Thursdays With Spurgeon—Holding Two Extreme Truths

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Holding Two Extreme Truths

     This is a deep, unsearchable mystery. Man walks without a leash yet treads in the very steps that God ordained him to tread in as certainly as though manacles had bound him to the spot! Man chooses his own seat, selects his own position; guided by his will, he chooses sin, or guided by divine grace, he chooses right. And yet in His choice God sits as sovereign on the throne, not disturbing but still overruling and proving Himself to be as able to deal with free creatures as with creatures without freedom. As able to effect His purpose when He has endowed men with thought and reason and judgment, as when He had only to deal with the solid rocks and with the imbedded sea.

     O Christians! You will never be able to fathom this, but you may wonder at it. I know there is an easy way of getting out of this great deep either by denying predestination altogether or by denying free agency altogether. But you can hold the two: You can say, “Yes, my consciousness teaches me that man does as he wills, but my faith teaches me that God does as He wills, and these two are not contrary the one to the other. And yet I cannot tell how it is. I cannot tell how God effects His end. I can only wonder, and say, ‘Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!’” (Romans 11:33). Every creature is free and doing as it wills, yet God is freer still and doing as He wills not only in heaven, but also among the inhabitants of this lower earth. 

From The Infallibility Of God’s Purpose

The debate has raged for years: predestination vs. freewill. 

People will sometimes ask me, “Are you a Calvinist (predestination) or an Arminian (freewill)?” And I always give the same answer, “Yes, I am a solid Cal-minian!” As with most things that are difficult for our finite, human minds to grasp about God’s nature, the answer is not either-or but it’s both-and.

C.S. Lewis captured the same sentiments as Spurgeon. Lewis always said the best course between two immovable ideas was right between them. He added, “Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem” (emphasis mine).

Spurgeon would agree—there never was any problem, at least not with God. Any problems of understanding are in ourselves, not in Him. So far better than choosing one over the other, choose the both-and, and then stand in awe and wonder and worship that our infinite God is sovereign over all. Even over our puny, limited theologies and doctrines. 

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Honorable Disagreement

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Honorable Disagreement

     If you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views that were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it. … 

     Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him that, while I detest many of the doctrines that he preached, yet for the man himself I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the Twelve, I do not believe that there could be found to men more fit to be so added than George Whitefield and John Wesley. The character of John Wesley stands beyond all imputation for self-sacrifice, zeal, holiness, and communion with God; he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians and was one of whom the world was not worthy.

From The Autobiography Of Charles Spurgeon

Calvinists and Arminians have appeared at odds with each other for centuries. Spurgeon teaches us a valuable truth—

Men can disagree on doctrines without vilifying the men who believe and teach those doctrines. 

Spurgeon (an avowed Calvinist) and Wesley (an outspoken Arminian) strongly believed and forcefully and persuasively taught what they saw to be true in Scripture. Yet they did so without attacking or demonizing each other. They practiced what the Apostle Paul taught—

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18) 

Oh, that today we would again follow the counsel of Paul and the example of Spurgeon and Wesley!

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Are our ears ever open? Are we eager listeners? As ready to hear as God is to speak? Oh, how much we lose of happy wisdom, simply from not listening!” —Horatius Bonar

“It would be a great folly and a great tragedy if a man loved his wedding band more than he loved his bride. But that is what this passage [Romans 1:22-23] says has happened. Human beings have fallen in love with the echo of God’s excellency in creation and lost the ability to hear the incomparable, original shout of love [Psalm 19:1-2].” —John Piper

Charles Spurgeon was a Calvinist, which means he held to the doctrine of predestination, but read how he pulled together both predestination and freewill. “It is a wonderful thing how God effects His purpose while still the creature is free. They who think that predestination and the fulfillment of the divine purpose is contrary to the free-agency of man, know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm. It would be no miracle for God to effect His own purpose, if He were dealing with stocks and stones, with granite and with trees; but this is the miracle of miracles, that the creatures are free, absolutely free, and yet the divine purpose stands. Herein is wisdom. This is a deep unsearchable. Man walks without a fetter, yet treads in the very steps which God ordained him to tread in, as certainly as though manacles had bound him to the spot. Man chooses his own seat, selects his own position, guided by his will he chooses sin, or guided by divine grace he chooses the right, and yet in his choice, God sits as Sovereign on the throne; not disturbing, but still over-ruling, and proving Himself to be able to deal as well with free creatures as with creatures without freedom, as well able to effect His purpose when He has endowed men with thought, and reason, and judgment, as when He had only to deal with the solid rocks and the imbedded sea.” —Charles Spurgeon

Moral truth advocatesJ. Warner Wallace asks, “Are moral truths a product of culture? Can they be explained by purely naturalistic forces?”

[VIDEO] Are you on the wrong side of history? Check out Jonah Goldberg’s insightful commentary on this question—

Thursdays With Oswald—Predestined Freewill?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Predestined Freewill?

     Our destiny is not determined for us, but it is determined by us. Man’s free will is part of God’s sovereign will. We have freedom to take which course we choose, but not freedom to determine the end of that choice. God makes clear what He desires, we must choose, and the result of the choice is not the inevitableness of law, but the inevitableness of God.

From Conformed To His Image

Typically there are two schools of thought: Predestination (also called Calvinism) and freewill (also called Arminianism). The Bible has numerous verses that make the case for both of these viewpoints.

C.S. Lewis advised that in matters with two starkly different theological viewpoints, the safest action was to chart a course right between the two rocky islands. With that in mind, I don’t consider myself a Calvinist nor an Arminian, but a “Calminian.”

No matter where you find yourself on this theological issue, I think there is one thing we can all agree upon: God is Sovereign and God is Love. In both His sovereignty and His love He created us, sent His Son to die on a Cross for us, and sent His Spirit to draw us. I choose to accept His gift of salvation, and I’m not trying to find out how far I can stray and still be “saved.”

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