Spurgeon the Calvinist

sp057Was Charles Spurgeon a Calvinist? The Prince of Preachers himself answers this question in the affirmative:

“It is no novelty, then, that I am preaching; no new doctrine. I love to proclaim these strong old doctrines, that are called by nickname Calvinism, but which are surely and verily the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus.” — Charles Spurgeon

In Dr. Steven Lawson’s book, The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon, Dr. Lawson argues that not only was Spurgeon a Calvinist, but his fervent commitment to the doctrines of grace actually “sharpened” his “gospel focus.”

Here are several adapted excerpts from The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon to outline Spurgeon’s beliefs concerning the sovereignty of God in salvation.

Total Depravity

For Spurgeon, total depravity was where the message of the gospel begins. The saving message of grace starts with total depravity. Man is entirely corrupted by sin. He is spiritually dead and unable to save himself. He could not be more hopeless and helpless.

“If God requires of the sinner, dead in sin, that he should take the first step, then he requires just that which renders salvation as impossible under the gospel as it was under the law, since man is as unable to believe as he is to obey.” — Charles Spurgeon

Simply put, Spurgeon believed that no human will is entirely free. It is either a slave of sin or a slave of Christ, but never free.

Unconditional Election

By necessity, unconditional election flows from belief in human depravity. Because the will of man is utterly dead and cannot choose God, God must exercise His sovereign will to save. Out of the mass of fallen humanity, God made an eternal, distinguishing choice. Before the foundation of the world, He determined whom He would save. Spurgeon contended that were it not for God’s choice of His elect, none would be saved.

Like all the doctrines that Spurgeon held, he believed this truth because he was convinced it is rooted and grounded in the Bible:

“Whatever may be said about the doctrine of election, it is written in the Word of God as with an iron pen, and there is no getting rid of it.” — Charles Spurgeon

Definite Atonement

Charles Spurgeon strongly affirmed the doctrine of definite atonement. This truth teaches that Christ died exclusively for those chosen by the Father and, thus, actually secured the salvation of all those for whom He died. Such a definite redemption stands in contrast to the Arminian view, which claims that Christ did not actually save anyone in particular by His death, but merely made salvation possible for everyone. Spurgeon adamantly rejected this vague position:

“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.” — Charles Spurgeon

Such a nebulous belief, he insisted, grossly dishonors God, especially His justice, and distorts the saving purpose of Christ in His substitutionary death.

Irresistible Grace

God’s sovereign call, Spurgeon affirmed, is far more powerful than any man’s resistance: “A man is not saved against his will, but he is made willing by the operation of the Holy Ghost. A mighty grace which he does not wish to resist enters into the man, disarms him, makes a new creature of him, and he is saved.” This means no one is beyond the saving power of God:

“Difficulty is not a word to be found in the dictionary of heaven. Nothing can be impossible with God. The swearing reprobate, whose mouth is blackened with profanity, whose heart is a very hell, and his life like the reeking flames of the bottomless pit—such a man, if the Lord but looks on him and makes bare His arm of irresistible grace, shall yet praise God and bless His name and live to His honor.” — Charles Spurgeon

In short, no human heart is so obstinate that the Spirit cannot conquer and convert it.

Preserving Grace

“I must confess that the doctrine of the final preservation of the saints was a bait that my soul could not resist. I thought it was a sort of life insurance—an insurance of my character, an insurance of my soul, an insurance of my eternal destiny. I knew that I could not keep myself, but if Christ promised to keep me, then I should be safe for ever; and I longed and prayed to find Christ, because I knew that, if I found Him, He would not give me a temporary and trumpery salvation, such as some preach, but eternal life which could never be lost.” — Charles Spurgeon

Preserving grace became a key component of Spurgeon’s gospel focus. Without it, he claimed, he would not be able to preach: “If anybody could possibly convince me that final perseverance is not a truth of the Bible, I should never preach again, for I feel I should have nothing worth preaching.” Simply put, the perseverance of the saints was a necessary link in the unbreakable golden chain of salvation that he preached.

