Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sermon Spotting

(I found this an interesting bit from Spurgeon.)


"Salvation by Knowing the Truth"

An excerpt from a sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon on 1 Timothy 2:3,4, "God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

[Taken from THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE PULPIT, vol. 26, 1880, pp. 49-50]

"May God the Holy Ghost guide our meditations to the best practical result this evening, that sinners may be saved and saints stirred up to diligence.

I do not intend to treat my text controversially. It is like the stone which makes the corner of a building, and it looks toward a different side of the gospel from that which is mostly before us. Two sides of the building of truth meet here. In many a village there is a corner where the idle and the quarrelsome gather together; and theology has such corners. It would be very easy indeed to set ourselves in battle array, and during the next half-hour to carry on a fierce attack against those who differ from us in opinion upon points which could be raised from this text. I do not see that any good would come of it, and, as we have very little time to spare, and life is short, we had better spend it upon something that may better tend to our edification. May the good Spirit preserve us from a contentious spirit, and help us really profit by his word.

It is quite certain that when we read that God will have all men to be saved it does not mean that he wills its with the force of a decree or a divine purpose, for, if he did, then all men would be saved. He willed to make the world, and the world was made: he does not so will the salvation of all men, for we know that all men will not be saved. Terrible as the truth is, yet is it certain from holy writ that there are men who, in consequence of their sin and their rejection of the Saviour, will go away into everlasting punishment, where there shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. There will at the last be goats upon the left hand as well as sheep on the right, tares to be burned as well as wheat to be garnered, chaff to be blown away as well as corn to be preserved. There will be a dreadful hell as well as a glorious heaven, and there is no decree to the contrary.

What then? Shall we try to put another meaning into the text than that which it fairly bears? I trow not. You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text. "All men," say they--"that is, SOME MEN": as if the Holy Ghost could not have said "some men" if he had meant that. "All men, " say they, "that is, some of all sorts of men": as if the Lord could not have said "all sorts of men" if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written "all men," and unquestionably he means all men.

I know how to get rid of the force of the "alls" according to that critical method which some time ago was very current, but I do not see how it can be applied here with due regard to the truth. I was reading just now the exposition of a very able doctor [and he surely means his predecessor John Gill--ed.] who explains the text so as to explain it away; he applies grammatical gunpowder to it, and explodes it by way of expounding it. I thought when I read his exposition that it would have been a very capital comment upon the text if it had read, "Who WILL NOT have all men to be saved, nor come to the knowledge of the truth." Had such been the inspired language every remark of the learned doctor would have been exactly in keeping, but as it happens to say, "Who WILL have all men to be saved," his observations are more than a little out of place.

My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture. I have a great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater. I would sooner a hundred times over appear to be inconsistent with myself than be inconsistent with the word of God. I never thought it to be any very great crime to seem to be inconsistent with myself, for who am I that I should everlastingly be consistent? But I do think it a great crime to be so inconsistent with the word of God that I should want to lop away a bough or even a twig from so much as a single tree of the forest of Scriptures. God forbid that I should cut or shape, even in the least degree, any divine expression. So runs the text, and so we must read it, "God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

Does not the text mean that it is the wish of God that men should be saved? The word "wish" gives as much force to the original as it really requires, and the passage should run thus--"whose wish it is that all men should be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth." As it is MY wish that it should be so, as it is YOUR wish that it might be so, so it is God's wish that all men should be saved; for, assuredly, he is not less benevolent than we are."


  • Good morning Rose!

    A good quote from Spurgeon. He safeguarded his Calvinism though (even if not treating the text controversially)with the words: "It is quite certain that when we read that God will have all men to be saved it does not mean that he wills its with the force of a decree or a divine purpose, for, if he did, then all men would be saved." Of course, elsewhere, he taught that the elect are eternally decreed to be saved. Spurgeon reprinted the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith which (like the WCF) teaches that: "By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace. Others are left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice." Spurgeon wrote in the preface of his reprint: "Be not ashamed of your faith: remember it is the ancient gospel of the martyrs, confessors, reformers and saints. Above all it is the truth of God, against which the gates of hell cannot prevail."

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 4/19/2007 10:38 AM  

  • Hi Rose,
    Great post. There goes your bloger aversion.

    Spurgeon is well balanced here. We can not make a text say what it does not say and cannot mean.

