Spurgeon on Regeneration Preceding Faith; and on Repentance, should it be added to faith as a Requirement?
Matthew posted today. I realize that I am posting over him, but I have waited 5 days to post and this is his 3rd post in as many days. To see his post, please click here:
Who Else is on the Throne? It is a great post for Calvinists who do not give to man the honor that God has graciously bestowed upon him. Matthew states that God has given man the opportunity to be deified in the world to come.
On now to my post:
Spurgeon recognized the danger of mixing law with grace and adding things to God's simple command to believe on God's Son. I'm going to quote at length from one of Spurgeon's sermons entitled, "The Warrant of Faith." This sermon is based on 1 John 3:23--"And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ." In this sermon you will see that Spurgeon despises the doctrine of regeneration preceding faith and also the preaching of repentance along with faith in Jesus for eternal salvation. The emphasis in this sermon will all be from me.
This sermon had me saying amen so many times that I could not believe that it was coming from someone who is regarded as a Calvinist! If this were all we had from Spurgeon, he would be a Free Gracer!
The following is a lengthy quote taken from this sermon by Spurgeon:
O, when will all professors, and especially all professed ministers of Christ, learn the difference between the law and the gospel? Most of them make a mingle-mangle, and serve out deadly potions to the people, often containing but one ounce of gospel to a pound of law, whereas, but even a grain of law is enough to spoil the whole thing. It must be gospel, and gospel only.
"Believing" is most clearly explained by that simple word "trust." Believing is partly the intellectual operation of receiving divine truths, but the essence of it lies in relying upon those truths. I believe that, although I cannot swim, yonder friendly plank will support me in the flood-I grasp it, and am saved: the grasp is faith. Thus faith is accepting God's great promises, contained in the Person of His Son. It is taking God at His Word, and trusting in Jesus Christ as being my salvation, although I am utterly unworthy of His regard. Sinner, if thou takest Christ to be thy Saviour this day, thou art justified; though thou be the biggest blasphemer and persecutor out of hell...if thou wilt honor God by believing Christ is able to forgive such a wretch as thou art, and wilt now trust in Jesus' precious blood, thou art saved from divine wrath.
The WARRANT OF BELIEVING is the commandment of God. This is the commandment, that ye "believe on His Son Jesus Christ."
They (certain Calvinists) preached repentance and hatred of sin as the warrant of a sinner's trusting to Christ. According to them, a sinner might reason thus-"I possess such-and-such a degree of sensibility on account of sin, therefore I have a right to trust in Christ." Now, such reasoning is seasoned with fatal error. Whoever preaches in this fashion may preach much of the gospel, but the whole gospel of the free grace of God in its fullness he has yet to learn. In our own day certain preachers assure us that a man must be regenerated before we may bid him believe in Jesus Christ; some degree of a work of grace in the heart being, in their judgment, the only warrant to believe. This also is false. It takes away a gospel for sinners and offers us a gospel for saints. It is anything but a ministry of free grace.
If I am to preach the faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate. Am I only to preach faith to those who have it? Absurd, indeed! Is not this waiting till the man is cured and then bringing him the medicine? This is preaching Christ to the righteous and not to sinners. "Nay," saith one, "but we mean that a man must have some good desires towards Christ before he has any warrant to believe in Jesus." Friend, do you not know that all good desires have some degree of holiness in them? But if a sinner hath any degree of true holiness in him it must be the work of the Spirit, for true holiness never exists in the carnal mind, therefore, that man is already renewed, and therefore saved. Are we to go running up and down the world, proclaiming life to the living, casting bread to those who are fed already, and holding up Christ on the pole of the gospel to those who are already healed? My brethren, where is our inducement to labour where our efforts are so little needed? If I am to preach Christ to those who have no goodness, who have nothing in them that qualifies them for mercy, then I feel I have a gospel so divine that I would proclaim it with my last breath, crying aloud, that "Jesus came into the world to save SINNERS!"
Secondly, to tell the sinner that he is to believe on Christ because of some warrant in himself, is LEGAL, I dare to say it-legal. Though this method is generally adopted by the higher school of Calvinists, they are herein unsound, uncalvinistic, and legal.
If I believe in Jesus because I have convictions and a spirit of prayer, then evidently the first and the most important fact is not Christ, but my possession of repentance, conviction, and prayer, so that really my hope hinges upon my having repented; and if this be not legal I do not know what is...If I lean on Christ because I feel this and that, then I am leaning on my feelings and not on Christ alone, and this is legal indeed. Nay, even if desires after Christ are to be my warrant for believing, if I am to believe in Jesus not because he bids me, but because I feel some desires after him, you will again with half an eye perceive that the most important source of my comfort must be my own desires. So that we shall be always looking within. "Do I really desire? If I do, then Christ can save me; if I do not, then he cannot." And so my desire overrides Christ and his grace. AWAY WITH SUCH LEGALITY FROM THE EARTH!
If you tell a poor sinner that there is a certain amount of humblings, and tremblings, and convictions, and heart-searchings to be felt, in order that he may be warranted to come to Christ, I demand of all legal-gospellers distinct information as to the manner and exact degree of preparation required. Brethren, you will find when these gentlemen are pushed into a corner, they will not agree, but will every one give a different standard, according to his own judgment. One will way the sinner must have months of law work; another, that he only needs good desires; and some will demand that he possess the graces of the Spirit--such as humility, godly sorrow, and love to holiness. You will get no clear answer from them.
And let me ask you, my brethren, whether such an incomprehensible gospel would do for a dying man? There he lies in the agonies of death. He tells me that he has no good thought or feeling, and asks what he must do to be saved. There is but a step between him and death-another five minutes and that man's soul may be in hell. What am I to tell him? Am I to be an hour explaining to him the preparation required before he may come to Christ? Brethren, I dare not. But I tell him, "Believe, brother, even though it be the eleventh hour; trust thy soul with Jesus, and thou shalt be saved."
How DANGEROUS is the sentiment I am opposing. My hearers, it may be so mischievous as to have misled some of you. I solemnly warn you, though you have been professors of the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for twenty years, if your reason for believing in Christ lies in this, that you have felt the terrors of the law; that you have been alarmed, and have been convicted; if your own experience be your warrant for believing in Christ, it is a false reason...
Sinners, let me address you with words of life: Jesus wants nothing of you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as ye are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
Our preaching, on the theory (erroneous theory) of qualifications, should not be, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved;" but "Qualify yourselves for faith, be sensible of your sin, be regenerated, get marks and evidences, and then believe."
They (the apostles) ought not to have commenced with preaching Christ; they should have preached up qualifications, emotions, and sensation, if these are the preparations for Jesus; but I find that Paul, whenever he stands up, has nothing to preach but "Christ, and him crucified."
Sinner, whoever thou mayest be, God now commands thee to believe in Jesus Christ. This is his commandment: he does not command thee to feel anything, or be anything, to prepare thyself for this. Now, art thou willing to incur the great guilt of making God a liar? Surely thou wilt shrink from that: then dare to believe. Thou canst not say, "I have no right:" you have a perfect right to do what God tells you to do. You cannot tell me you are not fit; there is no fitness wanted, the command is given and it is yours to obey, not to dispute. You cannot say it does not come to you-it is preached to every creature under heaven!