Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 216

TO VARIOUS FRIENDS

To [Canon Palmer].

NIGHTINGALE LANE, July 4.

DEAR SIR, —

I beg to call your attention to the great disturbance caused by the ringing of a bell, at St. Gabriel’s Church, while the congregation at the Tabernacle is engaged in prayer. I reminded your predecessor that no right of bellringing belongs to any but a parish church, and informed him that I really must appeal to the law to stop the needless nuisance. He very kindly reduced the evil to the minimum, and I no longer objected. I am sure it is far from me to wish to interfere with the peculiar habits of my neighbors; but when many hundreds of persons, met to worship God, are disturbed by the clanging of a loud bell, it compels me to complain. The hours when we are at worship are at 11 and 6.30 on Sunday, and from 7 to 8.30 p.m. On Monday and Thursday.

Wishing to be upon good terms with all in the parish, I trust that you will not allow the bell-ringer to disturb us further, but will substitute a few strokes for the many which are now given.

I am,

Yours truly,

C. H. SPURGEON.

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The Wednesday Word: The Gospel: Our Best Friend

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:14.

We often feel that we are not worth saving … and this, of course, is an accurate assessment. As Spurgeon said, “When you feel yourself as totally unworthy you have hit the truth.” That is why, as we grow in grace, the Gospel is our best friend.

Let me illustrate. The story is told of how the devil sought to discourage the mighty reformer Martin Luther by continually making him feel guilty. Satan, it seems constantly reminded the great preacher of the list of his sins. When the devil had finished, Luther purportedly said, “Think harder: you must have forgotten some.” And the devil did think, and he listed more sins. When he was done enumerating the sins, Luther said, “Now, with a red ink write over that list, “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin.” The devil had nothing to say in the light of Luther’s best friend … the Gospel.

As we look by faith to the Lord Jesus, and see His shed blood, we find healing for our wounded conscience. By faith, we understand that His blood has satisfied all claims that unalterable divine justice made against us.

The Gospel is our best friend.

Our sins have been purged perfectly by a perfect offering made with perfect blood. These are the truths to continually feed to the troubled conscience.

If we are regularly condemned by the consciousness of our past sins, we have an evil conscience (Hebrews 10:22). However, the Gospel gives us a perfect conscience that is free from the guilt and condemnation of sins.

The Gospel is our best friend.

I will admit that the legalist in me is sometimes uncomfortable with this arrangement. Maybe you are like me, resistant, at times, to the accomplishments of grace? This is why we need to continually saturate our minds with the Gospel. When we find ourselves more conscious of our former sins than we are of the accomplishments of Christ on our behalf, we need to cleanse our thinking by applying Finished Work teaching to our thinking.

The Gospel is our best friend.

Do you know that your sins are forgiven? Someone says, “I can’t say that they are, but I am doing my best to change my life.” That’s great, but it will never work! You can do your best to reform, but that will never purge your conscience. Only applying the blood of Christ can do that.

The Gospel is our best friend.

Christ, as a man, was the Servant of Yahweh, the one in whom the Father delighted. It was the Father’s purpose to save and cleanse a people for Himself, and His plans were flawlessly executed by His beloved Son, the God/Man. It is only by the shedding of His blood that we are saved, and that blood was shed 2000 years ago at Calvary. The work is finished. He gave His life a ransom for the sins of His people (Isaiah 53:10). Do you know this? Is this truly personal to you?

Our best religious efforts cannot cleanse the conscience. But the Lord wants us to hear him say “Be of good cheer; your sins, which are many, are forgiven” (Matthew 9:2).

What can prevent us going to Him? Our sins? No, it is our sin that is the reason to approach Him. Let us go to Him with freedom of speech (see Hebrews 4:16) to obtain mercy and grace to help in the time of need. He alone can purge the guilty conscience and give peace to the troubled mind.

