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Duty of Gratitude for Divine Grace: Blessings of Grace: Sanctification- Book Seventh- Chapter 3- Section 5

Book Seventh

CHAPTER III.

SECTION V.–SANCTIFICATION.

THE HOLY SPIRIT CONTINUES TO SANCTIFY THOSE WHOM HE HAS REGENERATED, AND FINALLY PREPARES THEM FULLY FOR THE HOLY SERVICE AND ENJOYMENT OF HEAVEN.[160]

Regeneration is the beginning of sanctification, but the work is not completed at the outset. A new affection is produced in the heart, but it does not govern without opposition. The love of the world, the love of self, and all the carnal appetites and passions, have reigned in the heart; and the power of habit gives them a controlling influence, which is not readily yielded. Hence arises the warfare of which every regenerate man is conscious: the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.[161] In this struggle, the carnal propensities often threaten to prevail, and they would prevail, if God did not give a supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. “Without me,” said Jesus, “ye can do nothing.”[162] If severed from the living vine, the branches are sapless, fruitless, dead. But “he that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit;”[163] and the Spirit of life from Christ, the head, flows through all the members of his body, and gives and preserves their vitality. This Spirit in them lusteth against the flesh, and enables them to carry on their warfare, and gives them final victory: “He that hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”[164]

As in the beginning, so in the progress of the work, the Holy Spirit operates by direct and by indirect influence. The indirect influence is by means of the truth. With reference to this, the Saviour prayed: “Sanctify them through thy truth;”[165] and, with reference to it, the Scriptures connect “belief of the truth,” with “sanctification of the Spirit;”[166] and speak of the heart being purified by faith.[167] The direct influence fixes the affections on the truth; or, in the language of Scripture, “writes the law in the heart.”[168] The mode in which this direct influence is exerted, we cannot explain; but the result is, that the truth produces its proper effect, which otherwise it would fail to accomplish, through the depravity of the heart. Our carnal affections tend to shut out the truth from the heart; hence Christ said; “How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?”[169] While carnal affections tend to prevent the proper influence of the truth, the Spirit exercises an opposite influence, and “lusts against the flesh.” As this influence gives the word an efficacy which it would not otherwise possess, it is something superadded to the intrinsic power of the word. For this direct influence, the Psalmist prays: “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law;”[170] and for this, the prayers recorded in the New Testament were offered: “Lord, increase our faith.”[171] “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”[172] This influence operated on the two disciples, when their understandings were opened, that they understood the Scriptures.[173] This influence is prayed for by every child of God, when, as he opens the Bible, he prays that what he is about to read, may be blessed to the good of his soul. And it is prayed for by the faithful minister of the gospel, and by every devout hearer, when at the beginning of a sermon, they ask God to make his truth effectual.

Besides the word of truth, the dispensations of Providence are used by the Holy Spirit, as means of sanctification. Afflictions are often blessed to the spiritual good of God’s people. David says: “Before I was afflicted, I went astray; but now have I kept thy word.”[174] These afflictions are chastisements which our heavenly Father employs, to make us partakers of his holiness.”[175] In themselves, afflictions have no sanctifying efficacy, and many who are tried by them, are incited to greater hatred of God; but the Holy Spirit accompanies them to the believer with a sanctifying power, and uses them to wean his affections from the world, and fix them on God. When outward things either cease to give him enjoyment, or produce positive grief and pain, he finds within him a source of happiness, in the exercise of faith and hope in God. Hence, in his darkest hours, as to worldly prosperity, the believer sometimes finds his prospects of heaven most clear, and his foretaste of future blessedness most delightful.

[160] 2 Thess. ii. 13; 1 Pet. i. 2; 1 Cor. vi. 11; 2 Cor. iii. 18; Mal. iii. 3; Eph. v. 26; Tit. ii. 14; Prov. iv. 18; Phil. i. 6; 1 John iii. 2.

[161] Gal. v. 17.

[162] John xv. 5.

[163] 1 Cor. vi. 17.

[164] Phil. i. 6.

[165] John xvii. 17.

[166] 2 Thess. ii. 13.

[167] Acts xv. 9.

[168] Heb. x. 16.

[169] John v. 44.

[170] Ps. cxix. 18.

[171] Luke xvii. 5.

[172] Mark ix. 24.

[173] Luke xxiv. 45.

[174] Ps. cxix. 67.