Source: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/charles-spurgeon-calvinist/

Made to be sin for us?

crown_of_thornsNathan Busenitz serves on the pastoral staff of Grace Church and teaches theology at The Master’s Seminary in Los Angeles. In an article entitled, “Did Jesus Become a Sinner on the Cross? he addresses the question, “Did Jesus become the literal embodiment of sin, or take on a sin nature, or become a sinner when He died at Calvary?” I very much appreciate his sound Biblical answer. He writes:

The heart of the question centers on Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5:21: ”He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

In what sense did Jesus become “sin on our behalf”? Does that phrase mean that Jesus literally became a sinner on the cross?

There are some today who teach that Jesus became a sinner (or took on a sin nature) at the cross. Benny Hinn is one such advocate. In a TBN broadcast, Hinn exclaimed:

“He [Jesus] who is righteous by choice said, ‘The only way I can stop sin is by me becoming it. I can’t just stop it by letting it touch me; I and it must become one.’ Hear this! He who is the nature of God became the nature of Satan when he became sin!” (Benny Hinn, Trinity Broadcasting Network, December 1, 1990)

Prosperity-preacher Kenneth Copeland echoes those same teachings. In Copeland’s words:

“The righteousness of God was made to be sin. He accepted the sin nature of Satan in His own spirit. And at the moment that He did so, He cried, ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ You don’t know what happened at the cross. Why do you think Moses, upon instruction of God, raised the serpent upon that pole instead of a lamb? That used to bug me. I said, ‘Why in the world would you want to put a snake up there; the sign of Satan? Why didn’t you put a lamb on that pole?’ And the Lord said, ‘Because it was a sign of Satan that was hanging on the cross.’ He said, ‘I accepted, in my own spirit, spiritual death; and the light was turned off.’” (Kenneth Copeland, “What Happened from the Cross to the Throne,” 1990, audiotape #02-0017, side 2)

On another occasion, Copeland reiterates that same teaching: Continue reading

Miscellaneous Quotes (94)

quotes“Aid is just a stopgap. Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid. Everyone understands that.” – Bono

“Where Adam collapsed, Jesus conquered. Where Adam compromised, Jesus refused to negotiate… The second Adam triumphed for Himself and for us.” – R.C. Sproul

“If we could lose our salvation, we would.” – John MacArthur

“When death becomes the property of the believer it receives a new name and is called sleep.” – William Arnot

“Let me appeal personally to you in an interrogatory style, for this has weight with it. Sinner! why art thou at enmity with God? God is the God of love; he is kind to his creatures; he regards you with his love of benevolence; for this very day his sun hath shone upon you, this day you have had food and raiment, and you have come up here in health and strength. Do you hate God because he loves you? Is that the reason? Consider how many mercies you have received at his hands all your lives long! You are born with a body not deformed; you have had a tolerable share of health; you have been recovered many times from sickness; when lying at the gates of death; his arm has held back your soul from the last step to destruction. Do you hate God for all this? Do you hate him because he spared your life by his tender mercy? Behold his goodness that he hath spread before you! He might have sent you to hell; but you are here. Now, do you hate God for sparing you? Oh, wherefore art thou at enmity with him? My fellow creature, dost thou not know that God sent his Son from his bosom, hung him on the tree, and there suffered him to die for sinners, the just for the unjust? and dost thou hate God for that? Oh, sinner, is this the cause of thine enmity? Art thou so estranged that thou givest enmity for love? And when he surroundeth thee with favors, girdeth thee with mercies, encircleth thee with loving kindness, dost thou hate him for this? He might say as Jesus did to the Jews: “For which of these works do ye stone me?” For which of these works do ye hate God? Did an earthly benefactor feed you, would you hate him? Did he clothe you, would you abuse him to his face? Did he give you talents, would you turn those powers against him? Oh, speak! Would you forge the iron and strike the dagger into the heart of your best friend? Do you hate your mother who nursed you on her knee? Do you curse your father who so wisely watched over you? Nay, ye say, we have some little gratitude towards earthly relatives. Where are your hearts, then? Where are your hearts, that ye can still despise God, and be at enmity with him? Oh! diabolical crime! Oh! satanic enormity! Oh! iniquity for which words fail in description! to hate the all-lovely—to despise the essentially good—to abhor the constantly merciful—to spurn the ever-beneficent—to scorn the kind, the gracious one; above all, to hate the God who sent his Son to die for man! Ah! in that thought—“the carnal mind is enmity against God,”—there is something which may make us shake; for it is a terrible sin to be at enmity with God. I would I could speak more powerfully, but my Master alone can impress upon you the enormous evil of this horrid state of heart.” – C. H. Spurgeon

