Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Forgotten Spurgeon

710115: The Forgotten SpurgeonI can honestly say that I haven’t read anything from Ian Murray that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy and find very edifying. That being said, out of his books that I have read, I have probably enjoyed and profited from this one the most.

If you’re looking for a book of historical facts covering the entire life of Spurgeon this might not be the book you’re looking for but I still recommend reading it. When I read biographies I really like to find out what people believed, what made them tick, what drove them to do the great things that they did and what kind of fruit their beliefs and actions produced (Matthew 7:16). In this book Murray does just this as he follows Spurgeon through three of the great controversies of his life time: 1) Arminianism vs. Calvinism. 2) Baptismal Regeneration, and 3) the Down-Grade controversy.

Spurgeon was masterful at getting to the point of a matter and shedding a great deal of light on the Scriptural doctrine at hand and the many quotes contained in this book from numerous sermons are an invaluable resource. It would seem that the main thing that has been forgotten about Charles Spurgeon is what he believed.
This was one of the first biographies I read as a young Christian and it completely blew me away. There’s something extremely invigorating in learning about the growth and struggles of those who have gone before us in the Lord and have fought the good fight, finished the coarse and kept the faith (2 Tim. 4:6-8).


Contents
  1. The Preacher in Park Street 21
  2. The Lost Controversy 45
  3. Arminianism Against Scripture 69
  4. Arminianism and Evangelism 99
  5. Church Issues Revived 117
  6. The Down-Grade 139
  7. The Down-Grade and its Lessons 153
  8. Free Grace and the Down-Grade in Perspective 167
  9. 'Though the Heavens Fall...' 193
  10. 10 The Aftermath at the Metropolitan Tabernacle 209
  11. Appendix: An Open Letter 239
  12. Index 251
Illustrations appear between pages 122 and 123

From the back of the book:

"This book seeks to throw light on the reasons which have given rise to the superficial image of Spurgeon as a genial Victorian pulpiteer, a kind of grandfather of modern evangelicalism. Even before his death in 1892 newspapers and church leaders disputed over the features of his life which entitled him to fame. Not his 'narrow creed' but his 'genuine loving character' was most worthy of remembrance said one periodical, echoing the general view. When Joseph Parker contrasted the hard Calvinism preached at Spurgeon's Tabernacle with the praiseworthy Christianity exemplified in his orphanage, The Baptist protested that the man about whom Parker wrote 'is not the Spurgeon of history'. But the distortion continued and Spurgeon forecast how the position he held might fare in the 20th century: 'I am quite willing to be eaten by dogs for the next fifty years but the more distant future shall vindicate me. This book traces the main lines of Spurgeon's spiritual thought in connection with the three great controversies in his ministry — the first was his stand against the diluted Gospel fashionable in the London to which the young preacher came in the 1850's; the second, the famous 'Baptismal Regeneration' debate of 1864; lastly, the lacerating Down-Grade controversy of 1887 - 1891 when Spurgeon sought to awaken Christians to the danger of the Church 'being buried beneath the boiling mud-showers of modern heresy'."

A few good quotes from the book:

I particularly love this account of the revival that took place under his ministry as it got underway at New Park Street:

“Spurgeon came to London conscious that God had been hiding His face from His people. His knowledge of the Bible and of Church history convinced him that, com­pared with what the Church had a warrant to expect, the Spirit of God was in great measure withdrawn, and if God continued to withhold His face, he declared to his people, nothing could be done to extend His Kingdom. It is not your knowledge, nor your talent, nor your zeal, he would say, that can perform God's work. 'Yet, brethren, this can be done -we will cry to the Lord until He reveals His face again,' 'All we want is the Spirit of God. Dear Christian friends, go home and pray for it; give yourselves no rest till God reveals Himself; do not tarry where you are, do not be content to go on in your everlasting jog-trot as you have done; do not be content with the mere round of formalities. Awake, O Zion; awake, awake, awake!'

