Arminian Today

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Charles Spurgeon on Preaching to the Already Regenerate

Charles Spurgeon was indeed a Calvinist.  I will not try to persuade my readers that he was otherwise.  I have no doubts that he held to Calvinism but I would add that I don’t believe Spurgeon was consistent in his Calvinism and I am thankful he was not.  He clearly had a heart for the lost and his sermons are full of references to him calling for sinners to come to Christ, to repent of their sins and be baptized (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38).  Spurgeon was often criticized in his day for his preaching and other Calvinist pastors in England often accused him of being an Arminian.  He was not though his battle was not with evangelical Arminians of his day.  In fact, Spurgeon battled more with hyper-Calvinists then he did with Arminians though he did not shy away from attacking Arminians when he felt he needed to.

The following comes from Spurgeon’s sermon, The Warrant of Faith, that he preached on September 20, 1863.  This quote is powerful.  You’ll find the full sermon here to make sure I used it in context as I was told by a Calvinist brother that I misused the quote during a debate I was having with him.

If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate. But you will tell me that I ought to preach it only to those who repent of their sins. Very well; but since true repentance of sin is the work of the Spirit, any man who has repentance is most certainly saved, because evangelical repentance never can exist in an unrenewed soul. Where there is repentance there is faith already, for they never can be separated. So, then, I am only to preach faith to those who have it. Absurd, indeed! Is not this waiting till the man is cured and then bringing him the medicine? This is preaching Christ to the righteous and not to sinners. “Nay,” saith one, “but we mean that a man must have some good desires towards Christ before he has any warrant to believe in Jesus.” Friend, do you not know what all good desires have some degree of holiness in them? But if a sinner hath any degree of true holiness in him it must be the work of the Spirit, for true holiness never exists in the carnal mind, therefore, that man is already renewed, and therefore saved. Are we to go running up and down the world, proclaiming life to the living, casting bread to those who are fed already, and holding up Christ on the pole of the gospel to those who are already healed? My brethren, where is our inducement to labour where our efforts are so little needed? If I am to preach Christ to those who have no goodness, who have nothing in them that qualifies them for mercy, then I feel I have a gospel so divine that I would proclaim it with my last breath, crying aloud, that “Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—sinners as sinners, not as penitent sinners or as awakened sinners, but sinners as sinners, sinners “of whom I am chief.”

I believe Spurgeon is absolutely correct here.  If evangelism is nothing more than preaching the gospel to the already saved then what is the point?  The hyper-Calvinists were telling Spurgeon that the regenerate will believe or in other words, they cannot believe until God first regenerates them, causes them to be born again (John 3:1-7; 1 John 5:1) and then they can hear and be saved.  But Spurgeon is correct in pointing out the illogical conclusions that this brings.  Scripture is clear that Jesus came to save sinners (Luke 19:10) and we are to preach the gospel to all of creation and God will save many (Mark 16:15-16) but only those who appropriate His blood for their forgiveness (Romans 5:15, 18; 11:32).  Preaching brings the truth of Christ (Romans 10:14-17) which brings salvation by grace through faith (1 Corinthians 1:21).

I believe that we are justified by faith (Romans 5:1) and that we are born again when we have saving faith in Jesus Christ (John 1:12-13).  Therefore, I believe it is necessary to preach the gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:19) and God will glorify His Son through saving sinners through His gospel (Acts 2:41; 47).

For more on Spurgeon battling hyper-Calvinists, I recommend the book by Iain Murray, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

11/29/2012 at 5:13 PM

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