Charles Spurgeon: The Prince of Preachers
“I do not come into this pulpit hoping that perhaps somebody will of his own free will return to Christ. My hope lies in another quarter. I hope that my Master will lay hold of some of them and say, ‘You are mine, and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself.’ My hope arises from the freeness of grace, and not from the freedom of the will.'” Charles Spurgeon
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (19 June 1834 – 31 January 1892), also known as the Prince of Preachers, allegedly preached to approximately 10 000 000 souls. We cannot assert with absolute certainty that all of them are now in heaven because it is impossible to know who among them were the elect.
Not even Charles could have known whether all of them, some of them or any of them are in heaven because he never knew whether his Master had lain hold of them. In fact, he could only express the hope that his Master had sovereignly and monergistically lain hold of some of them.
On Spurgeon’s hope that God will lay hold on some and say to them “You are mine and you shall be mine, I claim you for myself” J Vernon McGee paraphrased Spurgeon as follows:
Because Spurgeon preached a “whosoever will” gospel, someone said to him, “If I believed like you do about election, I wouldn’t preach like you do.” Spurgeon’s answer was something like this, “If the Lord had put a yellow stripe down the backs of the elect, I’d go up and down the street lifting up shirt tails, finding out who had the yellow stripe, and then I’d give them the gospel.
But God didn’t do it that way. He told me to preach the gospel to every creature that ‘whosoever will may come.'” Jesus says, “and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” So, my friend, you can argue about election all you want to, but you can come. And if you come, He’ll not cast you out.
There is no proof in the above anecdote that Spurgeon believed everyone had an equal opportunity to be saved. Don’t let his “whosoever will may come” fool you. It is not the biblical meaning of “whosoever.” Spurgeon’s “whosoever” was inexorably dependent on John 6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
It follows that only the elect are drawn and they in their turn are the “whosoevers” who WILL come to Him and whom He WILL never cast out.” A Calvinist, who is definitely not a prince of preachers was being far more inventive and ingenious than Spurgeon when he summed it up in this way: “Election” plus “fore-ordination” plus “called” is equal to “whosoever will.”
Calvinists in general have a supernatural way of telling the most sovereign God who created heaven and earth and everything that is in it what certain words ought to mean. It would be much easier to understand the bible if they were to write and publish “A Calvinist Dictionary of the Real Meaning of Words in the Bible” cause God Himself has no clue what they actually mean. It could look something like this”
World – kosmos, kos’-mos, The world of the elect.
All – The elect
Whosoever – The elect
Shall we now apply the Calvinist’s view that “whosoever” only refers to the elect to a few verses in Scripture?
Whosoever (the elect and not the non-elect) therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)
But I say unto you, That whosoever (the elect and not the non-elect) is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever (the elect and not the non-elect) shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever (the elect and not the non-elect) shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:22)
But I say unto you, That whosoever (the elect and not the non-elect) looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)
But I say unto you, That whosoever (the elect and not the non-elect) shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever (the elect and not the non-elect) shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. (Matthew 5:32)
And so we can go on and on to prove that Calvinism is a really dumb religion.
Spurgeon preferred to preach to the elect if only he’d known who the elect were, but, realizing that God alone knows this, he hoped that He would take hold of the elect and save them. May I interpose and remind our learned friend that the Gospel never entertains in the slightest the concepts of hope as a mere possibility in salvation. There is no room for doubt in God’s economy of redemption.
Indeed, God Himself affirms with thundering clarity “He who possesses the Son has that life; he who does not possess the Son of God does not have that life. I write this to you who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) the name of the Son of God [in] the peculiar services and blessings conferred by Him on men], so that you may know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have life, yes, eternal life.” (1 John 5:12).
As soon as faith in God and his Christ for one’s salvation is replaced by election the demon of doubt creeps in through the back door. Consequently the Gospel is no longer preached in the hope that lost sinners may be saved and immediately given the assurance that they are indeed saved, but in the hope that the elect may be made aware of their elitist predestination unto salvation before the foundation of the world and in the event have no assurance of salvation unless they persevere to the end which is, according to Calvinists, the proof that they are the elect.
Is there any proof from history confirming that Calvinists doubted their election? Many Puritans in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries doubted their election on their deathbeds because they were taught the infamous lie that saints need to persevere to the end.
If, as Calvinists believe, their salvation is divinely guaranteed and they can never lose it because God’s election is irreversible, why do they need to persevere – to maintain their salvation? It was this paradox, lingering between the assurance of election and the burden of perseverance to make their election sure, that led most Puritans to doubt their election.
They taught that assurance is not so much a gift of the Holy Spirit as it is the result of their own performance in persevering to the end. Hence their exhortation that believers ought to pray fervently, work arduously, and struggle heroically, often for many years, in order at last to obtain assurance. In addition, Puritans taught that God only gives assurance of election (salvation) to a very few of His children.
Now though this full assurance is earnestly desired, and highly prized, and the want of it much lamented, and the enjoyment of it much endeavored after by all saints, yet it is only obtained by a few. Assurance is a mercy too good for most men’s hearts, it is a crown too weighty for most men’s heads. Assurance is optimum maximum, the best and greatest mercy; and therefore God will only give it to his best and dearest friends.
Augustus in his solemn feasts, gave trifles to some, but gold to others. Honor and riches, etc., are trifles that God gives to the worst of men; but assurance is that ‘tried gold,’ Rev. 3:18, that God only gives to tried friends. Among those few that have a share or portion in the special love and favor of God, there are but a very few that have an assurance of his love.
It is one mercy for God to love the soul, and another mercy for God to assure the soul of his love. (Thomas Brooks, “Heaven on Earth: A Serious Discourse, Touching a Well-Grounded Assurance,” in The Works of Thomas Brooks, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, repr. 1980),
Is this salvation? Is this the way the Holy Ghost works in his redemptive work of the elect? First He tells them they are elect and irrevocably bound for heaven and then that they cannot have the assurance of salvation unless they strive hard to persevere in prayer, in works and heroic deeds? Brother Paul of Tarsus, whom Calvinists revere as one of the originators of Calvinism, never boasted in his perseverance but in Jesus Christ and Him alone.
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Timothy 1:12)
What, you may ask, does Spurgeon and the Puritans have in common if any? In his book “Spurgeon: Heir of the Puritans” Ernest Bacon writes on page 101:
It may be well to refresh our minds concerning these great men of old. The Puritans were a body of men of God who brought a spiritual light to England, and stamped a moral greatness upon her that no other group, religious or secular, has ever done. Yet no people have been more persistently maligned and misrepresented than they.
The very word Puritan has become in many quarters a term of scorn, implying a gloomy fanaticism, hypocrisy, narrow-minded and illiterate bigotry, and so on.
Today, if anyone stands up for clear-cut biblical doctrines and simple worship, or sets himself against moral declension, political unrighteousness, apostasy in the church, gambling, drinking and unwholesome amusements, or the secularization of the Lord’s Day was deliberately fostered by their political and ecclesiastical enemies in the reign of Charles the Second, many of whom were the avowed enemies of truth and godliness.