Before many months had passed it was manifest that the congregation at New Park Street was awakening, and as travail in prayer became the characteristic of the church one common burden spread from pastor to people. 'The Lord send a blessing. He must send it, our hearts will break if He does not.' What a change took place in the prayer meetings! Now instead of the old, dull prayers, 'Every man seemed like a crusader besieging the New Jerusalem, each one appeared determined to storm the Celestial City by the might of inter­cession; and soon the blessing came upon us in such abund­ance that we had not room to receive it.”
p.34
“All the way to heaven, we shall only get there by the skin of our teeth. We shall not go to heaven sailing along with sails swelling to the breeze, like sea birds with their fair white wings, but we shall proceed full often with sails rent to ribbons, with masts creaking, and the ship's pumps at work night and day. We shall reach the city at the shutting gate, but not an hour before”

p. 24

On the Atonement:

"In other words, the Cross has a Godward reference; it was a propitiatory work through which the Father is pacified and it is on this ground, namely, Christ's obedience and blood, that all the blessings of salvation flow freely and surely to sinners. This is what is so clearly taught in Romans 3:25, 26. Writing on these verses, Robert Haldane says: 'God is shown not only to be merciful to forgive, but He is faithful and just to forgive the sinner his sins. Justice has received full payment, and guarantees his deliverance. Even the chief of sinners are shown in the propitiatory sacrifice of their Surety, to be perfectly worthy of Divine love, because they are not only perfectly innocent, but have the righteousness of God. 'He hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.'9 Spurgeon gloried in this truth: 'He has punished Christ, why should he punish twice for one offence? Christ has died for all his people's sins, and if thou art in the covenant, thou art one of Christ's people. Damned thou canst not be. Suffer for thy sins thou canst not. Until God can be unjust, and demand two payments for one debt, he cannot destroy the soul for whom Jesus died."

p. 75

On Arminianism:

"...Arminianism does not fully disclose the Biblical testimony concerning the condition of sinners and it does not do justice to die terrible extent of their needs. The Scripture represents us, by nature, as not only in need of salvation from the guilt of sin, but in need of an omnipotent power to quicken us from being 'dead in trespasses and in sins'. We are not only under condemnation through our offences, but we are under the dominion of a fallen nature which is at enmity against God. It is not only that we have committed sins for which we need mercy, but we have a sinful nature which needs to be made anew. Arminianism preaches the new-birth but it preaches it as a consequence of or an accompaniment to the human de­cision; it represents man as being born again by repenting and believing, as though these spiritual acts are within the ability of die unconverted. This teaching is only possible because of an under-estimation of die total ruin and impotence of the sinner. The Scripture says dial the natural man cannot receive spiritual things and it is because of this that the Divine quick­ening must precede die human response."

p. 83


710115: The Forgotten Spurgeon
The Forgotten Spurgeon

By Iain H. Murray / Banner Of Truth

CBD Says:

"An incisive, historical and theological insight into the great 19th century Baptist, with emphasis on the doctrines that moulded his life and thought.

This book seeks to throw light on the reasons which have given rise to the superficial image of Spurgeon as a genial Victorian pulpiteer, a kind of grandfather of modern evangelicalism. Even before his death in 1892 newspapers and church leaders disputed over the features of his life which entitled him to fame. Not his 'narrow creed' but his 'genuine loving character' was most worthy of remembrance said one periodical, echoing the general view.

When Joseph Parker contrasted the hard Calvinism preached at Spurgeon's Tabernacle with the praiseworthy Christianity exemplified in his orphanage, The Baptist protested that the man about whom Parker wrote 'is not the Spurgeon of history'. But the distortion continued and Spurgeon forecast how the position he held might fare in years to come: 'I am quite willing to be eaten by dogs for the next fifty years but the more distant future shall vindicate me'.

This book traces the main lines of Spurgeon's spiritual thought in connection with the three great controversies in his ministry - the first was his stand against the diluted gospel fashionable in the London to which the young preacher came in the 1850's; the second, the famous 'Baptismal Regeneration' debate of 1864; lastly, the lacerating Down-Grade controversy of 1887-1891 when Spurgeon sought to awaken Christians to the danger of the Church 'being buried beneath the boiling mud-showers of modern heresy'."

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