19 July 2008

Shallow Conversions; Shallow Religion

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 "Constancy and Inconstancy—A Contrast," a sermon preached Sunday morning, 24 January 1869, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London.

hough I rejoice in sudden conversions, I entertain grave suspicions of those suddenly happy people who seem never to have sorrowed over their sin. I am afraid that those who come by their religion so very lightly often lose it quite as lightly. Saul of Tarsus was converted on a sudden, but no man ever went through a greater horror of darkness than he did before Ananias came to him with the words of comfort.

I like deep ploughing. Top-soil skimming is poor work; the tearing of the soil under surface is greatly needed. After all, the most lasting Christians appear to be those who have seen their inward disease to be very deeply seated and loathsome, and after awhile have been led to see the glory of the healing hand of the Lord Jesus as he stretches it out in the gospel.

I am afraid that in much modern religion there is a want of depth on all points; they neither deeply tremble nor greatly rejoice, they neither much despair nor much believe. Oh, beware of pious veneering! Beware of the religion which consists in putting on a thin slice of godliness over a mass of carnality. We must have thorough going work within; the grace which reaches the core, and affects the innermost spirit is the only grace worth having.

To put all in one word, a want of the Holy Ghost is the great cause of religious instability. Beware of mistaking excitement for the Holy Ghost, or your own resolutions for the deep workings of the Spirit of God in the soul. All that ever nature paints God will burn off with hot irons. All that nature ever spins he will unravel and cast away with the rags. Ye must be born from above, ye must have a new nature wrought in you by the finger of God himself, for of all his saints it is written, "Ye are his workmanship, created anew in Christ Jesus."

Oh, but, everywhere I fear there is a want of the Holy Spirit! there is much getting up of a tawdry morality, barely skin deep, much crying "Peace, peace," where there is no peace, and very little deep heart-searching anxiety to be throughly purged from sin. Well-known and well-remembered truths are believed without an accompanying impression of their weight; hopes are flimsily formed, and confidences ill founded, and it is this which makes deceivers so plentiful, and fair shows after the flesh so common.

C. H. Spurgeon


Barbara said...

Ah! Amen, amen, and amen! Thank you for that.

Anonymous said...

Top soil is usually soft for the first couple of inches, it's the stuff underneath that requires some heavier plowing...

I know that the "underneath" is where I need it plowed -- every day. May God help me to want it, to long for it, and to require it in my daily walk with Him.

Thanks for the post...

eastendjim said...

Great post.

It makes me think back to a baptism that I attended about a year ago where the man's testimony started with "It's been a fun ride..."

Every time I read the weekly Spurgeon post I have to remind myself that it was written over 100 years ago.

It's always so......relevant.

Stefan said...

What Yankeerev said.

YnottonY said...

"pious veneering"

What a way with words! The above terms accurately describe the American religious scene.

Jay said...

That was very encouraging and well-timed for me. I've had to endure a lot of "heart-searching anxiety to be throughly purged from sin" in my life, and it hasn't always been pretty or fun or easy. It's downright disheartening sometimes, and I have a long way to go.

What makes it harder is that I'm a loudmouth who wears my heart on my sleeve, yet I'm surrounded by so many Christians who put on the "perfect" veneer, and if they talk about their sins all, it's only in the most vague terms.

So it's basically encouraging to hear that my struggles, no matter how desperate they seem sometimes, will pay off in the end if I keep moving foward. I most certainly would rather go through them than have a light fatih.

Grace and peace to you,

Stefan said...

Re Jay's comment:

Before I was saved, meeting born-again Christians who were honest about sin was an eye-opener.

We are sometimes our own greatest impediment to reaching the lost, by putting up a wall of righteousness between ourselves and them.

Rick Frueh said...

Shallow conversion.


Chris said...

I remember watching a video in which a pastor was baptizing several "converts". When it a young kids turn he decided he was going to canon ball it into the baptismal tank getting the pastor wet. The pastor was caught off guard, but everyone laughed. I could tell the pastor was troubled at this, but he proceeded to baptize the kid anyway. I thought to myself if I had been that pastor I would have asked the kid to exit the tank because I would be in doubt whether this kid understood baptism. Had he truly been repentant? How could he treat the Lord's command like a big joke. I don't know...what would you guys had done?

VcdeChagn said...

We are sometimes our own greatest impediment to reaching the lost, by putting up a wall of righteousness between ourselves and them.

Amen. I try to be as open as is appropriate about my sin. Of course, I'm overweight so I get to wear my sin for all to see.

I guess it keeps me honest about the myriad of other sins in my life.

Anonymous said...


I believe the boy in question was his son...so, add that to the turmoil in the heart.

It does, however, flow out of an attitude that the ordinances are not necessarily as serious as our Lord set them out to be. Shame on us for our slapstick...

Solameanie said...


I think that would have been worth a public spanking. It prolly hurts worse when the derriere is wet, too!