The Gospel is our best friend.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XIII-Efficacious Grace

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination

Chapter XIII

Efficacious Grace

3. AN INWARD CHANGE WROUGHT BY SUPERNATURAL POWER

In the Scriptures this change is called a regeneration (Titus 3:5), a spiritual resurrection which is wrought by the same mighty power with which God wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead (Ephesians 1:19, 20), a calling out of darkness into God’s marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9), a passing out of death into life (John 5:24), a new birth (John 3:3), a making alive (Colossians 2:13), a taking away of the heart of stone and giving of a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19), and the subject of the change is said to be a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). Such descriptions completely refute the Arminian notion that regeneration is primarily man’s act, induced by moral persuasion or the mere influence of the truth as presented in a general way by the Holy Spirit. And just because this change is produced by power from on high which is the living spring of a new and re-created life, it is irresistible and permanent.

The regeneration of the soul is something which is wrought in us, and not an act performed by us. It is an instantaneous change from spiritual death to spiritual life. It is not even a thing of which we are conscious at the moment it occurs, but rather something which lies lower than consciousness. At the moment of its occurrence the soul is as passive as was Lazarus when he was called back to life by Jesus. Concerning the soul in regeneration Charles Hodge says: “It is the subject, and not the agent of the change. The soul co-operates, or, is active in what precedes and in what follows the change, but the change itself is something experienced, and not something done. The blind and the lame who came to Christ, may have undergone much labor in getting into His presence, and they joyfully exerted the new power imparted to them, but they were entirely passive in the moment of the healing. They in no way co-operated in the production of that effect. The same is true in regeneration.” 3 . And again he says: “The same doctrine on this subject is taught in other words when regeneration is declared to be a new birth. At birth the child enters upon a new state of existence. Birth is not its own act. It is born. It comes from a state of darkness, in which the objects adapted to its nature cannot act on it or awaken its activities. As soon as it comes into the world all its faculties are awakened; it sees, feels, and hears, and gradually unfolds all its faculties as a rational and moral, as well as a physical being. The scriptures teach that it is thus in regeneration. The soul enters upon a new state. It is introduced into a new world. A whole class of objects before unknown or unappreciated are revealed to it, and exercise upon it their appropriate influence.” 4

Regeneration involves an essential change of character. It is a making the tree good in order that the fruit may be good. As a result of this change, the person passes from a state of unbelief to one of saving faith, not by any process of research or argument, but of inward experience. And as we had nothing to do with our physical birth, but received it as a sovereign gift of God, we likewise have nothing to do with our spiritual birth but receive it also as a sovereign gift. Each occurred without any exercise of our own power, and even without our consent being asked. We no more resist the latter than we resist the former. And as we go ahead and live our own natural lives after being born, so we go ahead and work out our own salvation after being regenerated.

The Scriptures pointedly teach that the pre-requisite for entrance into the Kingdom of God is a radical transformation wrought by the Spirit of God Himself. And since this work on the soul is sovereign and supernatural it may be granted or withheld according to the good pleasure of God. Consequently, salvation, to whomsoever it may be granted, is entirely of grace. The born-again Christian comes to see that God is in reality “the author and perfecter” of his faith (Hebrews 12:2), and that in this respect He has done a work for him which He has not done for his unconverted neighbor. In answer to the question, “Who maketh thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive ?” (1 Corinthians 4:7), he replies that it is God who has put the difference between men, especially between the redeemed and the lost. If any person believes, it is because God has quickened him; and if any person fails to believe, it is because God has withheld that grace which He was under no oblation to bestow. Strictly speaking there is no such thing as a “self-made” man; the highest type of man is the one who can say with Paul, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”

When Jesus said, “Lazarus, come forth,” a mighty power went along with the command and gave effect to it. Lazarus, of course, was not conscious of any other than his own power working in him; but when he later understood the situation he undoubtedly saw that he had been called into life wholly by divine power. God’s power was primary, his was secondary, and would never have been exerted except in response to the divine. It is in this manner that every redeemed soul is brought from spiritual death to spiritual life. And just as the dead Lazarus was first called back into life and then breathed and ate, so the soul dead in sin is first transferred to spiritual life and then exercises faith and repentance and does good works.

