Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spurgeon's "universal" aspect


My Daily Bread said . . .

"Did not Spurgeon believe that Christ died for only some sinners and not all of them? "

Spurgeon evidently believed that there is a "universal" aspect of the death of Christ, while at the same time believing that its ultimate benefit was to believers only.

And I think that is really what all professing Christian theologies teach, except those who claim that Christ's death will result in "universal salvation."

I could cite a number of instances in Spurgeon's sermons, but I think the following will serve the purpose of demonstrating his view of a universal aspect to the death of Christ:

CHRIST’S ONE SACRIFICEFOR SIN, No. 2283, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, pages 559, 560, 562:

It is the Son of God who has undertaken this more than Herculean labor! He appeared, Sinner, to save YOU! God appeared to put away sin! Lost One, to find you, the great Shepherd has appeared! Your case is not hopeless, for He has appeared! Had anybody other than God undertaken the task of putting away sin, it could never have been accomplished! But it can be accomplished, now, for HE who appeared is One with whom nothing is impossible! Listen to that and be comforted. Christ appeared “to put away sin.”

What can that mean?

It means, first, that Christ has put away sin as to its exclusion of men from God. Man, by his sin, had made this world so obnoxious to Jehovah that God could not deal with its inhabitants apart from Christ’s Sacrifice. He is infinitely merciful, but He is also infinitely just—and the world had become so putrid a thing that He declared that He regretted that He had made man upon the earth. Now this whole world of ours would have gone down into eternal ruin had not Christ come.

John the Baptist cried, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world,the whole bulk of it! It was then and there removed at one stroke, so that God could deal with man, could send an embassage of peace to this poor guilty world, and could come upon Gospel terms of Free Grace and pardon to deal with a guilty race. That was done. You may all thank God for that! . . .

Christ’s death was UNIVERSAL in the removal of the hindrance to God’s dealing on terms of mercy with the world, yet He laid down His life for His sheep.

No one, to my knowledge, but the Universalist -- who holds to the actual universal salvation of every man that ever lived or shall live -- believes that Christ's death in its application is not "limited" to believers. Arminians, Calvinists, and all the "tweeners" believe in such a limitation. It is rather senseless to argue this point simply for the sake of a theoretical system of theology, for all agree that believers are the only ones who shall finally be saved.

Obviously, there is a distinction between (1) the "limitation" of the ultimate benefits of the atonement to believers, and (2) the unlimited preaching of the Gospel to "every creature" (Mark 16:16).

Spurgeon did his part to preach the Gospel to "every creature," and could say "Jesus died for you" to every creature,
evidently on the grounds of what he believed to be the "universal" aspect of the death of Christ.

At any rate, regardless of any particular theological theory about the death of Christ, the Commission says the Gospel is to be preached to EVERY creature, and to Spurgeon that meant INDIVIDUALS EVERYWHERE:

Oh, we cannot discharge the work for which God has put us here until we have looked into these alleys, these lanes, these courts, these dark places, and have tried our best to take Jesus Christ’s Gospel to every dweller in it! I know you have your Sunday schools and I am thankful you are doing your work there, but do not confine your aspirations to that class. I know I have with this congregation work enough. Still I am not bound to limit myself to any parish or to any locality, but if I can, I must, as much as lies in me go in all directions and in all manner of places to make known the Gospel to every creature! Have you been the means of the conversion of fifty? That is not “every creature,” press on! Were there a 100 added to this Church the other day? That is not “every creature”! There are millions yet to whom Christ is not known! Preach the Gospel everywhere, then.

The majesty of this command overwhelms me! Such a commission was never given before or since. O Church of God! Your Lord has given you a work almost as immense as the creation of a world! No! It is a greater work than that! It is to re-create a world! What can you do in this? You can do nothing effectively, unless the Holy Spirit shall bless what you attempt to do. But that He will do, and if you gird up your loins and your heart is warm in this endeavor, you shall yet be able to preach Jesus Christ to every creature under Heaven! I must not enlarge, for time flies too quickly. It will suffice if I have put the thought into your hearts, that to the servant girl and the duchess, the chimney-sweep and the peer, the man in the poor house or in the palace, we must account ourselves debtors for Christ’s sake to present the Gospel to them according to our ability, never limiting the sphere of our enterprise where an opportunity can be found to carry the Gospel to every creature! . . . It shall be sufficient answer to many of you to say that the reason for preaching the Gospel to every creature is that God has said it.
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 15, Year 1869, pages 630, 631.

It appears that Spurgeon held that the Commission to preach the Gospel to "every creature" is grounds for the theoretical possibility that "every creature" could be saved. In Spurgeon's sermons, time and time again he declared that there is nothing to hinder the salvation of any man but unbelief, and that "damnation is all of man."

Furthermore, I have never found Spurgeon to pronounce any man "elect" or "regenerated" until that man was a believer in Christ. Therefore, he preached to every creature as if that person was a candidate for salvation.

One of his own Evangelists on his Tabernacle staff of Evangelists, said Spurgeon prayed, "Lord, hasten to bring in all Thine elect -- and then elect some more" (Charles Haddon Spurgeon by W. Y. Fullerton, page 153).


At Thursday, April 24, 2008 8:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brother Bob and Charles,

I want to thank you both for your excellent posts! This site is one of my favorites and I believe you are challenging many of the extreme Calvinists to re-think their so-called theology of exclusivity built upon word parsing and a misunderstanding of God's infinite LOVE.

May God continue to richly bless you both!

In Him,


At Thursday, April 24, 2008 9:36:00 PM, Blogger My Daily Bread said...

Dear Bob:

In my debate with Pat Donahue about 18 months ago, I advocated like Spurgeon and others that there is a universal aspect for the elect. I even cited the words of Paul that said "he is the Savior of all men, specially of those who believe" and made the argument that we could say "Christ died for all men, specially for the elect."

I have no problem with there being universal benefits arising from the death of Christ.

I cited the verse in Romans 14: 8, 9 where Paul said - 8For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

"For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living."

I also argued that the reprobate were "purchased" by Christ, although for a different end than for the elect. (II Peter 2: 1)

What I deny is that Christ died on behalf of every man, as a substitute for every man. I agree with Spurgeon that this would necessitate universal salvation.

Christ did die "for" the non-elect in order to purchase them for ownership and lordship over.

So, my statement that Christ did not die "for" everyone, as a substitute, is in keeping with what Spurgeon believed.

To say Christ died for sinners and suffered their penalty and then to say those same ones go to Hell is to make the death of Christ to be in vain and an injustice on the part of God, who in such a case would be punishing two people for the same sins.

God bless as always,



Post a Comment

<< Home