[175] Heb. xii. 10.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Duty of Gratitude for Divine Grace: Blessings of Grace: Regeneration- Book Seventh- Chapter 3- Section 4

June 14, 2017 1 comment

Book Seventh

CHAPTER III.

SECTION IV.–REGENERATION.

IN ALL WHO ARE FINALLY SAVED, THE HOLY SPIRIT PRODUCES A GREAT MORAL CHANGE, BY WHICH THEY BECOME INCLINED TO HOLINESS.[121]

In our natural state we are totally depraved. No inclination to holiness exists in the carnal heart; and no holy act can be performed, or service to God rendered, until the heart is changed. This change, it is the office of the Holy Spirit to effect. Pardon, justification, and adoption, are changes in a man’s condition; but if no other change were wrought, the man would remain a slave to sin, and unfit for the service and enjoyment of God. Grace, therefore, does not stop with a mere change of condition, but it effects also that change in the character, without which the individual could not participate in the holy enjoyments of heaven, or be fitted for the society of the blessed.

Various forms of expression are employed in the Scriptures, to denote the change of heart; and they signify it with various shades of meaning.. It is taking away the heart of stone, and giving a heart of flesh;[122] giving a new heart;[123] putting the law in the heart;[124] quickening or making alive;[125] a resurrection from the dead; an illumination;[126] a conversion, or turning back to God.[127] So great is the change produced, that the subject of it is called a new creature,[128] as if proceeding, like Adam, directly from the creating hand of God; and he is said to be renewed,[129] as being restored to the image of God, in which man was originally formed. With reference to the mode in which the descendants of Adam come into the world, the change is denominated regeneration;[130] and the subjects of it are said to be born again.[131]

The change is moral. The body is unchanged; and the identity of the mind is not destroyed. The individual is conscious of being the same person that he was before; but a new direction is given to the active powers of the mind, and new affections are brought into exercise. The love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost.[132] No love to God had previously existed there; for the carnal heart is enmity against God. Love is the fulfilling of the law, the principle of all holy obedience; and when love is produced in the heart, the law of God is written there. As a new principle of action, inciting to a new mode of life, it renders the man a new creature. The production of love in the heart by the Holy Spirit, is the regeneration, or the new birth; for “he that loveth, is born of God.”[133]

The mode in which the Holy Spirit effects this change, is beyond our investigation. All God’s ways are unsearchable; and we might as well attempt to explain how he created the world, as how he new-creates the soul. With reference to this subject, the Saviour said, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”[134] We know, from the Holy Scriptures, that God employs his truth in the regeneration of the soul. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.”[135] Love to God necessarily implies knowledge of God, and this knowledge it is the province of truth to impart. But knowledge is not always connected with love. The devils know, but do not love; and wicked men delight not to retain the knowledge of God,[136] because their knowledge of him is not connected with love. The mere presentation of the truth to the mind, is not all that is needed, in producing love to God in the heart. What accompanying influence the Holy Spirit uses, to render the word effectual, we cannot explain: but Paul refers to it, when he says, “Our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost.”[137]–“but in the demonstration of the Spirit, and with power.”[138]

The term regeneration is sometimes used in a comprehensive sense, as including the whole formation of the Christian character. At other times it is used for the first production of divine love in the heart. In the latter sense, the work is instantaneous. There is a moment known only to God, when the first holy affection exists in the soul. Truth may enter gradually, and may excite strong affections in the mind, and may for a time increase the hatred of God which naturally reigns in the heart. So Paul says, “Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.”[139] But, in his own time and manner, God, the Holy Spirit, makes the word effectual in producing a new affection in the soul: and, when the first movement of love to God exists, the first throb of spiritual life commences.

Faith is necessary to the Christian character; and must therefore precede regeneration, when this is understood in its widest sense. Even in the restricted sense, in which it denotes the beginning of the spiritual life, faith, in the sense in which James[140] uses the term, may precede. But a faith which exists before the beginning of spiritual life, cannot be a living faith. Yet some have maintained that faith produces love. This opinion is of sufficient importance to demand a careful consideration.

The power of faith over the actions, the conscience, and the affections of the heart, every one must admit. Confidence place in a treacherous man, has often led to a course of action ruinous in its effects on the condition and character. A belief in false principles of morality blinds the conscience, and causes it to approve the wrong, and condemn the right. We may love or hate an individual, under a mistaken view of his character; and our affection towards him may be completely changed, by a better acquaintance with him. Now, it may be asked, does not dislike of God proceed from a wrong view of his character, and will not a true knowledge of him infallibly produce love?