“I have been persuaded, and I remain convinced, that neither death, nor the complications that often arise in life, nor powerful angelic beings, nor even an entire group of high-ranking demonic spirits, nor anything that currently exists, nor anything that could potentially happen in the future, nor any political power, nor anything in the highest heavens, nor anything that resides in the deepest depths, nor anything that has ever been created is capable of disconnecting us from the love of God or of putting any distance between us and the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” – an interpretive translation of Romans 8:38,39, by Rick Renner

“It must not be expected that the devil will let those rest who are laboring to destroy his kingdom.” – Thomas Watson Continue reading

Behold, what we can do together….

A little girl puts a coin in the case of a busker. Then look at what happens next.

This youtube video has had more than 14 million views. The description reads, “On the 130th anniversary of the founding of Banco Sabadell we wanted to pay homage to our city by means of the campaign “Som Sabadell” (We are Sabadell) . This is the flashmob that we arranged as a final culmination with the participation of 100 people from the Vallès Symphony Orchestra, the Lieder, Amics de l’Òpera and Coral Belles Arts choirs.”

Was the Cross “Sufficient for All”?

by Jim Ellis

Among those who generally accept the doctrine of a definite or limited atonement, it is often heard by way of explanation that “the atonement is sufficient for all, but efficient only for the elect.” In fact this terminology may be found in some of the most respected Reformed theologians such as Hodge, Shedd, Buswell and others. While no Calvinist would deny the intrinsic sufficiency of Christ’s death for the redemption of all men had God so designed and intended it, I find the use of such phraseology dubious.

Maintaining the infinite intrinsic value of Christ’s death is not the same as saying “He died sufficiently for all men and efficiently only for the elect.” The latter seems to ascribe to Christ a purpose or intention to die in the place of all men, and to benefit all by the proper effects of His death as an atonement or propitiation. This inference is not supported by a scriptural view of the nature of the atonement or by the Calvinistic understanding of limited atonement. My purpose here is to show that this phraseology is ultimately meaningless and fails to adequately perceive the nature of the atonement. In the final analysis, it does not distinguish a definite atonement from a general or universal atonement1.

Why is the term “sufficient for all” used in discussing the atonement?

It is with some interest that we look at some of the probable reasons why such language has become rather common in discussions of this matter. Primarily, the use of this terminology seems to be an attempt to soften the impact of the doctrine of limited atonement on the natural mind, for it is indeed no simple matter of understanding. Most people don’t want a theological treatise as an explanation, they just want a simple answer (and in no more than three minutes, if you please). So we say, “His death was sufficient for all, but efficient only for the elect.” This may be brief and easy to remember, but accuracy and integrity have been sacrificed for the sake of brevity. Its use anticipates objections to the doctrine and pretends to diffuse those objections by declaring a universal application of the atonement. Rather than providing a real answer, however, it only deflects the potential objections and often leaves the questioner unsatisfied or at least scratching his head, wondering what it really means.

