On The Depravity Of Man

Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, “As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived.” The great works of Christians down through the centuries are filled with the same testimony: man is the slave of sin, utterly undone outside of Christ. Even those whose theology did not measure up to the biblical standard could not help, in their prayers, to confess what they knew to be true: the fallen sons of Adam are dead in sin, incapable of even the first move toward God. Even more, they are filled with the effect of depravity and alienation from God: enmity and hatred toward His holy standards. This was a common element of Spurgeon’s preaching:

Now, the calling of the Holy Spirit is without any regard to any merit in us. If this day the Holy Spirit shall call out of this congregation a hundred men, and bring them out of their estate of sin into a state of righteousness, you shall bring these hundred men, and let them march in review, and if you could read their hearts, you would be compelled to say, “I see no reason why the Spirit of God should have operated upon these. I see nothing whatever that could have merited such grace as this – nothing that could have caused the operations and motions of the Spirit to work in these men.” For, look ye here. By nature, men are said to be dead in sin. If the Holy Spirit quickens, it cannot be because of any power in the dead men, or any merit in them, for they are dead, corrupt and rotten in the grave of their sin. If then, the Holy Spirit says, “Come forth and live,” it is not because of anything in the dry bones, it must be for some reason in His own mind, but not in us. Therefore, know ye this, men and brethren, that we all stand upon a level. We have none of us anything that can recommend us to God; and if the Spirit shall choose to operate in our hearts unto salvation, He must be moved to do it by His own supreme love, for He cannot be moved to do it by any good will, good desire, or good deed, that dwells in us by nature.

The “flip-side” of divine freedom is the fact that man, the great image-bearer of God, is a fallen creature, a slave to sin, spiritually dead, incapable of doing what is pleasing to God. Just as the great freedom of the Potter offends rebellious pots, so too does the Bible’s teaching on the inabilities of man due to sin. The fallen sons and daughters of Adam are most adept at finding ways to promote creaturely freedom at the cost of God’s freedom, while at the same time promoting the servitude of God to the whims and will of man. It would be humorous if it were not so serious: the pots gathering together and assuring each other that the Potter either doesn’t exist, or, at worst, will sit idly by while they take control and “run the show” themselves. Yet this is the impact of sin upon the thinking of man. Man suppresses the truth of his createdness and invariably attempts to find a means to “control” God. One wisely put it this way:

Again, it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself….So it happens in estimating our spiritual goods. As long as we do not look beyond the earth, being quite content with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue, we flatter ourselves most sweetly, and fancy ourselves all but demigods. Suppose we but once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and to ponder his nature, and how completely perfect are his righteousness, wisdom, and power-the straightedge to which we must be shaped. Then, what masquerading earlier as righteousness was pleasing in us will soon grow filthy in its consummate wickedness. What wonderfully impressed us under the name of wisdom will stink in its very foolishness. What wore the face of power will prove itself the most miserable weakness. That is, what in us seems perfection itself corresponds ill to the purity of God.

Truly recognizing one’s spiritual state is a gift of grace. Outside of God opening the eyes of the heart man thinks himself wonderfully pure, or at least acceptable in God’s sight. That is why the unregenerate person cannot understand the urgency of the gospel message: until they see the depth of their sin and the holiness of God, they find no reason to seek remedy for their condition.

Man’s religions consistently promote the myth of man’s autonomy: his absolute freedom to act outside of any eternal decree of God. “Man is the master of his destiny” seems to be the watchword of the religions of men, and even of many in Christendom today. How many times have you heard a preacher say, “In the matter of election, God has cast his vote for you, Satan has cast his against you, and now the final vote is up to you”? Such an assertion not only makes man’s choice equal with God’s, but it likewise places the final decision for what takes place in time squarely in the hands of man, not of God.
The Potter’s Freedom, pp. 75-77. – James White

Spurgeon Thursday

 THE WAILING OF RISCA

NO. 349

A SERMON DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING, DECEMBER 9, 1860,
BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON,
AT EXETER HALL, STRAND.

Suddenly are my tents spoiled and my curtains in a moment.” Jeremiah 4:20.