That hatred of God, and a wrong view of his character, accompany each other, no one can deny; but which of these produces the other, ought not to be assumed without investigation. We readily judge well concerning those whom we love, and ill concerning those whom we dislike. Men’s interests pervert their judgments. In a deliberative assembly, parties are formed, according to the interests of individuals; and man take sides according to the circumstances which influence the heart. In these cases, the affections control the faith. The affections and faith mutually influence each other, and if either be wrong, the other cannot be perfectly right. The enmity to God which rules in the hearts of unregenerate men, renders their view of this character incorrect. A perfectly correct view cannot co-exist with enmity to him: and yet it does not follow that love to him may be produced, by giving right views of his character.

Some have maintained the opinion that a revelation of God’s love to us is sufficient to produce love to him. That it ought to do so, cannot be denied; and in a heart under no evil bias, it would produce this effect. We may rather say, that a heart in which no evil bias exists, will love God, on receiving a revelation of his general character, without waiting for evidence of special favor. If our love to God proceeds from a belief that he loves us in particular, it is merely a modification of self-love. Such love has no moral excellence in it; for “sinners love those that love them.”[141] Some have supposed, that the faith of devils differs from the faith of Christians in the circumstance, that it sees in God no manifestation of love towards them, and therefore can produce no love in their hearts towards God. But this opinion regards the faith which distinguishes the people of God, and purifies their hearts, as possessing no moral excellence in its nature. The circumstances in which it is exercised, do not make its nature better. If it may consist with perfect hatred to God, it cannot have moral excellence in itself, or tend to produce moral purity.

An inspired writer has said, “We love him, because he first loved us:”[142] but these words do not teach, that our love to God originates in the conviction that we are the favorites of his love. The love of God towards us, operates both as an efficient, and as a motive. 1. As an efficient cause. “For his great love where with he loved us,[143] when we were dead in sin, hath quickened us together with Christ.” Here is an operation entirely distinct from that of mere motive. The dead body of Christ in the grave, was quickened by the Spirit; and a like power quickens the dead soul. “We believe according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead.”[144] Here faith itself is ascribed to this divine operation. All this operation proceeds from God’s great love wherewith he hath loved us. It is plain, therefore, that this love operates as an efficient cause, before it operates as a motive to holiness. It cannot operate as a motive without faith; and faith is produced by its efficient power. After this efficiency has quickened the dead soul, the love of God towards us then operates. 2. As a motive. The goodness of God leads to repentance, and every attribute and act of God has a tendency to call forth the love of the heart, when in the right state. Nothing so effectually melts the heart, as a view of God’s great love towards us, while we were yet sinners: and of Christ’s love in giving himself for us: but many a heart has felt this melting influence, without having in view the personal benefit to be received from this love. Our love to God does not produce a disregard to our own happiness, but it rises above the consideration of it. It is, therefore, not a modification of self-love.

This divine operation, which is additional to the motive power of truth, proceeds from what has been called the direct influence of the Spirit. Truth, as contained in the Holy Scriptures, is a revelation from the Holy Spirit; and as men’s words, whether spoken or written, have an influence on the minds of other men, so the words of the Holy Spirit have an influence on the minds of all who read the Bible, or hear the gospel preached. In this indirect way, the Holy Spirit operates on men’s minds, as the author of a book operates on all who read his work. But this indirect influence is by means of truth as a motive power; and no mere motive, operating on the sinner’s heart, can induce him to love God for his own sake. While self-love rules in the mind, all motives derive their power from their relation to the ruling principle; and cannot, therefore, establish a higher principle of action. This change, by which true love to God is produced, results from the direct influence of the Holy Spirit, accompanying his word, and making it effectual. It was this direct influence which rendered the word so effectual on the day of Pentecost,[145] which opened Lydia’s heart,[146] so that she attended to the things that were spoken by Paul;–which gave the increase when Paul planted, and Apollos watered,[147]–and which has ever brought the word to the heart, in demonstration of the Spirit, and with power.[148]

The doctrine of the Holy Spirit’s direct influence, is a fundamental truth of the gospel dispensation. That Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, and completed the great work for which he assumed our nature, is a truth that lies at the foundation of Christianity. The gospel reveals to us the Spirit as well as the Son. When about to leave the world, Jesus promised another comforter, who should dwell with his disciples for ever. The Holy Spirit, as God, had always been in the world: but he was now to be present by a peculiar manifestation and operation. This manifestation and operation attended the ministry of the Word on the day of Pentecost, and the gospel has always been the sword of the Spirit,[149] the instrument with which he operates in the fulfilment of his office for which he has come into the world, in answer to the prayer of Christ.