    God bless you,

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 4/19/2007 11:06 AM  

  • As I read this Spurgeon piece, I am reminded of this exposition of this short, video exposition of a similar verse.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 4/19/2007 3:22 PM  

  • ROSE: while some will say Spurgeon wasn't saying what he was saying, I'm saying I'm glad he said it. Cuz I'm most sure that God wants us all in heaven with Him and scratches His head that we all don't want what He wants, too. Great post. selahV

    By Anonymous selahV, at 4/19/2007 11:25 PM  

  • Good morning Rose! Nice to see you getting into Spurgeon. I can see a new heading popping up somewhere: "Is Rose among the Calvinists" :~)

    Salahv: Unsure as to who you mean when you say: "Some will say that CHS wasn't saying what he was saying." No one denies that CHS takes "all men" in 1 Timothy 2:4 to mean "all without exception" while many Calvinists take "all men" to mean "all without distinction" (which the phrase can also grammatically mean) In the same paragraph, CHS limits the desire of God to be without the force of a decree, whereas those Calvinists who limit the "all men" give the desire all the force of a decree. Otherwise (as CHS points out)all men without exception would be saved, because what God decrees, infallibly comes to pass.

    Non Calvinists either have no decree involved on God's part which leaves man in the pole position, or have a conditional decree whereby the Eternal God ordains an event which He foreseen and therefore would have happened whether He foreordained it or not, or worse still, writes decrees the way bankrupt companies write cheques- only to see them bounce again and again.

    I don't want to make you an offender for a word, but does God scratch His head in ignorance, frustration or helplessness? Or any other reason?

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 4/20/2007 2:01 AM  

  • Rose, I really appreciate you bringing this sermon of Spurgeon to our attention.

    John Piper is a brother that really inspires me with some of his exhortations to love our Lord more. I know Spurgeon's preaching and teaching along with Calvin has been a great influence on his theology.

    I can't say I disagree with this sermon and the same can be said for many of Piper's.

    But at the same time many of Piper's and Spurgeon's messages can grieve my spirit because of their strong belief in Calvin's teachings that influence many messages especially perseverance theology for proof of assurance that a believer really belongs to God.

    Don't take this next statement as a total indictment of these men who I feel really love Jesus out of pure heart; but listening to their theology and their words brings thoughts of bi-polar or at the least inconsistant and confusing. Especially to a new Christian who may be struggling with their flesh. Some of their messages can tear away at our foundation in Christ and leave a person in great despair.

    I have been that person being attack by Satan and have listened to messages that drove me deeper in despair because the messages turned my focus even more on my seemingly un-persevering self instead of the only foundation of Christ alone.

    I ramble.
    How is the baby doing?

    By Blogger Kris, at 4/21/2007 4:19 AM  

  • Hello Colin,
    I hear ya about Spurgeon. I liked this sermon and I don't have a problem quoting someone even if I don't agree with everything they say or said. Can't I? He has said some things that I really would not agree with!!

    Where to begin?! I have now watched that video three times. I want to do a whole post on it, but where is the time? I hope I will get some time to do a post on the ideas there.

    I think it is a very persuasive presentation. What do you think? Do you think that it is presenting ideas in an objective way? I noticed in your comment that you did not say "excellent video" ... you don't affirm it ... and I am wondering if you have it in you to see that it is a manipulative piece of media. Whaddayathink?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/21/2007 7:53 AM  

  • Hi Selah
    Thanks for your comment. I have to read it again to be sure of what you are saying!

    Thanks so much for asking about the baby! He is fine. He was 4 months yesterday. We just love him.
    I understand what you are saying about preachers. I appreciate that. I also don't appreciate being led to focus on my seemingly un-persevering self. This is not where to find rest. God bless you!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/21/2007 7:56 AM  

  • Hi Rose, Good to see you up and blogging again.

    I liked the Spurgeon quote! I'll bet you didn't know this, but, I like Spurgeon.

    I saw in another thread that Levi is doing well. Hope all is well with you and the rest of the Cole clan.

    Bless you dear sister!

    By Blogger Bluecollar, at 4/21/2007 8:30 PM  

  • Colin,
    I just remembered that you said this:
    I can see a new heading popping up somewhere: "Is Rose among the Calvinists"

    Very funny! I don't think I can see a heading like that in my future. I hope all is well in Ireland.

    You like Spurgeon? Really? I do too, most of the time.
    Hey, I hope you're having a good week, Mark!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 4/23/2007 10:03 AM  

  • Never say "never" Rose! I was heard to say that most awful things about the position I now hold. (I shudder at the memory, taking some comfort in the fact that 19 year old males do tend to see things pretty black and white)

    Of course, you are right to read and quote CHS. I quote Wesley and others if their observations are true and pertinent as I need them.

    Things going OK over here. Getting the gospel out, with fresh plans in the making too. Although, ever mindful, of James; exhortation: For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. (4:15)

    I see you've just posted a fresh article on 2 Peter 3:9. I listened to a part of it, but I'd rather read and analyse than listen. I'll see the way that the comments go, before I say anything. Like 1 Timothy 2:4, it will all hinge on how "willing" God is showing himself to be, and this will in turn show who the "us" is. Better not say too much about it here though, as it really does belong to your next article.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 4/23/2007 12:32 PM  

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