But the term Puritan is really a badge of honor; part of the reproach of Christ, borne by men not afraid or ashamed to gather to Him “without the camp.”
They may have stamped a moral greatness upon England but they surely never knew how to proclaim the Gospel so that lost sinners may receive forgiveness for their sins and also the assurance that they had indeed been forgiven to the extent that they are eternally saved. The only hope they could provide lost sinners was to tell them that they will never know and will never gain absolute assurance that God had saved them.
The assurance of salvation, they would tell them, was a blessing only a very few privileged saints received. So great was Spurgeon’s love for his Puritans that he had Susannah read them to him while they were engaged! Susannah said – “I heard his dear voice explain what I couldn’t understand, condensing into short sentences whole pages of these discursive old divines, and pressing from them all the richest nectar of their hidden sweetness.”
The two of them in their courtship days actually issued a book of Puritan anthology, Smooth Stones Taken From Ancient Brooks [recently re-published in 1996 by Soli Deo Gloria, available from Pilgrim]. So assiduously did he collect, that at his death in 1892 nearly seven thousand Puritan volumes were in his library.
Spurgeon couldn’t have been much of an advertisement for the Puritans who were very outspoken against “drinking and unwholesome amusements” (smoking) because the Prince of Preachers was and is well-known for his smoking and drinking habit. In reply to a gentleman who “had heard he smoked, but could not believe it to be true,” and asked Mr. Spurgeon to satisfy him, he said: “I cultivate my flowers and burn my weeds.”
Hopefully, he didn’t burn his weeds while he stood in his pulpit telling his congregates what it meant to be an elect person or why there was such an abomination as limited atonement or why God only loves the elect etc. etc.
I suppose it wasn’t too much of a sinful deed for Mr. Spurgeon to smoke cigars, especially when he smoked them at bedtime. In any case, the Bible never says “Thou shalt not smoke cigars.”
I suppose this is where Calvinists have learned to sanctify everything they do and say (even their penchant to hate and call other people idiots) with their pious and humble little maxim “I do it (hate and call other people idiots) to the glory of God.”
Imagine Spurgeon sitting with Jesus and his disciples while smoking a cigar when asked very politely to leave the room and smoke his cigar outside.
Jesus: “Charlie would you . . . cough cough cough . . . please . . . cough, cough . . . leave our Holy Ghost inspired meeting and go and smoke your cigar outside?”
Charlie: “Sorry Jesus . . . cough cough cough . . . I am used to cultivate my flowers and burn my weeds at the same time. At any rate, I am smoking my cigars to glorify You.”
Jesus: “Really? Oh thank you so much Charlie . . . I never realized that one could . . . . cough cough cough . . . glorify God . . . cough cough cough . . . by merely polluting the air others breath in with your own stinking, nicotine infested breath. In that case . . . cough cough cough . . . you may stay. But please, just exhale . . . cough cough cough . . . your smoke away from me.”
Charlie: “OK Jesus. Hallelujah!!!”
I can already hear some of you yelling: “Who are you to judge?” OK, we are all sinners but the command is “He that covereth his sins [makes excuses for his sins or tries to justify his sins] shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13). We dare not sanctify our sins with a little maxim “I do it to the glory of God.”
You are NOT doing it for the glory of God; You are doing it for your own pleasure and satisfaction. Were you so ignorant, Mr the Prince of Preachers, to think that the sovereign and most holy God who created the heavens and the earth accepted your foul smoking habit as a means to glorify him?
If we were to agree with today’s princes of preachers like David Platt, Paul Washer, Robert Morey and John MacArthur that God hates sinners, then we may assume beyond any reasonable doubt that He hated Charles Haddon Spurgeon, unless smoking cigars and drinking wine and beer is not sin and may indeed be cherished to the honour and glory of God. Perhaps we should change the “Our Father” prayer to “Hallowed be thy Name through our smoking and our drinking as well as our penchant to hate and call other people religious idiots”
However, it is not only his cigar and wine touting habit that raised eyebrows. The thing that baffles the mind the most is that he could associate so profoundly and compassionately with the Puritans while he must have known they taught the heresy that only a few elitist saints can know with absolute assurance that they have been saved. Spurgeon was an enigma who contradicted himself very often.
For instance, In 1887, he donned the blue ribbon of the Temperance Movement without abandoning his drinking and smoking habit. In the book Charles Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers, by Lewis Drummond (Kregel, Grand Rapids: 1992) one finds the following contradictory quotes from Spurgeon from his later years:
“I don’t need it for myself, but if it will strengthen and encourage a single soul among the 5,000 that are here, I will put it [a blue ribbon] on.”
“Next to the preaching of the Gospel, the most necessary thing to be done in England is to induce our people to become abstainers.” (Both quotes, pg. 440,Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers, Lewis Drummond)
So there! Whenever you are debating Spurgeon’s smoking and drinking habit or the doctrines of grace, feel free (by using your God-given free-will) to cite Spurgeon for support. No matter what side you’re advocating you will always be on the winning side.
Preaching the Gospel to Every Creature
I could never understand why anyone would feel compelled to preach the Gospel to every creature when only the elect, without exception, were chosen to be saved. No degree of solid Gospel preaching can or will ever change God’s decree to save only the elect and damn the non-elect. So, what’s the point in preaching the Gospel?
As loyal and obedient Bereans whose duty it is to search the Scripture and weigh every word of even the most eloquent preachers, among them Charles Haddon Spurgeon, with the Word of God, we need to ask ourselves whether Spurgeon preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not perchance another Gospel. The only guaranteed means to fathom the depths of Spurgeon’s preaching is to quote him verbally.
Like all Calvinists who believe that God only loves the elect and hates the non-elect Spurgeon seems to have cradled the very same heartfelt temperament in his own heart. In A SERMON DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING, FEBRUARY 28, 1858, he said the following.
WHEN first it was my duty to occupy this pulpit and preach in this hall, my congregation assumed the appearance of an irregular mass of persons collected from all the streets of this city to listen to the Word. I was then simply an Evangelist, preaching to many who had not heard the Gospel before.
By the Grace of God, the most blessed change has taken place and now, instead of having an irregular multitude gathered together, my congregation is as fixed as that of any minister in the whole city of London! I can from this pulpit observe the countenances of my friends who have occupied the same places, as nearly as possible, for these many months.
And I have the privilege and the pleasure of knowing that a very large proportion, certainly three-fourths of the persons who meet together here are not persons who stay here from curiosity, but are my regular and constant hearers. And observe that my character has also been changed! From being an Evangelist, it is now my business to become your pastor.
You were once a motley group assembled to listen to me but now we are bound together by the ties of love. Through association we have grown to love and respect each other and now you have become the sheep of my pasture and members of my flock. And I have now the privilege of assuming the position of a pastor in this place, as well as in the Chapel where I labor in the evening.
