06 April 2012


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 "Christ's Great Mission," a sermon preached at some unknown time at The Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, published on Thursday, 5 October 1916, almost a quarter century after Spurgeon's death.

an is not delivered from the bondage of his sins without a price. No one goes free by the naked mercy of God. Every captive exposed to God's vengeance must be redeemed before he is delivered, otherwise he must continue a captive.

Broad as the statement may appear, I venture to assert by divine warrant that there never was beneath the cope of heaven a sin forgiven without satisfaction being rendered. No sin against God is pardoned with out a propitiation. It is only forgiven through the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. It never can be remitted without the penalty having been exacted. The divine law knows of no exception or exemption.

The statute is absolute, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Every soul that ever sinned, or ever shall sin, must die, die eternally, too, either in itself or in its substitute. The justice of the law must be vindicated. God waives none of the rights of justice in order to give liberty to mercy.

Oh! my hearers, if you are trusting in the unconditional mercy of God, you are trusting in a myth. Has someone buoyed you up with the thought of the infinite goodness of God, I would remind you of his infinite holiness. Hath he not declared that he will by no means spare the guilty? No debt due to God is remitted unless it be paid. It must either be paid by the transgressor in the infinite, miseries of hell, or else it must be paid for him by a substitute. There must be a price for the ransom, and evidently, according to the text, that price must be a soul, a life. Christ did not give his body merely, nor his stainless character, nor merely his labors and sufferings, but he gave his soul, his life, a ransom. Oh! sinner, Almighty God will never be satisfied with anything less than thy soul.

Canst thou bear the piercing thought that thy soul shall be cast from his presence for ever? Wouldst thou escape the dire penalty, thou must find another soul to stand In thy soul's stead. Thy life is forfeited. The sentence is passed. Thou shalt die. Death is thy doom. Die thou must, for ever die unless thou canst find another life for a sacrifice in lieu of thy life. But know that this is just what Christ has found. He has put a soul, a life, into the place of our souls, our lives.

How memorable that text, "Without shedding of blood there is no remission." Why? Because "the blood is the life thereof." Until the blood flows. the soul is not divided from the body. The shedding of the blood indicated that the soul—the essence of the being—had been offered. Oh! blessed, for ever blessed be the crowned head of him who once did bear the cross! He hath offered for his people a soul, a life, a matchless soul, a life unparalleled. No more can justice require; vengeance is satisfied; the price is paid; the redeemed of the Lord are completely free!

The question has been asked, "If we be redeemed by the blood of Christ, who receives the ransom?" Some; have talked as if Christ paid a price to the devil. A more absurd imagination could never have crossed human mind. We never belonged to the devil. Satan has no rights in us. Christ never acknowledged that he had any, and would never pay him anything. What then? Surely the ransom price was paid to the Great Judge of all. This is, of course, but a mystical way of speaking. A metaphor is employed to bring out the meaning.

The fact is that God had sworn, and would not repent, that sin must be punished. In the very essence of things it was right that transgression should meet with its just recompense There could be no moral government kept up, there could be no unimpeachable governor, unless conviction followed crime and retribution was exacted of the guilty. It was not right, nor could it have been righteous, on any ground, for sin to have been passed over without its having been punished, or for iniquity to have escaped without any infliction. But when Jesus Christ comes and puts his own sufferings into the place of our sufferings, the law is fully vindicated, while mercy is fitly displayed. A man dies; a soul is given; a life is offered—the Just for the unjust.

What if I say that, instead of justice being less satisfied with the death of Christ than with the deaths of the ten thousand thousands of sinners for whom he died, it is more satisfied and it is most highly honored! Had all the sinners that ever lived in the world been consigned to hell, they could not have discharged the claims of justice. They must still continue to endure the scourge of crime they could never expiate. But the Son of God, blending the infinite majesty of his Deity with the perfect capacity to suffer as a man, offered an atonement of such inestimable value that he has absolutely paid the entire debt for his people. Well may justice be content since it has received more from the Surety than it could have ever exacted from the assured. Thus the debt was paid to the Eternal Father.