The experience of mankind, before the coming of Christ, prepared the way for the introduction of his religion. The wise men of the world had sought to know God, but their laborious research had been ineffectual. Some other means of knowledge was, by their failure, proved to be necessary: “After that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”[150] While an experiment was made in the heathen world, demonstrating the necessity of revelation, another was in progress among the people of Israel, under the Mosaic dispensation, demonstrating the inefficiency of revelation, unless accompanied by direct influence of the Holy Spirit. The Israelites had this great advantage over the heathen world, that to them were committed the oracles of God.[151] The Scriptures, given by inspiration from God, were in their possession: and God spoke to them at sundry times and in divers manners, by prophets whom he raised up among them, and inspired to declare his will. That these prophets, with their burdens of divine messages, might arrive in due time, God represents himself as rising up early and sending them.[152] So abundant were the means of religious knowledge granted them, that God said, “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?”[153] Yet, with all this advantage, they turned away from the God of Israel, and provoked him to anger. Another influence was needed, to produce love and obedience to God. Hence it was said, by the prophet Jeremiah, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel, and to the house of Judah.”[154] This new covenant is explained in the Epistle to the Hebrews,[155] to be the spiritual dispensation of the gospel. Its grand peculiarity is, that the law of God is written in the heart. The Israelites had the revelation from God written on stone and parchment, but it was not in their hearts; and an new divine influence was promised by the prophet, and the promise has been fulfilled in the direct influence of the Holy Spirit, the gift of which characterizes the gospel dispensation as the ministration of the Spirit.[156] The saints of God, under the former dispensation, received this influence of the Holy Spirit, and to them also was the gospel preached.[157] The privileges and blessings of the future dispensation, were, by anticipation, bestowed on them; and the Christ to come was made their Saviour, as if he had already appeared and fulfilled his work. But the abundant influence of the Holy Spirit was reserved for the times following the ascension of Christ, and from that day he dwells in the Church, and makes the bodies of believers his temple. This peculiar presence implies the peculiar influence by which the truth is put into the heart; that is, by which men are made to love the truth. The whole Mosaic dispensation was an experiment, demonstrating the necessity of this peculiar influence. That covenant did not promise this blessing, and God found fault with it, because it did not secure the obedience of his people. The experiment was made, in his wisdom, not for his information, but for our benefit; and, by the failure of that covenant, we are enabled better to estimate the value of the blessing that distinguished the covenant founded on better promises.

That philosophy which shuts God out of his creation, and substitutes laws of nature for his ever-present influence and operation, stands ready to deny the doctrine of the Holy Spirit’s direct influence. It admits not the possibility of any influence, but that which the means employed naturally tend to produce. But means have not natural efficiency apart from the will of God. By the will of God, the truth has its regenerating and sanctifying power; for he works in us to will and to do, according to his pleasure.[158] It belongs to the Holy Spirit, in the economy of grace, to produce divine life in the soul, as he brooded over the face of the waters, at creation, reducing the chaotic mass to order, and filling it with life. He is pleased to work with means; and he employs the truth as his instrument of operation. This instrument he wields at his pleasure, and he renders it effectual by his divine power: “My word 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.”[159] By the ordinary providence of God, the Bible operates in the world, and influences the minds of men: but this providence equally existed in the former dispensation, in which the oracles of God were possessed by the Israelites, but held by them in unrighteousness. An influence above the ordinary providence of God is needed, to the regeneration of the soul. The coming of Christ into the world, and the coming and abiding of the Holy Spirit, belong to a dispensation which is above the ordinary providence of God. Into this new economy we are ushered, when we are translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. Here we recognise both the Son and the Spirit, as specially given of God. It is contrary to the faith of the gospel to regard Christ and his redeeming work, as things of God’s ordinary providence; and it is equally contrary to faith to consider the Spirit and his work in the heart as merely natural influence of the truth on the heart.

