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Salvation is not by our own merit, but is of the Lord alone

October 26, 2015 2 comments

Spurgeon 3Effectively, it all comes of God; and I am sure we must add, meritoriously. We have experienced that salvation is wholly of him. What merits have I? If I were to scrape together all I ever had, and then come to you and beg all you have got, I should not collect the value of a farthing among you all. We have heard of some Catholic, who said that there was a balance struck in his favor between his good works and his bad ones, and therefore he went to heaven. But there is nothing of the sort here; I have seen many people, many kinds of Christians, and many odd Christians, but I never yet met with one who said he had any merits of his own when he came to close quarters. We have heard of perfect men, and we have heard of men perfectly foolish, and we have thought the characters perfectly alike. Have we any merits of our own? I am sure we have not, if we have been taught of God. Once we thought we had; but there came a man called Conviction into our house one night, and took away our gloryings. Ah! we are vile still. I don’t know whether Cowper said quite right, when he said, —

“Since the dear hour that brought me to thy foot
And cut up all my follies by the root
I never trusted in an arm but thine —
Nor hoped but in thy righteousness divine!”

I think he made a mistake, for most Christians get trusting in self at times, but we are forced to own that “salvation is of the Lord,” if we consider it meritoriously.

Charles H. Spurgeon- God Alone the Salvation of His People-A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath

Through all our trials we have to see that salvation is of the Lord

October 19, 2015 1 comment

CharlesSpurgeonAnd now look forward to the future. Man! think how many enemies thou hast; how many rivers thou hast to cross, how many mountains to climb, how many dragons to fight, how many lions’ teeth to escape, how many fires to pass through, how many floods to wade. What thinkest thou man? Can thy salvation be of anything except of God! Oh! if I had not that everlasting arm to lean upon, I would cry “Death! hurl me anywhere; anywhere out of the world.” If I had not that one hope, that one trust, bury me ten thousand fathoms deep beneath creation, where my being might be forgotten! Oh! put me far away, for I am miserable if I have not God to help me all my journey through. Are you strong enough to fight with one of your enemies without your God? I trow not. A little silly maid may cast a Peter down, and cast you down too, if God do not keep you. I beseech you, remember this; I hope you know it by experience in the past; but try to remember it in the future, wherever you go, “Salvation is of the Lord.” Do not get looking at your heart, do not get examining to see whether you have anything to recommend you, but remember, “Salvation is of the Lord.” “He only is my rook and my salvation.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- God Alone the Salvation of His People-A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, May 18, 1856

The true Christian will confess that salvation is of God alone effectively

Spurgeon 6The true Christian will confess that salvation is of God alone effectively that is, that “he works in him to will and to do of his own pleasure.” Looking back on my past life, I can see that the dawning of it all was of God; of God effectively. I took no torch with which to light the sun, but the sun did light me. I did not commence my spiritual life — no, I rather kicked and struggled against the things of the Spirit: when he drew me, for a time, I did not run after him there was a natural hatred in my soul of everything holy and good. Wooings were lost upon me — warnings were cast to the wind — thunders were despised; and as for the whispers of his love, they were rejected as being less than nothing and vanity. But, sure I am, I can say now, speaking on behalf of myself, and of all who know the Lord, “He only is my salvation, and your salvation too.” It was he who turned your heart, and brought you down on your knees. You can say in very deed, then —

“Grace taught my soul to pray,
Grace made my eyes o’erflow.”

And coming to this moment, you can say, —

“’Tis grace has kept me to this day,
And will not let me go.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- God Alone the Salvation of His People-A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, May 18, 1856

The greatest of all experience is to know that “he only is our rock and our salvation”

September 28, 2015 3 comments

Spurgeon 1II. And now, beloved, we come to THE GREAT EXPERIENCE. The greatest of all experience, I take it, is to know that “he only is our rock and our salvation.” We have been insisting upon a doctrine; but doctrine is nothing unless proved in our experience. Most of God’s doctrines are only to be learned by practice — by taking them out into the world, and letting them bear the wear and tear of life. If I ask any Christian in this place whether this doctrine is true, if he has had any deep experience, he will reply, “True I ay, that it is; not one word in God’s Bible is more true than that, for indeed salvation is of God alone.” “He only is my rock and my salvation.” But, beloved, it is very hard to have such an experimental knowledge of the doctrine that we never depart from it. It is very hard to believe that “salvation is of the Lord.” There are times when we put our confidence in something else but God, and sin by linking hand-in-hand with God — something besides him. Let me now dwell a little upon the experience which will bring us to know that salvation is of God alone.

