THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
From the sermon The Spirit of Faith on 2 Corinthians 4:13
Finally, it will be of interest to us who are charged with the same duty of proclaiming the Gospel of salvation with which the Apostle was charged, to take especial note that he attributes that supreme faithfulness and steadfastness which preeminently characterized his work in the Gospel to a Spirit-wrought faith in the Gospel which he preached. The secret, he tells us, of his ability to continue throughout his dreadful trials in the work to which he had been called; the secret of his power to faint not, that is, not to play the coward, but to renounce the hidden things of shame and refuse to walk in craftiness or handle the Word of God deceitfully; the secret of his power to preach a simple Gospel in honest faithfulness in the face of all temptations to please men, and to preach the saving Gospel in the face of all persecution was simply that he had a hearty and unfeigned faith in it. When we really believe the Gospel of the Grace of God when we really believe that it is the power of God unto salvation, the only power of salvation in this wicked world of ours it is a comparatively easy thing to preach it, to preach it in its purity, to preach it in the face of a scoffing, nay, of a truculent and murdering world. Here is the secret I do not now say of a minister's power as a preacher of God's grace but of a minister's ability to preach at all this Gospel in such a world as we live in. Believe this Gospel, and you can and will preach it. Let men say what they will, and do what they will let them injure, ridicule, persecute, slay, believe this Gospel and you will preach it.
Men often say of some element of the Gospel, "I can't preach that." Sometimes they mean that the world will not receive this or that. Sometimes they mean that the world will not endure this or that. Sometimes they mean that they cannot preach this or that as to win the respect or the sympathy or the acceptance of the world. The Gospel cannot be preached? Cannot be preached? It can be preached if you will believe it! Here is the root of all your difficulties. You do not fully believe this Gospel! Believe it! Believe it! And then it will preach itself!
God has not sent us into the world to say the most plausible things we can think of; to teach men what they already believe. He has sent us to preach unpalatable truths to a world lying in wickedness; apparently absurd truths to men proud of their intellects; mysterious truths to men who are carnal and cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. Shall we despair? Certainly, if it is left to us not only to plant and to water but also to give the increase. Certainly not, if we appeal to and depend upon the Spirit of faith. Let Him but move on our hearts and we will believe these truths; and, even as it is written, "I believed and therefore have I spoken", we also will believe and therefore speak. Let Him but move on the hearts of our hearers and they, too, will believe what He has led us to speak.
We cannot proclaim to the world that the house is afire it is a disagreeable thing to say, scarcely to be risked in the presence of those whose interest it is to believe it. But believe it, and how quickly you rush forth to shout the unpalatable truth! So believe it and we shall assert to the world that it is lost in its sin and rushing down to an eternal doom; that in Christ alone is there redemption; and through the Spirit alone can men receive this redemption. What care we if it be unpalatable, if it be true? For if it be true, it is urgent.