[121] John iii. 5, 6; Ezek. xi. 19; xxxvi. 26, 27; xxxvii. 14; Tit. iii. 5; James i. 18; 2 Cor. v. 17; 1 John iv. 8.

[122] Ezek. xxxvi. 26.

[123] Ezek. xviii. 31.

[124] Heb. viii. 10.

[125] John vi. 63; Eph. ii. 1; Rom. vi. 11, 13.

[126] Heb. x. 32.

[127] Ps. li. 13; Matt. xviii. 3; Ps. xxv. 16; Isaiah lix. 20.

[128] 2 Cor. v. 17; Gal. vi. 15.

[129] Col. iii. 10; Rom. xii. 2; Tit. iii. 5.

[130] Tit. iii. 5.

[131] John iii. 3, 7; 1 Pet. i. 23.

[132] Rom. v. 5.

[133] 1 John iv. 7.

[134] John iii. 8.

[135] James i. 18.

[136] Rom. i. 28.

[137] 1 Thess. i. 5.

[138] 1 Cor. ii. 4.

[139] Rom. vii. 8.

[140] James ii. 17.

[141] Luke vi. 32.

[142] 1 John iv. 19.

[143] Eph. ii. 4, 5.

[144] Eph. i. 19, 20.

[145] Acts ii.

[146] Acts xvi.

[147] 1 Cor. iii.

[148] 1 Cor. ii. 4.

[149] Eph. vi. 17.

[150] 1 Cor. i. 21.

[151] Rom. iii. 2.

[152] Jer. xxxii. 33.

[153] Isaiah v. 5.

[154] Jer. xxxiii. 14.

[155] Heb. viii.

[156] 2 Cor. iii. 8.

[157] Heb. iv. 2; Gal. iii. 8.

[158] Phil. ii. 13.

[159] Isaiah lv. 11.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Free Ebook: Do You Think You Are Converted?

August 5, 2016 2 comments

by John C. Ryle (1816-1900)

Available in Epub, .mobi, & Pdf

In this booklet, J. C. Ryle explores the scriptural basis of conversion. In his clear and winsome style, Ryle first explains that conversion—in his words—is a scriptural thing, a real thing, a necessary thing, a possible thing, a happy thing, and a thing that may be seen. After expounding on these, he urges the reader to “Find out if you are converted” and “If you are not converted, never rest till you are.” Finally, Ryle has the following advice for those who believe they are converted: make your calling and conversion sure, remember that a converted man is still a sinner needing Christ every day, labor to grow in grace as long as you live, and lastly, share your faith. As Ryle puts it: “Never, never if you are a converted man, never be content to go to heaven alone!”

Pages: 20.

Item code: dyty.

Format: booklet.

 

Source [Chapel Library]

Keach Conference 2016

What? The Keach Conference is an annual theology and ministry conference presented by the Reformed Baptist Fellowship of Virginia (RBF-VA). It is open to anyone to attend. There is no cost to attend, but participants are encouraged to pre-register.

When? Saturday, October 1, 2016.

Where? The 2016 Keach Conference will meet at the Providence Baptist Church 1441 Erickson Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22801

What is the 2016 theme? We are continuing our ongoing series through the Second London Baptist Confession. This year we are on Chapter Ten “Of Effectual Calling.”

Who are the speakers? The speakers will be David Charles, Pastor of Providence Reformed Baptist Church, Toledo, OH; Lee McKinnon, Pastor of Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Bluefield, WV; Andy Rice, Pastor of Providence Baptist Church, Harrisonburg, VA.

How do I register? Cost: FREE, Web: Register Now!

What is the schedule? The schedule will be as follows:

Coffee and Fellowship, 8:30 am

October 1, Saturday Morning, 9:30 am (Session I):

•Message: Effectual Calling and Regeneration (paragraph 1): David Charles

•Message: Effectual Calling and Spiritual Ability (paragraph 2): Lee McKinnon

Lunch

Fellowship and Literature Tables

Saturday Afternoon, 12:30am (Session II):

•Message: Effectual Calling and Elect Infants (paragraph 3): David Charles

•Message: Effectual Calling and the Reprobate (paragraph 4): Andy Rice

Question and Answer Session with the Speakers

REGISTER FREE

 

Source [Reformed Baptist Fellowship]

Spurgeon Reflects on his Conversion

Spurgeon“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” Isaiah 14:22.

