10 May 2009

Is the Gospel a Failure?

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from "God Justified, Though Man Believes Not," a sermon preached Sunday evening, 31 August 1890, at the Met Tab.






ome will say, "If So-and-so, and So-and-so do not believe the gospel, then religion is a failure."

We have read of a great many things being failures nowadays. A little time ago, it was a question whether marriage was not a failure. I suppose that, by-and-by, eating our dinners will be a failure, breathing will be a failure, everything will be a failure.

But now the gospel is said to be a failure. Why? Because certain gentlemen of professed culture and supposed knowledge do not believe it. Well, dear friends, there have been other things that have not been believed in by very important individuals, and yet they have turned out to be true.

I am not quite old enough to remember all that was said about the introduction of the steam-engine, though I remember right well going to see a steam-engine and a railway-train as great wonders when I was a boy. Before the trains actually ran, all the old coachmen, and all the farmers that had horses to sell, would not believe for a moment that an engine could be made to go on the rails, and to drag carriages behind it; and in parliament they had to say that they thought they could produce an engine that could go at the speed of eight miles an hour. They dare not say more, because it would have been incredible if they did. According to the wise men of the time, everything was to go to the bad, and the engines would blow up, the first time they started with a train. But they did not blow up, and everybody now smiles at what those learned gentlemen (for some of them were men of standing and learning) ventured then to say.

Look at the gentlemen who now tell us that the gospel is a failure. They are the successors of those who have risen up, one after the other; whose principal object has been to refute all that went before them. They call themselves philosophers; and, as I have often said, the history of philosophy is a history of fools, a history of human folly. Man has gone from one form of philosophy to another, and every time that he has altered his philosophy, he has only made a slight variation in the same things. Philosophy is like a kaleidoscope. The philosopher turns it round, and exclaims that he has a new view of things. So he has; but all that he sees is a few bits of glass, which alter their form at every turn of the toy.

If any of you shall live fifty years, you will see that the philosophy of today will be a football of contempt for the philosophy of that period. They will speak, amidst roars of laughter, of evolution; and the day will come, when there will not be a child but will look upon it as being the most foolish notion that ever crossed the human mind. I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet; but I know what has befallen many of the grand discoveries of the great philosophers of the past; and I expect that the same thing will happen again.

I have to say, with Paul, "What if some did not believe?" It is no new thing; for there have always been some who have rejected the revelation of God. What then? You and I had better go on believing, and testing for ourselves, and proving the faithfulness of God, and living upon Christ our Lord, even though we see another set of doubters, and another, and yet another ad infinitum. The gospel is no failure, as many of us know.
C. H. Spurgeon


9 comments:

Stan McCullars said...

I can't help but think of NT Wright and his new perspective on Paul.

donsands said...

"..the history of philosophy is a history of fools, a history of human folly.... Philosophy is like a kaleidoscope."

Some great words to ponder. The prince of preachers could say it like no other.

Thanks for another wonderful quote.

Humanism, pragmatism, and any other ism in the kaleidoscope of philosophy turns the hearts of those in the Church who, for whatever reason, have not embraced and loved the Gospel.

Paul said, "..of your own selves shall men arise, speaking contrary things".

Patrick Eaks said...

"You and I had better go on believing, and testing for ourselves, and proving the faithfulness of God, and living upon Christ our Lord, even though we see another set of doubters, and another, and yet another ad infinitum. The gospel is no failure, as many of us know." - Spurgeon

Amen! This is the bottom line, keep on keeping on. As the popular hymn says, "though none go with me I still will follow". Heb 12:2 - Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. What others say, what others do should not matter to us. We must continue to press on.

Thanks to Phil for this encouraging post.

stratagem said...

What a farsighted man. I am struck by the cultural shift that has occurred since his time, in that at the time CHS wrote this, the Gospel and religion were considered interchangeable:

"Some will say, 'If So-and-so, and So-and-so do not believe the gospel, then religion is a failure.'"

Separately, his comment about evolution is still yet to be fulfilled; yet I suspect will be fulfilled nevertheless, at some point.

Tim said...

Although the evolution philosophy is still with us after more than a century, there has been enough, um, evolution within the philosophy (I guess that would make it microevolution) that current adherents can mock the naivete of early adherents.

I suppose that evolution will be free to evolve as long as it adheres to the "gotta rule out a Creator" Prime Directive.

Citizen Grim said...

"Philosophy is like a kaleidoscope."

Great line.

Darrin said...

Of course with the gospel, unlike the steam engine, we don't have to wait and see if it will be a success. It has been such from ancient times.

Something can be gained from some philosophers, as Calvin seems to make evident early in Institutes. But you do have to tiptoe through a field of snares.

As was commented, the falsehood of evolution has sadly been with us 100+ years, despite Spurgeon's optimism. In fact, the modern pragmatism, where the worldly successes in our churches (bigger crowds, more cash, stimulated emotions) justify the means to achieve them, along with the modern Arminianism, which perhaps promotes man's next step in evolution (since we have developed the ability to choose good of our own wisdom), may show that the theory of evolution is alive and well, especially in the church.

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

The Gospel of God's grace never fails to save those whom the Father gave to Christ, in the covenant of grace.

eastendjim said...

The philosophy of evolution will die a very slow death because it's adherents do not consider it a philosophy but a fact.

All observational science that contradicts the present theory is merely reinterpreted and reshaped to fit into the theory. Evolution is considered the ultimate fact and all other facts are interpreted through that fact.

It's kind of like the way my brother did board puzzles when he was little. He would make the pieces fit where he wanted them to fit even if it meant putting grass in the sky and clouds in the middle of a horse.

He eventually grew out of it because he was willing to listen to others. I don't know many evolutionists who appear willing to listen. Not to human beings anyway.