It’s day two of “The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon” week on the blog.
Yesterday, today, and finally tomorrow, I’m posting excerpts from Steve Lawson’s latest book, The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon.
Congratulations Peter Candido, yesterday’s winner.
Here is today’s excerpt:
The Gospel Shines Brighter Through the Lens of the Doctrines of Grace
When Charles Spurgeon burst onto the scene in the mid-nineteenth century, he appeared heralding the doctrines of sovereign grace. At that time, Calvinism was no longer the dominant theology in England, as it had been in Puritan times. Instead, the doctrines of grace were becoming obscured from public view, cast aside as dusty and archaic relics of primitive sixteenth-century Europe. Victorian England had come of age, it was supposed, and its philosophers championed the autonomy of man, not the sovereignty of God. The teaching of the Reformation had all but faded from the evangelical scene.
But rather than becoming infatuated with the current theological fads, Spurgeon chose to stay true to the old paths, those laid out in Scripture long ago, including the teachings of sovereign grace. He said: “It is no novelty, then, that I am preaching; no new doctrine. I love to proclaim these strong old doctrines, that are called by nickname Calvinism, but which are surely and verily the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus.” For Spurgeon, preaching the Bible meant preaching Calvinism. As he saw it, a robust Calvinism was the need of the hour.
These transcendent truths—total depravity, unconditional election, definite atonement, irresistible grace, and preserving
grace—sharpened Spurgeon’s gospel focus. He declared:
There is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified unless we preach what is nowadays called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the Gospel and nothing else. I do not believe that we preach the Gospel unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah, nor do I think we can preach the Gospel unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend the Gospel which allows saints to fall away after they are called.
Spurgeon never whispered anything, and certainly not his allegiance to the doctrines of grace. Ernest Bacon writes: “Spurgeon’s
preaching was thoroughly Calvinistic. He was deeply imbued with the ruling principle of Calvin’s theology—the sovereignty of God in creation, providence, and redemption. He wholeheartedly believed that Calvinism is the theology of the Bible.” Indeed, Spurgeon knew that the great Reformer of Geneva, Switzerland, John Calvin, was not the author of these truths, but that they had come down from above. Spurgeon explained, “We hold and assert again and again that the truth which Calvin preached was the very truth which the apostle Paul had long before written in his inspired epistles and which is most clearly revealed in the discourses of our blessed Lord Himself.” For Spurgeon, the doctrines of grace were not the teachings of any man but the very truths of God Himself.
Herein was the power of Spurgeon’s gospel message. Iain Murray writes: “The strength of Spurgeon’s ministry lay in his theology. He rediscovered what the church had largely forgotten—the evangelistic power of so-called ‘Calvinistic’ doctrine. …Spurgeon looked upon these truths as the driving force of a Gospel ministry.” It was Spurgeon’s conviction that the purest
evangelism springs from Calvinistic truths. For Spurgeon, the gospel never shines brighter than through the lens of the doctrines of grace.
Day #2′s giveaway is now closed. Congratulations Bobby Rhoades!