Youthful Charles Spurgeon  THE sorrow of the weeping Prophet was exceedingly heavy when he uttered these words of bitter lamentation. A great and present burden from the Lord is weighing so heavily upon our hearts this morning that we cannot spare so much as a moment for sympathy with the griefs of past ages. God has visited our land and His strokes have been exceedingly hard. We are constrained to take up a wailing and cry aloud, “Suddenly are my tents spoiled and my curtains in a moment.”

There is a spot in South Wales which has frequently yielded me a quiet and delightful retreat. Beautiful for situation, surrounded by lofty mountains, pierced by romantic valleys—the breathing of its air refreshes the body and the sight of the eyes makes glad the heart. I have climbed its hills, I have seen the ever-widening landscape, the mountains of Wales, the plains of England and the seas sparkling afar. I have descended the hills and marked the mist creeping up the side of the hills and covering the woods in clouds. I have mingled with its godly men and women and worshipped God in their assemblies.

These lips have ministered the Word in that once happy valley. I have been fired with the glorious enthusiasm of the people when they have listened to the Word. Well does my soul remember one night which I shall never forget in time or in eternity, when, crowded together in the place of worship, hearty Welsh miners responded to every word of Christ’s minister with their “gogoniants” encouraging me to preach the Gospel and crying “Glory to God” while the message was proclaimed.

I remember how they constrained me and kept me well nigh to midnight, preaching three sermons one after another, almost without rest—for they loved to listen to the Gospel. God was present with us and many a time has the baptismal pool been stirred since then by the fruit of that night’s labor. Nor shall I ever forget when standing in the open air beneath God’s blue sky I addressed a mighty gathering within a short distance of that spot. The Spirit of God was poured upon us and men and women were swayed to and fro under the heavenly message as the corn is moved in waves by the summer winds. Great was our joy that day when the people met together in thousands and with songs and praises separated to their homes, talking of what they had heard.

But now our visitation of that neighborhood must ever be mingled with sorrow. How has God been pleased to smite down strong men and to take away the young men upon a sudden! “How suddenly are my tents spoiled and my curtains in a moment.” Oh, valley of Risca, I take up a lamentation for you—the Lord has dealt sorely with you. Behold and see if there is sorrow in any valley like unto your sorrow which is done unto you. The angel of death has emptied out his quiver upon you.

The awful reaper has gathered to himself full sheaves from your beautiful valley.

You all know the story—it scarcely needs that I should tell it to you. Last Saturday week some two hundred or more miners descended in health and strength to their usual work in the bowels of the earth. They had not been working long—their wives and their children had risen and their little ones had gone to their schools when suddenly there was heard a noise at the mouth of the pit—it was an explosion—all knew what it meant. Men’s hearts failed them, for well they prophesied the horror which would soon reveal itself.

Continue reading

Round Up

Using Discernment with Entertainment – Though we are in this world, we are not of this world (John 17:14-16). That means we can’t watch every movie, laugh at every joke on television, download every new music album, click on every online video, or visit every Internet page. Taking a stand for righteousness in your own life and family is not being legalistic. It’s being Christian.

Don’t Stain Glass the Bible – Lots of Christians have a habit of “stained glassing” Bible characters.  Sometimes it seems like pretty much anyone other than Jezebel and Judas Iscariot will get a free pass and find their actions vindicated by believers. The Bible is full of real people with real issues and real messy mixed up faith responses.

Divine Mathematics – If a person wants to maximize their life by living for the glory of God, then that person needs to be passionate about evangelism. If the Lord has saved you, he has saved you for a purpose: to live for the glory of God.

Weekly Highlights at Monergism – A list of links to some really good reformed articles.

Quote:

“In the very beginning, when this great universe lay in the mind of God, like unborn forests in the acorn cup; long before the echoes awoke the solitudes; before the mountains were brought forth; and long before the light flashed through the sky, God loved His chosen creatures. Before there was any created being — when the ether was not fanned by an angel’s wing, when space itself had not an existence, where there was nothing save God alone — even then, in that loneliness of Deity, and in that deep quiet and profundity, His heart moved with love for His chosen. Their names were written on His heart, and then were they dear to His soul. Jesus loved His people before the foundation of the world — even from eternity! and when He called me by His grace, He said to me, ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee’” – Charles H. Spurgeon

Gospel-Shaped Affections: Rejoicing In The Lord Always

I listened to this sermon by Mike Riccardi on my way to work yesterday.  It is an outstanding sermon on joy and the fact that we are commanded to rejoice in the Lord.  You can either listen to it or read the transcript below.

