Jesus Christ’s Idiom
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily.”
THIS expression, “Verily, verily,” seems to me to have been the peculiar idiom of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has absolutely forbidden His people ever to take an oath. His command upon that matter is most explicit, “I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by Heaven; for it is God’s Throne: nor by the earth; for it is His footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King: neither shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil.” My text was Jesus Christ’s strongest form of affirmation–when He wished to speak most emphatically, He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” Every prominent public speaker has his own peculiar idioms and very much of the man’s character will be found in the idioms that he uses. And I may add that the attention which the man deserves may sometimes be gauged by his idioms, for as his style of speaking will reveal to you the man, you will discover how far you ought to lend him your ears. If, from his speech, you judge that he is flippant, or insincere, or that there is something sinister in his motives, or that he is aiming at the display of himself rather than at the proclamation of the truth, you may straightway say, “Then there is no particular reason why I should listen to him.” But if, from the very idiomatic force of the words which he uses, you feel that the man is true, sincere and earnest, then you say, “I shall be wise to give heed to his words and to let his thoughts operate upon my own.”
There are three qualities which these words reveal to us in our Savior’s teaching. First, there was clearness–“Verily, verily.” Secondly, there was certainty–“Verily, verily, I say this and that unto you.” Thirdly, there wassolemnity–“Verily, verily, I say unto you.” We must, therefore, give to Him, in return for clearness, the desire to understand Him. In return for certainty, the conviction of the Truth of what He says and, to His solemnity, we must respond with a deep sense of the importance of His teaching and act in accordance with what He says.
- I am to speak, first, upon Christ’s idiom, “Verily, verily,” as denoting to US THE CLEARNESS OF WHAT THE SAVIOR SAID.
He knew what He meant when He spoke. Some people, when they speak, do not know what they mean and, when a man does not make you understand what he means, it generally is because he does not know the meaning of what he says. Indistinct speaking is usually the result of indistinct thinking. If men think clouds, they will preach clouds, but the Savior never spoke in that style which, at one time, was so common in our pulpits–a style imported partly from Germany and which was excessively cloudy and smoky, though it was thought by some people to be wonderfully profound and to be the very trademark of intellect! But there was not a sentence of that kind in all Christ’s teaching. Hewas the clearest, most straightforward and most outspoken of all speakers. He knew what He meant to say and He meant His hearers also to know. It is true that the Jews of His day did not comprehend some of His teaching, but that was because judicial blindness had fallen upon them. The fault was not in the light, but in their bleared eyes. Turn to His teaching and see if anyone else ever spoke as simply as He did. A child can comprehend His parables. There are, in them, hidden Truths of God which are a mystery even to Christ’s deeply-taught disciples, but Christ never mystified His hearers–He talked to them like a child, as He was–God’s “Holy Child Jesus.” He never laid aside the simplicity of childhood though He had all the dignity of fully-developed Manhood. He wore His heart upon His sleeve and spoke out what was on His mind in such plain, clear language that the poorest of the poor and the lowest of the low were eager to listen to Him.
Now, Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, if you wish to imitate your Master, speak with the same clearness. Sayto your hearers, “Verily, verily, I have to proclaim to you, in Christ’s name, this simple yet sublime Truth of God which I have myself grasped, and which I would also have you grasp.” Never affect profundity among the poor and never use a theological jargon among the uneducated anywhere! If you have, in speaking, to show the Savior to your hearers, show Him in His own dress–do not cover Him up with the tawdry vestments of your gaudy language, for He will count them only as filthy rags. Tell sinners, in simple words, first about their sins and then about the Savior who can wash away their sins in His most precious blood. But go not a-hunting after novelties, for they will be of no service to perishing souls. If you are to be like Jesus, your teaching must be clear!