I think, then, it will strike the judgment of every person that as both the congregation and the office have now changed, the teaching itself should in some measure suffer a difference. (Emphasis added).
Paul of Tarsus wrote:
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
Paul affirms with great fortitude and confidence that Christ died for all (not just for the elect as some heretics suggest; 1 Timothy 2:6; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2). It is this love, Christ’s love for all people that constrained Him to die for all people that also constrains us to preach the Gospel to all creatures. God never said that we should preach the Gospel to all creatures because we do not know who the elect are.
If you do not preach the Gospel because the love of Christ for all people constrains you to preach the Gospel to every creature then you’d better stop preaching and find another job where you may learn to love all people and not just the so-called elect. Spurgeon’s love was a love motivated by association.
It was not the love of Jesus Christ for all people that constrained him to preach the Gospel to all creatures but a love that had grown to fruition through association with like-minded people (the elect). Jesus rebuked those who loved only through association. “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? ” (Matthew 5:46)
What, may we ask, are the consequences of a love motivated by association? Spurgeon himself inadvertently provides the answer in the rest of his sermon. He carries on to say that his brethren (the elect) whom he had grown to love through association had reached a level of maturity where he could boldly and confidently proclaim the deeper things of God to them. What are these deeper thing? Go ahead, Mr. Spurgeon and tell us because you are the master of your pulpit.
It has been my desire to address you from the simple Truths of the Gospel. I have very seldom, in this place, attempted to dive into the deep things of God. A text which I have thought suitable for my congregation in the evening, I should not have made the subject of discussion in this place in the morning.
There are many high and mysterious Doctrines which I have often taken the opportunity of handling in my own place that I have not taken the liberty of introducing here, regarding you as a company of people casually gathered together to hear the Word.
But now, since the circumstances are changed, the teaching will also be changed. I shall not now simply confine myself to the Doctrine of the faith, or the teaching of Believer’s Baptism. I shall not stay upon the surface of matters, but shall venture, as God shall guide me, to enter into those things that lie at the basis of the religion that we hold so dear. I shall not blush to preach before you the Doctrine of God’s Divine Sovereignty.
I shall not stagger to preach in the most unreserved and unguarded manner the Doctrine of Election. I shall not be afraid to propound the great Truth of the Final Perseverance of the Saints. I shall not withhold that undoubted Truth of Scripture-the Effectual Calling of God’s Elect. I shall endeavor, as God shall help me, to keep back nothing from you who have become my flock.
Seeing that many of you have now “tasted that the Lord is gracious,” we will endeavor to go through the whole system of the Doctrines of Grace-that saints may be edified and built up in their most holy faith!
Whenever someone boasts that he wants to disclose some kind o mysterious doctrine or teaching, you ought to run away as fast as you can. God never intended his doctrine of salvation to be something so esoterically high and mysterious that no one is able to understand it.
Would anyone write a letter to his beloved, telling her that he loved her but made it so intensely high and mysterious for her to understand that she could never really know whether he loved her or not, unless he clobbered her over the head, dragged her to his home and told her “I love you and you have no choice but to love me?”
Does it sound familiar? It should because that’s precisely what Calvinism teaches. Man is so utterly depraved, they say, that he is completely unable to understand the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ. Consequently, only the elect whom God has ordained unto salvation before the foundation of the world must monergistically be regenerated and only then, after being made alive, given faith as a gift.
Paul, who also deemed it extremely crucial and beneficial for saints not to remain bogged down in the first principles of the oracles of God which is but milk to nourish babes in Christ, but to press on to the tasting and eating of the more meaty substances of the Gospel (Hebrews 5:12), did not expound on the Doctrines of Grace (the doctrine of election, of the Effectual Calling of God’s Elect and the Final Perseverance of the Saints).
He proceeded to remind and teach the saints that they should leave behind the principles of the doctrine of Christ and to go on unto perfection. (Hebrews 6:1). Are the doctrines of grace (TULIP) the more advanced meaty substances of the Gospel or are they also just the first principles of the doctrines of salvation?
If the Doctrines of Grace (TULIP) are the fundamental biblical truths of the doctrine of salvation, why did Spurgeon wait so long before he proclaimed it to his congregation? Why did he wait until his congregation reached a certain level of maturity and had grown to love one another through association before he preached to them the doctrines of grace?
Both Jesus and John the Baptist proclaimed the Gospel in the very first sermons they delivered – “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15). They didn’t say to their listeners: “OK you guys, you won’t understand the more esoteric doctrines of grace. You will have to wait a while until you have reached an acceptable level of maturity and we all have grown to love one another through association; only then will we tell you what the doctrines of grace (salvation) are all about.”
Spurgeon did a jolly good job to paint the horrors and consequences of sin, the sternness of God’s divine justice, the infinite price Jesus Christ paid to appease God’s holy justice and the glorious deliverance Christ affected but then, in the finest Calvinistic fashion, pays tribute to John Calvin. In the same sermon he said the following:
I have hurried over that to come to the last point which is the sweetest of all! Jesus Christ, we are told in our text, came into the world, “to give His life a ransom for many.” The greatness of Christ’s Redemption may be measured by the EXTENT OF THE DESIGN OF IT. He gave His life “a ransom for many.” I must now return to that controverted point again.
We are often told (I mean those of us who are commonly nicknamed by the title of Calvinists – and we are not very much ashamed of that. We think that Calvin, after all, knew more about the Gospel than almost any uninspired man who has ever lived)! We are often told that we limit the Atonement of Christ because we say that Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved.
Now, our reply to this is that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it – we do not! The Arminians say Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, “No, certainly not.” We ask them the next question-Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular?
They answer, “No.” They are obliged to admit this if they are consistent. They say “No, Christ has died that any man may be saved if” – and then follow certain conditions of salvation. We say, then, we will just go back to the old statement –
Christ did not die so as beyond a doubt to secure the salvation of anybody, did He?
You must say, “No.” You are obliged to say so, for you believe that even after a man has been pardoned, he may yet fall from Grace and perish. Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why, you! You say that Christ did not die so as to Infallibly secure the salvation of anybody.
We beg your pardon, when you say we limit Christ’s death! We say, “No, my dear Sir, it is you that do it. We say Christ so died that He Infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ’s death not only may be saved but are saved, must be saved and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved! You are welcome to your atonement. You may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.”
Calvinists have an uncanny way to settle their arguments with their Arminian label which they pin on anyone who disagrees with them. All those who disagree with their so-called Doctrines of Grace are immediately and summarily labeled an Arminian. That doesn’t seem to be such a felonious thing to do but it is scandalously un-Christlike to accuse Arminius of lies and deceit when he was more sound in his Gospel preaching than Calvin.
Although I am not an Arminian, I would rather be associated with him who never sought revenge against his enemies (His entire family was murdered in his absence when Spanish Catholic troops massacred the population of his hometown of Oudewater in Holland in 1575 when he was only sixteen) than with the murderer, John Calvin who, Spurgeon hailed, “knew more about the Gospel than almost any uninspired man who has ever lived.”
