22 June 2008

"Honest" doubts?

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 "Guile Forsaken When Guilt Is Forgiven," a sermon originaly preached at the Met Tab in London and published in 1877.

ne sorry piece of craft which Satan teaches to many is to make them doubt, or pretend to doubt, anything in Scripture which frowns upon them. If they find that dying as they are they will be driven from the presence of God for ever, they comfort themselves by recollecting that a wise man has discovered that everlasting does not mean for ever, and they hear that a clever divine has found out that there is to be a general jail delivery in hell, and everybody is to be admitted into heaven in due time.

They hear this and they hear that, and as drowning men catch at straws so do they cling to any new inventions which promise them ease in their sins. They lay the flattering unction of false doctrine to their souls as if it were the balm of Gilead. "Perhaps it may be so," they say, and thus they risk their future happiness upon so poor a chance as the hope that, perhaps, these modern thinkers may turn out to be right, and the plain teaching of Scripture prove to be a mistake.

It is a wonderfully easy thing to make yourself out to be an honest sceptic, and from this earthwork to assail your assailants, and yet all the while you may have no doubt at all, but in the core of your heart may, like the devil, believe and tremble. Ah, ye pretended doubters, if you were stretched on a dying bed you would believe the old revelation fast enough, and begin to cry out for mercy in the scare which the approach of death would bring upon you.

Half the men who talk so much about their not believing, believe a great deal more than they would like to admit, and they dare not test their own imaginary infidelity by spending an hour alone in their chamber at eventide and looking into their own hearts. There are many hypocritical believers, but are there not quite as many pretended unbelievers to whom doubting is a mere sop to quiet the Cerberus of their conscience? Guile plays its part with the human intellect, and conjures up an army of ghosts in the form of doubts, but when the sun of truth arises they immediately disappear.
C. H. Spurgeon


Sharon said...

As Phil taught us this morning, you cannot preach the good news of salvation and not include the bad news of original sin which separates mankind from God forever.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. We cannot neglect it.

P.S. Ref. your blog, you might want to take a good look at 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and see what kinds of sins separate one from a holy and righteous God.

A Musician by Grace

FX Turk said...


um, you did read v. 17 that you cited here, right? Because that sounds an awful lot like a "gospel of fear", as you put it.

Who can be bold in the day of judgment? can everyone -- or is there something which distinguished the "we" John is talking to from "the world"?

Chris Roberts said...


A loving father still disciplines his children, and Paul instructs us to work out our salvation "with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12) Perfect love does indeed cast out all fear - the context here is fear of circumstances. The unrepentant are right to fear judgment day. Those who have been saved have been sealed with the Holy Spirit that they need not fear. There will be those who will not fare well on the day of judgment but those who are born again, crucified with Christ, have no reason to fear judgment. We know the love of God for us, we know the work of Christ for us, and we proclaim Christ Jesus the Lord, Son of God, Savior. If we were as those described by Spurgeon, we would have reason to fear. Since we rest in the perfect love of God, we do not fear the day of judgment.


As for the fear of the Lord, the word in Hebrew does indeed mean awe and reverence, but these words go much deeper than our normal understanding. Fear catches the idea right. It is what would cause a person to collapse when they are in the presence of God and his angels. It is awe so great that our reaction in his presence is, "Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips!" (Isa 6:5) or Peter's "depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" (Lk 5:8) This is the appropriate response to the presence of God. Whether or not God then accepts us into his presence is up to him.

Anonymous said...

Great quote from Spurgeon.

A mentor of mine once suggested to me the exercise of considering the means God uses to keep us. This bit from Spurgeon high-lights on of those ways.

Oh the wonder of the ways that God keeps us. If it be fear, bring it on, if kindness, bring it on. Just so long as he keeps me.

Chris, well said. If the actual, real, palpable presence of God Almighty doesn't make us tremble with pure terror, then how much less will we be grateful for the sacrifice of Christ which makes us acceptable to such a terrible and awe-inspiring God.

Amazing that He, considering our uncleaness and knowing how terrifying he really is, made a way for us to come into his presence. Pity those who would enter there without the covering he provided in Christ.

He is good.

Mike Riccardi said...

This is a gospel of fear, of bringing men to salvation for fear of losing their eternal happiness.

First of all, that's not what Spurgeon was saying. He wasn't scaring people into faith. He was making a neutral observation that when people who talk about all the doubts they have get to a point in their life that they really sense their own mortality, they run to God and their doubts go away... because now they need something.


"Bringing men to salvation for fear of losing their eternal happiness," is exactly what the Gospel is... because, who is our Eternal Happiness? It's God Himself. If we are not made worthy of Him by Christ's imputation, we lose Him. And so the Gospel call of peace is made real: "Be reconciled to God." "Have your eternal happiness."

a_simple_bloggTRotter said...

There we go. I do not always comment, but I always enjoy a jolt of Chuckie S. to start that week.

Not to be mean, but,
I would be careful siting 1 John if you are trying to rail against a "gosple of fear" if I were you.

The ones who needed to be afraid of the wrath of God are clearly identified, and the believer of the churches reading this letter are encouraged by contrasting them against those who left, those who had and taught a "different" Jesus, gospel, attitude toward sin, the word, love, and doctrine, ...etc.

I'm just saying.

a_simple_bloggTRotter said...

"An opposing view backed by scripture".


Chris Roberts said...


Where were you silenced? You raised objections, and those objections were given serious responses. You brought up Scripture, and those Scriptures were addressed, and more Scripture was also used. Where in this has anyone been treated unfairly or any view been silenced? Obviously people here disagree with you. Is that the problem? Would you not allow others to hold views that differ from your own?

Chris said...

Between the time Spurgeon addressed this issue and today, the phrase "honest doubt"--which assumed a defensive posture toward the SIN of doubt among those who used it as an excuse--has been promoted to "virtuous doubt," which--in maintaining a postmodern ethic--now assumes an offensive posture as it attempts to redefine the same ugly SIN.

Phil Johnson said...

Teresita is referring to the fact that she and her partner (Lilith) have both been banned from commenting on the blog, not for the opinions they expressed in their comments, but because they ignored a private appeal from TeamPyro admins asking them not to link back to their blogs, where they have posted some inappropriate images and content.

It was my decision to ban them and delete their comments. Anyone wanting to debate the propriety of that decision may address comments to me.

a_simple_bloggTRotter said...

And here I was all 1 John primed and ready.

Oh well.

Chris Roberts said...


I'm a Baptist - I'm ready to debate anything! For instance, when you chose to delete all of her comments, why did you think it appropriate to do so while standing on brown carpet? I think the red would have been much more appropriate. This might call for church discipline but since we don't do that I'll just spread gossip about you instead.

a_simple_bloggTRotter said...


Chris is one of us.

a_simple_bloggTRotter said...

But then again , maybe Resolution #6 will begin to affect some change.

jeff said...

I believe Spurgeon is right again. Many people say they don't believe when in reality they do believe but try to convince themselves that it just isn't true because they are afraid of it. Judgement is a very scary thing for sinners like me. Thank God for His mercy in sending His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Chris said...

Amen Jeff...well said!