Paul emphasized this very point when he said that although Paul might plant and Apollos might water, it was God who gave the increase. Mere human efforts are unavailing. If a crop of wheat is to be raised, man can do only the most external and mechanical things toward that end. It is God who gives the increase through the sovereign control of forces which are entirely outside the sphere of man’s influence. Likewise, in regard to the soul it matters not how eloquent the preacher may be, unless God opens the heart there will be no conversion. Here especially man does only the most external and mechanical things and it is the Holy Spirit who imparts the new principle of spiritual life.

The Scripture doctrine of the fall represents man as morally ruined, unable by nature to do any good thing. The truly converted Christian comes to see his inability and knows that he does not make himself eligible for heaven by his own good works and merits. He realizes that he cannot move spiritually but as he is moved; that like the branches of a tree, he can make no shoot, nor put forth leaves, nor bear fruit, except as he receives sap from the root. Or, as Calvin says, “No man makes himself a sheep, but is created such by divine grace.” The elect hear the Gospel and believe — not always at the first hearing, but at the divinely appointed time — the non-elect hear but disbelieve, not because they lack sufficient evidence, but because their inward nature is opposed to holiness. The reason for the two kinds of response is to be traced to an external source. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will make away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh,” Ezekiel 36:26. The “heart” in Biblical language includes the whole inner man.

Under the terms of the eternal covenant which was made between the Father and the Son, Christ has been exalted to be the mediatorial Ruler over the whole earth in order that He may direct the developing kingdom. This is one of the rewards of His obedience and suffering. His directing power is exerted through the agency of the Holy Spirit, through whom His purchased redemption is applied to all for whom it was intended and under the precise conditions of time and circumstance predetermined in the covenant. We are told that it is by no ordinary providence of God that a man believes but by the same mighty power that was exerted when Christ was raised from the dead (Ephesians 1:19, 20). As certainly as it was effective in the resurrection of Christ it will be effective when put forth in an individual, whether in a physical or a spiritual resurrection.

The physical and the spiritual worlds are each the creation of God. In the physical world the water is sovereignly changed into wine, and the leper is healed by a touch. The Arminian readily admits God’s miraculous power in the physical world; why, then, does he deny it in the spiritual world, as if the spirits of men were beyond His control? We believe that God can change a bad man into a good man when He pleases. That is one form of authority which it is the right of the Creator to exercise over the creature. It is one of the means by which the world is governed; and when God sees that it is best for the welfare of the individual and for the development of His kingdom to thus work, it is not only permissible but right that He should do so. The effect follows immediately upon the volition, as when He said, Let there be light. “The Divine saving act,” says Mozley, “is the bestowal of this irresistible grace. The subject of the Divine predetermination is rescued by an act of absolute power from the dominion of sin, dragged from it, as it were, by force, converted, filled with the love of God and his neighbor, and qualified infallibly for a state of ultimate reward.” 5

As the physical eye once blinded cannot be restored to sight by any amount or intensity of light falling upon it, so the soul dead in sin cannot acquire spiritual vision by any amount of Gospel truth presented to it. Unless the surgeon’s knife or a miracle restore the eye to its normal condition, sight is impossible; and unless the soul be set right through regeneration it will never comprehend and accept the Gospel truth. In regeneration God bids the sinner live; and immediately he is alive, filled with a new spiritual life. Lydia, the seller of purple in the city of Thyatira, gave heed to the things which were spoken by Paul, because the Lord had first opened her heart (Acts 16:14). Christ taught this same truth when in His intercessory prayer He said concerning Himself that God “gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom thou hast given Him, He should give eternal life,” John 17:2; and again, “For as the Father raiseth the dead and giveth them life, even so the Son also giveth life to whom He will,” John 5:21.

Under the covenant made with Adam, man’s destiny depended on his own works. We know the results of that trial. Now if man could not work out his salvation when he was upright, what chance has he to do so since he is fallen? Happily for us, God has this time taken the matter into His own hand. And if God again gave man free will by which to work out his own salvation, what would He be doing but again instituting the dispensation which has already been tried and which ended in failure? Suppose a man is carried away by a torrent which he is unable to master, would it be reasonable or wise to take him out only to recruit his strength for a second trial? Would it not be a mockery to save him only to repeat the process? Since God does not repeat His dispensations it follows that the second time He would order salvation on a different plan. If further works are to be wrought, then God, and not man, will be the author; and the new dispensation, like the old, is adjusted to the state in which it finds man.