Charles H. Spurgeon- God Alone the Salvation of His People-A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, May 18, 1856

Sustentation is of the Lord alone

September 14, 2015 Leave a comment

CharlesSpurgeon3. And again: sustentation also is absolutely requisite. We need sustentation in providence for our bodies, and sustentation in grace for our souls. Providential mercies are wholly from the Lord. It is true the rain falls from heaven, and waters the earth, and “maketh it bring forth and bud that there may be seed for the sower, and bread for the eater;” but out of whose hand cometh the rain, and from whose fingers do the dew drops distil? It is true, the sun shines, and makes the plants grow, and bud, and bring forth the blossom, and his heat ripens the fruit upon the tree; but who gives the sun his light, and who scatters the genial heat from him? It is true, I work and toil, this brow sweats; these hands are weary; I cast myself upon my bed, and there I rest, but I do not “sacrifice to mine own drag,” nor do I ascribe my preservation to my own might. Who makes these sinews strong? who makes these lungs like iron, and who makes these nerves of steel? “God only is the rock of my salvation.” He only is the salvation of my body and the salvation of my soul. Do I feed on the word? That word would be no food for me unless the Lord made it food for my soul, and helped me to feed upon it. Do I live on the manna which comes down from heaven? What is that manna, but Jesus Christ himself incarnate, whose body and whose blood I eat and drink. Am I continually receiving fresh increase of might? Where do I gather my might? My salvation is of him: without him I can do nothing. As a branch cannot bring forth fruit except it abide in the vine, no more can I except I abide in him.

Charles H. Spurgeon- God Alone the Salvation of His People-A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, May 18, 1856

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2-Chapter 5-Regeneration or the New Birth

September 11, 2015 Leave a comment

CHAPTER 5-REGENERATION OR THE NEW BIRTH

John Ruskin (1819-1900), English art critic, author and political economist said that “the first and last and closest trial question to any living creature is, ‘What do you like?’ Go out into the street and ask the first man you meet, what his taste is, and if he answers you candidly, you know him body and soul. What we like determines what we are, and is a sign of what we are.” If the taste Ruskin speaks of applies to moral and spiritual things, then he has something, and his words are sober truth. Man has moral as well as physical taste. What one likes as a moral being—-what he likes in relation to the true God and His word-determines what he is as a moral being and is a sign to others of what he is. One can know himself, and others can know him by this taste-test. Moral taste is moral desire and moral desire determines moral deed.

David’s moral taste is revealed when he says, “one thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple” (#Ps 27:4). Also, when he says, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (#Ps 42:1-2). This desire for God shows the Psalmist to be a man after God’s own heart. Dr. Broadus gives a three fold test of personal character: What one reads when he is tired, what he thinks about when he is alone, and where he goes when he is away from home.

This taste-test reveals the necessity of regeneration for every man. Man, in his natural condition, does not like God—-the God of the Bible; he does not long for God’s presence as David did; he rather shuns God, as Adam and Eve did when they sinned and hid themselves from Him. The natural man has no taste for the things of God. The carnal mind is enmity against God. Man in his natural and fallen state would not enjoy heaven if he should go there. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Regeneration is the only remedy; every man must be born again —-born from above—-made a new creature—-if he is to see or enter into the kingdom of God.

THE NATURE OF REGENERATION

Regeneration is that aspect of salvation in which the dead sinner- -the sinner with all the faculties of the soul in moral ruins, and paralyzed towards God and holiness, being unable to please God—-is made a child of God with a taste for the things of God.

Regeneration, therefore, may be defined as the gracious work of God in the human soul by which the heart is enabled to love God, the mind is enabled to understand the gospel of Christ and the will is brought to choose Christ as both Lord and Saviour. This definition is in harmony with our New Hampshire Confession which says that “Regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind; that it is affected in a manner above our comprehension, by the power of the Holy Spirit of God in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance and faith and newness of life.”

John Favel (1650-1691) says that the heart of man is his worst part before regeneration, and the best part afterward; that it is the seat of principles and the fountain of actions; and that the eye of God is, and the eye of the Christian ought to be principally fixed upon it.

Regeneration is not the bringing of a person into existence; it is the birth of one already in existence; therefore, a second birth. Nor is it the bringing of any new faculties or parts into existence. The unregenerate man has as many parts or faculties to his being as the regenerate man. No part of man was annihilated in the fall, but all parts were ruined or depraved. Regeneration is not based upon non- existence, but upon a depraved existence. The soul of man is endowed with heart, and mind and will, and the unregenerate man has all these faculties, although in a ruined or depraved state. He has a mind and can think and understand, but he does not like to think about God, and cannot understand the things of God; he has a heart so that he can and does love, but he does not love God; he has a will so that he can and does choose, but he does not choose Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Regeneration is essentially a changing of the fundamental taste of the soul. By taste we mean the direction of his mind and bent of his affections, the trend of his will. And to alter that taste is not to impart a new faculty, or create a new substance, but simply to set upon God the affections which hitherto have been set upon self and sin. To borrow an illustration from Dr. Strong: The engineer who climbs over the cab into a runaway locomotive and who changes its course, does so not by adding any new rod or cog, but by simply reversing the lever. So in regeneration God is reversing the lever of the soul. He is changing the taste so that a man loves what he once hated and hates what he once loved.

