Apr 18, 2012

Charles Spurgeon on Calvinism: Preserving Grace

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Charles Spurgeon affirmed the doctrine of the preserving grace of God, sometimes known as the perseverance of the saints. This biblical truth teaches that no believers in Christ will ever fall from grace, for God upholds their faith. Spurgeon affirmed,

I think few doctrines more vital than that of the perseverance of the saints, for if ever one child of God did perish, or if I knew it were possible that one could, I should conclude at once that I must, and I suppose each of you would do the same.

Spurgeon saw the preserving grace of God as a primary component of the gospel.

The truth of preserving grace, Spurgeon testified, was the enticing bait that drew him to Christ. Before he was saved, Spurgeon observed others who appeared to fall away from their profession. These apparent examples of apostasy made him hesitant to commit his life to Christ. He said:

Whatever good resolutions I might make, the possibilities were that they would be good for nothing when temptation assailed me. I might be like those of whom it has been said, “They see the devil’s hook and yet cannot help nibbling at his bait.” But, that I should morally disgrace myself, as some had done whom I had known and heard of, was a hazard from the very thought of which I shrunk with horror.

The thought that he might start the journey to heaven but fail to complete it terrified Spurgeon. As a result, he remained paralyzed in unbelief.

But then Spurgeon heard the marvelous truth that all who truly start the Christian life surely complete it. At that point, he could not resist entrusting his life to Christ:

When I heard and read with wondering eyes that whosoever believed in Christ Jesus should be saved, the truth came to my heart with a welcome I cannot describe to you. The doctrine that He would keep the feet of His saints had a charm indeed for me.

He testified elsewhere:

I must confess that the doctrine of the final preservation of the saints was a bait that my soul could not resist. I thought it was a sort of life insurance—an insurance of my character, an insurance of my soul, an insurance of my eternal destiny. I knew that I could not keep myself, but if Christ promised to keep me, then I should be safe for ever; and I longed and prayed to find Christ, because I knew that, if I found Him, He would not give me a temporary and trumpery salvation, such as some preach, but eternal life which could never be lost.

This important doctrine became a key component of Spurgeon’s gospel focus. Without it, he claimed, he would not be able to preach: “If anybody could possibly convince me that final perseverance is not a truth of the Bible, I should never preach again, for I feel I should have nothing worth preaching.” Simply put, the perseverance of the saints was a necessary link in the unbreakable golden chain of salvation that he preached.

Spurgeon saw this doctrine as inseparably bound with justification by faith: “That doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints is, I believe, as thoroughly bound up with the standing or falling of the gospel as is the article of justification by faith. Give that up, and I see no gospel left.” Spurgeon was so convinced of this that he stated elsewhere:

The doctrine of the final perseverance of believers seems to me to be written as with a beam of sunlight throughout the whole of Scripture. If that is not true, there is nothing at all in the Bible that is true. It is impossible to understand the Bible at all if it is not so.

He added: “If there is anything taught in Scripture for certain, it is the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints. I am as sure that doctrine is as plainly taught as the doctrine of the deity of Christ.”

This is not a secondary doctrine, sitting on the periphery of Scripture, but a primary truth, embedded in the core of the Bible and found throughout its pages. Thus, found it impossible not to preach it.

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