SIX years ago, to-day, as near as possible at this very hour of the day, I was “in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity,” but had yet, by divine grace, been led to feel the bitterness of that bondage, and to cry out by reason of the soreness of its slavery. Seeking rest, and finding none, I stepped within the house of God, and sat there, afraid to look upward, lest I should be utterly cut off, and lest his fierce wrath should consume me, The minister rose in his pulpit, and, as I have done this morning, read this text-”Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else.” I looked that moment; the grace of faith was vouchsafed to me in the selfsame instant, and now I think I can say with truth-

“E’er since by faith I saw the stream
His flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.”

I shall never forget that day, while memory holds its places nor can I help repeating this text, whenever I remember that hour when first I knew the Lord. How strangely gracious! How wonderfully and marvelously kind, that he who heard these words so little time ago for his own soul’s profit, should now address you this morning as his hearers from the same text, in the full and confident hope that some poor sinner within these walls may hear the glad tidings of salvation for himself also, and may to day, on this 6th of January, be “turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- Sovereignty and Salvation-A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, January 6

Effectual calling is an Effectual Call

Spurgeon 1And now, lastly, this call was an effectual one, for we see the fruits it brought forth. Open was Zaccheus’s door; spread was his table; generous was his heart; washed were his hands; unburdened was his conscience; joyful was his soul. Here, Lord,” says he, “the half of my goods I give to the poor; I dare say I have robbed them of half my property-and now I restore it.” “And if I have taken anything from any one by false accusation, I will restore it to him fourfold.”-away goes another portion of his property. Ah! Zaccheus, you will go to bed to-night a great deal poorer than when you got up this morning-but infinitely richer, too- poor, very poor, in this world’s goods, compared with what thou wert when thou first didst climb that sycamore tree; but richer-infinitely richer-in heavenly treasure. Sinner, we shall know whether; God calls you by this: if he calls, it will be an effectual call-not a call which you hear and then forget but one which produces good works. If God hath called thee this morning, down will go that drunken cup, up will go thy prayers; if God hath called thee this morning, there will not be one shutter up to-day in your shop, but all, and you will have a notice stuck up, “This house is closed on the Sabbath day, and will not again on that day, be opened.” To-morrow, there will be such and-such worldly amusement, but if God hath called you, you will not go. And if you have robbed anybody (and who knows but I may have a thief here?) If God call you, there will be a restoration of what you have stolen? you will give up all that you have, so that you will follow God with all your heart. We do not believe a man to be converted unless he doth renounce the error of his ways; unless, practically, he is brought to know that Christ himself is master of his conscience, and his law is his delight. “Zaccheus, make haste and come down, I must abide at thy house.” And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. “And Zaccheus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- Effectual Calling-A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 30, 1856

Effectual Calling is a Necessary Call

Spurgeon 6There is one thing, however, I cannot forget, and that is that it was a necessary call. Just read it over again. “Zaccheus, make haste, and come down; for to-day must abide at thy house.” It was not a thing that he might do, or might not do; but it was a necessary call. The salvation of a sinner is as much a matter of necessity with God as the fulfillment of his covenant that the rain shall no more drown the world. The salvation of every blood bought child of God is a necessary- thing for three reasons; it is necessary because it is God’s purpose; it is necessary because it is Christ’s purchase; it is necessary because it is God’s promise. It is necessary that the child of God should be saved. Some divines think it is very wrong to lay a stress on the word “must,” especially in that passage where it is said “he must needs go through Samaria.” “Why,” they say, “he must needs go through Samaria, because there was no other way he could go, and therefore he was forced to go that way.” Yes, gentlemen, we reply, no doubt; but then there might have been another way. Providence made it so that he must needs go through Samaria, and that Samaria should lie in the route he had chosen. So that we have you anyway.

“He must needs go through Samaria.” Providence directed man to build Samaria directly in the road, and grace constrained the Savior to move in that direction. It was- not “Come down, Zaccheus, because I may abide at thy house,” but “I must.” The Savior felt a strong necessity. Just as much a necessity as there is that man should die, as stern a necessity as there is that the sun should give us light by day and the moon by night, just so much a necessity is there that every blood-bought child of God shall be saved. “Today I must abide at thy house.” And oh! when the Lord comes to this, that he must and he will, what a thing it is with the poor sinner then at other times we ask, “Shall I let him in at all? there is a stranger at the door; he is knocking now; he has knocked before; shall I let him in?” But this time it is, “I must abide at thy house.” There was no knocking at the door, but smash went the door into atoms! and in he walked: I must, I shall, I will; I care not for your protecting your vileness, your unbelief; I must, I will; I must abide in thy house.” “Ah!” says one, “I do not believe God would ever make me to believe as you believe, or become a Christian at all.” Ah! but if he shall but say, “To-day I must abide at thy house,” there will be no resistance in you. There are some of you who would scorn the very idea of being a canting methodist; “What, sir! do you suppose I would ever turn one of your religious people?” No, my friend, I don’t suppose it; I know it for a certainty. If God says “I must,” there is no standing against it. Let him say “must,” and it must be.