Once more. What is the result of this? The result is that the man is redeemed. He is no longer a slave. Some preachers and professors affect to believe in a redemption which I must candidly confess I do not understand; it is so indistinct and indefinite—a redemption which does not redeem anybody in particular, though it is alleged to redeem everybody in general; a redemption insufficient to exempt thousands of unhappy souls from hell after they have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus; a redemption, indeed, which does not actually save anybody, because it is dependent for its efficacy upon the will of the creature; a redemption that lacks intrinsic virtue and inherent power to redeem anybody, but is entirely dependent upon an extraneous contingency to render it effectual. With such fickle theories I have no fellowship.

That every soul for whom Christ shed his blood as a Substitute, he will claim as his own, and have as his right, I firmly hold. I love to hold and I delight to proclaim this precious truth. Not all the powers of earth or hell; not the obstinacy of the, human will, nor the deep depravity of the human mind, can ever prevent Christ seeing of the travail of his soul and being satisfied. To the last jot and tittle of his reward shall he receive it at the Father's hand. A redemption that does redeem, a redemption that redeems many, seems to me infinitely better than a redemption that does not actually redeem anybody, but is supposed to have some imaginary influence upon all the sons of men.

Our last question I must leave with yourselves to answer. Did Jesus Christ redeem you? Ah! dear hearer, this is a serious matter. Art thou a redeemed soul or not? It is not possible for thee to turn over the books of destiny and read between the folded leaves. Neither needest thou wish to do so. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ which is to be preached to every creature under heaven, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved "; therefore, everyone that believeth and is baptized, being saved, must have been redeemed, for he could not have been saved otherwise. If thou believest and art baptized, thou art redeemed, thou art saved.

Now for thine answer to the question—Dost thou believe?

"I believe," says one, and he begins to repeat what they call the Apostle's Creed."

Hold your tongue, sir! That matters not; the devil believes that, perhaps more intelligently than you do; he believes and trembles. That kind of believing saves no man. You may believe the most orthodox creed in Christendom, and perish. Dost thou trust—if or that is the cream of the word "believe"—dost thou trust in Jesus? Dost thou lean thy whole weight on him? Hast thou that faith which the Puritans used to call "recumbency" or "leaning"? That is the faith that saves—faith that falls back into the arms of Jesus, a faith that drops from its own hanging-place into those mighty arms, and rests upon the tender breast of the Lord Jesus the Crucified.

Oh! my soul, make sure that thou dost trust him, for thou hast made sure of everything else when thou hast made sure of that. Has God the Holy Spirit taught you, my dear hearer, that you cannot safely rely on your own good works? Has he weaned you from resting upon mere ceremonies? Has he brought you to look to the cross—to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ alone? If so, Christ redeemed you; you can never be a slave again.

Has he redeemed you? The liberty of the believer is yours now, and after death the glory of Christ shall be your portion too Remember the words of the dying monk when putting aside the extreme unction and all the paraphernalia of his Church, he lifted up his eyes and said, "Tua vulnara, Jesu! tua vulnara Jesu!" "Thy wounds, oh, Jesu! thy wounds, oh, Jesu!" This must be your refuge, poor broken-winged dove. Fly thither into the clefts of the rock, into the spear—thrust in the Savior's heart. Fly there. Rest on him; rest on him; rest with all your weight of sin, with all your blackness and your foulness, with all your doubts and your despairs, rest on him Jesus wants to receive you; fly to him—fly away to him now:—

"Come, guilty souls, and fly away,
And look to Jesu's wounds;
This is the accepted gospel day,
Wherein free grace abounds.
God loved his Church and gave his Son
To drink the cup of wrath;
And Jesus says he'll cast out none
Who come to him in faith."

C. H. Spurgeon


Reformation said...

Poor Charles, like other Anabaptists, says what old school Anglicans said much better than Charles, before and after. Yawn.

Ex N1hil0 said...

Yawn? If a solid exposition of Christ's atoning sacrifice can put you to sleep, maybe you ought to examine yourself whether you are in the faith.

donsands said...

Excellent words of truth for the child of our Lord. Thanks.

mike said...

Excellent indeed. I think this sentence drives it home:

"Well may justice be content since it has received more from the Surety than it could have ever exacted from the assured."

Romans 3: 25-26.

Bobby Grow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bobby Grow said...

"... Has someone buoyed you up with the thought of the infinite goodness of God, I would remind you of his infinite holiness. . . ."

