Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 173

WORDS OF SYMPATHY

To [Mrs. Higgs].

WESTWOOD, January 6, 1883.

DEAR MRS. HIGGS, —

L____ and G____ have now told me all about our dear one’s death. The Lord has dealt well with him. I wonder how he lived so long to cheer us all: and I feel relieved that he lived no longer, for it would have been great anguish to him. He has gone at the right time. The Lord will be your comfort and help. I meant to go to you this morning, but I found my foot would not let me go up and down steps. It is a double pain to be kept from you and your sorrowing family …. We shall all meet again Let us bless God. Can we?

Your loving friend,

C. H. SPURGEON.

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The Wednesday Word: Grace that brings Salvation Titus 2:11

There’s an astonishing verse in Romans 5:6 which boldly declares that Christ died for the ungodly. Have you ever seen yourself as ungodly?

The truth is, no matter how good and righteous we feel, we are still ungodly wretches (Romans 3 10ff). All of us are in the same boat.

But the good news is that while we were without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly.

That one scripture goes so hard against the grain of religious thinking that it proves the Scriptures to be true. No man would have dared to invent this verse. Religion militates against such an idea. Dying for the ungodly? How ridiculous. That means He died for those who were against God, for those who hated God and for those who would have killed God if they had had the chance.

May we all realize how ungodly we all are in our flesh (Romans 7:18).

Do you remember the story of the two men who went to the Temple to pray? One stood and addressed the Almighty telling him a pack of lies while the other man could not so much as raise his eyes to heaven and prayed, “God be merciful to me a sinner (literally THE sinner).

This poor publican (tax collector) felt like he was the worst and only sinner on the planet. His lostness was not just a general notion to him it was real and very personal.

Have any of us ever felt that? Have we ever seen ourselves as lost and ruined? It is only when this happens that Grace will seem amazing.

The Grace of God (Jesus) brings salvation (Titus 2:11)! God did not merely send His salvation; He brought it Himself! He did not entrust His most important angel to reveal Grace and Mercy. No! It was God Himself who was the messenger.

Bypassing the angels, He stooped and came down,

down,

down,

down,

down,

to the manger in Bethlehem,

to become one of us,

to be wounded for our transgressions,

to be nailed to the cross,

to cry out Eloi, Eloi lama sabacthani.

He didn’t say, “Come up here to heaven lads. Climb the stairway men!” No! He came down, down, down and came alongside us. Only then did He say “Come unto me.”

What immense grace! What vast kindness!

“O Bringer of salvation,

So marvelously wrought,

Yourself the revelation

Of love beyond our thought:

We worship you; we bless you;

To you alone we sing;

We praise you and confess you,

Our Holy Lord and King.”

Spurgeon describes the visit of the prince of Spain to a galley ship in which convicts had been chained to their oars. The Prince decided to free any of the galley slaves as he saw fit, so he went to man after man asking them why they were in prison. One of them said he was there because false witnesses swore away his character. Another said he had done something wrong, but it was slight, and he ought never to have been condemned. Each of the prisoners made excuses for their sins until finally, he came to one man, who said, “You ask me why I am here. I am ashamed to say that I richly deserve it.” He said, “I am guilty. I cannot for a moment say that I am not, and if I die at this oar, I thoroughly deserve the punishment. In fact, I think it’s a mercy that my life has spared me.” The Prince set this man free.

What an illustration of a beautiful principle in the word of God. Jesus did not come to save the righteous, but to bring sinners to repentance, and when a man poses as one who is righteous in himself, he is not a candidate for the grace of God.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter IV-The Sovereignty of God

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination

Chapter IV

The Sovereignty of God

Every thinking person readily sees that some sovereignty rules his life. He was not asked whether or not he would have existence; nor when, where, or what he would be born; whether in the twentieth century or before the flood; whether white or Negro; whether in America or in China. It has been recognized by Christians in all ages that God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe, and that as the Creator and Ruler of the universe He is the ultimate source of all the power that is found in the creatures. Hence nothing can come to pass apart from His sovereign will; and when we dwell upon this truth we find that it involves considerations which establish the Calvinistic and disprove the Arminian position.

By virtue of the fact that God has created every thing which exists, He is the absolute Owner and final Disposer of all that He has made. He exerts not merely a general influence, but actually rules in the world which He has created. The nations of the earth, in their insignificance, are as the small dust of the balance when compared with His greatness; and far sooner might the sun be stopped in his course than God be hindered in His work or in His will. Amid all the apparent defeats and inconsistencies of life God actually moves on in undisturbed majesty. Even the sinful actions of men can occur only by His permission. And since he permits not unwillingly but willingly, all that comes to pass — including the actions and ultimate destiny of men — must be, in some sense, in accordance with what He has desired and purposed. Just in proportion as this is denied God is excluded from the government of the world. Naturally some problems arise here which we in our present state of knowledge are not fully capable of solving; but that is no sufficient ground for rejecting what the Scriptures and the plain dictates of reason affirm to be true.

