Divine Gentleness

By C. H. Spurgeon

How much patience and gentleness God has had with us in suiting truth to our understandings and experiences! “I have many things to say unto you,”says Jesus, “but ye cannot bear them now.” It is so with us: I suppose we did not learn the doctrine of election during the first week of our spiritual life. Higher and sublimer truths are left for later experience, and belong rather to advanced saints than to the babes in grace. If the babe in Christ knew so much about the filthiness of his own heart as the advanced man of God, he might not be able to bear up under the grief occasioned by such knowledge. Inward discoveries come by degrees, and as we see the light of the cross we see the darkness of sin; as we are assured of our salvation in Christ, we discover our utter and entire ruin by the fall of Adam. It is gentleness which makes the all-wise One stoop down to our ignorance and teach us by slow degrees.

-Excerpted from Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Divine Gentleness Acknowledged,” The Metropolitan Pulpit, Vol. 12 (Dallas, TX: The Electronic Bible Society, 1999), 225.

How Predestination Motivates and Empowers Evangelism

By Andrew Reeves

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
-Matthew 28:19-20

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
-Romans 8:7-8

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
-1 Corinthians 2:14

There is a serious problem presented to us in these verses. We are commanded to go and make disciples of all nations. But we are told that sinners will not submit to God, “indeed it (their minds) cannot.” Furthermore we learn that the natural person “is not able to understand…” the things of God. How can Christians possibly make disciples of all nations when sinful man will reject and ridicule the Gospel message? Is evangelism hopeless?

Evangelism is hopeless if God’s sovereign grace through predestination did not breathe life into the dead heart of the unbeliever. Scripture clearly states: “…you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…” (Ephesians 2:1-2). Can a corpse decide to live again? The obvious answer is NO, it cannot! So how can something dead live? “But God…because of the great love with which he loved us…made us alive together with Christ…” (Ephesians 2:4-5). Through sharing the gospel God creates life in the dead heart of the unbeliever and raises them to life.

Now some say that believing in God’s sovereign power to convert the lost kills evangelism. However the opposite is actually the case, belief in the all-powerful sovereign saving God gives the greatest motivation to do evangelism. If the conversion of the sinner is our job and relies on us then we will use methods that appeal to the sinner. We will give them a gospel that says: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” And guess what; hundreds of God-hating sinners flock to our churches to hear this message.

Not trusting in the sovereignty of God in evangelism makes us man-pleasers not God-pleasers. J. I. Packer makes this excellent point: “Apart from it (the sovereign grace of God in conversion), there is not even a possibility of evangelism being fruitful. Were it not for the sovereign grace of God, evangelism would be the most futile and useless enterprise that the world has ever seen, and there would be no more complete waste of time under the sun than to preach the Christian gospel.”2

Belief in God’s sovereign grace to convert the sinner motivates and empowers us in four ways. First of all it gives us confidence to share the gospel because we know that when we share it God WILL save people. Second, it makes us bold because we know that God is in control and guides us in our evangelistic efforts. Third, it makes us patient because God could convert someone at any moment, so we do not lose hope. Last, it makes us more prayerful, since God is the one who converts the sinner we cry out to him day and night to save people. I pray that God opens your eyes to the beauty of His sovereign grace and the power it gives you in evangelism.

2 J. I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God(Downer Groves, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1961), 116.

The Doctrine of Election Motivates Us to Personal Holiness

By Lyndel Erin Hobbs

“That’s not very practical!” Have you ever heard that after a doctrinal sermon? I contend that our doctrine determines our behavior. Those I know who practice personal holiness are very strong in their doctrinal understanding.

Does the doctrine of election result in personal holiness? One cannot hold to the doctrine of election, that God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4) without considering the ramifications on our personal behavior. God did not just “choose us to be saved,” as we might say. He chose us to be holy!

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:10

In addition to the following, note Titus 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:10; Isa. 43:41; Acts 9:15.

“As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” 1 Pet. 1:15-16

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, . . .forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Col 3:12-13

“Those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Rom. 8:29

If we could simply get a glimpse of the awesome majesty and sovereignty of our God, and of how gracious is His choosing us out of the horror of our sin and rebellion against Him, and His forgiving us, how could we do anything other than desire to live our lives pure before Him? “Love, so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Who could articulate this better than C. H. Spurgeon? I commend to you his motivational sermon, Election and Holiness,1which was the original motivation for this article and from which I obtained the following excerpts. You will enjoy reading it.

“Election is a separation. God has set apart him that is godly for himself, has separated a people out of the mass of mankind. Does that separation allow us to draw the inference thus:—‘God has separated me, therefore, I will live as other men live.’ No! If I believe that God has distinguished me by his discriminating love, and separated me, then I hear the cry, ‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate.’”

“Christian men keep from sin because their nature abhors sin. Do not imagine we are kept back from sin because we are terrified with threats of damnation, we have no fear, except the fear of offending our loving Father.”

“The men that have believed this doctrine have been the wide world over. . . have been the most zealous, most earnest, most holy men.. . . Never were men more heavenly-minded than the Puritans; and what Puritan can you find that holds any other doctrine than that which I preach today? You may find some modern doctor who teaches the reverse, but march through centuries, and with few exceptions, where are the saints who denied the Election of God?. . .Martyrs died for it! They sealed the truth with their blood.”

“To man that is renewed by grace, there is no doctrine that could make him love sin.”

1Charles Spurgeon, Sermon 303, “Election and Holiness,” in The Spurgeon Archive, ed. Phillip R. Johnson, accessed March 2, 2012, www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0303.htm.

The Second London Confession of 1689, Chapter 3: Of God’s Decree

1. God hath (a)decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin (b)nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather (c)established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness (d)in accomplishing his decree.
(a) Isa 46:10; Eph 1:11; Heb 6:17; Rom 9:15,18;
(b) Jam 1:13; 1Jo 1:5;
(c) Acts 4:27-28; Joh 19:11;
(d) Num 23:19; Eph 1:3-5

2. Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all (e)supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything, (f)because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.
(e) Acts 15:18;
(f) Rom 9:11,13,16,18

3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, (g)some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the (h)praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their (i)just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice.
(g) 1Ti 5:21; Mat 25:34;
(h) Eph 1:5-6;(i) Rom 9:22-23; Jude 4

4. These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their (k)number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
(k) 2Ti 2:19; Joh 13:18

5. Those of mankind (l)that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, (m)without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving him thereunto.
(l)Eph 1:4,9,11; Rom 8:30; 2Ti 1:9; 1Th 5:9;
(m) Rom 9:13,16; Eph 2:5,12

6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so he hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained (n)all the means thereunto; wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, (o)are redeemed by Christ, are effectually (p)called unto faith in Christ, by his Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith (q)unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect (r)only.
(n) 1Pe 1:2; 2Th 2:13;
(o) 1Th 5:9-10;
(p) Rom 8:30; 2Th 2:13;
(q) 1Pe 1:5;
(r) Joh 10:26, 17:9, 6:64

7. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending the will of God revealed in his Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their (s)eternal election; so shall this doctrine afford matter (t)of praise, reverence, and admiration of God, and (u)of humility, diligence, and (x)abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.
(s) 1Th 1:4-5; 2Pe 1:10;
(t) Eph 1:6; Rom 11:33;
(u) Rom 11:5,6,20;
(x) Luk 10:20