I will just tell you an anecdote proving this. “A father was about sending his son to college; but as he knew the influence to which he would be exposed, he was not without a deep and anxious solicitude for the spiritual and eternal welfare of his favourite child. Fearing lest the principles of Christian faith, which he had endeavored to instil into his mind, would be rudely assailed, but trusting in the efficacy of that word which is quick and powerful, he purchased, unknown to his son, an elegant copy of the Bible, and deposited it at the bottom of his trunk. The young man entered upon his college career. The restraints of a pious education were soon broken off, and he proceeded from speculation to doubts, and from doubts to a denial of the reality of religion. After having become in his own estimation, wiser than his father, he discovered one day, while rummaging his trunk, with great surprise and indignation, the sacred deposit. He took it out, and while deliberating on the manner in which he should treat it, he determined that he would use it as waste paper, on which to wipe his razor while shaving. Accordingly, every time he went to shave, he tore out a leaf or two of the holy book, and thus used it till nearly half the volume was destroyed. But while he was committing this outrage upon the sacred book, a text now and then met his eye, and was carried like a barbed arrow to his heart. At length, he heard a sermon, which discovered to him his own character, and his exposure to the wrath of God, and riveted upon his mind the impression which he had received from the last torn leaf of the blessed, yet insulted volume. Had worlds been at his disposal, he would freely have given them all, could they have availed, in enabling him to undo what he had done. At length he found forgiveness at the foot of the cross. The torn leaves of that sacred volume brought healing to his soul; for they led him to repose on the mercy of God, which is sufficient for the chief of sinners.” I tell you there is not a reprobate walking the streets and defiling the air with his blasphemies, there is not a creature abandoned so as to be well-nigh as bad as Satan himself, if he is a child of life, who is not within the reach of mercy. And if God says “To-day I must abide in thy house,” he then assuredly will. Do you feel, my dear hearer, just now, something, in your mind which seems to say you have held out against the gospel a long while, but to-day you can hold out no longer? Do you feel that a strong hand has got hold of you, and do you hear a voice saying, “Sinner, I must abide in thy house; you have often scorned me, you have often laughed at me, you have often spit in the face of mercy, often blasphemed me, but sinner, I must abide in thy house; you banged the door yesterday in the missionary’s face, you burned the tract, you laughed at the minister, you have cursed God’s house, you have violated the Sabbath; but; sinner, I must abide in thy house, and I will,” “What, Lord!” you say, “abide in my house! why it is covered all over with iniquity. Abide in my house! Why there is not a chair or a table but would cry out against me. Abide in my house! why the joists and beams and flooring would all rise up and tell thee that I am not worthy to kiss the hem of thy garment. What, Lord! abide in my house!” “Yes,” says he, “I must; there is a strong necessity, my powerful love constrains me, and whether thou wilt let me or no, I am determined to make thee willing, and thou shalt let me in.” Does not this surprise you, poor trembler-you who thought that mercy’s day was gone, and that the bell of your destruction had tolled your death-knell? Oh! Does not this surprise you, that Christ not only asks you to come to him, but invites himself to your table, and what is more, when you would put him away, kindly says, “I must, I will come in.” Only think of Christ going after a sinner, crying after a sinner, begging a sinner to let him save him; and that is just what Jesus does to his chosen ones. The sinner runs away from him, but free-grace pursues him, and says, “Sinner, come to Christ;” and if our hearts be shut up, Christ puts his hand in at the door, and if we do not rise, but repulse him coldly, he says, “I must, I will come in;” he weeps over us till his tears win us; he cries after us till his cries prevail; and at last in his own well determined hour he enters into our heart, and there he dwells. “I must abide in thy house,” said Jesus.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Effectual Calling-A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 30, 1856