23 August 2008

Why Error Is Now Thriving in the Church

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 chapter 12, "The Minister in These Times," in the bookAn All-round Ministry.

t is as important to know Christ as the truth, as it is to know Christ as the way and the life.

Some excellent brethren seem to think more of the life than of the truth; for when I warn them that the enemy has poisoned the children's bread, they answer, "Dear brother, we are sorry to hear it; and, to counteract the evil, we will open the window, and give the children fresh air."

Yes, open the window, and give them fresh air, by all means. You cannot do a better thing, in view of many purposes; but, at the same time, this ought you to have done, and not to have left the other undone. Arrest the poisoners, and open the windows, too.

While men go on preaching false doctrine, you may talk as much as you will about deepening their spiritual life, but you will fail in it. While you do one good thing, do not neglect another. Instead of saying that the life is more important, or the truth is more important, or the way is more important, let us be united in the firm belief that they are each one equally important, and that one cannot be well sustained and thoroughly carried out without the rest.

Some quit the teaching of Christ out of sheer wantonness, and childish love of novelty. To younger brethren, false doctrine comes as an infantile disease, a sort of inevitable spiritual measles. I wish them well through with the disorder, and I trust it will leave nothing bad behind it. With deep anxiety, I have watched over minds infected with this raging epidemic; and I have rejoiced as I have seen the rash of unbelief come out beautifully, and have heard the patient say, "Thank God, I shall never go back to that any more."

Still, it is a pity that so many should find it needful to traverse the foul way which has bemired others. They remind me of a certain worldly lady, to whom her minister, remarking her great gaiety, said, "Solomon has said, 'Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.'" "Yes," she replied, "I know what Solomon has said; but he found it out by his own personal experience, and I should like to do the same." She was no Solomon, assuredly; for they who have wisdom will profit by the experience of others. If you have seen others go abroad for wool, and come home shorn, prudence would suggest that you need not go also.

Some fall into doubt through an inward crookedness. Certain men start new doctrines because "something is rotten in the state of Denmark," and out of rottenness fungoid growths must come. You may have read Pliny's "Natural History." If you have not read it, you need not do so, for the history is not generally natural, but fabulous. Pliny tells us that, when the elephant goes to a pool of water, and sees himself in it, he is moved with such disgust at his own ugliness, that he straightway stirs the water, and makes it muddy, that he may not see himself.

Such an elephant never lived; but I have seen men who have been very comparable to it. Holy Scripture has not agreed with them,—so much the worse for Holy Scripture! Such-and-such doctrines do not suit their tastes, so they must be misrepresented, or denied.

An unregenerate heart lies at the bottom of "modern thought." Men are down-grade in doctrine because they were never put on the up-grade by the renewal of their minds.
C. H. Spurgeon


NothingNew said...

Spurgeon:"An unregenerate heart lies at the bottom of "modern thought." Men are down-grade in doctrine because they were never put on the up-grade by the renewal of their minds."

So true.

This reminds me of a quote from John Calvin:

“Man's mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain”

Chris said...

"An unregenerate heart lies at the bottom of 'modern thought'"

...and coupled with that same unregenerate heart of old, there now exists in 2008 a new, unabashed, blatantly pagan, and thoroughly rebellious satanic spirit that lies at the bottom of postmodern thought!

Lorraine said...

Thank you for this cool, refreshing wind!

Just discovered your blog and will be visiting again soon to try to plumb the depths! (operative: try)

Rob Hughes said...

I'm going to pick up on Spurgeon's last point as well. I believe he is 100% correct. There are so many false converts in the church today, so many pretenders, who teach the Word for their own profit. And why is that? It is because many who are true Christians, many who are regenerate, preach a message that is close to the gospel but is not quite THE gospel. The good news without the bad news first is no news in my opinion. Yes God can work a wonder in the heart of a sinner with a message that is found wanting. Does that mean we should preach half-heartedly knowing that God can overrule our feebleness? Of course not! Good news without the bad news is news that is misleading. It is not the whole counsel of God.

In a sermon he once preached entitled "Turn or Burn" Spurgeon had this to say, "Two hundred years ago the predominant strain of the pulpit was one of terror: it was like Mount Sinai, it thundered forth the dreadful wrath of God, and from the lips of a Baxter or a Bunyan, you heard most terrible sermons, full to the brim with warnings of judgment to come. Perhaps some of the Puritanic fathers may have gone too far, and have given too great a prominence to the terrors of the Lord in their ministry: but the age in which we live has sought to forget those terrors altogether, and if we dare to tell men that God will punish them for their sins, it is charged upon us that want to bully them into religion, and if we faithfully and honestly tell our hearers that sin must bring after it certain destruction, it is said that we are attempting to frighten them into goodness. Now we care not what men mockingly impute to us; we feel it our duty, when men sin, to tell them they shall be punished, and so long as the world will not give up its sin we feel we must not cease our warnings. But the cry of the age is, that God is merciful, that God is love. Ay; who said he was not? But remember, it is equally true, God is just, severely and inflexibly just. He were not God, if he were not just; he could not be merciful if he were not just, for punishment of the wicked is demanded by the highest mercy to the rest of mankind."

Spurgeon said this in December 1856. It is frightening to think considering the church today. He fought tooth and nail against the downgrade controversy. He was vocal against those who dumbed down God's Word. Hey, it won't win you any friends, but then did we not consider the cost when we said yes to His call?

Nancy said...

While I have not been commenting on your posts...I have been reading them for some time...*: ) I love the Spurgeon posts...It is soooo important that we have a connection to the grounding of the past...One thought that came as I was reading here, is how easily we can drift off to modern thought...and the scary part is while the Internet is wonderful for resources...it is also easy for the information to be changed (in this age of wiki-ness)...Just as new translations of the Bible come forth and older ones are placed in online status...will the original source books be obsolete? Will there be a method for verifying older written truth?(or is there now?)...Who actually is keeping up with the originals?...Electronic books...can be really scary.

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DJP said...

Huh?? You spoke 3 times, Ian? You're doing 5 TV programs? Thanks for checking your blog? Is your blog called "Profile not available"?

This looks like a complete cut-n-paste, which is (A) bad manners and (B) frowned on.

Unknown said...
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Phil Johnson said...


I'm not a fan of Steve McVey's teaching. Ditto with Bob George and others in that mold. Do a Google search for the site that hosts my sermons and look for the two-message series called "I, yet not I." It includes an explanation of why I think the idea of sanctifying grace that is more or less assumed in that quote from McVey is pretty seriously wrong-headed.

To reply to the item you quoted, it's true that our motives are often tainted when we are doing good things, but the remedy for that is purer motives, not less doing good things. I don't think McVey understands that.

And if he does understand it, he doesn't make it clear for his readers.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much. I have listened to both messages and they have helped me to understand what I feel is far more Biblical.