This statement has been used by good solid Calvinists who have no intention of giving way on the doctrine of limited atonement, but that does not make it valid or advisable phraseology. There appear to be several underlying reasons why this statement has been used. I believe the following are representative of those reasons: Continue reading

The Trial

judge-gavel2THE CASE OF GOD THE FATHER AGAINST ______________________________ (fill in your own name)

PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: SATAN (THE ACCUSER OF THE BRETHREN)

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

JUDGE PRESIDING: GOD THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE

IN ATTENDANCE: The angelic hosts (righteous and fallen)

“ it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” – Heb. 9:27

You now stand in the dock, faced with the charge of great and terrible acts of high treason against the Most High God.

Gabriel, the high ranking angel addresses the court saying, “All rise! The Righteous Judge is coming into His chamber!”

The Judge declares His court to now be in session and asks for all to be seated.

Without any delay, Satan stands up and addresses the court. He states that the record will show that you have broken all 10 of the Ten Commandments, on multiple occasions. He will prove your guilt on all counts for He has the indisputable video evidence as well as reliable witnesses to attest to the facts in this case. Continue reading

Protestantism, Worldliness, & Church History

Yesterday, November 15, in a Google Hangout, Dr. W. Robert Godfrey, president and professor of church history at Westminster Seminary California and Ligonier Teaching Fellow, spoke about some of the perils facing the evangelical church, our need to stand for theological integrity, and the value of studying church history. You can re-watch it here.

Apparent Bible Contradictions Resolved

In this excerpt from a message at Ligonier’s 2010 National Conference, Derek Thomas gives two examples of how to resolve apparent contradictions in Scripture.

Resolving Apparent Contradictions in Scripture from Ligonier Ministries on Vimeo.

Matthew 28:1 says that at the resurrection, Mary Magdalene and another Mary are at the tomb when it begins to dawn. And Mark tells us in chapter 16, that Mary Magdalene, the mother of Jesus, and Salome was there. And John, not to be outdone, says Mary Magdalene was there. He doesn’t say only Mary Magdalene was there, but he does say Mary Magdalene was there but doesn’t mention anyone else. But then says that when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb it was still dark.

Contradictions—age-old, tiresome, weary contradictions.

If Mary Magdalene, and another Mary, and Salome were there, Mary Magdalene was there. So what John is saying isn’t contradicting anything. If they left their home when it was still dark and arrived at the tomb when the sun was coming up, there’s no contradiction here.

Or, 2 Samuel 24 says God provoked David to number the people. But Chronicles says Satan did it. Ok, Chronicles was written probably a long time after Samuel. God did it in Samuel, Satan did it in Chronicles. Maybe the author of Chronicles didn’t know what was in the book of Samuel? No. God did it, Satan did it.

Wait just a minute, didn’t the prince of preachers last night tell us from Acts 2 of Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, with a huge crowd, and everything that he was saying was being written down and recorded because it was going to go into Scripture, and didn’t he say about the crucifixion of Jesus that “you,” pointing to Jews in Jerusalem, “you,” by wicked hands took him and slew him, but it was all by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. You did it; it was all by God’s divine decree.

Who did it? Doesn’t Paul say in Philippians, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure”? You do it; God does it. God moved David; Satan moved David. God moved David using Satan as His tool.

The True Answer to Racism

races-to-trashOnly the Bible gives the true answer to racism:

1. All people are descendants of two people, Adam and Eve
2. There is only one race–the human race—Adam’s race
3. There is no such thing biologically as so called interracial marriage
4. All humans are equal before God–and all people are sinners because we all belong to Adam’s race
5. God’s Son became a member of the human race to die for the descendants of Adam and offers a free gift of salvation

And science confirms over and over again the Bible’s history concerning the human race:

1. The Human Genome project found there was only one race
2. All humans have the same basic skin color from the main pigment melanin–people don’t have different colors of their skin but different shades of the one main color. There are no ‘white’ people or ‘black’ people–we are all shades of brown.

God’s people have the answer to racism and prejudice–believe the true history of the human race as given in God’s Word beginning in Genesis.

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:26–27)

– Ken Ham