Introduction

Mike2We return again this morning to the fourth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians: Philippians chapter 4. And we find ourselves in the middle of a collection of Paul’s concluding exhortations—a set of rapid-fire commands to the saints at the church of Philippi. And what unites those commands thematically is that they are the means of achieving the spiritual stability that Paul has called them to in chapter 4 verse 1. As a conclusion to all he’s warned them about in chapter 3—the legalism of the Judaizers, the error of the perfectionists, and the sensuality of the antinomians—and especially in light of their present citizenship in heaven and their glorious future at Christ’s return, Paul culminates in chapter 4 verse 1: “Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.”

And if we are in a right spirit here this morning, the prospect of spiritual stability is attractive to us. Those of us who belong to Christ and who are rightly related to Him deeply desire to be consistently growing into greater spiritual maturity. We want to be spiritually stable—the kind of enduring, unwavering, uncompromising people that are faithful to the Lord and His Word even in the midst of great opposition. We don’t want to be the kind of people who are characterized by instability, whose Christian life is littered with fits and starts and highs and lows and peaks and valleys. Now, it’s true that, given the principle of indwelling sin, some degree of that is unavoidable. But as much as we can, we’d like to avoid that. By the grace of God we want to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Cor 15:58). We want to stand firm.

And so the important question, then, is, “By what means can I attain that spiritual stability? How can I make this holy aspiration a reality in my life?” Well it’s just that question that Paul answers in this Continue reading

Spurgeon Thursday

 A DEFENSE OF CALVINISM

Spurgeon Pen & Ink IT is a great thing to begin the Christian life by believing good solid doctrine. Some people have received twenty different “gospels” in as many years. How many more they will accept before they get to their journey’s end, it would be difficult to predict. I thank God that He early taught me the Gospel and I have been so perfectly satisfied with it that I do not want to know any other. Constant change of creed is sure loss. If a tree has to be taken up two or three times a year you will not need to build a very large loft in which to store the apples. When people are always shifting their doctrinal principles they are not likely to bring forth much fruit to the glory of God. It is good for young Believers to begin with a firm hold upon those great fundamental doctrines which the Lord has taught in His Word. Why if I believed what some preach about the temporary, trumpery salvation which only lasts for a time I would scarcely be at all grateful for it. But when I know that those whom God saves He saves with an everlasting salvation, when I know that He gives to them an everlasting righteousness, when I know that He settles them on an everlasting foundation of everlasting love and that He will bring them to His everlasting kingdom—oh, then I do wonder and I am astonished that such a blessing as this should ever have been given to me!—

“Pause, my Soul! Adore and wonder!
Ask, ‘Oh, why such love to me?’ Grace has put me in the number
Of the Savior’s family:
Hallelujah!
Thanks, eternal thanks, to You.”

I suppose there are some persons whose minds naturally incline towards the doctrine of free will. I can only say that mine inclines as naturally towards the doctrines of Sovereign Grace. Sometimes, when I see some of the worst characters in the street, I feel as if my heart must burst forth in tears of gratitude that God has never let me act as they have done! I have thought if God had left me alone and had not touched me by His grace what a great sinner I should have been! I should have run to the utmost lengths of sin and dived into the very depths of evil! Nor should I have stopped at any vice or folly, if God had not restrained me. I feel that I should have been a very king of sinners if God had let me alone. I cannot understand the reason why I am saved except upon the ground that God would have it so.

I cannot, if I look ever so earnestly, discover any kind of reason in myself why I should be a partaker of Divine Grace. If I am at this moment with Christ, it is only because Christ Jesus would have His will with me and that will was that I should be with Him where He is and should share His glory. I can put the crown nowhere but upon the head of Him whose mighty grace has saved me from going down into the pit.

Looking back on my past life, I can see that the dawning of it all was of God—of God effectively. I took no torch with which to light the sun but the sun enlightened me. I did not commence my spiritual life—no, I rather kicked and struggled against the things of the Spirit. When He drew me for a time I did not run after Continue reading

Spurgeon Thursday

THE SECURITY OF BELIEVERS—OR, SHEEP WHO SHALL NEVER PERISH NO. 2120

 INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD’S-DAY, DECEMBER 29, 1889,

 DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 5, 1889.

