The Inerrancy Summit 2015 – Iain Murray

Martyn Lloyd-Jones Panel at the 2014 Together for The Gospel (Mark Dever, John MacArthur, Iain Murray and Jonathan Catherwood)

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VIDEO by MLJTrust – Mark Dever (moderator) hosts a panel that includes Iain Murray (biographer of Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Co-Founder of Banner of Truth), John MacArthur (Pastor-Teacher of Grace Community Church), and Jonathan Catherwood, President of the MLJ Trust, and one of Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s six grandchildren.

I have taken down notes from the first 25 minutes of the panel discussion. There are about another 20 minutes of great conversation on Dr. Lloyd-Jones in the video below.

John MacArthur on Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ influence:

I did not know him, but at the kind invitation of the Lloyd-Jones Trust, Grace To You partnered with you (speaking to Jonathan Catherwood, President of the MLJ Trust, and one of Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s six grandchildren) all that time, and you didn’t know it at the time, what the Doctor meant to me. There are probably two things I would say: Nr. 1 is reading the 2 volume biography and finding out what a kindred spirit he was to me. And I could break that down into categories-

1) He had the same view of preaching that I’ve had, and I needed to find a hero that I could follow. And that was that exposition had to be relentlessly doctrinal. And you (Iain Murrary- Martyn Lloyd-Jones biographer) have a statement that Lloyd-Jones, during his time as an expositor with a doctrinal emphasis was alone in the UK. Well, that would have been true here, but I was convinced that the whole point of Bible exposition was so that the doctrine would emerge. And all preaching had to be doctrinal. That was a huge influence to me

2) Unscheduled exposition  influenced me – that he didn’t know how many sermons there would be in Ephesians 1, until he finished. And then, there were 38. He didn’t know. He took it as it came. That was a model for me to  preach Sunday by Sunday, by Sunday, and see what you get when you finished. Lloyd-Jones said, „The failure of preaching is not because preachers don’t know enough about man and his problems. The failure is they don’t know enough about the Word and the Holy Spirit.

3) Consecutive exposition –

4) Content – He was focused on the sovereignty of God and the glory of God in all of his preaching.

5) Another thing his ministry did for me was to show me the path of maintaining biblical authority  in epic confrontations. And that really came at the fore, not only in the Anglican confrontation, but it was exacerbated in the Billy Graham years form 1954 to 1966. And he would not equivocate on biblical authority. He would not sit on a platform with men who denied biblical authority. He wouldn’t be a part of cooperative evangelism. In fact, you  [Iain Murrau] write about the fact that he, I think it was sometime in 1966, for that Berlin event, when the [Billy] Graham organization asked him to be the chair of that event and he said, „I’ll do it on 2 grounds: 1- you remove all people from prominent positions, who are not faithful to the authority of Scripture and 2- you take out the invitation with the decisionism.” And there was no deal.

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6) One other immense influence on me was  his book on the Sermon on the Mount.  He, rather effectively, took shots at the old traditional dispensationalism in which I was raised.  When I started into the ministry, I had been taught that the Sermon on the Mount belonged in the millennium, and had nothing to do with the church age, which I didn’t understand or believe. And systematically, page by page by page, the Lord used Lloyd-Jones to dismantle that notion. And by the time I got done preaching through chapters 5-7, people on the dispensational side thought I’d abandoned the faith. I hadn’t, but I think I had come to a correct understanding of that greatest of New Testament sermons.

When as a medical doctor he was invited to speak to the Welsh people, he went in and decried the degraded state of Welsh preachingHe told them that the decline of the country was from the decline of the church and the decline of the church was related to the decline in preaching.  Iain Murray: Yes, it was the tradition of preaching that had become traditional and professional. And it wasn’t doctrinal, and people were easily made church members. MacArthur: When he said that, at the time, he was still a layman. Iain Murray: He spoke in South Wales and the newspapers caught up on what he was saying and they thought this was very arrogant, I suppose.

Iain Murray:

on hearing Lloyd-Jones preach a couple hundred times at Westminster: With all good preaching, if it is good preaching, in the biblical sense , you very quickly forget the man who is preaching. And that’s what happened with Lloyd Jones. God was speaking to you, and I think that is the mark of real preaching. you forget about the man himself. The great deficiency that we suffer from is that way back in the 1950’s nobody thought of gatherings like this, and the result is, as far as I know, we don’t have a single recording of a full service at Westminster Chapel. And that is a real loss, because the service led to the sermon. And they were united; and he led the whole service, and you didn’t notice him doing it. I believe it was the work of the Holy Spirit, as with Spurgeon. People didn’t say, when he was preaching, „Why doesn’t he let other people do things?” When the Holy Spirit is speaking, the man himself is in the background. But, that is a real loss that we don’t have a recording of a full service.

