Apr 11, 2012

Charles Spurgeon on Calvinism: Irresistible Grace

4 Min Read

Charles Spurgeon affirmed the doctrine of irresistible grace. This is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit, who convicts, calls, draws, and regenerates elect sinners. This work unfailingly results in the faith of all those chosen. All whom the Father chose in eternity past and all those for whom the Son died are those whom the Spirit brings to faith in Jesus Christ. None whom the Father elected and for whom Christ died fail to believe. The Holy Spirit grants repentance and faith to these elect sinners and ensures their conversion.

This irresistible call is distinct from the general call of the gospel. The former is extended only to the elect and cannot be resisted. The latter is extended to all who hear the gospel and is resisted apart from the Spirit’s effectual call. Spurgeon explained:

The general call of the gospel is like the common “cluck” of the hen which she is always giving when her chickens are around her. But if there is any danger impending, then she gives a very peculiar call, quite different from the ordinary one, and the little chicks come running as fast as they can, and hide for safety under her wings. That is the call we want, God’s peculiar and effectual call to his own.

This effectual call always secures its desired effect—the salvation of God’s own.

God’s sovereign call, Spurgeon affirmed, is far more powerful than any man’s resistance: “A man is not saved against his will, but he is made willing by the operation of the Holy Ghost. A mighty grace which he does not wish to resist enters into the man, disarms him, makes a new creature of him, and he is saved.” This means no one is beyond the saving power of God:

Difficulty is not a word to be found in the dictionary of heaven. Nothing can be impossible with God. The swearing reprobate, whose mouth is blackened with profanity, whose heart is a very hell, and his life like the reeking flames of the bottomless pit—such a man, if the Lord but looks on him and makes bare His arm of irresistible grace, shall yet praise God and bless His name and live to His honor.

In short, no human heart is so obstinate that the Spirit cannot conquer and convert it.

Spurgeon described how the Spirit had conquered his own stubborn heart:

When He first came to me, did I not spurn Him? When He knocked at the door, and asked for entrance, did I not drive Him away, and do despite to His grace? Ah! I can remember that I full often did so until, at last, by the power of His effectual grace, He said, “I must, I will come in;” and then He turned my heart, and made me love Him.

Just as the Holy Spirit turned Spurgeon’s heart, so He does in all those chosen by the Father, causing them to believe in the Son.

Spurgeon gloried in this triumph of God’s sovereign grace. God’s immutable will, he proclaimed, is far greater than man’s stubborn will:

Oh! I love God’s “shalls” and “wills.” There is nothing comparable to them. Let a man say “shall,” what is it good for? “I will,” says man, and he never performs; “I shall,” says he, and he breaks his promise. But it is never so with God’s “shalls.” If He says “shall,” it shall be; when He says “will,” it will be. Now He has said here, “many shall come.” The devil says, “they shall not come;” but “they shall come.” You yourselves say, “we won’t come;” God says, “You shall come.” Yes! There are some here who are laughing at salvation, who can scoff at Christ, and mock at the gospel; but I tell you some of you shall come yet. “What!” you say, “can God make me become a Christian?” I tell you yes, for herein rests the power of the gospel. It does not ask your consent; but it gets it. It does not say, will you have it? But it makes you willing in the day of God’s power.

Moreover, Spurgeon declared that irresistible grace makes even the most resistant hearts receptive to the offer of salvation. Listen to the enormous confidence in his preaching of the gospel:

If Jesus Christ were to stand on this platform tonight, what would many people do with Him? If He were to come and say, “Here I am, I love you, will you be saved by Me?” not one of you would consent if you were left to your will. He Himself said, “No man can come to Me except the Father who hath sent Me draw him.” Ah! We want that; and here we have it. They shall come! They shall come! Ye may laugh, ye may despise us; but Jesus Christ shall not die for nothing. If some of you reject Him there are some that will not. If there are some that are not saved, others shall be. Christ shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hands. They shall come! And nought in heaven, nor on earth, nor in hell, can stop them from coming.

Spurgeon was as courageous as a lion in proclaiming the saving message of Christ. He drew that courage from his belief that the Holy Spirit will turn the hearts of those chosen to believe on Christ. Simply put, Spurgeon knew that the Spirit guarantees that God’s Word will not return to Him void. Irresistible grace is triumphant grace.

This article is part of the Charles Spurgeon on Calvinism collection.