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—Rejoicing In God’s Unchangeableness

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.

Rejoicing In God’s Unchangeableness

But He is unchangeable, and who can turn Him? And what He wants to do, that He does” (Job 23:13 AMP).

     Some shallow thinkers dream that the great plan and design of God was thrown out of order by the fall of man. The fall they consider all accidental circumstances, not intended in the divine plan, and thus God, being placed in a delicate predicament of requiring to sacrifice His justice or His mercy, used the plan of the atonement of Christ as a divine expedient. … I am persuaded that the very fall of man was a part of the divine purpose: that even the sin of Adam, though he did it freely, was nevertheless contemplated in the divine scheme and was by no means such a thing as to involve a digression from His primary plan. …  

     And when later the gospel was sent to the Jews, and they resisted it and Paul and Peter turned to the Gentiles, do not suppose that God had to take down His book and make an eraser or an amendment. No, the whole was written there from the beginning. He knew everything of it. He has never altered a single sentence nor changed a single line of the divine purpose. … 

     It is a sweet consolation to the mind of one who muses much upon these deep matters that God never has changed in any degree from His purpose.

From The Infallibility Of God’s Purpose 

God has a plan for all of His creation. ALL of His creation—that includes you! 

You were made on purpose and for a purpose. God’s original plan of sending Jesus for your salvation still stands. God’s original plan for your particular life—with all of your talents, gifts, personality, and uniqueness—is unaltered by any circumstance. 

YOU have immeasurable value and worth because God created YOU. 

Thursdays With Spurgeon—God’s Purpose Prevails

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.

God’s Purpose Prevails

But He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth (Job 23:13 KJV). But He is unchangeable, and who can turn Him? And what He wants to do, that He does (AMP). 

     Now the fact taught here is that in all the acts of God in providence, He has a fixed and a settled purpose. ‘He is in one mind.’ It is eminently consolatory to us, who are God’s creatures, to know that He did not make us without a purpose and that now, in all His dealings with us, He has the same wise and gracious end to be served. … 

     O believer, ever look, then, on all your sufferings as being parts of the divine plan and say, as wave upon wave rolls over you, ‘He is in one mind!’ He is carrying out still His one great purpose. None of these comes by chance; none of these happens to me out of order; but everything comes to me according to the purpose of His own will and answers the purpose of His own great mind. … 

     We sweat, we toil, and we fail. How often do we come back weeping because we have toiled, as we think, without success! Yet, Christian man, you have not been without success, for ‘He is still in one mind.’ All this was necessary to the fulfillment of His one purpose. You are not lost; your labor has not rotted under the clod. All, though you see it not, has been working together toward the desired end. … 

     From every evil, good has come. And the more the evil has accumulated, the more has God glorified Himself in bringing out at last His grand, His everlasting design. This, I take it, is the first general lesson of the text—in every event of providence, God has a purpose. ‘He is in one mind.’ 

     Mark, not only a purpose, but only one purpose—for all history is but one. There are many scenes, but it is one drama. There are many pages, but it is one book. There are many leaves, but it is one tree. There are many provinces, yes, and there are many lords and rulers, yet there is but one empire and God the one Potentate.

From The Infallibility Of God’s Purpose

All of history is His storyand your life is a part of that Grand Story as well. God doesn’t miss a thing. He is working all things out to accomplish His purpose (see Romans 8:28). Even when it seems nothing is happening, turn your thoughts back to God Whose plans never fail, Whose purposes are never frustrated, Who is always working out His grand plan.

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Study The Right Things

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.

Study The Right Things

     It is very advantageous to the Christian mind frequently to consider the deep and unsearchable attributes of God. … If we study man and make him the only object of our research, there will be a strong tendency in our minds to exaggerate his importance. We will think too much of the creature and too little of the Creator, preferring the knowledge that is to be found out by observation and reason to the divine truth that revelation alone could make known to us. … 

     The fleeting things of human life and the fickle thoughts and showy deeds of men are as movable and as changeable as the waters of the treacherous deep. But when we mount up, as it were, with eagles’ wings to Him Who sits upon the circle of the earth, before Whom all its inhabitants are as grasshoppers (Isaiah 40:22), we nestle in the Rock of Ages that from its eternal socket never starts and in its fixed immovability can never be disturbed.

From The Infallibility Of God’s Purpose

I read a lot of books. But in the hands-down, it’s-not-even-close category, I read the Bible more than anything else. It is the Book of books because it reveals the eternal Wisdom behind the earth’s wisdom. 

Zig Ziglar used to say, “Every morning I read my Bible and I read the newspaper. That way, I know what both sides are up to.” That’s pretty good!

We read the Bible not just to know the Bible, but to know the One Who authored the Bible. Or, as I like to say it—

My goal in reading the Word God is to get to know the God of the Word better and better.

Charles Spurgeon would never say—nor do I—that you shouldn’t study a variety of topics. Just make sure that your priority is God’s Word. This will give you the greatest insight into other topics and will protect you from humanistic error. 

Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Best Study To Expand Your Mind

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.

The Best Study To Expand Your Mind

     The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy that can ever engage the attention of a child of God is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. … It is a subject so vast that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity, so deep that our pride is drowned in its infinity. …

     But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He who often thinks of God will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe. …

     Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. …  

     There is one name on which mutability can never be written. One heart never can alter. That heart is God’s; that name Love. 