If the power of an earthly king Is law in his kingdom, how much more shall the word of God be in His! For example, the Christian knows that the day is certainly coming when, willingly or unwillingly, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. In the Scriptures He is represented to us as God ALMIGHTY, who sits upon the throne of universal dominion. He knows the end from the beginning and the means to be used in attaining that end. He is able to do for us exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or even think. The category of the impossible has no existence for Him “with whom all things are possible,” Mat_19:26; Mar_10:27. This, however, does not mean that God has power to do that which is contrary to His nature, ” to work contradictions. It is impossible for God to lie, or to do anything which is morally wrong. He cannot make two and two equal five, nor can He make a wheel turn around and stand still at the same time. His omnipotence is as sure a guarantee that the course of the world will conform to His plan as is His holiness a guarantee that all His works will be right.

Not only in the New Testament but In the Old Testament as well we find this doctrine of God’s sovereignty consistently developed. Dr. Warfield says concerning the doctrine as it is found there: “The Almighty Maker of all that is represented equally as the irresistible Ruler of all that He has made; Jehovah sits as King for ever (Psa_29:10). ” He goes on to say that the writers rarely use such expressions as “it rains;” they instinctively speak of God sending rain, etc. The possibility of accident and chance are excluded and even “the lot was an accepted means of obtaining the decision of God (Jos_7:16; Jos_14:2; Jos_18:6; 1Sa_10:19; Jon_1:7). All things without exception, indeed, are disposed by Him, and His will is the ultimate account of all that occurs. Heaven and earth and all that is in them are the instruments through which He works His ends. Nature, nations, and the fortunes of the individual alike present in all their changes the transcript of His purpose. The winds are His messengers, the flaming fire His servant: every natural occurrence is His act; prosperity is His gift, and if calamity falls upon man it is the Lord that has done it (Amo_3:5, Amo_3:6; Lam_3:33-38; Isa_47:7; Ecc_7:14; Isa_54:16). It is He that leads the feet of men, wit they whither or not; He that raises up and casts down; opens and hardens the heart; and creates the very thoughts and intents of the soul.” 1

And shall we not believe that God can convert a sinner when He pleases? Cannot the Almighty, the omnipotent Ruler of the universe, change the characters of the creatures He has made? He changed the water into wine at Cana, and converted Saul on the road to Damascus. The leper said, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean,” and at a word his leprosy was cleansed. God is as able to cleanse the soul as the body, and we believe that if He chose to do so He could raise up such a flood of Christian ministers, missionaries, and workers of various kinds that the world would be converted in a very short time. If He actually purposed to save all men He could send hosts of angels to instruct them and to do supernatural works on the earth. He could Himself work marvelously on the heart of every person so that no one would be lost. Since evil exists only by His permission, He could, if He chose, blot it out of existence. His power in this latter respect was shown, for instance, in the work of the destroying angel who in one night slew all the first-born of the Egyptians (Exo_12:29), and in another night slew 185,000 of the Assyrian army (2Ki_19:35). It was shown when the earth opened and swallowed Korah and his rebellious allies (Num_16:31-33). Ananias and Sapphira were smitten (Act_5:1-11); Herod was smitten and died a horrible death (Act_12:23). God has lost none of His power, and it is highly dishonoring to Him to suppose that He is struggling along with the human race doing the best He can but unable to accomplish His purposes.

Although the sovereignty of God is universal and absolute, it is not the sovereignty of blind power. It is coupled with infinite wisdom, holiness and love. And this doctrine, when properly understood, is a most comforting and reassuring one. Who would not prefer to have his affairs in the hands of a God of infinite power, wisdom, holiness and love, rather than to have them left to fate, or chance, or irrevocable natural law, or to short-sighted and perverted self ? Those who reject God’s sovereignty should consider what alternatives they have left.

The affairs of the universe, then, are controlled and guided, how? “According to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will.” The present day tendency is to set aside the doctrines of Divine Sovereignty and Predestination in order to make room for the autocracy of the human will. The pride and presumption of man, on the one hand, and his ignorance and depravity on the other, lead him to exclude God and to exalt himself so far as he is able; and both of these tendencies combine to lead the great majority of mankind away from Calvinism.