We are very sure that no property does, or can, attach to the will of man, whether fallen or unfallen, that can take it beyond the reach of God’s sovereign control. Saul was called at the height of his persecuting zeal and was transformed into the saintly Paul. The poor dying thief on the cross was called in the last hour of his earthly life. When Paul preached at Antioch “as many as were ordained to eternal life (and only they) believed,” Acts 13:48. If God purposed that all men should be saved He most certainly could bring all to salvation. But for reasons which have been only partly revealed, He leaves many impenitent. Through all of His works, however, God does nothing which is inconsistent with man’s nature as a rational and responsible being.

One of the great short-comings of Arminianism has been its failure to recognize the necessity for the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit on the heart. Instead, it has resolved regeneration into a more or less gradual change which is carried out by the individual person, a mere change of purpose in the sinner’s mind, which is a result of moral persuasion and the general force of truth. It has insisted upon “free will,” “the power of contrary choice,” etc., and has taught that ultimately the sinner determines his own destiny. In its more consistent forms it makes man a co-savior with Christ, as if the glory in redemption was to be divided between the grace of Christ and the will of man, the latter dividing the spoils with the former.

If, as Arminians say, God is earnestly trying to convert every person, He is making a great failure of His work; for among the adult population of the world up to the present time, where He has succeeded in saving one He has let perhaps twenty-five fall into hell. Such a view sheds little glory on the Divine Majesty. Concerning the Arminian doctrine of resistible grace Toplady says that it is “a doctrine which represents Omnipotence itself as wishing and trying and striving to no purpose. According to this tenet, God, in endeavoring (for it seems that it is only an endeavor) to convert sinners, may, by sinners, be foiled, defeated, and disappointed; He may lay close and long siege to the soul, and that soul can, from the citadel of impregnable free will, hang out a flag of defiance to God Himself, and by a continued obstinacy of defense, and a few vigorous sallies of free will compel Him to raise the siege. In a word, the Holy Spirit, after having for years perhaps, danced attendance on the free will of man, may at length, like a discomfited general, or an unsuccessful politician, be either put to ignominious night, or contemptuously dismissed, re infecta, without accomplishing the end for which He was sent.”

It is unreasonable to suppose that the sinner can thus defeat the creative power of Almighty God. “All authority hath been given to me in heaven and on earth,” said the risen Lord. No limit is set to that authority. “Is anything too hard for Jehovah ?” “He doeth according to His will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and no one can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou?” In view of these passages and many others to the same effect it ill becomes us to imagine that God is struggling along with man as best He can, persuading, exhorting, pleading, but unable to accomplish His purpose if His creatures will otherwise. If God does not effectually call, we may imagine Him saying, “I will that all men should be saved; nevertheless, it must finally be, not as I will but as they will.” He is then put into the same extremity with Darius who would gladly have saved Daniel, but could not (Daniel 6:14). No Christian who is familiar with what the Scriptures teach about the sovereignty of God can believe that He is thus defeated in His creatures. Is it not necessary that a creature must have power to defy and thwart the purposes of Almighty God before his actions can be rewarded or punished. Furthermore, if God actually stood powerless before the majesty of man’s lordly will, there would be but little use to pray for Him to convert any one. It would then be more reasonable for us to direct our petitions to the man himself.

Loraine Boettner- The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

The nature of a covenant: in what it consists

Before attempting to furnish any answers to these questions, let us point out the nature of a covenant: in what it consists. “An absolute agreement between distinct persons, about the order and dispensing of things in their power, unto their mutual concern and advantage” (John Owen). Blackstone, the great commentator upon English law, speaking of the parts of a deed, says, “After warrants, usually follow covenants, or conventions, which are clauses of agreement contained in a deed, whereby either party may stipulate for the truth of certain facts, or may bind himself to perform, or give something to the other” (Vol. 2, p. 20). So he includes three things: the parties, the terms, the binding agreement. Reducing it to still simpler language, we may say that a covenant is the entering into of a mutual agreement, a benefit being assured on the fulfillment of certain conditions.

