Christian History Home > Issue 38 > Come, Poor, Lost, Undone Sinner
Come, Poor, Lost, Undone Sinner
A persuasive appeal from a powerful evangelist.
Whitefield preached this sermon, titled “The Kingdom of God,” on September 13, 1741, in Glasgow, Scotland. His text was Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Here are excerpts.
As God shall enable me, first, I shall endeavor to explain what you are to understand by “the kingdom of God”; secondly, I shall endeavor to show that “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink”; and thirdly, I shall show you what “the kingdom of God” positively is, namely, “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
We are to take the kingdom of God in the text as signifying that inward work of grace, that kingdom which the Lord Jesus Christ sets up in the hearts of all that are truly brought home to God; so that when the apostle tells us, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink,” it is the same as though he had said, “My dear friends, do not quarrel about outward things; for the kingdom of God, or true and undefiled religion, heart and soul religion, is not meat and drink.”
Why It Isn’t “Meat and Drink”
By “meat and drink,” if we compare the text with the context, we are to understand no more than this, that the kingdom of God, or true religion, doth not consist in abstaining from a particular meat or drink. But I shall take the words in a more comprehensive sense, and shall endeavor to show you that the kingdom of God, or true and undefiled religion, doth not consist in any, no, not in all outward things, put them altogether.
Denominations. The kingdom of God, or true and undefiled religion, doth not consist in being of this or that particular sect or communion. Perhaps, my dear friends, were many of you asked what reason you can give for the hope that is in you, what title you have to call yourself Christians—perhaps you could say no more for yourselves than this, namely, that you belong to such a church, and worship God in the same way in which your fathers and mothers worshiped God before you.
There are certainly Christians among all sects and communions that have learned the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. I do not mean that there are Christians among Arians, Socinians, or those that deny the divinity of Jesus Christ—I am sure the devil is priest of such congregations as these—but I mean there are Christians among other sects that may differ from us in the outward worship of God. Therefore, my dear friends, learn to be more catholic, more unconfined in your notions; for if you place the kingdom of God merely in a sect, you place it in that in which it doth not consist.
Baptism. Again, as the kingdom of God doth not consist in being of this or that sect, so neither doth it consist in being baptized when you were young. Baptism is certainly an ordinance of the Lord Jesus Christ—it ought certainly to be administered; but then, my dear friends, take care that you do not make a Christ of your baptism, for there have been many baptized with water, as you were, who were never savingly baptized with the Holy Ghost.
Orthodox doctrine. But further: as the kingdom of God and true religion doth not consist in being baptized, neither doth it consist in being orthodox in our notions, or being able to talk fluently of the Gospel. You may have orthodox heads, and yet you may have the devil in your hearts; you may have clear heads, you may be able to speak as it were, with the tongues of men and angels, the doctrines of the Gospel, but yet, at the same time, you may never have felt them upon your own souls.
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