“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.”—Isaiah 9:6
If this child who now lies before the eyes of your faith, wrapped in swaddling clothes in Bethlehem’s manger, is born to you, my hearer, then you are born again! For this child is not born to you unless you are born to this child.
All who have an interest in Christ are, in the fullness of time, by grace converted, quickened, and renewed. All the redeemed are not yet converted, but they will be. Before the hour of death arrives their nature shall be changed, their sins shall be washed away, they shall pass from death unto life. If any man tells me that Christ is his Redeemer, although he has never experienced regeneration, that man utters what he does not know; his religion is vain, and his hope is a delusion. Only men who are born again can claim the babe in Bethlehem as being theirs…
Is it so with you, my hearer? For recollect, you may be very different in the outward, but if you are not changed in the inward, this child is not born to you.
But I put another question. Although the main matter of regeneration lies within, yet it manifests itself without. Say, then, has there been a change in you in the exterior? . . . For, mark, my dear hearer, there must be a change in the outward life, or else there is no change within. . . . The proof of the Christian is in the living. To other men, the proof of our conversion is not what you feel, but what you do. To yourself your feelings may be good enough evidence, but to the minister and others who judge of you, the outward walk is the main guide.
At the same time, let me observe that a man’s outward life may be very much like that of a Christian, and yet there may be no religion in him at all . . . Take care that your outward life is not a mere stage-play, but that your antagonism to sin is real and intense; and that you strike right and left, as though you meant to slay the monster, and cast its limbs to the winds of heaven…
But I go forward. If this child is born to you, you are a child, and the question arises, are you so? Man grows from childhood up to manhood naturally; in grace men grow from manhood down to childhood; and the nearer we come to true childhood, the nearer welcome to the image of Christ. For was not Christ called “a child,” even after he had ascended up to heaven? “Thy holy child Jesus.”
Brethren and sisters, can you say that you have been made into children? Do you take God’s Word just as it stands, simply because your heavenly Father says so? Are you content to believe mysteries without demanding to have them explained? Are you ready to sit in the infant class, and be a little one? Are you willing to hang upon the breast of the church, and suck in the unadulterated milk of the Word—never questioning for a moment what your divine Lord reveals, but believing it on his own authority, whether it seemed to be above reason, or beneath reason, or even contrary to reason?
Now, “except ye be converted and become as little children,” this child is not born to you; except like a child you are humble, teachable, obedient, pleased with your Father’s will and willing to assign all to him, there is grave matter of question whether this child is born to you. But what a pleasing sight it is to see a man converted and made into a little child. . . . If ye are not children, then this child is not born to you.
And now let us take the second sentence and put a question or two upon that. Is this son given to us?
…I pray you let not one of you exempt himself from the ordeal but let each one ask himself, if it true that unto me a Son is given?
Now, if this Son is given to you, you are a son yourself. “For unto as many as received him to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” “Christ became a Son that in all things he might be made like unto his brethren.”
The Son of God is not mine to enjoy, to love, to delight in, unless I am a son of God too.
Now, my hearer, have you a fear of God before your eyes—a filial fear, a fear which a child has lest it should grieve its parent? . . . Do you trust to him as your father, your provider, and your friend? Have you in your breast “The spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father?” Are there times with you when on your knees you can say, “My Father and my God”?
Does the Spirit bear witness with your spirit that you are born of God, and while this witness is born, does your heart fly up to your Father and to your God, in ecstasy of delight to clasp him who long ago hath clasped you in the covenant of his love, in the arms of his effectual grace? Now, mark my hearer, if thou dost not sometimes enjoy the spirit of adoption . . . deceive not thyself, this Son is not given to thee.
And, then, to put it in another shape. If unto us a Son is given, then we are given to the Son. Now, what say you to this question also?
Are you given up to Christ? Do you feel that you have nothing on earth to live for but to glorify him?
Can you say in your heart, “Great God, if I be not deceived I am wholly thine?” Are you ready to-day to write over again your consecration vow? Canst thou say, “Take me! All that I am and all I have, shall be forever thine. I would give up all my goods, all my powers, all my time, and all my hours, and thine I would be—wholly thine.”
“Ye are not your own: ye are bought with a price.” And if this Son of God be given to you, you will have consecrated yourself wholly to him; and you will feel that his honor is your life’s object, that his glory is the one great desire of your panting spirit. Now is it so, my hearer? Ask thyself the question. I pray thee, and do not deceive thyself in the answer…
To Be Continued…
Charles Haddon Spurgeon: A Christmas Question, peached December 25th, 1859, at Exeter Hall, Strand