Spurgeon was “not very much ashamed of” being associated with a murderer. And why should he have been ashamed when he also lied without twitching an eye. Here again is what he said of Arminius: “You say that Christ did not die so as to Infallibly secure the salvation of anybody.”
Arminius said no such thing. In fact, he denied that he ever advocated the possibility of the loss of salvation. “At no period have I asserted ‘that believers do finally decline or fall away from faith or salvation.”‘ (Jacobus Arminius, The Works of James Arminius, trans. James and William Nichols (Baker Book House, 1986, 1,741).
Notwithstanding Spurgeon’s notion that maturity and love through association were necessary requirements before the doctrines of grace may be preached to man, Spurgeon insisted it was his duty to preach the Gospel to all creatures. Although he believed that only the elect could and ultimately would be saved, he felt constrained to preach the Gospel to all creatures because there was no way of knowing who the elect are.
The only possibility to know, was, as Spurgeon explained, “to go up and down the street lifting up shirt tails, finding out who had the yellow stripe [indicating who the elect was], and then . . . give them the gospel. But God didn’t do it that way. He told me to preach the gospel to every creature that ‘whosoever will may come.'” And yet, Spurgeon rejected the biblical doctrine of free-will.
In a sermon he delivered on Sabbath morning, March 7, 1858, at the Music Hall, Royal Surry Gardens he said:
“Oh,” says the Arminian, “men may be saved if they will.” We reply, “My dear Sir, we all believe that. But it is just the if they will that is the difficulty. We assert that no man will come to Christ unless he is drawn. No, we do not assert it, but Christ Himself declares it-‘You will not come unto Me that you might have life.’
And as long as that, ‘you will not come,’ stands on record in Holy Scripture, Christ shall not be brought to believe in any doctrine of the freedom of the human will.” It is strange how people, when talking about free will, talk of things which they do not at all understand. “Now” says one, “I believe men can be saved if they will.” My dear Sir, that is not the question at all.
The question is, are men ever found naturally willing to submit to the humbling terms of the Gospel of Christ? We declare, upon Scriptural authority, that the human will is so desperately set on mischief, so depraved and so inclined to everything that is evil – so disinclined to everything that is good-that without the powerful, supernatural, irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit, no human will will ever be constrained towards Christ!
Spurgeon’s views of man’s free-will are nothing short of childish gibberish. Yes, he says in agreement with Jacobus Arminius, man does indeed have a free-will but God in his sovereignty decided before the foundation of the world whom He wanted to draw and whom not.
What kind of will does man then have when God sovereignly overrules his will and only draws the elect whom He allegedly predestined unto salvation before the foundation of the world? Christ’s very words “You will not come to me that you might have life” is ample proof that man does have a free-will to choose whether he wants to come to Him for salvation or not. His invitation in Matthew 11:28 affirms it.
God is the One who draws but man’s will to respond in faith to God’s drawing or not plays a major role in his coming to Christ or not. The deciding factor which ultimately motivates man to come to Christ or not, is not election but the Holy Spirit inspired conviction that he is a lost sinner who desperately needs to be saved lest he perishes.
Isn’t that what Jesus Himself once said: “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance?” He could just as well have said: “They that think they are the elect have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call those that think they are the elect, but sinners to repentance.”
Now please tell me, if you will, how does one reconcile Spurgeon’s acknowledgment that “whosoever will (which clearly alludes to man’s free-will) may (is free to) come” and “we assert that no man will come to Christ unless he is drawn?” Of course, no man can come to Jesus Christ unless he is drawn and that’s precisely why God designed the only way possible to draw man to Him, the cross of his Son Jesus Christ.
Like all Calvinists Spurgeon resourcefully quotes John 6:44 but with equal ingenuity fails to quote John 12:32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” I have yet to find a Calvinist who quotes these two verses in tandem. Why? Well, there is but one feasible answer. They must at all cost uphold their so-called doctrines of grace (TULIP)
Spurgeon evidently pinned his hope on the freeness of God’s grace, not in the sense that He believed Him to extend his grace freely to all men (Titus 2:11), but that He sovereignly poured his grace out on whomsoever believes (“the elect only” in Calvinist terminology) whilst He withholds it from the non-elect. Here are some of the Prince of Preachers infamous remarks on limited atonement.
Spurgeon: “If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were lost before He died. If the doctrine be true, that He died for all men, then He died for some who were in Hell before He came into this world, for doubtless there were even then myriads there who had been cast away because of their sins. . .
That seems to me a conception a thousand times more repulsive than any of those consequences which are said to be associated with the Calvinistic and Christian doctrine of special and particular redemption. To think that my Savior died for men who were or are in Hell, seems a supposition too horrible for me to entertain.” (Charles Spurgeon, Autobiography: 1, The Early Years, p. 172)
“If Christ on His cross intended to save every man, then He intended to save those who were lost before He died.” How could Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, possibly have made such a weird statement? I remember many years ago my late mother’s roommate in an old age home asked me: “How were Old Testament people saved when we take into account that Jesus died on the cross only thousands of years latter?
Were they all lost?” Sadly, these are the sort of questions people ask when they are taught that faith and free-will play no part in the salvation of lost sinners. Had they known that faith in Jesus Christ is the only prerequisite for lost sinners to be saved, they would also have known that Old Testament sinners were saved in exactly the same way today’s sinner are redeemed – through faith alone in the vicarious death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
In the dispute that ensued among the Jewish Christians when some of those from Judaea demanded that new converts should be circumcised after the manner of Moses to prove that they were genuinely saved, Peter got up and said one of the most astonishing things ever to be pronounced by a Jew.
“But we (Jews) believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we (Jews) shall be saved, even as they (the Gentiles).” (Acts 15:11). If Peter was correct in his assessment of God’s free grace, then the Old Testament Jews were saved in the very same way the Old and New Testament Gentiles were saved, and that was/is through faith in Jesus Christ.
The only difference is that the Old Testament folk looked forward in faith to Jesus Christ while today’s folk look back in faith to Jesus Christ. Indeed, Abraham who was a Gentile before the Law was instituted, was saved by faith and not by the law of circumcision or election as Calvinists would like to believe.
Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. (Galatians 3:6-7)
Righteousness was accounted to Abraham because he believed and not because he was first regenerated and then given faith as a gift. In the very same way they, that are of the same faith as Abraham (their spiritual father), are saved through their faith which proceeds from a willing heart and not because they had been forcefully regenerated without them having to exercise faith and free-will. Surely, Spurgeon must have known that Jesus Christ died on the cross also for Old Testament sinners and that some of them weren’t cast into hell because God did not intend his Son to die for them on the cross.
In the very beginning of creation, God made it abundantly clear that faith in the shedding of the blood of an innocent victim or the rejection of the blood ultimately determined whether a person would go to heaven or hell. The narrative of Cain and Abel proves it beyond any doubt. Both youngsters knew that God would eventually send his own Lamb to die for their sins.
