On Saturday, the women at our church listened to this sermon by Ligon Duncan. Hands down, it’s one of the most powerful presentations of the Gospel I’ve ever heard. He expounds upon Numbers 5:1-4 where God commands Moses to put those who are unclean outside of the camp. He discusses the practical, theological, and Christological reasons for the command. If you do nothing else today, listen to this sermon. Please. We followed the hearing of this sermon with a reading of the entire book of Hebrews, pausing to discuss each chapter. Since then I can’t stop thinking about Jesus dying outside of the camp and all its implications. It’s a dreadful thought to consider how serious God is about sin. Yet, unless we can appreciate His severity, how can we understand what Christ did to reconcile us to God? So, one of the things I did when I got home was seek out what Spurgeon has to say. Why? Because no one strikes at the heart of the matter like Spurgeon! I thought this excerpt was worth sharing. It offers comfort for anyone suffering separation from the church because of a stand for Christ. If Christ suffered outside the camp, his servant will, from time to time, do the same.
“In this age I can scarcely imagine it possible for a man to serve his Master faithfully unless he is sometimes shut out of the camp, even of the Church itself! I do not mean excommunicated — I mean something far different from that. I mean that the man who serves his God aright will often feel himself left in the minority, even in the Church. It is never his business to so act and to so think that others are obliged to differ from him. It is folly to be singular except where to be singular is to be right! But so lax has the professing Church become, so low in its doctrine, so light in its experience and, sometimes, so unholy in its life, that to be Christians, now, we must be elect out of the elect — elect out of the Church as well as elect out of the world! What pride, on the one hand. What sloth, on the other. What anger, what distrust, what covetousness, what worldly-mindedness we constantly see! The most of us are too much mingled with the world, too much joined unto Egypt! And the man who is firm in the faith and loves his Master well is a rarity! The man of a loving spirit, the man of a large heart and yet of a determined zeal, and of a steadfast mind—such a man will have to go outside the camp — and he will have to suffer, now, even as all have had to suffer who have dared to go into the front of the sacramental host of God’s elect, in advance of the more tardy followers of the Lamb! If any minister of Christ dares to be too bold, too plain, too honest for the common run of professors, he must expect to be maligned! Let him reckon on that and let him willingly go forth outside the camp, for that is where his Master went before him!
If I turn to the pages of history to find out the best men who ever lived, do you know where I find them? I never find them among those who were called, “respectable,” in their time. There, in the pages of history, I see great names – Erasmus and others, mighty and learned men — but, on a dirty-thumbed page, I see the name of Luther associated with such epithets as, “dog, adulterer, beast,” and everything else that Rome’s malice could suggest! And I say, “Ah, this is the man whom God chose, for he went outside the camp!” That list of great divines, of schoolmen and of theologians you may wipe out without much regret — but this man outside the camp — he is somebody, depend upon it! He is the man whom God has blessed.”
Charles Spurgeon, Suffering Outside the Camp, January 3, 1858