Regeneration is not the eradication of the sinful nature, but the impartation of a new nature—-a sinless nature. The saved man has been born two times, and has twofold disposition or nature. This creates a conflict between the fleshly and spiritual natures: “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (#Ga 5:17). Paul had this conflict in his own experience. He delighted in the law of God after the inward man, but was conscious of another law or force, so that he could not do the good he desired to do “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (#Ro 7:14-25).

TWO ASPECTS OF THE NEW BIRTH

In the first aspect the soul is passive; it is simply acted upon. God changes the governing disposition by a creative act, that is, without the use of means, and without any co-operation on the part of the sinner. How could it be otherwise unless death contributes to life, unless filth purifies itself, and a corpse adorns itself? In a word, regeneration must be altogether of God unless nature acts contrary to nature. If the carnal mind hates God; if the things of God are foolishness to the natural man; if they that are in the flesh cannot please God, what hope is there that such a nature will act as though it were otherwise? There is no such thing as selfbirth, either in the physical or spiritual realms. The mother gives birth to the child, and in the moral realm we are born of God.

In the second aspect of regeneration, God secures the initial exercise of the new nature, and in this the soul is active. Repentance and faith are heart exercises of the sinner in response to the quickening work of the Spirit. The two aspects of regeneration are simultaneous. At the very instant God gives a holy disposition to the soul, He pours in the light of Gospel truth and induces the exercise of the holy disposition He has imparted.

This distinction seems necessary from the twofold representation of the change in the Scripture. In some passages the change is ascribed wholly to God “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (#Joh 1:13). In changing the fundamental taste of the soul there is no use of means or co’operation from the sinner. In fact the truth is rejected until the disposition is changed. Now in other passages we find the truth is employed as means and the mind acts in view of the truth. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (#Jas 1:18); “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (#1Pe 1:23). To deny these two aspects you would have an unregenerated believer on the one hand, or a regenerated unbeliever on the other hand, neither of which is possible. The first aspect is the narrower and is what theologians mean when they speak of pre- regeneration.

THE NECESSITY OF REGENERATION

What we have already written reveals why the new birth is necessary, but we will amplify and illustrate.

The depravity of human nature makes the new birth necessary. The physical birth produces no qualities that are pleasing to God. “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (#Ro 8:8). Paul reminds the Jews that being the fleshly descendants of Abraham did not make them the children of God: “That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (#Ro 9:8). Man has the inherited corruption of a fallen nature. David was not casting reflection upon his mother’s viture, but was confessing to inborn depravity, when he exclaimed, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (#Ps 51:5). A man may say, “I know I do things that are wrong, but I have a good heart after all.” But God gives a different verdict. Christ taught that the human heart was the very fountain of all that is sinful: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, and evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these things come from within, and defile the man” (#Mr 7:21-23). The human affections are misplaced. Man naturally loves the things that are contrary to God. He must be born from above in order to love God. “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that loveth is (Gk. has been) born of God, and knoweth God” (#1Jo 4:7).

The human will is antagonistic to God. God’s will should be supreme in every life, but man by nature is dominated by self-will. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way” (#Isa 53:6). In the life of Christ, the one perfect life, the will of God was supreme: He came not to do His own will, but the will of the Father. Moreover, man by nature, is in a state of moral darkness, ignorant of the things of God. He cannot understand the things of the Spirit: “For they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (#1Co 2:14). There must be a spiritual birth before there can be spiritual understanding.

The writer once heard of a little girl with a defect of vision from birth. Her parents were slow to realize that she could not see many objects which were familiar to others. She was almost grown before an oculist was consulted. He advised and performed an operation, and the child was kept in a dark room for many weeks. One bright and balmy night she stepped out alone upon the lawn. Instantly, she rushed back into the house in a glow of excitement. “Oh come,” she cried, “And see what has happened to the sky.” Her parents hurried out with her, but saw nothing but the familiar glory of the stars—-something she had never seen before. Nothing had happened to the sky, but something had happened to her eyes. So the unregenerate man has the eyes of his understanding darkened in respect to spiritual and saving truth. The stars of the gospel truth shine brightly in the firmament of God’s word, but the lost man does not see them. “But if our gospel be hid it is hid to them that are lost” (#2Co 4:3).

