's triumphs, will all be, in effect, an absolute accession to the strength of His adversary; and that for this simple reason — that the war which Christ is carrying on is essentially aggressive. To stand still, therefore, in spiritual things is to help Satan. If you are "not with Christ," you are "against Him"; if you "gather not with Him," you are "scattering abroad."

2. Again: you are "scattering" Christ's flock in your families, if you do not "gather" them.

3. Again: you are "scattering" Christ's precious gifts in your own hearts, if you are not "gathering" them. Consider, then, what use you are making of the gifts which Christ hath given you.

4. But this text must have a more awful illustration still. Christ's scatterers and Christ's gatherers must have one more meeting yet; and only one. The gathered seed shall expand and ripen, till it becomes fit for the garners and the stores of heaven. The gathered flock shall rise from earth and sea, and pass under the portals of the everlasting dome. The gathered graces of the Redeemer shall be purged from their earthly dross, forming by their clustered brightness the "new name" upon His brow. But the scattered seed which you did not prize, the scattered flock which you would not feed, the scattered graces that you would neither seek nor keep nor bind up, shall all rise up in judgment against you, and in their turn shall scatter you. Christ Himself will be the only gatherer then.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

What can the words mean for us? Not actual, personal, visible fellowship with Him. That is impossible now, or so long as we are in the flesh. Yet do we say, at times, to any teacher or leader who may have won our confidence, "I am with you in that," meaning that we accept the same doctrine, cherish the same convictions, have the same practical aims as he holds and is trying to reach. And that is substantially what is meant, I take it, by being "with" Christ: we are with Him, that is, if at all, in sympathy, in affection, and in active endeavour. Faith, love, obedience, in other words, constitute the triple cord which binds men to Christ.

(J. H. Rylance, D. D.)

"He that is not with Me." Such is our Lord's description of a half-Christian. Let us think what we are. And then let us consider why such a person not being with should be said to be against Him. Who then is not with Christ? Of course, and most obviously, he who never visits Christ, he who never seeks Christ, is not with Him. We may do both, and yet not live with Him. We may pray to Him and communicate with Him now and then, and yet not be with Him. That is quite possible. But it is too plain that, if we do not ever seriously pray to Him, or seek His presence, in our hearts by faith, we cannot be with Him. Those of us are not with Him who do not pray heartily and earnestly as well as regularly. Those of us are not with Him who, having been confirmed, do not habitually come to His holy table to have their faith strengthened and refreshed by His Holy Spirit. But this is not enough to explain the words. To be with Christ is to be on His side. It implies that there is a daily strife going on where we are, and that Christ is one of two parties in it. It implies that life, our own life, is a struggle, and that Christ is concerned in that struggle; interested in its progress, and interested in its end. And if this be the meaning of the words, "He that is with Me," we can all understand the meaning of their opposite, "He that is not with Me." You see that it does not necessarily imply active opposition to Christ. You need not have ever thwarted or ridiculed one of Christ's servants in order to expose you to the charge of not being with Him. It is a negative expression. It implies only that you have felt no deep interest in being yourself, or in inducing others to be, such as Christ would have you and them. It implies only that you have not taken pains to cherish the thought of God with reverence and love, to claim your position as His son, and to live up to it. It implies only that it has not been a great and constant object with you to get to heaven at last, and while upon earth to live as an expectant, as an heir, of heaven. But we were to inquire why those who are thus not with Christ are said to be against Him. The two ideas seem to be different. Surely there is a difference between a want of decision and an adverse decision; between being a faint-hearted or even a cowardly soldier on the one side, and being positively enrolled and enlisted on the other? Yes, there is a difference; we do not deny it. But what the text impresses upon us is this, that, for many practical purposes, and so far as the final personal issue is concerned, the faint-hearted, cowardly, treacherous soldier of Christ is rather an enemy to Him than a friend.

(Dean Vaughan.)