They also knew that their belief or unbelief in his atoning propitiation on the cross, as expressed respectively in Abel’s offering of the firstling of his flock and the fat thereof [Genesis 4:4] and Cain’s offering of the fruit of the cursed ground [his own good works, Genesis 4:3], determined whence they would go – heaven or hell.
Cain new exactly what pleased God but willfully and rebelliously thrust it from him in the very same way the Pharisees did in the New Testament. How do we know? God’s own words confirm the fact that Cain knew what God expected of him.
And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well (by bringing the offering I commanded you to offer) , shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well (by bringing your own offering of the fruits of your own labour), sin lieth at the door. (Genesis 4:6-7)
It was not God’s elective and sovereign will that determined Cain’s destination but Cain’s own willful rejection of God’s way of salvation in favour of his own chosen way of salvation (Jude 1:11). The theme of belief or unbelief in an innocent victim’s shed blood for the remission of sin appears throughout the Old and the New testaments.
Only the Israelite who looked in faith upon Moses’ serpent of brass on the pole were healed (Numbers 29:9) which clearly alludes to the requisite to look in faith upon Jesus in order to be saved. Moses did not say: “The serpent on the pole is limited only to the elect among the Israelite. God who has claimed you for Himself will sovereignly turn your eyes upon the pole to look on the serpent.”
There was no such thing. It was every Israelite’s own choice to either look upon the serpent or to refuse to look upon it [John 3:14-15]).
Spurgeon: “We are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our reply to this is that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it, we do not. The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it. Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men?
They say, “No, certainly not.” We ask them the next question – Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of any man in particular? They say, “No.” They are obliged to admit this if they are consistent. They say, “No; Christ has died so that any man may be saved if”-and then follow certain conditions of salvation.
We say then, we will just go back to the old statement – Christ did not die so as beyond a doubt to secure the salvation of anybody, did He? You must say “No;” you are obliged to say so, for you believe that even after a man has been pardoned, he may yet fall from grace and perish.
Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? Why you . . . We say Christ so died that He infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ’s death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved, and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it.” (Charles Spurgeon, Sermon 181, New Park Street Pulpit, IV, p. 135)
This is the normal and standard argument so typical of all Calvinists that if Christ made satisfaction on the cross for all men, then all men should and would be saved. It would have been difficult to decry the credibility of such a statement if the cross saved sinners automatically without them having to put their trust in the efficacy of Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross.
Indeed, it is precisely what Calvinists declare. In their estimate man is so totally depraved and dead in sin and trespasses that he is unable to effect any faith of his own accord in order to be saved. Consider some of the resolutions which make up “The London Declaration 2000: Alliance of Reformation Christians – A vision for biblical unity in the modern church, `The Evangelical Problem.'” Under “Four Affirmations,” 1. includes the following:
“We likewise affirm that we are Augustinians in our doctrine of man and in our doctrine of salvation. This is because we believe that Augustine and his successors, including the [Calvinist] Reformers, faithfully reflect the Bible’s teaching regarding the total spiritual inability of fallen man to respond [in faith] to God, God the Father’s gracious unconditional election of a people to be saved, the design of the incarnate Son’s atoning work as intended surely and certainly to secure the salvation of that people [the elect only], the monergistic grace of the Holy Spirit in regeneration [without understanding or faith on man’s part], and the perseverance of the elect.
Accordingly, we also reject all forms of synergism or Semi-Pelagianism in which man is accorded a cooperative role [even to believe] in his regeneration, e.g. Arminianism. We reject equally any softening of Augustinian soteriology, e.g. Amyraldinianism (`four point’ Calvinism), and any hardening of it, e.g. Hyper-Calvinism …. The notion of one Catholic and Reformed [Calvinist] Church-one main, majestic stream of historic Christian orthodoxy [Augustinianism/Calvinism] – is thus integral to our understanding. This notion we affirm as true and foundational to any evangelical outlook worthy of the name.”
Nowhere in the entire Bible does the Holy Spirit say or suggest in the very least that regeneration precedes faith. Indeed, He says the very opposite to what Calvinists believe: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God [for their salvation] must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him [for their salvation].” (Hebrews 11:6).
Spurgeon: I would rather believe a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than a universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of men be added to it. (Charles Spurgeon, Sermons, Vol. 4, p. 70)
It boggles the mind to hear a man who supposedly preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ say something so insanely unbiblical. Indeed, I can verify from Scripture that Jesus died on the cross to grant all men an equal opportunity to be saved. How dare he suggest anything else when the Bible irrevocably says so in John 3:16, 1 John 2:2, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4 and 1 Timothy 4:10?
Spurgeon: A redemption which pays a price, but does not ensure that which is purchased – a redemption which calls Christ a substitute for the sinner, but yet which allows the person to suffer – is altogether unworthy of our apprehensions of Almighty God. It offers no homage to his wisdom, and does despite to his covenant faithfulness.
We could not and would not receive such a travesty of divine truth as that would be. There is no ground for any comfort whatever in it. (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Sermons, Vol. 49, p. 39)
These hasty words pronounced with an equally eloquent and hasty wisdom by our Prince of Preachers make him a very good candidate for Jesus’ indictment in John 3:10: “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?” There seems to be at least one thing he overlooked and failed to preach on in all of his sermons and that is Jesus’ lament over his apparent failure on the cross in Isaiah 49:4
Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God. (Isaiah 49:4)
It is evident from these passages in Isaiah 49 that Jesus did not see success in terms of the salvation of the complete body of the elect whom God allegedly chose unto redemption before the foundation of the world. The success of his work on the cross was not contingent upon the number of sinners He saved but on his obedience to his Father, no matter what the outcome.
If his substitutionary death on the cross saved only a single sinner out of all the billions and billions of people who ever lived on the planet, He would still have died on the cross for that one person and still have been a resounding success – and this is the reason why.
Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. (Hebrews 10:5-9)
These verses make it abundantly clear that it was the Father’s will that His Son should die (be offered) on the cross FOR SIN and not for the redemption of the complete body of an alleged group of elect persons only. If it was for sin that God fashioned a body for his Son and it was for sin in particular that He was sacrificed on the cross because the burnt offerings and sacrifices under the Law never pleased God, then He was offered for all mankind because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 2:23), unless, of course, only the elect are lost sinners.
His crucifixion was designed to deal with sin, the very thing that causes separation between God and man and this He accomplished with resounding success, to the extent that He could cry out in a loud voice “IT IS FINISHED.” Therefore, the Calvinists’ assertion that Christ would have been a failure if He was crucified for the whole of mankind because most of them are going to end up in hell, is a complete misnomer.
But what about the verses that say He paid a ransom for many? (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45). Don’t they prove that He died only for the elect? Far from it, because 1 Timothy 2:6 says that He paid a ransom for ALL.
