A Powerful Sermon
If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.
It is a Bible text that has fascinated me, reminding me somewhat of a passage written by the Apostle Peter, in 1 Peter 1:8, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory”.
Below, you may view the whole sermon from Pastor Mercer. Or you may prefer to read the notes I took–consider them a kind of digest–of the sermon.
Here is the outline of notes I wrote down while Colin Mercer was preaching–I deciphered them from my handwritten scribbles but they have not been checked against the sermon itself, so they are necessarily skeletal; I may have missed out one or two subheadings:
The Unloving Sinner (or The Vital Importance of Loving Christ), preached Sunday evening November 23rd, 2014
Of John Flavel, Puritan minister in Dartmouth in the mid 1600s, it was said that “You had to have a soft head or a hard heart to remain unaffected under his ministry.” One evening, Flavel preached on this text. Usually he would preach to draw people to a winsome Savior. But on this occasion he felt it time to warn his hearers of the seriousness of not coming to the Savior, and he could not pronounce the benediction he was accustomed to pronounce, reasoning along these lines: He could not pronounce the benediction on people who were in his audience who did not love Jesus Christ.
Luke Short, one of his listeners, a fifteen-year-old boy, heard the sermon but was not converted. He emigrated to New England where he lived for several decades. Eighty-five years later, aged 100, still in good health, remembered the sermon and dreaded the anathema. Wonderfully, he was converted and subsequently he lived another sixteen years, dying at age 116 giving evidence of a thoroughly changed heart.
Anathema = doomed to destruction, set aside; Mara Natha, two words; this verse was addressed by the apostle to pretenders of faith, who professed to be Christians. It was not addressed to those who were truly saved.
1. A Great Command
The duty of love to Christ–see Matthew 22:36–it is not an option, not a mere suggestion. What is the greatest commandment? Perhaps the man expected it to be the 6th, 7th or 10th commandment, a commandment dealing with man to man, rather than man to God. But Jesus emphasized it was of love to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Paramount Importance: Not just affection or sentiment, but faith, duty. It is not what a person kbows about, says about or does for Christ, but it is about love for Christ. Where is our heart toward Christ?
Personal: Applies to every man–salvation is a personal matter. So, to Nicodemus, Jesus could say to him, “Marvel not that I say unto thee…” This stresses the personal nature of faith. Note the Corinthians passage references Jesus with all His names and titles–LORD JESUS CHRIST. This is a full Christ whom we must receive and embrace. It is not possible to have a part Christ. In Acts 16, the Philippian jailer was to call upon the LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Preeminently: Nothing is to go before our love for Christ, not the Bible, not the church, not the sacraments. Think of the Rich Young Ruler. He loved riches more than he loved Christ. People can love things about Christ more than they love Christ. There is no other way, even though it is not popular to say this in today’s society. Preachers fudge this question about the way to God. Jesus is THE way, THE truth, THE life (John 14:6). If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
2. A Great Crime
This was in Corinth, and there may have been people there who were devoid of love for Christ. It is an appaling sin not to love Christ, a terrtible business, for example of not loving a neighbor or not to love a wife according to the vows he took, or imagine a woman rejecting her child or children. Consider siblings despising one another, or believers not loving one another–war amongst the saints–but the absence of love for Christ takes this to an altogether different level. Not to love Christ must be the greatest sin! If not to keep the greatest commandment, it must be the greatest sin.
Ingratitude: Think of what Jesus did in the incarnation–to seek and to save, not to be ministered unto… going about doing good, dying for the ungodly, bearing the wrath of God. Amazing love! We deserved none of it, and yet people despise and discount Him. He is lovely in His sinlessness, His sacrifice, His sufficiency. Imagine someone dying in a fire to save you and you are not even grateful to his family? He demands our first love yet we are idolaters. The Rich Young Ruler loved self more than riches. Self is the idol that is damning countless sinners.
Inexcusable: God sent His son to live and die for sinners. If Christ be the beloved the darling of the soul of God, think what is is to the Father, says Flavel. No good reason. What good reason can you bring for not loving Jesus? Not just talking about these things but the absence of love for Christ.
3. A Great Curse
Inevitable and Irreversible: The underlying idea is that of something being devoted to destruction on the last day. The awful sentence, “Depart from me for I never knew you.” Christ as Savior or there is loss–this is the inevitable alternative. Consider John Murray’s notes, and that this is an inevitable and irreversible situation being under the wrath of an angry God. It is impossible to trace steps back from such a condition.
Eternal: For ever under the wrath of God. Again, Matthew 7, “Not everyone who saith unto me ‘Lord, Lord’… Many will say unto me on that day… I never knew you.”
Inexcusable: No excuses will do. Reasons such as these will fail: “But I went to church.” “I had Christian parents.” “I read my Bible” I did all I could”
It would be an dreadful thing to did as an unloving sinner and to face the wrath of God. There is a full Savior for a needy soul.
More about John Flavel here
Image courtesy of http://www.apuritansmind.com/puritan-favorites/john-flavel-1630-1691/