 My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life.  And they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.  My Father, which gave them Me is greater than all. And no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.

John 10:27-30

 Spurgeon Pen & InkOUR Savior did not hesitate to preach the deeper doctrines of the Gospel to the most miscellaneous assembly. When He began to preach where He was brought up, they all gathered with admiration about Him, until He preached the doctrine of election. And then, straightway, they were so angry that they would have destroyed Him. They could not bear to hear of the widows of Israel passed by and the woman of Sarepta chosen—nor of a heathen leper healed, while the many lepers of their own race were left to die.

Election seems to heat the blood and fire the wrath of many. Not that they care to be chosen of God themselves. But, like the dog in the manger, they would keep other people out of the privilege. Not even to prevent these displays of bad temper did our Lord keep back the discriminating Truths of the Word. Here, when addressing the Jews, he did not hesitate to speak, even to a rude rabble, concerning that glorious doctrine.

He says, “You believe not, because you are not of My sheep, as I said unto you.” He does not lower the standard of the doctrine. But He holds His ground and carries the war into the enemy’s camp. The notion that certain truths are not fit to be preached to a general assembly but are to be kept for the special gathering of the saints, is, I believe, horribly mischievous. Christ has not commanded us to keep a part of our teaching reserved from the common folk and set aside for the priests alone.

He is for openly proclaiming all the Truths of God. “What I tell you in darkness, that speak you in light: and what you hear in the ear, that preach you upon the housetops.” There is no Truth of God that we need be ashamed of and there is no Truth of God that will do any harm. We grant you that every truth can be twisted—but even this would be a less evil than the concealment of it. Whatever the doctrine may be, ungodly men can pervert it according to their own lusts— and if we have to stop preaching a doctrine because of the possibility of perverting it, we shall never preach anything at all, for every truth may be perverted and made to be the mother of infinite mischief.

Our Savior did not teach His disciples to keep certain things for the instructed few who were able to receive them. But He bade us publish all the great Truths of God, since they are necessary for conviction, for conversion, for edification, for sanctification, and for the perfecting of the people of God. Even to His brutish opponents He exhibited but little reserve. He flashed in the faces of His adversaries this grand but humbling Truth, “You believe not, because you are not of My sheep.” Your unbelief is just an evidence that you were not chosen, that you have not been called by the Spirit of God and that you are still in your sins.

The Jews had said to him, “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” They professed that they wanted to know more certainly concerning Him. This was a vain pretense, for He had told them all they needed to know and they had not believed Him. Therefore He answered them to a large degree by making them know more about themselves. Sometimes the point in which a man is deficient is not as to the Gospel, but as to his own need of it. He may know all of Christ that is needful for his salvation but he may not know enough about himself and his own lost condition.

And therefore he is not in the way in which Christ becomes precious to him, because he is ignorant of his deep and terrible need. So the Savior began to talk to them, not so much about Himself as about His people and what they were to be. “My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me.”

I pray God, the Holy Spirit, to bless the Word to many, that they may learn more about the work of Christ in their hearts and more about their need of it—and thus may be led to seek Jesus and find Him tonight as their Savior and their Shepherd.

There are two things in my text which will suffice for our meditation. First, here is a description given of the Lord’s people. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me.” And then, secondly, there is a privilege secured to them, namely, their everlasting, unquestionable safety. “I give unto them eternal life. And they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all. And no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are One.”

I. First, and all that I can say will be but little, considering the largeness of the subject, let us notice THE DESCRIPTION HERE GIVEN OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD.