But next I need to say to those of you who are still unconverted, how necessary it is that you should clearlyunderstand this clear teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ! There are some Truths upon which He spoke with very wonderful clearness–as for instance, concerning what sin is–how a look may be a sin and how a longing may be as much a sin as an action or a word is. Christ has also told us very clearly that sin must and will be punished. There never was anyone else so kind in heart as He was, yet He clearly taught the dreadful Truth of God that sinners shall be punished in Hell forever! There never can be any question about the Savior’s view of sin as being a very evil thing and of the punishment of sin as being a very terrible thing. How very plainly, too, He speaks about the new birth! He said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born-again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” And He was equally explicit concerning the way of salvation. He tells us that just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness and every bitten Israelite who looked to it was healed, so He, Himself, was lifted up upon the Cross and every sinner who trusts Him is saved forever! The teachings of Christ and of His Apostles concerning sinners being saved through faith in Him are blessedly clear. The Gospels and Epistles tell us that a perfectly holy and Divine Substitute for sinners was required–and that Jesus was that Substitute and stood in the place of all His chosen people–and bore the punishment which was due for all their sins. If we are Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, all our liabilities to Infinite Justice are forever discharged, for Jesus bore all our sins in His own body on the tree–and bore them so completely away that they shall be remembered against us no more forever!
I want to ask you who have not yet believed in Jesus, whether you really understand this Truth of God of which I have been speaking. Lest there should be anyone here under a delusion upon this matter, let me say, once and for all, that there is no salvation in any charm or ceremony invented or performed by men. The common notion is that there is some kind of charm which operates upon a person, young or old, who is brought to a font–that some virtue or other goes through the fingers of the “priest” who sprinkles the water because at his “ordination” he received something or other, from somebody or other, who received that something or other from some other body and so on, and so on, and so on right up to the Apostles! All that is sheer superstition as base as the witchcraft for which old women were burned in the evil days of the past! [See Sermons #581, Volume 10–CHILDREN BROUGHT TO CHRIST, NOT TO THE FONT and #573, Volume 10–BAPTISMAL REGENERATION, the sermon by Mr. Spurgeon which has had a larger circulation than any other in the 3,052 published sermons to date–Read/download the entire sermon, free of charge, at http://www.spurgeongems.org.] How I wish that all men, women and children could be undeceived concerning it! Thenthere is a notion that a piece of bread, or a drop of wine, “consecrated” and dispensed by properly-authorized persons, will, somehow or other, charm away evil from a dying person. That is another superstition not a whit better than the fetish of the pretended rainmakers of South Africa! Neither the water, nor the bread and wine can convey Divine Grace to an unbeliever! But if I am a Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, my being buried with Him in Baptism [See Sermon #1627, Volume 27, BAPTISM–A BURIAL–Read/download the entire sermon, free of charge, at http://www.spurgeongems.org.] reminds me that I am saved throughHis death and burial–and if I, as a Believer in Christ, eat the bread and drink the wine at the Communion Table, those suggestive symbols help me, as Paul says, to “show the Lord’s death till He comes.” That is all. There is no charm in the water, or the bread, or the wine in themselves, whatever incantations any so-called “priest” may have muttered over them!
Then, never imagine that we cannot understand what the Gospel of Christ really is. Someone perhaps says, “Well,you see, Sir, I am not learned. I am no scholar, so I cannot understand the Gospel.” My dear Friend, there are many people who cannot understand the Gospel just because they are scholars! They know too much to understand it–theyhave so much of what they think is knowledge that they are prejudiced against it! Knowledge may prejudice a person as Jesus Christ, He is your Savior. The result of believing in Him will be this–knowing that you are saved because God tells you that you are, you love God whom you dreaded before and, loving Him, you naturally ask, “What can I do to please Him?” So you give up your old sins and, led on by the impulse of love, which is the work of the Holy Spirit in your heart, you seek after holiness! The things that concern your soul’s salvation are plain enough for a child to comprehend! If you are lost, it will not be a mystery that damns you–and if you are ever to be saved, it is the simplicity of the Gospel that will save you! The Truths of God that relate to your ruin through sin–and the only remedy for that ruin–through the Grace of God, are “as plain as a pikestaff,” as our common proverb puts it. “Still,” says one, “I have often listened to the preaching of the Gospel, but I have failed to understand it.” Then askthe Spirit of God to guide you into it! He is waiting to instruct sincere seekers. Let me ask you whether you have ever really tried to understand the Gospel. “Well, Sir, I have heard Dr. So-and-So and Mr. So-and-So.” Yes, but perhaps they have only muddled you. Have you read the Bible itself? He who wishes to drink pure water had better go to the wellhead. He who wishes to find the Truth of God had better come to these sacred pages, for here he will find it pure and unalloyed. Have you imitated the Jews at Berea who “searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so”? There are many people who condemn the Scriptures, but no man who has read them in the right spirit ever condemns them. You may remember the story of the City Missionary who was arguing with a cobbler–a man who thought himself a very wise skeptic although he had never read the Bible. He said he never would do so, yet he knew it was a very bad book! So the missionary said to him, “I bought a pair of boots yesterday which cost me twelve and sixpence–do you think they were worth the money?” He replied, “Possibly they were, but I can’t say positively without seeing them.” The missionary said, “But, if you are a cobbler and understand your business, you can certainly tell me their value without seeing them.” “Why you must consider me a fool to think that I can judge of a thing I never saw.” “Yes,” said the missionary, “I didthink you were a fool because you have been judging and condemning the Bible which you have never studied.” So I ask you, dear Friend–Have you read the Bible? Have you studied it? If you say that you cannot comprehend it, I ask–Have you ever tried to do so? Do not plead that you cannot understand the Gospel if you have never tried to understand it! But if you humbly ask the Holy Spirit to teach you its meaning as you read it, I believe the Light of the Truth of God will soon enter your soul.