In spiritual affairs we find we are subject to this condition in respect to one Supreme Spirit — that if we are not serving Him we are wronging Him; if we are not gathering with Him — gathering wisdom and strength and purity and greater capacity for good and other "fruit unto everlasting life" — then we are wasting what belongs to Him. We are in a necessary stewardship, and this is one of its laws. The law may look exacting in the statement, but it is glorious in its operation. Neutrality, not only in the posture of our affections, but in the use of our active powers, is impossible. Not far from each of the great scenes of our Saviour's ministry there was a third party, taking no apparent share in the transaction. Those that sided openly with Him and publicly confessed their loyalty, on the one hand, and those that expressly opposed Him, on the other, became, of course, conspicuous in the conflicts that sprang up about Him. By their direct opposition to each other, Apostles and Pharisees, the family at Bethany and the Council at Jerusalem, John and Judas, Zaccheus and Herod, Joseph of Arimathea and Pilate, immediately suggest to us two distinct classes of people — the friends and the enemies of the Son of God. Decided convictions always throw men into definite positions. Near by, however, you might always find another class, more numerous, probably, than either of them. They are not brought forward into notice, because no real interest or choice brought them visibly into the struggle that was going on. Other things absorbed their attention. He speaks to that large third class among you to-day. If there is any question about that position — as to its rightfulness, or its safety, or where those that are trying to hold it really belong — does He not settle that question by the text? "He that gathereth not with Me scattereth." It is remarkable, in all the gospel, how invariable and how clear Christ makes this doctrine of absolute and necessary separation. There is no third party after all. There is no place for one. Non-profession does not make non-allegiance or neutrality. It makes allegiance to the enemy. It makes disloyalty. "He that is not with Me is against Me." The next truth to be remembered is our dangerous liability to be deceived just at that point — i.e., to reckon as harmless or safe courses of life that are really anti-Christian. If there are any, here or elsewhere, who think they do enough because they are not positive opponents, mockers, or infidels; who think that, because they never persecute, or revile, or take a traitor's silver, or meet to plot with scribes and Pharisees for Herod, therefore they are not secretly fighting against their eternal King, Christ here assigns them their place with terrible distinctness. Unlike the politic leaders of earthly kingdoms, He fearlessly casts this middle party from Him — that it may thereby become truly His. All are scatterers that are not gatherers with Him. There is a striking record, in the Book of Numbers, of-a prophet who tried, in perilous days, to be on neither side, and paltered with a double tongue between the true God and His enemies; but at last the issue between the two armies could be no longer evaded, and, after the battle, the body of this compromising neutral, Balaam, was found on the enemy's side, where it fell fighting against the Lord. It is in this sense that Christ comes to put men and families of men "at variance" — with one another — a strange thing to be written of Him. It is not for division's sake, but only that truth may not be confounded with a lie, darkness be called light, and the very foundations of all honour guilt. There can be no lasting harmony, no healthy peace, but in Him in whom all things in their unity consist. All is wasted then that is not done with a heart of love and that toward God; all time that is not spent for Him — these days of busy labour in trades and professions; these unsatisfying contortions of effort to be a little richer, or a little more noticed, or to climb one round more on the ladder that you will slip from the instant death touches your fingers; these plans, schemes, travels, bargains, buildings — they look like gathering, but they are only scattering, unless in the midst of them all your character is daily built up, a spiritual house, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone. Gather with Him and all the parts of your life which are yet alien or infirm He will steadily draw into the unity of His own body, making it strong and pure and immortal, knit together and making increase by the edifying of His love.

(Bishop F. D. Huntington.)

"You don't mean to call me an enemy of religion, do you?" said a farmer to a gentleman who was urging him to become a friend of Christ. "'He that is not for Me is against Me,' are Christ's words. Are they not decisive of your question?" replied the gentleman. "But I am friendly to religion," rejoined the farmer. "Friendly! How? You do not revile Christ, I know; but do you serve Him? Do you avow yourself His disciple? Are you His disciple? Do you by your life and speech declare that faith in Christ is necessary to salvation?" "I do not profess faith in Christ, sir," said the farmer; "and, of course, I cannot consistently urge that faith on others." "Then, you see," replied the gentleman, "that your influence is against the acceptance of Christ by others. Its voice is: 'Personal faith in Christ is not a very important matter; if it were, I should seek it.'" The farmer was silenced. He felt that his friend was right. He saw that not to be on Christ's side was to be against Him; not to be marching with His pilgrims to heaven was to be marching with His enemies to hell. He was right. There was no middle course.

, being asked what he was, answered that if Hiero were ever at the Olympian games, he knew the manner — that some came to try their fortune for the prizes, and some came as merchants to utter their commodities, and some came to make good cheer and meet their friends, and some came to look on; and that he was one of them that came to look on. But men must know that, in this theatre of man's life, it is reserved only for God and the angels to be lookers-on.

(Lord Bacon.)

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