Here is a classic example of how a classic usage of Divine Simplicity can run awry; wherein the modes of God's attributes are played off against each other as if there is a schism in God's actions towards his creation (and I think without proper nuance thus implicating God's being ... even though Divine Simplicity is intended to thwart my concern). Anyway, unlike Spurgeon's usage of this, I think a proper Christian Trinitarian construing of God's life is one that grounds all of God's activity from his interpenetrating life of self-giveness one for the other [subject-in-being distinction] (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all living in koinonial 'fellowship' one with the other ... it is this kind of life that shapes His holiness [or which is His holiness], His justice, His mercy, His creating etc.). If this is the case we never conclude what Spurgeon has about God's holiness somehow working against or trumping God's goodness; these aren't competing realities. God's life is loving grace to begin with; meaning, God's wrath and justice must be understood to only come within his very life; which again is love, full of grace and truth. Spurgeon is wrong on this point.

"... No debt due to God is remitted unless it be paid. It must either be paid by the transgressor in the infinite, miseries of hell, or else it must be paid for him by a substitute. There must be a price for the ransom, and evidently, according to the text, that price must be a soul, a life. . . ."

Here we have, even for the Baptist, Spurgeon, the lingering effects of Covenant Theology; such that (to be crude), the atonement is framed in a purely forensic and monetary mode. So that Jesus in the Incarnation and Atonement becomes nothing more than the instrument or Divine debit card by which God purchases the elect for himself; allowing him at that point (once the demands and the conditions of the Law have been met) to love his brand new people, but not until these conditions have been met. Jesus then becomes subordinated and abstracted from God's life, placing a rupture between God in eternity and Jesus in creation-time; Jesus becomes who he is dictated to become by creation itself.

donsands said...

"So that Jesus in the Incarnation and Atonement becomes nothing more than the instrument or Divine debit card.."

Jesus did pay my debt, and He took it all upon His sinless soul and body.
What a Savior and Friend he is to all who trust Him, and love Him.

"Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me."


Bobby Grow said...


I'm not denying the penal substitution theory; I'm suggesting that this ought not be understood as the primary frame of reference when considering the multi-valent reality of the atonement. I am also noting what framing the atonement through a PSA alone does to the nature/person of God. I'd like to see you respond to that.

Charles Spurgeon is certainly wrong on what he has written---the parts I highlighted---as is the classic theistic view of God (substance metaphysics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysics); which places a series of wedges between God's activity, such that there is competition between one mode of God against the other (as I noted already).

The better way to think of God is to do so through a metaphysic that is truly Christian, Triune, and Personal. This way God's life of love because the ground of being that shapes everything else that he does (grace). Take your relationship to your wife (presuming you're married) as an analogy; you might become upset with her, disappointed, happy or sad towards her (for various reasons)---but all of these actions (attitudes) towards her matter because they are held within the context of love that relates her to you (and vice versa). She doesn't split your attitudes or actions towards her up into nice and neat categories, add all of those up, and say this is you; no, she understands that you act toward her from your grounding disposition of love for her. That's what I am saying about God's relation to us; he first loved us that we might love him, and this is the context in which he acts towards us (his creation Rom 8).

donsands said...

"Remember, that God loved thee from before the foundation of the world. Does not this strengthen thy love? Ah! what a bracing air is that air of eternity? When I fly into it for a moment, and think of the great doctrine of election—of

"That vast unmeasured love,
Which from the days of old,
Did all the chosen seed embrace,
like sheep within the fold."

It makes the tears run down one's cheeks to think that we should have an interest in that decree and council of the Almighty Three, when every one that should be blood-bought had its name inscribed in God'a eternal book. Come, soul, I bid thee now exercise thy wings a little, and see if this does not make thee love God. He thought of thee before thou hadst a being. When as yet the sun and the moon were not,—when the sun, the moon, and the stars slept in the mind of God, like unborn forests in an acorn cup, when the old sea was not yet born, long ere this infant world lay in its swaddling bands of mist, then God had inscribed thy name upon the heart and upon the hands of Christ indelibly, to remain for ever. And does not this make thee love God? Is not this sweet exercise for thy love? For here it is my text comes in, giving, as it were, the last charge in this sweet battle of love, a charge that sweeps everything before it. "We love God, because he first loved us," seeing that he loved us before time began, and when in eternity he dwelt alone."-CH Spurgeon