21 January 2007

All gospel all the time?

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote space at the beginning of each week to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive.

The following excerpt is the opening section of "Love Thy Neighbour," a sermon on Matthew 19:19, preached Sunday, March 18, 1857, at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.

ur Savior very often preached upon the moral precepts of the law. Many of the sermons of Christ—and what sermons shall compare with them—have not what is now currently called "the gospel" in them at all.

Our Savior did not every time he stood up to preach declare the doctrine of election, or of atonement, or of effectual calling, or of final perseverance. No, he just as frequently spoke upon the duties of human life, and upon those precious fruits of the Spirit which are begotten in us by the grace of God.

Mark this word that I have just uttered. You may have started at it at first, but upon diligent reading of the four evangelists, you will find I am correct in stating that very much of our Saviour’s time was occupied in telling the people what they ought to do towards one another, and many of his sermons are not what our precise critics would in these times call sermons full of unction and savor; for certainly they would be far from savory to the sickly sentimental Christians who do not care about the practical part of religion.

Beloved, it is as much the business of God’s minister to preach man’s duty as it is to preach Christ’s atonement, and unless he doth preach man’s duty, he will never be blessed of God to bring man into the proper state to see the beauty of the atonement. Unless he sometimes thunders out the law and claims for his Master the right of obedience to it, he will never be very likely to produce conviction—certainly not that conviction which afterwards leads to conversion.

C. H. Spurgeon


Colin Maxwell said...

A necessary post to keep all us doctrinaires somewhat balanced! What is easier to do? Help our needy neighbour in some practical way or throw another Calvinistic hand grenade into the Arminian camp? What is more God glorifying?

Adjutorium said...

"All gospel all the time?"

Imho, yes! Everyday. From Genesis 1 to Revelation 22:21 The whole counsel of God.

75% law 25% grace, I reckon. The whole gospel and no other.

Tapestry of Grace
Need help dealing each and every day with your sin in a God-glorifying yet freeing way? The gospel of Jesus Christ isn't primarily for the lost! It's for those who have been redeemed--each and every day! Learn from Mark Mullery how to Preach the Gospel to Yourself.

by Mark Mullery

Be strong and courageous

(Thomas Brooks, "Heaven on Earth" 1667)

God is . . .
glorious in His power, wonderful in His counsel, infinite in His mercy, precious in His goodness, rich in His grace, unsearchable in His understanding.

"I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous." Joshua 1:5-6

When God puts His people upon weighty services, He assures them of His presence, and of His assistance. He assures them that He will stand by them, and strengthen them, and support them, and uphold them. He assures them that . . .
His power should be theirs to defend them,
His wisdom should be theirs to direct them,
His goodness should be theirs to supply them,
His grace should be theirs to heal them,
His mercy should be theirs to pardon them,
His joy should be theirs to strengthen them,
His promise should be theirs to cheer them,
His Spirit should be theirs to lead them.

Anonymous Douglas Snr.
S.P. & T.S.

Phil Johnson said...

Incidentally, let me offer some explanation of what I think Spurgeon means in this excerpt.

It's a surprising and somewhat shocking remark from Spurgeon, and he acknowledges that ("You may have started at it at first. . .") That's because Spurgeon himself was well known for the way he highlighted the gospel in virtually every sermon he preached. No matter what his text or topic, he always made it a point to get to the gospel before he got to the end of the sermon.

That doesn't mean he always gave a thorough explanation of every element of gospel truth, but he did always try to mention the gospel and make a gospel appeal, sometimes just in a sentence or two at the end.

So the excerpt above is by no means a disparagement of that practice. It's merely Spurgeon's recognition that while the gospel is the ultimate point of all our preaching and the cross is the core and culmination of our message, it isn't necessarily the starting point, too.

Sometimes there's law-work to do; sometimes there's a wall (or even a massive stronghold) of rationalistic skepticism that needs to be torn down with apologetic arguments; sometimes there's ignorance or apathy to overcome. Jesus Himself sometimes preached sermons featuring those elements of the message without giving equal weight to the evangelistic aspect of the gospel. Spurgeon draws from that fact the conclusion that it's not necessary for every single sermon to include a thorough discourse on the means of atonement or the imputation of righteousness.

In other words, "preaching the whole counsel of God" means just that--not always boiling everything down to a bare, formulaic outline of specific gospel facts.

striving... said...

Can I just say, I always like the dose of Spurgeon. And just a note off topic. I am so glad that my life has been hectic this week, I missed all the hupla(sp) about the Francis video. I have always liked Pyro and enjoy reading what you all blog on. So Thanks.

DJP said...

PhilIn other words, "preaching the whole counsel of God" means just that--not always boiling everything down to a bare, formulaic outline of specific gospel facts.

And, if I may add on: "preaching the whole counsel of God" also does not (and cannot) mean preaching all of it every time one speaks. None of the prophets nor apostles did that. Our Lord didn't do it. We couldn't do it if we tried.

The practical effect of seeing that as our obligation would be simply to say nothing, more often than not, for fear of not saying everything, and not saying it perfectly.

DJP said...

Well, I suppose (human nature being what it is), another effect would be insufferable and pugnacious arrogance in those who suppose that they do accomplish both.

AuthenticTruth said...

Great and timely post. We need to be reminded not to neglect the practical aspects of the teaching of Scripture. While we certainly need to discuss doctrine and become theologically astute, it is unlikely that we are going to engage in a theological dissertation with our unsaved neighbor. We may, however, by ministering to their daily needs have an opportunity to share the basics of the gospel message with them. This is not by any means a call to neglect sound theology, but to underscore the need to keep balance and emphasize obedience to the things God expects of us.

Bhedr said...

Good thoughts from Spurgeon as well as from you Phil. Spurgeon broke that wall down and left it void so that one was so left to despair that his only escape was the message he exalted at the end of just about every message"Believe On The Lord Jesus Christ" with the spotlight pointing in that direction the Holy Spirit is able to continue opening up all truth once the sinner has received that ultimate truth.

The man of God has got to break the wall down with the Law and the prophets and call men to repentance so that they receive the balm of the Saviour. There is no other way to preach the gospel and Spurgeon was constantly faithful to this method which was also the method of the Apostles. If the hyper Calvinist cannot see this then their is nothing else that can be said but to just pray that this message and method will be received. Spurgeon was faithful to this message and I for one am glad he was. He may be made fun of for not being on as high a plateu of knowledge as others but God has anointed a few country boys that I have met that some men set out to underscore. Praise God for this old fundamentalist.

Carla Rolfe said...

Thank you for this post Phil. One of the things I enjoy about this blog is the weekly dose of Spurgeon. I sure appreciate that you take the time to post these.

mark pierson said...

Phil, thanks for the weekly Spurgeon posts. His work has helped me to see the whole counsel of God. I appreciate that you take the time to post these.

donsands said...

Nice thoughts that are so important.

"speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: ... For the grace of God ... teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age". Titus 2:1,11,12

" .. grace disciplines us to renounce our old life and to live a new one, to turn from ungodliness to godliness, from self-centeredness to self-control, from the world's devious ways to fair dealings with each other. ...
It is not only that grace makes good works possible(enabling us to do them), but that grace makes them necessary (challenging us to live accordingly). The emphasis is on necessity, not the mere possibility, of good works. -John Stott

John R. said...

Good quote.

Not every sermon can be a brilliant theological treatise.

Sometimes we need stuff on how to get along at home.

Good reminder.