Chirst Sermon Illustrations

Chirst Sermon Illustrations

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On a visit to the Covenanter church, Northwood, Ohio, where I was baptized, and where my father preached, I thought of the changes in the world—in methods of transportation and communication, in geography and politics—since he first began to preach there. Yet, standing in that pulpit, I realized that I had no Christ to preach but the Christ whom my father preached. His judgment, his power, and his mercy are the same from age to age.—Clarence E. Macartney

At twenty minutes past seven on the morning of the fifteenth of April, 1865, the secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, rose from the bedside where he had been kneeling, pulled down the blind at the window to shut out the bright April sunlight, and then, turning to look at the still form on the bed, said, "Now he belongs to the ages." That is the briefest— and perhaps the best—biography of Abraham Lincoln. Yet it is only relatively true that Lincoln and the other great figures of history belong to the ages.

The only one who belongs to the ages is He who is Alpha and Omega, and to whom, by divine appointment and decree, the ages belong. "Who shall declare his generation?" (Acts 8:33.) Christ has no age, no epoch. His personality bridges the ages. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

In his vision St. John saw on the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book sealed with seven seals. When the angel proclaimed with the great voice, "Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?" (Rev. 5:2). no one in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to loose the seals or open the book. Then John saw one standing in the midst of the throne, a Lamb, as though it had been slain. The Lamb came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne, and to the full-chorused ascrip' tion and adoration of the host of heaven, "Worthy art thou to take the book," the Lamb—that is, Christ—proceeded to loose the seven seals. Here we have presented the truth that Christ alone holds the key to the future destiny of mankind, and that in him all things consist. He is the Alpha and Omega of human history.

No one ever saw more of the glory of Christ than Isaiah—not even Abraham, who saw his day and rejoiced; nor Moses, who wrote of him; nor David, who sang of him; nor Peter, nor Paul, nor John, who saw him standing in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks on the Isle of Patmos. More than any one of them, more than all of them together, Isaiah saw his glory and spake of him.

In the Apocryphal Old Testament book, the Ascension of Isaiah, it is related how when the prophet was talking with King Hezekiah he was suddenly carried away by an angel. He traversed the firmament and between the earth and the moon witnessed the battle of the angels and the demons. He entered and passed through the six heavens and saw all their glory. Then he ascended to the seventh heaven itself, where he looked upon the Holy Trinity and beheld all the events of futurity pass in review before him.

The legend of the Apocryphal book is only a legend; but it expresses a great truth—that all the glory of the heavenly places, the glory of the prophets and the apostles, the angels and the martyrs, the glory of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and the future glory of the Kingdom of God, is reflected in the pages of Isaiah's book.

Once a little band of Christians were forced to meet in secret to worship their Lord and Saviour. A spy betrayed them to the secret police, and an officer with several men surprised them one night at their place of prayer. Looking about him in anger and contempt, the officer ordered one of his men to count all who were present and to record their names. When he had done so he reported to the officer that there were thirty men and women there.

At that an old man stepped forward and said, "Officer, there is one whom you have missed. There is one more here."

The officer looked at him in scorn and said, "What do you mean? We have counted them carefully. There are just thirty here."

"No," the old man insisted, "there is another here whom you have missed." "Very well," said the officer, "we will count them again."

Again he counted them and again the count was thirty. "There," he said, "it is just as I told you. There are only thirty. Thirty of you miserable Christians. Thirty and no more."

"Yes," said the old man, "but there is one more here, one whom you missed— and that is our Lord Jesus Christ!"

"The form of the fourth is like the Son of God." (Dan. 3:25.) Wherever men are faithful and true to Christ, there in  their midst, to comfort and cheer them, is "the form of the fourth"—one who is like, and one who is, "the Son of God."

Thousands upon thousands who have followed Christ through all the pilgrimage of life are on record as saying what John Bunyan said in those beautiful and incomparable words: "I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of; and wherever I have seen the print of his shoe in the earth, there I have coveted to set my loot too. His name has been to me as a civet-box; yea, sweeter than all perfumes. . . . And his countenance I have more desired than they that have most desired the light of the sun."

W. C. Stead was a great figure in the journalistic world a generation ago. He was one of the notable persons who perished at sea when the Titanic went down on that April night in 1912. One of the survivors saw him as he stood alone at the edge of the deck, silent, and in what seemed to be a prayerful attitude, or one oi profound meditation.

Stead was a courageous reformer, and in one of his campaigns in London to protect young girls and to raise the age ol consent, he was arrested on some technical charge, convicted, and sentenced to prison. On Christmas Day he was writing a letter to a reclaimed girl, encouraging her to stand fast and be a Christian. He was in the organ loft of the chapel prison, looking down on the six hundred prisoners, when he heard a voice say, "Why are you telling that girl to be a Christian? Never again tell anyone to be a Christian. Always tell him to be a Christ."

A few years ago a group of distinguished historians amused themselves by writing a book called If, or History Rewritten. Among these historians were Van Loon, Maurois, Belloc, Chesterton, and Ludwig. Some of the "ifs" which they discussed were these: If Lee had not lost the Battle of Gettysburg; If the Moors in Spain had won; If the Dutch had kept New Amsterdam; If Louis XVI had had an atom of firmness; If Booth had missed Lincoln; If Napoleon had escaped to America. The attempt to reconstruct the past on the ground of these hypotheses and to imagine what might have been was indeed an interesting intellectual enterprise. But there are no "ifs" in history.

The greatest fact of history is the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ; and therefore the greatest "if"—the greatest possible imagination—would be "If Christ had not come." Such an "if" is almost too staggering for our minds. It is like imagining the world without a sunrise, or the heavens without a sky. Yet one of the best ways to get at the value and importance of the incarnation and to rescue Christmas from mere commercialism and festivity and sentimentalism, is to try to think of the world without Christ. Try to think of your own life without Christ. "If I had not come . . ."  (John  15:22.)

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