Grace: Glorifying God, saving sinners

Grant Swart

These are two excerpts which I borrowed from Charles Spurgeon’s address to the inaugural ceremony of the opening of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. Spurgeon presided over the ceremony in which he had invited other prominent pastors to expound on the Doctrines of Grace.

The record of the entire proceedings of that day are a lengthy read, but well worth the time. From these and other similar expositions it is clear that those who deny or adapt the Doctrines of Grace, also then deny or adapt the Word of God, the essence of the Christian Faith and the perfection of the sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Excerpt 1, on the origin of the Doctrines of Grace and the reason why different understandings of biblical doctrine cannot all be accepted by the true church: !

“We cannot shut our eyes to what we believe to be the gross mistakes of our opponents, and should think ourselves unworthy of the name of honest men, if we could admit that they are right in all things and ourselves right too. An honest man has an intellect which does not permit him to believe that “yes” and “no” can both subsist at the same hour and both be true. I cannot say, “It is,” and my brother point blank say, “It is not,” and yet both of us be right on that point.

We are willing to admit, in fact, we dare not do otherwise, that opinion upon this controversy does not determine the future of even the present state of any man; but still, we think it to be so important, that in maintaining our views, we advance with all courage and fervency if spirit, believing that we are doing God’s work and upholding most important truth.

It may not be misunderstood, we only use the term for shortness. That doctrine which is called “Calvinism” did not spring from Calvin; we believe that it sprang from the great founder of all truth. Perhaps Calvin himself derived it mainly from the writings of Augustine. Augustine obtained his views, without doubt, through the Spirit of God, from the diligent study of the writings of Paul, and Paul received them of the Holy Ghost, from Jesus Christ the great founder of the Christian dispensation. ”

Excerpt 2: on the importance of understanding that correct doctrine brings Glory to a Sovereign God, and that unsound doctrine simply attempts to raise man’s importance through undeserved pride and downplays the severity of sin:

“Has it never struck you that the scheme of doctrine which is called Calvinistic has much to say concerning God? It commences and ends with the Divine One. The angel of that system stands like Uriel in the sun; it dwells with God; He begins, He carries on, He perfects; it is for His glory and for His honour. Father, Son, and Spirit co-working, the whole Gospel scheme is carried out.

Perhaps there may be this defect in our theology; we may perhaps too much forget man. I think that is a very small fault, compared with the fault of the opposite system, which begins with man, and all but ends with him. Man is a creature; how ought God to deal with him? That is the question some theologians seem to answer.

The way we put it is—God is the Creator, He has a right to do as He wills; He is Sovereign, there is no law above Him, He has a right to make and to unmake, and when man hath sinned, He has a right to save or to destroy. If He can save, and yet not impair his justice, heaven shall ring with songs; if He destroy, and yet His goodness be not marred, then hell itself with its deep bass of misery, shall swell the mighty rollings of His glorious praise.

We hold that God should be most prominent in all our teachings; and we hold this to be a gauge by which to test the soundness of ministers. If they exalt God and sink the sinner to the very dust, it is all well; but if they lower the prerogatives of Deity, if He be less sovereign, less just, or less loving than the Scripture reveals Him to be, and if man be puffed up with that fond notion that he is anything better than an unclean thing, then such theology is utterly unsound.

Salvation is of the Lord, and let the Lord alone be glorified.”

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