Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Christianity with backbone

Charles Spurgeon on faith and election from 2 Timothy with great clarity:
Oh my friend, you will never get faith by trying to make yourself have it. Faith is the gift of Christ! go and find it in his veins. There is a secret spot where faith is treasured up; it is in the heart of Christ; go and catch it sinner as it flows therefrom. Go to your chamber, and sit down and picture Christ in holy vision, dying on the tree, and as your eye sees, your heart shall melt, your soul shall believe, and you shall rise from your knees and cry, "I know whom I may believe, and I am persuaded he is able to save that which I have committed to him until that day." Spurgeon on The Sweet Uses of Adversity

"How can a man be ashamed when he believes that God has given him grace in Christ Jesus before the world was? Suppose the man to be very poor. "Oh," says he, "what matters it? Though I have but a little oil in the cruse, and a little meal in the barrel, yet I have a lot and a portion in everlasting things. My name is not in Doomsday Book nor in Burke's Peerage; but it is in the book of God's election, and was there before the world began... No doctrine like it for putting a backbone into a man." Spurgeon on Salvation altogether by grace
The shockwaves of election are what we need to get a grip upon. Paul writes his last letter to timid Timothy and reminds him afresh of the gospel of grace. Specifically, 1v8-9 how he is saved by God's grace. Not by works but before the purpose and grace of God before time. Before God even said 'let there be light' he was writing a sealed letter with our names in. Not because we're special but because it is in his nature to be overflowingly gracious.

No wonder the application for Timothy is to take a stand, to be unashamed, to face suffering and hardship for testifying about the apostolic gospel of Jesus Christ. Election is a beautiful doctrine that puts backbone into timid-Tim, a doctrine for the Holy Spirit to write on his heart through the Scriptures. Subduing his rebellion, as Calvin says, with the Majesty of God - with this doctrine that magnifies God and silences any contribution to our salvation that we might boldly try to claim. And in the same breath giving us a doctrine worth telling our world about.


  1. I'm not convinced that the first quote is very biblical. Spurgeon seems to identify the gift of faith with an experience of sympathy and emotion upon contemplation of the death of Jesus.

    Is that actually a NT definition of faith? Is that how the bible describes the origin of faith?

    What if someone says, 'I just don't share your experience. It can't be a gift for me?'

    Isn't it more biblical not to look for a confirming experience, but to have the courage to doubt the world when God has said and done his works of creation, salvation and redemption in clear sight?

    I'm not against feelings, nor am I against connecting with moments and experiences that we have as human beings. But I'm just not sure that biblical view of the giving of faith for the believer is by way of an experience during contemplation of the cross.

    I wonder if this perspective that I am recoiling against is neo-Barthian?

    Would love to hear other opinions.

  2. It is very experientially put, but I guess he's emphasising that faith is Christ-centred not something from me.

    The link is broken above and should be: The Sweet Uses of Adversity to give the quote it's context.

  3. I think you're right to want to guard against experience as a rubber stamp of conversion, but is the poin that when faith comes through the cross, it affects us emotionally (to some extent) and that will manifest itself somehow (though not in any formulaic way). I sometimes think it a shame that I can talk so much abouit the cross without being moved by it sometimes.

    You'll have to explain to me what a neo-Barthian perspective is mind Tom!