Before I continue with my review of the book by MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus, I want to take time to look at another person from the past that advocated a similar position. Some believe that MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation is a relatively new thing. This is intended to show that this message is not new and can come as a logical progression from any Calvinist.
The following quotes are from Spurgeon’s book The Soul Winner.
Consider the errors that Spurgeon taught. He rejected the free grace view that repentance means change of mind. Now he said repentance means “change of mind” but described it this way on page 30 of his book “The Soul Winner”.
“”You will not find a better definition of it than the one given in the children’s hymn.
“Repentance is to leave
The sins we loved before
And show that we in earnest grieve,
By doing so no more.”
No way can this be the repentance spoken of in scripture concerning salvation itself.
He goes on to say: “True conversion is in all men attended by a sense of sin (which have spoken of under the heading of conviction); by a sorrow for sin or holy grief at having committed it; by a hatred of sin, which proves that its dominion is ended; and by a practical turning from sin, which shows that the life within the soul is operating upon the life without.”
“All the spokes of a wheel move at once when the wheel moves, and so all the graces commence action when regeneration is worked by the Holy Ghost. However there must be repentance. No sinner looks to the Savior with a dry eye or a hard heart.”
“Aim therefore at heart-breaking, at bringing home condemnation to the conscience and weaning the mind from sin. Be not content till the whole mind is deeply and vitally changed in reference to sin.”
“Another proof of the conquest of a soul for Christ will be found in a real change of life. If the man does not live differently from what he did before, both at home and abroad, his repentance needs to be repented of, and his conversion is a fiction.”
Spurgeon illustrates here an almost total misunderstanding of repentance and it is one that has permeated through most churches. It really amounts to works salvation and Lordship legalism. It is not scriptural. (See the book of Galatians.)
The fact alone that a saved man has two natures refutes Spurgeon’s claims and MacArthur’s for that matter. (For more reading see my doctrinal statement section on eternal security and the corresponding verses) Spurgeon basically articulated Lordship salvation long before MacArthur and long before it was even called that.
“If the professed convert deliberately declares that he know his Lord’s will but does not intend to obey it, you are not to pamper his presumption. Rather it is your duty to assure him that he is not saved. Has not the Lord said, “Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27)?” pg 33.
Look back at MacArthur’s quotes including this one. See any similarities?
“The gospel according to Jesus calls sinners to give up their independence, deny themselves, submit to an alien will, and abandon all rights in order to be owned and controlled by the Lord. By confessing Jesus as Lord (Kurios), we automatically confess that we are His slaves (douloi).” – John MacArthur
They both make this type of error (positional vs practical) as seen on page 31 of “The Soul Winner”.
“The scripture says, “He that committeth sin is of the devil” (I John 3:8). Abiding under the power of any known sin is a mark of our being the servants of sin, for “his servants ye are to whom ye obey” (Romans 6:16).”
For more reading on this error see Dr Cone’s article:
(Please note that I don’t personally vouch for everything on this site or everything that Dr Cone teaches necessarily but I feel that this article illustrates this particular point well.)
Faith and repentance, contrary to Spurgeon, are not graces given to us in a Calvinistic sense on an individual (for the elect only) basis. The one qualifier for genuine repentance is the resting point (the object of our salvation). Our change of mind has to land upon the Savior alone. He alone saves and leave all the rest of the works and qualifiers out of it. They only prevent sinners from getting saved and frustrate existing believers. Believers need the freedom to do good works based on a settled point of salvation. If their salvation is in doubt perpetually because of any and all sins that they commit in the flesh then their growth will be stunted and they will live fearful frustrated lives. It is kind of like being on a roller coaster with the ups and downs. Many people can testify to this experience but the blessed thing is that many have seen the truth and gotten off of the roller coaster and instead have built a foundation on the reality of their salvation. (I John 5:13, I Pet 2, John 3:16)
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Isaiah, thanks for the quote. It helps to demonstrate how confusing Spurgeon can be.