THE EFFICIENT CAUSE OF REGENERATION

By the efficient cause we mean the power by which the effect is secured. What power brings about the new birth? The various answers to this question may be summed up in three general views.

1. Some put the efficient cause or power of regeneration in the human will. This view emphasizes the plan of salvation and makes response to the plan, that is, faith in the gospel, depend upon the human will. The sinner is told that if he will believe the gospel he will be born again. This confounds justification and regeneration. We read again and again that we are justified by faith, but never that we are regenerated by faith. Man’s volition’s—the exercise of his will—are practically the shadow of his affections. You cannot separate man from his shadow and have him going in one direction and his shadow in another direction. Neither can you have a man’s will going in the opposite direction from the way his heart goes. Men choose what they do because of the condition of the heart. #Joh 1:13 is fatal to this view: “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

2. Another view makes the truth the efficient cause of regeneration. This view puts the power of the new birth in the gospel. A. Campbell is one of the best exponents to this view. He says, “We plead that all the converting power of the Holy Spirit is exhibited in the Divine Record.” This denies any subjective or internal work of the Holy Spirit on the heart of the sinner. The preacher is to make the gospel so attractive that the sinner, apart from any change in his heart, will accept it. But to the heart that hates God the plainer you make the gospel, the more he will hate it. If this were true then it would be absurd to pray to God to regenerate, for that is more than He can do—regeneration is simply the effect of the word preached. This is called “the word only,” theory, which is refuted by Paul in #1Th 1:5: “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost…” This view has led to a lot of silly and unscriptural expressions, such as, “energizing the truth,” or “illuminating the truth.” There is nothing wrong with the truth, the trouble is with the sinner’s darkened understanding. God does not make the truth more true but He opens sin-blinded minds to understand it “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?” (#1Co 3:5); “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (#2Co 4:6). The word gives knowledge of spiritual things. The gospel is objective light; the Holy Spirit gives subjective light.

Dr. T. T. Shields once preached on #1Ti 1:15, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” A few days later he received a letter from a man that read like this: “I enjoyed your sermon last Sunday very much, and could not see why anyone in your audience could not be saved. But your prayer following the sermon spoiled it for me. You asked God by His Spirit to lead sinners to an acceptance of the gospel. I write to ask what the Spirit has to do with it. The way of salvation was presented, and all they had to do was to accept it.” This man was right, if the truth and the human will are all that is necessary, and prayer for God to do something in the sinner would be foolish. This view utterly ignores the truth of human depravity.

3. The position of the writer is, that the immediate agency of the Holy Spirit is the efficient cause of regeneration. The power of the Holy Spirit is immediate, that is, it does not depend upon or flow through anything, not even the gospel itself. The gospel is hated and rejected as foolishness until direct power of the Spirit changes the governing disposition of the heart. As some one has said, “Our natural hearts are hearts of stone. The word of God is good seed sown on the hard, trodden, macadamized highway, which the horses of passion, the asses of self-will, the wagons of imaginary treasure, have made impenetrable. ONLY THE HOLY SPIRIT can soften and pulverize the soil.” The gospel is good seed, but good seed cannot make good soil. Paul may plant and Apollos may water, but God must give the increase.

“Come, Spirit, source of light,
Thy grace is unconfirmed;
Dispel the gloomy shades of night,
The darkness of the mind.

“Now to our eye display
The truth Thy words reveal;
Cause us to run the heavenly way,
Delighting in Thy will.

“Thy teachings make us know
The mysteries of Thy love;
The vanity of things below,
The joys of things above.”

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2

Preservation is of the Lord alone

September 7, 2015 2 comments

Spurgeon 32. And if we are delivered and made alive in Christ, still preservation is of the Lord alone. If I am prayerful, God makes me prayerful: if I have graces, God gives me graces; if I have fruits, God gives me fruits; if I hold on in a consistent life, God holds me on in a consistent life. I do nothing whatever towards my own preservation, except what God himself first does in me. Whatever I have, all my goodness is of the Lord alone. Wherein I sin, that is my own, but wherein I act rightly, that is of God, wholly and completely. If I have repulsed an enemy, his strength nerved my arm. Did I strike a foeman to the ground? His strength sharpened my sword and gave me courage to strike the blow. Do I preach his word? It is not I, but grace that is in me? Do I live to God a holy life? It is not I, but Christ that liveth in me? Am I sanctified? I did not sanctify myself, God’s Holy Spirit sanctifies me. Am I weaned from the world? I am weaned by God’s chastisements. Do I grow in knowledge? The great Instructor teaches me. I find in God all I want; but I find in myself nothing. “He only is my rock and my salvation.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- God Alone the Salvation of His People-A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, May 18, 1856