Friday, March 20, 2009

Preaching to "dead sinners"


James White, who like Diotrephes desires preeminence (3 John 9), has alleged that "Spurgeon was not infallible," but we venture to say that Spurgeon's preaching makes James' so-called "defense of the faith" look like "Ned in the First Reader."

A lady from Beaumont, Texas -- a good friend of ours who is married to a good friend of ours -- took it upon herself a while back to read all of Spurgeon's sermons! She is now nearly thru with Volume 20, 1874. As she reads, she is making notations, and sometimes she passes very significant references along to us. Here's a selection which she referred to me recently. James White, with his "born again before faith" heresy, will most likely find fault with Spurgeon on this, also.

C. H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 20, Sermon No. 1200, pages 610, 611:

“Go you,” He said, “you fishermen, go and teach all nations.” Carnal reason’s criticism on this is that it is a feeble method to be worked out by feebler instruments!

Now let it be noted that the work of preaching the Gospel, which is Christ’s way of using His power among men, is based only upon His having that power. Listen to some of my Brethren—they say, “You must not preach the Gospel to a dead sinner because the sinner has no power.”

Just so, but our reason for preaching to him is that all power is given unto Jesus—and He bids us preach the Gospel to every creature! “But when you tell a sinner to believe, you have not the power to make him believe.”

Truly so, nor do we dream that we have, for all power lies in Christ! There is neither in the sinner the power to believe, nor in the preacher power to make him believe—all power is in our Lord! “But do you think,” they ask, “that your persuasions will ever make a man repent and believe?”

Certainly not! The power that leads men to repent and believe does not lie in rhetoric or in reason, or in persuasion, but in Him who says, “All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth.”

I tell you this—if my Lord and Master should bid me go tomorrow to Norwood Cemetery [where CHS is buried] and bid the dead to rise, I would do it with as much pleasure as I now preach the Gospel to this congregation! And I would do it for the same reason which now leads me to urge the unregenerate to repent and be converted, for I regard men as being dead in sin, and yet I tell them to live because my Master commands me do so! That I am right in thus acting is proved by the fact that while I am preaching, sinners do live! Blessed be His name, thousands of them have been quickened into life!

Ezekiel had to cry, “You dry bones, live.” What a foolish thing to say! But God justified His servant in it and an exceedingly great army stood upon their feet in what was once a large morgue.

Joshua’s men were bid to blow their trumpets around Jericho—a most absurd thing to blow a trumpet to fetch city walls down—but they came down for all that!

Gideon’s men were told to simply carry lamps within their pitchers, to break their pitchers and stand still and cry aloud, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon” — a most ridiculous thing to hope by this means to smite the Midianites—but they were smitten! God never sends His servants on a fool’s errand!

It pleases God by the foolishness of preaching to accomplish His Divine purposes — not because of the power of preaching, nor the power of the preacher, nor any power in those preached to — but because “all power” is given unto Christ “in Heaven and in earth”—and He chooses to work by the teaching of the Word!

Our business, then, is just this. We are to teach, or as the Greek word has it, to make disciples. Our business is, each one according to the Divine Grace given, to tell our fellow men the Gospel and to try and disciple them to Jesus. When they become disciples, our next duty is to give them the sign of discipleship by “baptizing them.” That symbolic burial sets forth their death in Jesus to their former selves and their resurrection to newness of life through Him. Baptism enrolls and seals the disciples—and we must not omit or misplace it.

When the disciple is enrolled, the missionary is to become the pastor, “teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you.” The disciple is admitted into the school by obeying the Savior’s command as to Baptism—then he goes on to learn—and as he learns he teaches others. He is taught obedience, not to some things, but to all things which Christ has commanded. He is put into the Church, not to become a legislator or a deviser of new doctrines and ceremonies, but to believe what Christ tells him and to do what Christ bids him.

Thus our Lord intends to set up a kingdom which shall break in pieces every other. Those who know Him are to teach others and so, from one to the other, the wondrous power which Christ brought from Heaven shall spread from land to land.

See, then, my Brothers, your high calling. And see, also, the support you have in pursuing it! In the front,behold “all power” going forth from Christ! In the rear, behold the Lord Himself — “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

If you are enlisted in this army, I charge you be faithful to your great Captain! Do His work carefully in the way which He has prescribed for you and expect to see His power displayed to His own Glory.

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