Let me ask you another question–Have you put into practice what you really do understand of the Scriptures? Youknow that you are sinful–have you confessed your sinfulness to God? You know that there is a Savior from sin and that He is to be laid hold of by faith–have you trusted Him to save you? With the Truth of God so clear there is no need for you to perish in the dark! I read in the paper, yesterday, the notice of a reward to be given to anyone who would furnish information concerning the injury done to a certain buoy off the coast. The buoy was described as being on such-andsuch a sand and, as it was 20 feet in height, it must have been injured through sheer carelessness or willful wickedness. So, if you have rightly read the Scriptures, or have heard the Gospel plainly preached, it will be impossible for you to perish by accident–you will perish willfully and your blood will be upon your own head. When Christ brings the printed Gospel before your eyes, as it were, in capital letters–if you will not read it and understand it–you must perish as a spiritual suicide, which may God forbid!
II. The time flies so quickly that I must pass on to notice, in the next place, that THE EXPRESSION, “VERILY, VERILY,” AS THE SPECIAL IDIOM OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, SIGNIFIED CERTAINTY.
He knew that what He said was true and, therefore, He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” Untold mischief has been done in our country by the kind of preaching which was very common at one time, namely, for the preacher to speak as if he did not know what the Truth of God is and must be pardoned for intruding his opinions! If a man does not knowthe Truth, let him hold his tongue until he does. “I believed, therefore have I spoken,” said the Psalmist. And he alone has the right to speak who speaks that which he believes and, therefore, knows. The Lord Jesus never hesitates as to what He shall say, His language never halts! His “Verily, verily, I say unto you,” is the utterance of One who knows the Truth of God and who speaks it as One who is assured that it is the Truth of God.
On our part, there should be a suitable response to Christ’s certainty. If we believe Him to be the Son of God speaking the Truth of God to us with absolute certainty, let us receive with certainty what He says to us. “But,” says one, “there are so many different opinions that I do not know which to believe.” What have you to do with men’s opinions? Supposing there are 10,000 “isms” in the world–what have they to do with you? If you are lost, it will not abate the flames of Hell if you say, “There were so many isms in the world I did not know which to choose.” There was but one Truth, for Christ said, “I am the Truth.” If you had believed Him you would have been saved by Him. There are, today, many persons who raise all sorts of questions–there always have been and there always will be such persons while this dispensation lasts–but what have you to do with them? Your business is to trust the Lord Jesus Christ and leave all those questions alone!
“But,” says another, “even good men differ.” I know they do, but if you go into a watchmaker’s shop, you find that even good watches and clocks differ in some respects. Yet that fact does not affect Greenwich mean time which is the standard for all the watches and clocks in the country! So, supposing that one good man sees one side of a Truth and another sees another side of it–what good man ever asks you to trust in him? You have listened to my preaching–some of you for many years–did I ever ask you to follow my guidance except just as far as the Scriptures prove the truth of what I preach to you? With God’s Word in your hand as the map of the road to Heaven, ask His Spirit to guide you and He will guide you all the way!