“Some people preach repentance as a condition of salvation. Condition of nonsense!” – Charles Spurgeon
Thomas, there is always a lack of consistency between people who look to works (such as repenting from sin) for salvation, and their resultant behavior. We must be perfect to enter into heaven. Anyone who thinks he has “repented of his sins” is deceived.
if in time i would love u to review the beliefs of Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones a Reformed charasmatic from what i can gather. What a mix, he preached against cessationism.
“Spurgeon illustrates here an almost total misunderstanding of repentance and it is one that has permeated through most churches.”
I don’t see how this is the case in American Christianity as a whole. Major swaths of it: Episcopals, the PCUSA, UMC, and others have denied the faith and, to varying degrees amongst them, promote evil things like homosexuality, abortion, ordination of gays, etc. Most churches in America have no hunger and thirst for righteousness. At least Piper has been arrested for trying to save the unborn by protesting at abortion clinics.
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Yes, it is also true that there is a broad path that leads to destruction. Too few people find the truth. I think is partially because the stop at the fools gold false gospel version of the truth. Part of Satan’s blinding is to twist Biblical truth with man’s wisdom.
We must always strive to go against the larger trends of false gospels like LS. This is the real danger because it is more believable to regular church attenders than things like Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism etc
I agree. I recently found out from a Free Grace advocate, Dr. Robert N. Wilkin who has engaged in debates with Lordship proponents that 95% of all churches, denominations, seminaries, and even seminary professors believe in Lordship Salvation. This is utterly shocking! Calvinism/Lordship Salvation has so permeated and contaminated the Free Grace Gospel of John 3:16, 5:24, 6:47, 10:28-29, Acts 16:30-31. If Jim Jones can deceive and mislead over 900 people to hell by way of his false teachings and by way of suicide on a small scale, look at how much more MacArthur, Piper, Sproul, Packer, Washer, and others are doing on a nationwide/worldwide scale with their false gospel. 2 Corinthians 4:4 – The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
That is quite true. History does repeat itself in this fashion. We should never buy into the lie that these deceptions are relatively new. I agree with you about the modern day church in general. Lordship salvation gets a pass or is embraced. Same thing goes for Spurgeon. He is embraced and revered by many Pastors but would they also embrace MacArthur? How i wish more would see the accursed gospel for what it is.
Looks like history keeps repeating itself in regards to false doctrine. There were MacArthurs and Pipers then and we have them now. The modern day church has taken the false doctrine of Calvinism/Lordship Salvation for granted and there are so many churches today that lack spiritual discernment. 2 Corinthians 11:4 – For if a person comes and preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you had not received, or a different gospel, which you had not accepted, you put up with it splendidly! Satan has a whole inventory of false religions and false gospels that he puts into different attractive packages, but the end result is the same.
That is a great illustration of Spurgeon’s error.
Holly, here are a couple of Spurgeon preaching references to John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress. Both reveal non-biblical Calvinist tenets inherent in Spurgeon’s beliefs. The first reveals belief in limited atonement and irresistable grace. The second reveals belief in perseverance of the saints. I apologize for the length.
“Unto us who are called.” I received a note this week asking me to explain that word “called”; because in one passage it says, “Many are called but few are chosen,” while in another it appears that all who are called must be chosen. Now, let me observe that there are two calls. As my old friend, John Bunyan, says, the hen has two calls, the common cluck, which she gives daily and hourly, and the special one, which she means for her little chickens. So there is a general call, a call made to every man; every man hears it. Many are called by it; all you are called this morning in that sense, but very few are chosen. The other is a special call, the children’s call. You know how the bell sounds over the workshop, to call the men to work–that is a general call. A father goes to the door and calls out, “John, it is dinner time”–that is the special call. Many are called with the general call, but they are not chosen; the special call is for the children only, and that is what is meant in the text, “Unto us who are called, both Jews and Greeks, the power of God and the wisdom of God.” That call is always a special one. While I stand here and call men, nobody comes; while I preach to sinners universally, no good is done; it is like the sheet lightning you sometimes see on the summer’s evening, beautiful, grand; but whoever heard of anything being struck by it? But the special call is the forked flash from heaven; it strikes somewhere; it is the arrow sent in between the joints of the harness. The call which saves is like that of Jesus, when he said “Mary,” and she said unto him “Rabonni.” Do you know anything about that special call, my beloved? Did Jesus ever call you by name? Canst thou recollect the hour when he whispered thy name in thine ear, when he said, “Come to me”? If so, you will grant the truth of what I am going to say next about it–that it is an effectual call; there is no resisting it. When God calls with his special call, there is no standing out. Ah! I know I laughed at religion; I despised, I abhorred it; but that call! Oh, I would not come. But God said, “Thou shalt come. All that the Father giveth to me shall come.” “Lord, I will not.” “But thou shalt,” said God. And I have gone up to God’s house sometimes almost with a resolution that I would not listen, but listen I must. Oh, how the word came into my soul! Was there a power of resistance? No; I was thrown down; each bone seemed to be broken; I was saved by effectual grace.”