How do the words of the great Prince of Preachers, encapsulated in the introductory quote above, tie in with the humble words of preachers like Peter and Paul of Tarsus who never claimed to be a prince but the chief of all sinners? (1 Timothy 1:15). Shall we ask brother Peter to repeat what He had preached on that magnanimously wonderful day when God poured out his Spirit on repentant sinners? So let’s ask brother Peter to come forward, ascend the pulpit and again explain to us exactly what he had said on the Day of Pentecost.
[And] Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: I do not come into this pulpit hoping that perhaps somebody will of his own free will return to Christ. My hope lies in another quarter.
I hope that my Master will lay hold of some of you and say, “You are mine, and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself.” My hope arises from the freeness of grace, and not from the freedom of the will. (Acts 2:14-21)
Brother Peter’s last words had scarcely left his lips when dead silence impregnated the atmosphere, a silence so dense that no one dared to say a word for at least five minutes. And then, suddenly a man in the farthest corner of the last row of the crowd finally broke the silence and asked in a feeble voice:
Man: “Brother Peter, what shall we do? What shall we do to escape God’s righteous judgement and be saved.”
Peter: “My dear fellow, perhaps you didn’t hear me. I never said that you should do something to be saved. Don’t you know that you are totally depraved, that you are as dead is a corpse in your sins and trespasses, that you have no free-will and are completely unable to respond to the Gospel I preached to you a moment ago?
Man: “But I don’t understand, brother Peter. How can a corpse be totally depraved when it cannot do anything, least of all sin?” As far as I can recall, on the day when the Holy Spirit was poured out, you said “it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21). How on earth can anyone who is as dead as a cadaver call on the Name of the Lord to be saved?
Peter: “That was then, my dear fellow. Things have changed since the glorious reformation John Calvin and Martin Luther brought about. They have since established that man has no free-will or at least that his will is in bondage and therefore completely inept to respond in faith to the Gospel.
Nowadays you can only be saved by a sovereign and monergistic act of God which means that He must first save you before you can believe. The good news, however, is that He will only do this for you if you are an elect and I must admit I don’t know whether you are an elect person, predestined to have been saved before the foundation of the world. We may only know whether you are one of the elect if you have a yellow stripe painted on your back. So, on the other hand, it may not be good news for you after all.
Man: Wow, That’s awesome. I must be one of the elect because I think I’m one of those kids . . . I was one of those kids that never rebelled and always believed. And so when God did His saving work in my heart, it was not discernible to me.
I am aware that Paul used the very same phrase “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13) and that Ananias prodded him to call on the Name of the Lord for his salvation when he procrastinated a wee bit (Acts 22:16). But I never felt the need to call on the Name of the Lord for my salvation like that poor old wretch who beat his breast and cried out “Be merciful to me a sinner” because, as I said, I was a good kid who never rebelled and always believed.
Peter; “Bully for you, old chap.” As I said, things have changed since our beloved reformers Augustine and John Calvin have taken the liberty to change the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“I claim you for Myself”
Have you ever witnessed a scene where a man walks up to a woman and says to her “You are mine and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself,” and then clobbers her over the head to drag her to his den where they lived happily forever after?
It sounds more like a comic book story from the stone ages, doesn’t it? Imagine now for one moment that this was the method Isaac (a type of Jesus Christ as Bridegroom) used to take Rebekah (a type of Christ’s Bride) to be his lawfully wedded wife. We all know that he didn’t bludgeon her over the head to claim her for himself.
In fact, Isaac’s and Rebekah’s love story is one of the most beautiful recorded in the Bible. Abraham (a type of God the Father) sent his servant (a type of the Holy Ghost) to find a wife (a type of the Bride) for his Son Isaac (a type of Jesus Christ). Please read the entire romantic story in Genesis 24.
The important thing I would like to highlight is in verses 56 to 58: “But he said to them, ‘Do not delay me, since the LORD has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.’ They said, ‘Let us call the young woman and ask her.’ And they called Rebekah and said to her, ‘Will you go with this man?’ She said, “I will go.'”
No-one in his right mind will deny that Rebekah put into effect her own free-will when she decided and chose to be taken back by Abraham’s servant and to be given in marriage to Isaac. I am almost certain that Charles didn’t clobber his bride to be, Susannah, daughter of Robert Thompson of Falcon Square, London, over the head and say to her “You are mine and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself.”
If mortal man has the decency not to do anything so ill-mannered, coarse and rude why would they accuse the Bridegroom of all bridegrooms of doing just that when they audaciously put the words “You are mine and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself,” into his mouth?
Jesus never said anything of the kind. Nowhere in the entire Bible do we find him saying these words “You are mine and you shall be mine. I claim you for myself.” Not even the words “I claim you for myself” appear in the Bible. Nonetheless, Calvinists of whatever persuasion, hyper or moderate, must of necessity make Jesus say these words because if they don’t their entire doctrine of monergistic grace will fall down like a house of cards.
The sovereign Lord of the entire universe who created all things for his own pleasure has no need whatsoever to claim anything or anyone for Himself. In fact He says “all souls are mine” (Ezekiel 18:4). And indeed, He purchased for Himself a Bride with his own precious blood but all mankind is already his in the sense that He created them all.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the Prince of Enigmas
Is there any proof that Charles Haddon Spurgeon repented of his Calvinistic beliefs in his later years and publicly renounced Calvinism? Can anyone recant and turn his back on a doctrine which he vociferously defended in these strong words?
I do not ask whether you believe Calvinism. It is possible you may not. But I believe you will before you enter heaven. I am persuaded that as God may have washed your hearts, He will wash your brains before you enter heaven. (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon (American Baptist Society, n.d.), 1:92.))
I want us to look very carefully at Spurgeon’s blasphemous remark. What is he saying? Is he saying you cannot enter heaven without believing that Calvinism is the Gospel (Good News) or that an unbeliever (non-Calvinist) who presently rejects Calvinism will of necessity need to believe it is the Gospel before he is allowed to enter heaven?
In whatever way you may like to look at it, it remains ghastly blasphemous. God never promised to wash your brains, polluted by and unbelief in Calvinism, before you may enter into heaven. He did not die on the cross to make Calvinism the irrefutable way by which one enters into heaven. He shed his precious blood to wash and cleanse your sins away so that you may enter into heaven. Spurgeon never repented of this blasphemous remark in public and never admitted that he was deceiving millions of people when he said it.
To my mind Spurgeon seems to have been fond to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds. Indeed, as I said earlier it does not matter on whose side you are, you will always be on the winning side. You will always find something in Spurgeon’s sermons and writings that suits your particular doctrinal flavour – Calvinism or Arminianism.
You may either cultivate your flowers and at the same time burn your weeds (cigars) or you will love your neighbourly enemies and simultaneously hate God’s neighbourly enemies. There is only one snag. You must first make very sure which of your neighbours are your enemies and which ones are God’s enemies.