All that Christ teaches is certainly true and there are some things which He tells us which are absolutely essential forus to learn. For instance, “You must be born-again.” Or this, “Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” There is no doubt that at the Last Great Day, Christ “will judge the world in righteousness.” We must all stand before His Great White Throne to receive from Him the final sentence which shall fix our eternal destiny. If you are an unbeliever, you are condemned already–and if you live and die an unbeliever, you must be driven from His Presence into a hopeless eternity. All these things are certainties. There are many fictions in the world, but these things are not fictions–neither are they trifles. And I do pray you to believe these Truths of God and to draw the right practical inferences from them.
There are also some Truths For instance, it is certainly true that if you confess your sins to Him, He will forgive you. It is certainly true that if you trust in Jesus, He will give you rest and peace, and you shall be, “accepted in the Beloved.” It is certainly true that if you commit your soul into Christ’s hands you shall never perish, and no one shall ever be able to pluck you out of His hands. [See Sermon #726, Volume 12–LIFE ETERNAL and #2120, Volume 35–THE SECURITY OF BELIEVERS–OR, SHEEP WHO SHALL NEVER PERISH–Read/download the entire sermon, free of charge, at http://www.spurgeongems.org.] There are many blessed assurances in the Word of God upon which youmay surely rely. God help you to rely upon them now!
There are other Truths in God’s Word which you will find to be sure if you test and try them. I might address myself to many a man here and say to him, “Brother, did you not put Christ’s Word to the test in the time of trouble, and did you not prove it to be true?” And I know that the answer would be, “Yes, that I did!” I might pick out many a humble man and woman here who have had a heavy task to bring up their children as they have done and many stern struggles with poverty and affliction, and I might say to them, “My Brother, my Sister, has not Christ been precious to you?” And I know that the answer would be, “Yes! That He has! He has fulfilled every word of promise that He ever gave us to rely upon.” There is no one who can ever convict Christ of a lie–there is not a friend or a foe who can truthfully say, “He deceived me.” “Verily, verily,” is stamped upon every promise, every precept and every threat–and He will prove all of them to be true to the end of time and throughout eternity!
Then, as these things are certain, let us act upon them. O Sirs, in a short time we shall have done with preaching andhearing the Gospel! I fear that many people come to our places of worship in the same spirit in which they go to places of amusement and that the main things of which they think are–how the preacher puts his message, whether he is fluent and eloquent and whether he interests them or not. Yes, but that is not the principal matter about which we should be concerned! You and I will soon be before the bar of God! I shall have to prove that I faithfully preached what I believed to be the Truth of God–and you will have to prove whether you accepted it and acted upon it! And I charge you all, before the living God, at whose bar you must soon stand, not to treat the Gospel as if it were mere fiction. Go not away from this building as though you had been watching a play, or listening to an organ recital which might or might not mean anything to you. There is a real Hell–will you be shut up in it forever? There is a real Heaven–will you be shut out of it forever? There is a real Savior who died upon the Cross for sinners–will you despise and reject Him? And, above all, there sits a real God in whom we live, and move, and have our being–shall we continue to forget Him, break His Laws as if we had liberty to do what we would and despise Him as if He were a man like ourselves? Oh, by the “Verily, verily,” of the Christ of God, I beseech you to lay to heart the certainty, the reality of His teachings and let them
III. The third point was to be that CHRIST’S “VERILY, VERILY” MEANT SOLEMNITY.
Christ was a very solemn Preacher, though He was by no means a dull Preacher. There are some speakers who confound dullness with solemnity, but Christ’s discourses were always interesting. How He abounded in parables and metaphors! The children listened with pleasure to His teachings, yet how solemn it always was, and how forcibly the Master proved the solemnity of His speech by the solemnity of His life! Those nights of prayer that He spent on the lone mountainside show that His was no mock earnestness. And that life of untiring labor showed how real and intense was His zeal. And His death, as with blood-red seals proved that, “having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.” It was the same Christ who said, “Verily, verily,” who died upon the Cross, rose again and went up into Glory to make intercession for the transgressors!
