Arminian Today

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Spurgeon on Prevenient Grace

I found the following quotes interesting from Charles Spurgeon on prevenient grace.  His statements are akin to what we Arminians believe about the prevenient grace of God that enables sinful humanity to be saved despite our total inability to save ourselves.  He states in his sermon (#656) on this subject:

Now let me show you how God’s grace does come to work on the human heart so as to make it good soil before the living seed is cast into it, so that before quickening grace really visits it the heart may be called a good heart, because it is prepared to receive that grace.

I think this takes place thus: first of all, before quickening grace comes, God often gives an attentive ear, and makes a man willing to listen to the Word. Not only does he like to listen to it, but he wants to know the meaning of it; there is a little excitement in his mind to know what the gospel tidings really are. He is not saved as yet, but it is always a hopeful sign when a man is willing to listen to the truth, and is anxious to understand it. This is one thing which prevenient grace does in making the soul good.

In Ezekiel’s vision, as you will recollect, before the breath came from the four winds the bones began to stir, and they came together bone to his bone. So, before the Spirit of God comes to a man in effectual calling, God’s grace often comes to make a stir in the man’s mind, so that he is no longer indifferent to the truth, but is anxious to understand what it means.

With the exception of effectual calling here, the Arminian finds comfort in Spurgeon’s words about the prevenient grace of God.  Spurgeon, in his sermon on the warrant of faith, states:

“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.”

There is no doubt that Spurgeon was a Calvinist.  He stated so himself.  I have read enough of Spurgeon to know that he was a Calvinist but he was not consistent with his Calvinism.  For instance, Spurgeon disagreed with the Calvinists of his day over the free offer of the gospel and he used “Arminian” texts to teach that it is the duty of the Church to preach the gospel to all and to call all to repentance.  Spurgeon battled the hyper-Calvinists of his day (and rightfully so) with a passion to preach the gospel to all and to call all to salvation.  Spurgeon was firm in his view regarding unconditional election but I believed he erred in his approach to evangelism by seeking to argue that God made a bona fide call to salvation to all.  This is simply untrue if God has elected a few to salvation while reprobating the majority.

Yet Spurgeon was correct to argue for a universal call to salvation and he was correct in his views regarding regeneration, that faith leads to salvation and not to the false teaching that God must first regenerate a person in order for them to exercise the gift of faith.  This view is based on Calvinistic assumptions rather than Scripture and Spurgeon was quick to point that out it seems.

For more information, I recommend the article by Bob Ross on regeneration in which he shows Spurgeon’s views regarding this issue.  You can find it here.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/18/2013 at 10:04 AM

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