From The Immutability Of God

The vastness—the infiniteness—of God is something which should much consume us! The psalmists frequently write of the time they spent meditating on God and His awesomeness. 

That word “meditate” means to mull something over and over in your mind; literally, it means “to hum.” Perhaps that’s why the psalms were written as songs, so that it would be easier for people to hum their pondering on how majestic our All-Powerful, All-Loving God is. 

It’s not about the quantity of your Bible reading, but it’s about the quality of your reading. And it’s about what you do with what you have read. Soak in it. Meditate on it. Hum it over and over again throughout the day. Let the truth of God’s majesty lift your mind and spirit to new heights!

This is truly the greatest topic on which you can muse. The illumination of God will expand your mind like no other study in the world can.

Oh Lord my God when I in awesome wonder
consider all the worlds Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art! How great Thou art! (Stuart Wesley Keene Hine)

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Following The Prompting

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.

Following The Prompting

     I once while preaching at New Park Street Chapel. I had passed happily through all the early parts of divine service on the Sabbath evening and was giving out the hymn before the sermon. I opened the Bible to find the text, which I had carefully studied as the topic of discourse, when, on the opposite page, another passage of Scripture sprang upon me like a lion from a thicket with vastly more power then I had felt when considering the text that I had chosen. The people were singing and I was sighing. I was in a strait between two, and my mind hung as in the balances. I was naturally desirous to run in the track that I had carefully planned, but the other text would take no refusal and seemed to tug at my skirts, crying, “No, no, you must preach from me! God would have you follow me.” I deliberated within myself as to my duty, for I would neither be fanatical nor unbelieving, and at last I thought within myself, Well, I should like to preach the sermon that I have prepared, and it is a great risk to run to strike out a new line of thought, but as this text constrains me, it may be of the Lord, and therefore I will venture upon it, come what may.

     I had brought myself into great difficulty by obeying what I thought to be a divine impulse, and I felt comparatively easy about it, believing that God would help me and knowing that I could at least close the service should there be nothing more to be said. I had no need to deliberate, for in one moment we were in total darkness. The gas had gone out…. Having no manuscript, I could speak just as well in the dark as in the light…. When the lamps were lit again, I saw before me an audience as rapt and subdued as ever a man beheld in his life. … Thus, providence befriended me. I cast myself upon God, and His arrangements quenched the light at the proper time for me. Some may ridicule, but I adore; others may even censure, but I rejoice.

From The Autobiography of Charles Spurgeon

God can speak to pastors as clearly in his or her sermon preparation time as He can in the very moments before the sermon begins. The key is our obedience to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit. 

Spurgeon would never advocate that preachers “wing it” every time they step into the pulpit. His own life showed a man of diligent study of the Scripture. But neither would Spurgeon say that preachers have to stick to their prepared remarks no matter what. What I think he would say is: Trust God when you’re studying for a sermon, and trust God when you’re delivering a sermon. Allow the Spirit to change your course at any moment. 

Is this a bit nerve-wracking? Spurgeon would say, “Yes, only when deliberating whether to strike out on the new course.” But notice how once he obeyed that prompting, he felt completely at ease.

Spurgeon also reminds us, “I do not see why a man cannot speak extemporaneously upon a subject that he fully understands. Any tradesman, well versed in his line of business, could explain it without needing to retire for meditation, and surely I ought to be equally familiar with the first principles of our holy faith. I ought not to feel at a loss when called upon to speak upon topics that constitute the daily bread of my soul.”

Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Most Unlikely Recruits

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.

The Most Unlikely Recruits

     Men and women have come in simply out of curiosity—a curiosity often created by some unfounded story or malicious slander of prejudiced minds. Yet Jesus Christ has called them and they have become both His disciples and our warmhearted friends. Some of the most unlikely recruits has been, in after days, our most valuable soldiers. They began with aversion and ended with enthusiasm. They came to scoff but remained to pray. Such cases are not at all uncommon.

     They were not unusual in the days of Whitefield and Wesley. They tell us in their journals of persons who came with stones in their pockets to throw at the Methodists, but whose enmity was slain by a stone from the sling of the Son of David. Others came to create disturbances, but a disturbance was created in their hearts that could never be quelled till they came to Jesus Christ and found peace in Him. The history of the church of God is studded with the remarkable conversions of persons who did not wish to be converted, who were not looking for grace but were even opposed to it, and yet, by the interposing arm of eternal mercy, were struck down and transformed into earnest and devoted followers of the Lamb. 

From The Autobiography of Charles Spurgeon

It is true that “the history of the church of God is studded with the remarkable conversions.” Think of the murderous persecutor Saul of Tarsus who encountered Jesus on a road near Damascus. This unlikely recruit to Christianity spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ far and wide. 

Think of an atheistic college professor named C.S. Lewis who eventually surrendered to the truth in the Bible, calling himself the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England. Lewis went on to write some of the most influential Christian apologetic books of the 20th century. 

And most personally, think of yourself. Paul reminds us, “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth” (1 Corinthians 1:26). Yet God is using you right now to build His Church.

Keep on loving Jesus. Keep on sharing Jesus with your unsaved friends—no matter how antagonistic they may seem to your message. You never know what God may do with those “reluctant recruits.” 

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