The Arminian idea which assumes that the serious intentions of God way in some cases at least be defeated, and that man, who is not only a creature but a sinful creature, can exercise veto power over the plans of Almighty God, is in striking contrast with the Biblical idea of His immeasurable exaltation by which He is removed from all the weaknesses of humanity. That the plans of men are not always executed is due to a lack of power, or a lack of wisdom; but since God is unlimited In these and all other resources, no unforeseen emergencies can arise, and to Him the causes for change have no existence. To suppose that His plans fail and that He strives to no effect, is to reduce Him to the level of His creatures.

SCRIPTURE PROOF

Dan_4:35: He doeth according to His will In the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou?

Jer_32:17: Ah Lord Jehovah! behold thou hast made the heavens and the earth by thy great power and by thine outstretched arm; and there is nothing too hard for thee.

Mat_28:18: All authority bath been given unto me (Christ) in heaven and on earth.

Eph_1:22: And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church.

Eph_1:11: In whom we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will.

Isa_14:24, Isa_14:27: Jehovah of hosts hath sworn, saying, surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass . . . . For Jehovah of hosts hath purposed, and who shall annul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?

Isa_46:9, Isa_46:10, Isa_46:11: Remember the former things of old; for I am God. and there is none else; I am God and there is none like me; declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure . . . . yea, I have spoken; I will also bring It to pass; I have purposed, I will also do it.

Gen_18:14: Is anything too hard for Jehovah?

Job_42:2: I know that thou canst do all things, And that no purpose of thine can be restrained.

Psa_115:3: Our God is in the heavens. He hath done whatsoever He pleased.

Psa_135:6: Whatsoever Jehovah pleased, that hath He done. In heaven, in earth, in the seas, and in all deeps.

Isa_55:11: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Rom_9:20, Rom_9:21: Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why didst thou make me thus? Or hath not the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?

1 Biblical Doctrines, art. Predestination, p. 9.

Loraine Boettner- The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

It is indeed remarkable to find the twofoldness of things confronting us so frequently in connection with the plan of redemption

It is indeed remarkable to find the twofoldness of things confronting us so frequently in connection with the plan of redemption. Based upon the work of the great federal heads, the first Adam and the last Adam, with the fundamental covenants connected with them: the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. The last Adam with His two distinct natures, constituting Him the God-man Mediator. Two different genealogies are given of Him, in Matthew 1, and Luke 3. There are His two separate advents: the first in deep humiliation, the second in great glory. The salvation He has provided for His people is twofold: objective and subjective or legal and vital, the one which He did for them, and the other which He works in them—a righteousness imputed to them, and a righteousness imparted. The Christian life is a strange duality: the principles of sin and grace ever opposing one another. The two ordinances Christ gave to His churches: baptism, and the Lord’s supper.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

But I have a proof which, perhaps, will be more telling upon you than any other….Acts and deeds are ascribed to the Holy Ghost

But I have a proof which, perhaps, will be more telling upon you than any other. Acts and deeds are ascribed to the Holy Ghost; therefore he must be a person. You read in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, that the Spirit brooded over the surface of the earth, when it was as yet all disorder and confusion. This world was once a mass of chaotic matter; there was no order; it was like the valley of darkness and of the shadow of death. God the Holy Ghost spread his wings over it; he sowed the seeds of life in it; the germs from which all beings sprang were implanted by him; he impregnated the earth so that it became capable of life. Now it must have been a person who brought order out of confusion; it must have been an existence who hovered over this world and made it what it now is. But do we not read in Scripture something more of the Holy Ghost? Yes, we are told that “holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” When Moses penned the Pentateuch, the Holy Ghost moved his hand, when David wrote the Psalms, and discoursed sweet music on his harp, it was the Holy Spirit that gave his fingers their Seraphic motion; when Solomon dropped from his lips the words of the Proverbs of wisdom, or when he hymned the Canticles of love it was the Holy Ghost who gave him words of knowledge and hymns of rapture. Ah! and what fire was that which touched the lips of the eloquent Isaiah? What hand was that which came upon Daniel? What might was that which made Jeremiah so plaintive in his grief? or what was that which winged Ezekiel, and made him like an eagle, soar into mysteries aloft, and see the mighty unknown beyond our reach? Who was it that made Amos, the herdsman, a prophet? Who taught the rough Haggai to pronounce his thundering sentences? Who showed Habbakuk the horses of Jehovah marching through the waters? or who kindled the burning eloquence of Nahum? Who cause Malachi to close up the book with the muttering of the word curse? Who was in each of these, save the Holy Ghost? And must it not have been a person who spake in and through these ancient witnesses? We must believe it. We cannot avoid believing it, when we recall that “holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- “The Personality of the Holy Ghost,” A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, January 21, 1855

It is rational to suppose, that this knowledge should be given immediately by God, and not be obtained by natural means

III. To show the truth of the doctrine, that is, to show that there is such a thing as that spiritual light that has been described, thus immediately let into the mind by God. And here I would show briefly, that this doctrine is both scriptural and rational.