“In some old castle there is a deep cellar, where there is a vast amount of fixed air and gas, which would kill anybody who went down. What does the guide say? “If you go down you will never come up alive.” Who thinks of going down? The very fact of the guide telling us what the consequences would be, keeps us from it. Our friend puts away from us a cup of arsenic; he does not want us to drink it, but he says, “If you drink it, it will kill you.” Does he suppose for a moment that we should drink it. No; he tells us the consequences, and he is sure we will not do it. So God says, “My child, if you fall over this precipice you will be dashed to pieces.” What does the child do? He says, “Father, keep me; hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.” It leads the believer to greater dependence on God, to a holy fear and caution, because he knows that if he were to fall away he could not be renewed, and he stands far away from that great gulf, because he know that if he were to fall into it there would be no salvation for him. If I thought as the Arminian thinks, that I might fall away, and then return again, I should pretty often fall away, for sinful flesh and blood would think it very nice to fall away, and be a sinner, and go and see the play at the theatre, or get drunk, and then come back to the Church, and be received again as a dear brother who had fallen away for a little while. No doubt the minister would say, “Our brother Charles is a little unstable at times.” A little unstable! He does not know anything about grace; for grace engenders a holy caution, because we feel that if we were not preserved by Divine power we should perish. We tell our friend to put oil in his lamp, that it may continue to burn! Does that imply that it will be allowed to go out? No, God will give him oil to pour into the lamp continually. Like John Bunyan’s figure; there was a fire, and he saw a man pouring water upon it. “Now,” says the Preacher, “don’t you see that fire would go out, that water is calculated to put it out, and if it does, it will never be lighted again;” but God does not permit that! for there is a man behind the wall who is pouring oil on the fire; and we have cause for gratitude in the fact, that if the oil were not put in by a heavenly hand, we should inevitably be driven to destruction. Take care, then Christian, for this is a caution.”
Funny, I started a timeline on Spurgeon a few weeks ago, one of the interesting facts I found was that he read Pilgrim’s Progress at six, and more than 100 times since. The most popular preacher of his day at 22 years of age. Speaks volumes to me.
Reblogged this on Notes From A Retired Preacher and commented:
This is an excellent and important article on the terrible errors of Charles Spurgeon. well worth the read from our friend Jim GFloyd.
Yeah, I am not sure why there is a tendency to hero worship and revere Spurgeon unless you are Reformed. It think you can find quotes from Him that on their own would be fine but I always try to look at the whole picture of what a person is saying. Once you factor in his ideas and quotes above it nullifies so much. The same goes for any LS proponent. Changing the gospel does so much to undermine everything else. That is partly why I wonder why people don’t more readily see the urgency of avoiding teachers like him. If they don’t then they may be ignorant of his views or may share them to an extent. I am automatically suspicious of any Pastor that heaps praise on Spurgeon or MacArthur.
Jim, thanks for another fine article. Spurgeon was very non-Biblical in his view of the gospel. Much of what passes for Christianity today is theologically misaligned with Spurgeon. Many denominations revere Spurgeon, using his quotes as near-Biblical substitutes. Many others, who ought to know better, ignore, excuse, or rationalize Spurgeon’s obvious theological errors.
I prefer to avoid Spurgeon and similar false teachers altogether.