The solemnity of Christ’s words and work should cause us to listen to His Gospel with a corresponding seriousness and solemnity. If you are worldly and earth-bound, you will not attach that importance to the Gospel of Christ that you should. To many of you, the Truth that you need to be saved does not seem to come home with power. If I were, in the middle of a sermon, to begin to talk about the way to get money, the attention of many of you would be far more intense than it is when I am speaking about the salvation of immortal souls. If I were to discuss the price of British bonds, many ears would be at once opened to catch every syllable! Whereas when I talk of the incalculable price that Jesus paid for the redemption of the souls of men, the Truth makes no more impression upon many men’s minds than oil would upon a slab of marble! Your souls, the best part of your real selves, concern you not, O you foolish sons of men! You treat your souls as if they were dirt, yet you prize the things of time and sense as if they were all that you had! You have a notion that these things concern people a long way off–people who are very wicked and do not go to any place of worship, or other people in this congregation who are somehow more fitted than you are to receive my message! But, Sir, the Gospel is foryou, I wish that you would end this folly of passing on to others the Gospel that is meant for yourself.
In closing, I must just mention one or two reflections concerning the solemnity of the Gospel message. First, remember that the Gospel concerns our never-dying souls. Most people think a great deal about that which concerns thebody. There is much talk about an operation, wisely performed by an eminent surgeon upon the poor body which must soon become food for worms. Yet little or nothing is said about the soul which is so vastly more precious! The soul of anemperor or the soul of a beggar is of the same value in God’s sight. “Where does it take its flight when its earthly cage is broken?” Is that a question which is never asked by some of you? If so, what arrant fools you must be! O blessed Spirit of God, teach us the solemnity of the Gospel which concerns the soul which must live forever in raptures or in woe!
This Gospel also concerns the never-ending eternity. We are not going into another time-state that shall come to an end, but into that eternity which shall know no close. I can make no meaning out of Christ’s words if it is not so–and He said, concerning the wicked, “These shall go away into everlasting "The word is the same in each case in the original. Oh, eternity, eternity, eternity, who can conceive what it is? A million millions of years would be less than a moment compared with eternity–and that sum multiplied by a million millions a million times told would be but as a drop in a bucket compared with that which is everlasting! O Sirs, as I know that I am to live forever in such a state as I shall die in, my first concern is to be ready for death that I may be ready for my eternal future! Is it not so with you also? Oh, I do implore you, trifle not with eternity and with your never-dying souls! Trifle not with the God who can cast you into Hell forever! Trifle not with Christ whose hands and feet were nailed to the accursed tree for sinners such as you! Trifle not with His precious blood for that is your only hope of redemption! Trifle not with the Holy Spirit for if He should leave you to perish, your case would be hopeless! Trifle not with your Sabbaths–you will wish to have them back again when you are near death. Trifle not with the Gospel–what would the lost in Hell not give to hear another proclamation of mercy? The devil does not trifle–he is very earnestly seeking your destruction! God, Christ and the Holy Spirit are not trifling with you–and we are not trifling with you! We long to preach the Gospel to you more earnestly, more fully and more faithfully than ever–and we pray to God to help us do so and lament when we fear that we have failed. Trifle not when everything around you seems to be in earnest and especially when the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking out of this chapter, says to you, "Verily, verily, I of the crown of thorns. I of the pierced hands and feet speak plainly, certainly and solemnly to you and bid you look unto Me that you may be saved.”
I never go out of this pulpit feeling so utterly cast down as when I have been trying to deal with the consciences of the ungodly. I wish I could grip each one of you by the hand and look you in the face, and say, “Man, Woman, are you going to die without a Savior? Oh, be not so foolish, so mad!” I would tell every young man here how, when I was myself a young man, I was led to look by faith to the Savior and I have found it a blessed thing to rest in Him ever since. And I would say to him, “Brother, come with me to the Cross of Calvary and rest in Jesus, and begin to live a holy and useful life–and you shall find yourself truly blessed among men.” I cannot come round and speak personally to you all, but will you let me follow you to your bedside and, if you think of getting into bed tonight without a prayer for your soul’s salvation, just imagine that you feel my hand upon your shoulder and hear me say to you, “What? No offering of a prayer to God?” I was about to say, “Stepping into your bed,” but I thought that it might become your sepulcher, for you may die there! As many have done who went to bed as thoughtlessly and prayerless as you have often done. But if you trust in Jesus and then fall asleep for the last time on earth, you will wake up amid the splendors of eternal bliss!