This seems to be somewhat of a castle in the air when you take into account that Calvinists do not know who the elect are. Had they known who the elect are they would have known whom to love because God’s love is only extended to the elect and never to the non-elect.
Unless, of course, they politely ask the non-elect to step to the left (the hate quarters) and the elect to the right (the love quarters) so that they may facilitate their love/hate relationship with other people. Spurgeon, the prince of chameleons, had a marvellous love/hate relationship with God’s creatures who were all made in His image. This is how Spurgeon expressed his chameleonic love affair with his fellowmen.
Let’s try and figure out the above Spurgeonic dichotomy. It wouldn’t be too difficult to harmonise the paradox in the above two frames if your biological parents, brothers, and sisters were all God’s enemies (the non-elect) and you the one who had been elected unto salvation before the foundation of the world. In that case it would be easy to hate them because they are all the sworn enemies of God.
However, Spurgeon exhorts you to love them because if you don’t love your parents, brothers and sisters (the enemies of God) you are worse than heathen men and publicans. Do I hear a sigh of dismay coming from our Calvinistic friends? Yes, of course, they would say Spurgeon was not referring to biological parents, brothers, and sisters but spiritual parents brothers and sisters.
Well, it may be true that both your parents are your spiritual brethren if they are the elect and saved. However, I really don’t think this is what Spurgeon had in mind. This is a glaringly obvious contradiction and proves beyond any doubt that Spurgeon ran with the hares and hunted with the hounds.
Spurgeon’s gospel call to love your own enemies but hate God’s enemies is just another one of those confusing Calvinistic puzzles they themselves are unable to unravel. What on earth is the difference between a believer’s enemies and God’s enemies? When Saul of Tarsus hurriedly galloped to Damascus to put the People of the Way in chains and drag them back to Jerusalem, Jesus Christ who appeared to him in a vision did not make any distinction between the saints’ enemies and God’s enemies.
Their enemies were also His enemies. “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” was the indictment Christ brought against his enemy. Remember? Your enemy, the world, is also my enemy, Jesus said. (John 15:18).
Spurgeon, together with all Calvinists, are severing the Head (Jesus Christ) from His body (all the believers) and making them two separate entities with their own separate kind of enemies – the believers’ enemies and God’s enemies. What utter nonsense! If ever there was such a thing as spiritual schizophrenia, this is it.
How on earth can you simultaneously wish God’s enemies (the reprobate who are irretrievably and unconditionally lost because they don’t have a snowballs hope in hell of ever being saved) to be overthrown and as men also to be pardoned and converted? It is a well-known fact that people who cradle a love/hate relationship in their bosom are usually very unstable and dangerous. Although Spurgeon himself did not commit or condone murder, his hero John Calvin did so with flying colours.
How do you reconcile the following statements by Charles Haddon Spurgeon with the rest of the things I quoted to you in the previous paragraphs?
“What then? Shall we try to put another meaning into the text than that which it fairly bears? I trow not . . .. You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text. “All men” say they “that is, some men”: as if the Holy Ghost could not have said “some men” if He meant some men.
“All men,”say they: “that is, some of all sorts of men”: as if the Lord could not have said, “All sorts of men” if He had meant that.The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written, “All men,” and unquestionably he means all men . . .. My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture.” [Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit , volume 26]
and also –
“I know there are some who think it necessary to their system of theology to limit the merit of the blood of Jesus: if my theological system needed such limitation, I would cast it to the winds. I cannot, I dare not, allow the thought to find lodging in my mind, it seems so near akin to blasphemy.
In Christ’s finished work I see an ocean of merit; my plummet finds no bottom, my eye discerns no shore …. Having a divine Person for an offering, it is not consistent to conceive of limited value; bound and measure are terms inapplicable to the divine sacrifice.” [Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon (American Baptist Society, n.d. 1:174].
The Gospel according to Charles Haddon Spurgeon
In a sermon he called “A defense of Calvinism,” a message contained in his autobiography, Volume 1 Spurgeon said:
If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is foreordained, that is true; and if I find, in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other.
I do not believe that they can ever be welded into one upon any earthly anvil, but they certainly shall be one in eternity. They are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the human mind which pursues them farthest will never discover that they converge, but they do converge and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.
Why would the Prince of Preachers, who is so greatly admired by Calvinists, feel the need to defend Calvinism when God commanded his followers to contend for and defend the faith that was once delivered to the saints? (Jude 1:3). The answer, in my opinion, must be sought in the fact that Calvinists reject faith as a precondition for salvation.
Therefore, the biblical concept of defending the faith is to them a mere passe. Who needs to defend the faith that was once delivered to the saints when it has no part to play in the salvation of sinners? If Spurgeon were to defend the faith that was once delivered to the saints instead of Calvinism he would have had to renounce Calvinism because the faith the apostles taught was wholly incompatible with the kind of faith Calvinism promulgates.
What kind of faith did Spurgeon defend which he believed was ensconced to perfection in Calvinism? First of all it is a faith that makes God the Predeterminer of all things. He foreordained the Fall, Cain’s murder of his brother Abel, Nimrod’s idolatrous religious system, King David’s murder of Uriah and his adultery with his wife, Bathsheba, Solomon’s idolatry, Peter’s denial of his Lord and even Judas’ betrayal of Christ, to name but a few.
And yet, God holds them responsible for what He himself decreed them to do. Under the title “How is it possible for God to DECREE that men SHOULD commit certain sins, hold them RESPONSIBLE in the committal of them, and adjudge them GUILTY because they committed them?” Arthur Pink wrote:
Let us now consider the extreme case of Judas. We hold that it is clear from Scripture that God decreed from all eternity that Judas should betray the Lord Jesus. If anyone should challenge this statement we refer him to the prophecy of Zechariah, through whom God declared that his Son should be sold for “thirty pieces of silver” Zec 11:12.
As we have said in earlier pages, in prophecy God makes known what will be, and in making known what will be, he is but revealing to us what he has ordained shall be. That Judas was the one through whom the prophecy of Zechariah was fulfilled needs not to be argued. But now the question we have to face is, Was Judas a responsible agent in fulfilling this decree of God?
We reply that he was. Responsibility attaches mainly to the motive and intention of the one committing the act. (Arthur Pink, The Sovereignty of God, http://www.chapellibrary.org/files/archive/pdf-english/sogo.pdf, p.70)
How do you reconcile this paradox? Oh, that’s very easy. You plead MYSTERY and try to explain the inexplicable mystery by means of two parallel positioned train tracks. The two rails remain exactly the same distance apart while you are traveling on them and look directly down where your feet meet the tracks.
Only when you look ahead and see the two tracks meet one another in an illusionary convergence in the far off perspective distance, do you begin to understand that both sides of the paradox are true – God’s fore-ordination of all things, including sin and man’s responsibility in acting out the sins God decreed them to do. Voila! these two contradictory ideas will eventually converge and meet one another somewhere in eternity.