Arthur W. Pink- The Divine Covenants-Introduction

If a man never in his life knew himself to be a Christian, he never was a Christian

But if a man never in his life knew himself to be a Christian, he never was a Christian. If he never had a moment of confidence, when he could say, “Now I know in whom I have believed,” I think I do not utter a harsh thing when I say, that that man could not have been born again; for I do not understand how a man can be born again, and not know it; I do not understand how a man can be killed and then made alive again, and not know it; how a man can pass from death unto life, and not know it; how a man can be brought out of darkness into marvellous light without knowing it. I am sure I know it, when I shout out my old verse,

Now free from sin, I walk at large,

My Savior’s blood’s my full discharge;

At his dear feet content I lay,

A sinner saved, and homage pay.”

There are moments when the eyes glisten with joy; and we can say, “We are persuaded, confident, certain.” I do not wish to distress anyone who is under doubt. Often gloomy doubts will prevail; there are seasons when you fear you have not been called; when you doubt your interest in Christ. Ah! what a mercy it is that it is not your hold of Christ that saves you, but his hold of you! What a sweet fact that it is not how you grasp his hand, but his grasp of yours, that saves you. Yet I think you ought to know sometime or other, whether you are called of God. If so, you will follow me in the next part of my discourse which is a matter of pure experience; unto us who are saved, it is “Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- “Christ Crucified,” A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, February 11, 1855

The Covenants-Chapter 6e-The Covenants of the Law

One other form of testimony previously provided, demands in this connection, a moment of our attention. The Redeemer himself refers to it when he says, “All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me.” These together, embrace the whole of the Old Testament, and it is in every part full of Christ. I may not here, descend to particulars. Well do you know how minutely the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms, describe the person, and work of our Lord Jesus Christ; his miracles, his teaching; his persecutions, his betrayal, his sufferings, his death, his burial, his resurrection, his ascension, and his glorious intercession at the right hand of the Father on high; not “one jot, nor one tittle” of which has failed; all has been fulfilled. They have received their accomplishment in Jesus Christ our Saviour.

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

Introducing the ‘Baptist Library Vol I

Reformedontheweb is excited to present to you: “The Baptist Library Vol I.” Each book is in adobe reader format, and is a searchable document. I only have one scanned file in this entire collection. My goal is to produce a library that is Baptist friendly and that focuses primarily on particular Baptist doctrine. This does not mean that all the files on this Cd are by particular Baptists. Some are by paedobaptist and are included because they present Biblical truth that particular Baptist agree with; such as: Boettner’s ‘The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination.’ This is what the collection includes:

A workable index– search the entire library through one master index. Each collection has its own index, however, send a shortcut of the master index to your desktop and access all files through the master index. The master index is titled ‘baptistvol1.index’

Over 400 Mb’s of books on this disk

What you will get by buying this collection:

The Arthur Pink CollectionClick the title to check out this collection

The John Bunyan CollectionClick the title to check out this collection

The John Gill CollectionClick the title to check out this collection

Plus 143 more Books, Confessions, or Sermons. Some of which include:

‘Abraham Booth- The Reign of Grace’

‘Benjamin Keach- The Glory of a True Church and its Discipline Display’d’

‘Isaac Backus- The Bondwoman and the Free’

and much, much more.

So without further ado here is the collection:

The Reformedontheweb Library

presents

The Baptist Library Vol I

The going price for ‘The Arthur Pink Collection’ and “The John Bunyan Collection’ is $19.95 apiece on other sites. The going price for ‘The John Gill Collection’ is $29.95. That is $69.85. But on Reformedontheweb you can get all three collections, plus 143 more files, for just:

$39.95

You will save $29.90 with this collection and will get 143 extra, Books, Sermons, and Confessions

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Buy: The Baptist Library Vol I