They are first described by a specialty of possession—“My sheep.” All men are not sheep, for some are foxes, Continue reading

The Dishonored Pulpit

The pulpit has become dishonoured; it is esteemed as being of very little worth and of no esteem. Ah! we must always maintain the dignity of the pulpit. I hold that it is the Thermopylae (narrow place) of Christendom; it is here that the battle must be fought between right and wrong; not so much with the pen, valuable as that is as an assistant, as with the living voice of earnest men, “contending earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints.” In some churches the pulpit is put away; there is a prominent altar, but the pulpit is omitted. Now, the most prominent thing under the gospel dispensation is not the altar, which belonged to the Jewish dispensation, but the pulpit. “We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle;” that altar is Christ; but Christ has been pleased to exalt “the foolishness of preaching” to the most prominent position in his house of prayer. We must take heed that we always maintain preaching. It is this that God will bless; it is this that he has promised to crown with success. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” We must not expect to see great changes nor any great progress of the gospel, until there is greater esteem for the pulpit—more said of it and thought of it. “Well,” some may reply, “you speak of the dignity of the pulpit; I take it, you lower it yourself, sir, by speaking in such a style to your hearers.” Ah! no doubt you think so. Some pulpits die of dignity. I take it, the greatest dignity in the world is the dignity of converts—that the glory of the pulpit is, if I may use such a metaphor, to have captives at its chariot-wheels, to see converts following it, and where there are such, and those from the very worst of men; there is a dignity in the pulpit beyond any dignity which a fine mouthing of words and a grand selection of fantastic language could ever give to it. . .

“Preaching for the Poor,” in Spurgeon’s Sermons, 2nd ed. (New York: Sheldon & Company, 1861), 157-158. Preached January 25, 1857.

Spurgeon Thursday

THE PERPETUITY OF THE LAW OF GOD

NO. 1660

DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING,  MAY 21, 1882,

BY C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.

For verily I say unto you, Till Heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law till all is fulfilled.

Matthew 5:18.

Spurgeon Pen & InkIt has been said that he who understands the two covenants is a theologian, and this is, no doubt, true. I may also say that the man who knows the relative positions of the law and of the gospel has the keys of the situation in the matter of doctrine. The relationship of the law to myself, and how it condemns me: the relationship of the gospel to myself, and how if I be a believer it justifies me—these are two points which every Christian man should clearly understand. He should not “see men as trees walking” in this department, or else he may cause himself great sorrow, and fall into errors which will he grievous to his heart and injurious to his life. To form a mingle-mangle of law and gospel is to teach that which is neither law nor gospel, but the opposite of both. May the Spirit of God be our teacher, and the Word of God be our lesson-book, and then we shall not err.
Very great mistakes have been made about the law. Not long ago there were those about us who affirmed that the law is utterly abrogated and abolished, and they openly taught that believers were not bound to make the moral law the rule of their lives. What would have been sin in other men they counted to be no sin in themselves. From such Antinomianism as that may God deliver us. We are not under the law as the method of salvation, but we delight to see the law in the hand of Christ, and desire to obey the Lord in all things. Others have been met with who have taught that Jesus mitigated and softened down the law, and they have in effect said that the perfect law of God was too hard for imperfect beings, and therefore God has given us a milder and easier rule. These tread dangerously upon the verge of terrible error, although we believe that they are little aware of it. Alas, we have met with authors who have gone much farther than this, and have railed at the law. Oh, the hard words that I have sometimes read against the holy law of God! How very unlike to those which the apostle used when he said, “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” How different from the reverent spirit which made him say,—”I delight in the law of God after the inward man.”
You know how David loved the law of God, and sang its praises all through the longest of the Psalms. The heart of every real Christian is most reverent towards the law of the Lord. It is perfect, nay, it is perfection itself. We believe that we shall never have reached perfection till we are perfectly conformed to it. A sanctification which stops short of perfect conformity to the law cannot truthfully be called perfect sanctification, for every want of exact conformity to the perfect law is sin. May the Spirit of God help us while, in imitation of our Lord Jesus, we endeavour to magnify the law.
I gather from our text two things upon which I shall speak at this time. The first is that the law of God is perpetual: “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law.” The meaning is that even in the least point it must abide till all be fulfilled. Secondly, we perceive that the law must be fulfilled: Not “one jot or one tittle shall pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” He who came to bring in the gospel dispensation here asserts that he has not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil it.

I. First: THE LAW OF GOD MUST BE PERPETUAL. There is no abrogation of it, nor amendment of it. It is not to he toned down or adjusted to our fallen condition; but every one of the Lord’s righteous judgments abideth for ever. I would urge three reasons which will establish this teaching.
In the first place our Lord Jesus declares that he did not come to abolish it. His words are most express: “Think not that I am come Continue reading