Really? I am no prophet but I can already hear God saying to them: “Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee?” (Malachi 3:13) “We never accused you of being the Great Author of sin although we believed that you decreed all sin, and we never held you responsible for anyone’s sins, although you decreed them to do it.
They will be held responsible for the sins you fore-ordained them to do and in doing so you will vindicate yourself as the Righteous Judge of all men.”
What does the Bible say about someone who attributes evil to God?
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20).
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: (14) But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (15) Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (James 1:13-15).
The following two narratives are no paradox. They do not contradict one another in any which way possible. They tell exactly the same story.
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Luke 18:10-14).
I suppose there are some persons whose minds naturally incline towards the doctrine of free will; I can only say that mine inclines as naturally towards the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace! Sometimes, when I see some of the worst characters in the street, I feel as if my heart must burst forth in tears of gratitude that God has never let me act as they have done!
I have thought if God had left me alone and had not touched me by His Grace what a great sinner I would have been! I would have run to the utmost lengths of sin, and dived into the very depths of evil! Nor would I have stopped at any vice or folly, if God had not restrained me; I feel that I would have been a very king of sinners if God had let me alone.
I cannot understand the reason why I am saved except upon the ground that God would have it so. I cannot, if I look ever so earnestly, discover any kind of reason in myself why I should be a partaker of Divine Grace. If I am at this moment with Christ, it is only because Christ Jesus would have His will with me, and that will was that I should be with Him where He is, and should share His Glory. I can put the crown nowhere but upon the head of Him whose mighty Grace has saved me from going down into the pit of Hell!
The first, as you may have noticed, comes from the Bible and the second from a message contained in Spurgeon’s Autobiography, Volume 1. You may also have noticed that, like the Pharisee, Spurgeon thanked God that he was not like the other worst scoundrels in the street. There are, however, a few differences between the Pharisee’s and Spurgeon’s self-righteous phylacteries. Spurgeon thanked God with tears in his eyes while the Pharisee merely thanked him.
Therefore, we may assume that Spurgeon’s gratitude was profoundly more sincere and heartfelt than that of the Pharisee. Whilst the Pharisee did not thank God for his restraining power to keep him from sinning, Spurgeon openly admitted that God never caused him to sin. Mark his words “I have thought if God had left me alone” and “had not touched me by his Grace.”
Both these phrases relate to unconditional election and limited atonement. He is actually saying that if God had not restrained him from sinning and instead caused him to sin as He sovereignly caused “the worst characters in the street” to sin, he would have been like them, that is, God’s chosen-reprobated-cast-away-characters-in-the-street.
Spurgeon continues to make his phylactery broader and his humility more serenely wider when he says “I cannot understand the reason why I am saved except upon the ground that God would have it so [through his sovereign election]. I cannot, if I look ever so earnestly, discover any kind of reason in myself why I should be a partaker of Divine Grace.”
Well, Mr Spurgeon God made the reason very clear: He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked and loves them so much that He gave his only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but receive everlasting life. But how could you ever have known this when God never let you act as wickedly and sinfully as the worst characters in the street?
Only the wickedest of sinners are able to grasp this. That’s why Jesus once said to the Pharisees: “Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” and also “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” He also said:
And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. (Luke 7:40-43)
As you can see, Mr. the Prince of Preachers, some of those scoundrels in the street who were the scourge of the earth may have loved Jesus more than you because they had sinned much more and owed Him much more and through faith alone in his finished work on the cross (NOT through election) got saved.
Yes, indeed, Spurgeon admitted that he would have gone down in the pit of hell hadn’t it been for Jesus. But, what did He mean by it? Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Prince of Preachers himself gives the answer in this very same message:
John Newton used to tell a whimsical story and laugh at it, too, of a good woman who said, in order to prove the Doctrine of Election, “Ah, Sir, the Lord must have loved me before I was born, or else He would not have seen anything in me to love afterwards.” I am sure it is true in my case.
I believe the Doctrine of Election because I am quite certain that if God had not chosen me, I would never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards! He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love. So I am forced to accept that great Biblical Doctrine.
Let us briefly analyze the words “Ah, Sir, the Lord must have loved me before I was born, or else He would not have seen anything in me to love afterwards.” I am sure it is true in my case. I believe the Doctrine of Election because I am quite certain that if God had not chosen me, I would never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He would never have chosen me afterward! “
These words summarize to perfection the Calvinists’ insipid belief that God hates sinners. If He hadn’t elected them before their birth when they were still non-existent and therefore completely unable to sin, He could never have loved them with saving grace. Why? Because God hates the sinner and therefore could not have bestowed on them (Spurgeon and Newton’s lady) his electoral grace after their birth.
He had to elect them before their birth when sin hadn’t touched them yet. Dost thou hear a false humility in this so-called testimony? I do and it makes me tremble for all those who follow Spurgeon’s extreme paradoxical teachings. Both their testimonies contradict to the uttermost Jesus Christ’s words in Luke 5:32; “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
And so finally, as you can see, Spurgeon believed God loved him, not because he was a sinner like anyone else (especially those reprobated worst characters in the street) but because he was one of the elect whom God sovereignly chose unto salvation before his birth and before the foundation of the world and never let him act like the worst scoundrels in the street. Calvinists seem to cherish this kind of testimony. In an interview Phil Johnson had with John MacArthur, John explained his conversion as follows:
PHIL: So you’re saying . . . are you saying it would be difficult for you to put your finger on when your conversion took place?
JOHN: Yeah. I’ve never been able to do that. And it doesn’t bother me. I think I’m one of those kids . . . I was one of those kids that never rebelled and always believed. And so when God did His saving work in my heart, it was not discernable to me. I went away to high school and for all I knew, I loved Christ, I was part of the ministry of the church. I went away to college and I wanted to serve the Lord and honor the Lord. I was certainly immature.
But at some point along the line, I really do believe there was a transformation in my heart, but I think it may have been to some degree imperceptible to me because I didn’t ever have a rebellious time, I didn’t ever revolt against, you know, the gospel or not believe. And I guess that’s . . . in some ways that’s a grace act on God’s part. So that all that wonderful training found some level of fertile soil in my heart and none of it was wasted.
Salvation (the new birth) is the most important thing to know in the entire cosmos and he says it was not discernible to him? Really?
Now, doesn’t this sound so much like the publican who, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, crying out to God in agony, God be merciful to me a sinner?
Not really! Fancy that, with a single sweep of the brush, John MacArthur obliterates the first letter “T” in the acronym TULIP. When he was a kid, he tells us, “Total Depravity” had NO part in the fiber of his pristine garment of self-righteousness.
In fact, he tells us in his own pristine self-righteous words that he never was so totally depraved as he likes to tell others how totally depraved they are.
Calvinists just love to remind other wretched sinners how depraved they are, even to the extent that it renders them completely powerless, incapable, and impotent to believe the Gospel, while they (like our learned and respected friend, John MacArthur) glory in their own pitiful self-righteous abilities to believe and never to rebel or revolt against God and his Gospel. This is Pharisaic hypocrisy at its very best.