Secondly, This doctrine is rational.

3. It is rational to suppose, that this knowledge should be given immediately by God, and not be obtained by natural means. Upon what account should it seem unreasonable, that there should be any immediate communication between God and the creature? It is strange that men should make any matter of difficulty of it. Why should not he that made all things, still have something immediately to do with the things that he has made! Where lies the great difficulty, if we own the being of a God, and that he created all things out of nothing, of allowing some immediate influence of God on the creation still! And if it be reasonable to suppose it with respect to any part of the creation, it is especially so with respect to reasonable intelligent creatures, who are next to God in the gradation of the different orders of beings, and whose business is most immediately with God, and reason teaches that man was made to serve and glorify his Creator. And if it be rational to suppose that God immediately communicates himself to man in any affair, it is in this. It is rational to suppose that God would reserve that knowledge and wisdom, which is of such a divine and excellent nature, to be bestowed immediately by himself and that it should not be left in the power of second causes. Spiritual wisdom and grace is the highest and most excellent gift that ever God bestows on any creature: in this the highest excellency and perfection of a rational creature consists. It is also immensely the most important of all divine gifts: it is that wherein man’s happiness consists, and on which his everlasting welfare depends. How rational is it to suppose that God, however he has left lower gifts to second causes, and in some sort in their power, yet should reserve this most excellent, divine, and important of all divine communications, in his own hands, to be bestowed immediately by himself, as a thing too great for second causes to be concerned in? It is rational to suppose, that this blessing should be immediately from God, for there is no gift or benefit that is in itself so nearly related to the divine nature. Nothing which the creature receives is so much a participation of the Deity: it is a kind of emanation of God’s beauty, and is related to God as the light is to the sun. It is therefore congruous and fit, that when it is given of God, it should be immediately from himself, and by himself, according to his own sovereign will.

It is rational to suppose, that it should be beyond man’s power to obtain this light by the mere strength of natural reason; for it is not a thing that belongs to reason, to see the beauty and loveliness of spiritual things; it is not a speculative thing, but depends on the sense of the heart. Reason indeed is necessary in order to it, as it is by reasons only that we are become the subjects of the means of it; which means I have already shown to be necessary in order to it, though they have no proper causal influence in the affair. It is by reason that we become possessed of a notion of those doctrines that are the subject matter of this divine light, or knowledge; and reason may many ways be indirectly and remotely an advantage to it. Reason has also to do in the acts that are immediately consequent on this discovery: for seeing the truth of religion from hence, is by reason; though it be but by one step, and the inference he immediately: so reason has to do in that accepting of and trusting in Christ, that is consequent on it. But it we take reason strictly — not for the faculty of mental perception in general, but for ratiocination, or a power of inferring by arguments — the perceiving of spiritual beauty and excellency no more belongs to reason, than it belongs to the sense of feeling to perceive colours, or to the power of seeing to perceive the sweetness of food. It is out of reason’s province to perceive the beauty or loveliness of any thing: such a perception does not belong to that faculty. Reason’s work is to perceive truth and not excellency. It is not ratiocination that gives men the perception of the beauty and amiableness of a countenance, though it may be many ways indirectly an advantage to it; yet it is no more reason that immediately perceives it, than it is reason that perceives the sweetness of honey: it depends on the sense of the heart. — Reason may determine that a countenance is beautiful to others, it may determine that honey is sweet to others, but it will never give me a perception of its sweetness.

Jonathan Edwards- A Divine And Supernatural Light Immediately Imparted To The Soul, By The Spirit Of God, Shown To Be Both A Scriptual And Rational Doctrine. [Preached at Norhampton, and published at the desire of some of the hearers, in the year 1734.]

Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 172

WORDS OF SYMPATHY

To [Mr. Thomas H. Olney].

NIGHTINGALE LANE, October, 1875.

DEAR FRIEND, —

I could not say much to Mr. M____, for I felt stunned by the tidings of your brother’s death, and could not realize it; indeed, I cannot now.

God bless you, beloved brother; and as He comes so very near in solemn deeds, may He come just as near in love! Peace be to you in the hour of sore amazement!

I send my deepest sympathies to the bereaved wife. I can do no better than pray that she may now be very graciously sustained. If she can calmly bow before the Lord, it will be for her own good. Grief so natural, and so likely to prove excessive, must be restrained for the sake of herself and babes.

God help her, poor soul! What a loss is hers!

Yours lovingly,

C. H. SPURGEON.