[MacArthur asks: So, tell us what a typical Sunday would be like.] Murray: He would come quietly into the pulpit, bow his head for a moment at the desk, then, the doxology would be sung without intimation. And then he would lead in a brief prayer. And then, the first hymn, which he would announce  and it would be a hymn leading into worship, and perhaps, especially for the Lord’s Day. And then the evening service would always include one madrigal song, there would be full sermons, the long prayer, the pastoral prayer, and brief notices by the church secretary, who had been at princeton since 1906, and in the 1950’s he was still attired as if at Princeton 1906. Then a hymn before the sermon and then the sermon. But by the time the sermon came, generally, you were gripped. There’s no question of the preacher having to get the attention of the people, and tell them a little story to interest them.

John MacArthur on Lloyd-Jones, the preacher:

He’s always been so compelling to me. Just one little illustration of that is he believed in law work, evangelism. You had to preach the law, confront sin. He not only believed you needed to tell the sinner he was a sinner, but you needed to prove it to him. And so, there was all of this argument that was going on. This logical argument. He was pinning the sinner down, and that’s what you get with Lloyd-Jones when you listen to him preach. You’re swept up and you can’t see the skeleton. This thing is fleshed out.

Iain Murray: Thank you for saying that, John. That’s so important.

He meant to disturb people. People complained, „This man talks to us as if we’re sinners.” And when Lloyd-Jones heard that, he was encouraged. And sometimes, people left Westminster Chapel, vowing to never come here again, but they did. They did come again. So, he did speak very plainly to people. And again, it was the sense that it wasn’t simply Lloyd-Jones speaking to them, there was something more happening, conviction.

John MacArthur:

That’s true even with things he said to Christians, in his series on Romans 11- the Benediction. You’re so overwhelmed with the flow of thought and the grasp that he has and the intensity, the energy and the strength of his argument, his unpacking, that you really are… the Lord is speaking through this instrument.

Lloyd-Jones books recommended (during the panel discussion):

  • Sermon on the Mount
  • Knowing the Times
  • The Plight of Man and the Power of God (addresses he gave in Edinburgh in 1939-1940)
  • Authority (Authority of Scripture, authority of God)

Audio sermons recommended

  • Book of Romans – the very first sermon „A Man Called Paul”. A full throated defense of the apostle Paul, and his whole approach to king expositional series
  • Ephesians 2 – a sermon called „But God” having described the problem with man and the state of sin  and the utter hopelessness that we find ourselves in. (A very powerful sermon).

The following is a 40 minute panel discussion at last month’s Together for The Gospel conference in Kentucky on the life and ministry of Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

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The discussion might be particularly interesting to those who are relatively new to the Lloyd-Jones sermons, as it provides some context for his ministry, and a perspective on his ministry and life by those who either knew him or are church leaders today.

The panel was chaired by Mark Dever, Senior Pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC, and it panelists were Iain Murray, who was once an assistant to Dr. Lloyd-Jones and wrote the definitive two-volume biography on his life; John MacArthur, Pastor-Teacher at Grace Community Church in California, and yours truly, participating as one of Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s six grandchildren, and representing the MLJ Trust.

Iain Murray – Understanding Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

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Iain Murray speaks about Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones at Master’s Seminary-

Some Martyn-Lloyd-Jones quotes from Iain Murray (his biographer):

  • „To know God is life eternal. Our work is important, our work is a privilege, but brethren, you should never make it the greatest thing. I did not live for preaching.”
  • „Preaching is theology coming through a man that is on fire.”
  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones believed that the Bible contains a message about God, and that message should be foundational to all our preaching.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, born in 1899, the end of that century. When he was 14, his father’s business got into difficulties and his father went up to London to look for work. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and his family went with him and became a school boy in London. At the age of 16, he had done so well in school that he entered into St. Bartholomew’s medical college at one of the great teaching hospitals  of the world at that date, and it still is. He graduated in medicine at 21, caught the attention of Sir Thomas Horter, who was the physician to the King. Horter asked him to become his assistant, so the next 5 years, Lloyd-Jones was mixing with the men at the very top of the medical profession. He seemed on a ladder to guaranteed success. And then, to everyone’s astonishment, in 1926, he announced that he was leaving his post and he was going to a mission hall in South Wales to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He married that same month, in January 1927, when he began his ministry in South Wales. He was there for 10 years. Then, in 1938, Campbell Morgan invited him to Westminster Chapel in the heart of London. He was there for 30 years. He ended his ministry in February 1969. God had spared him some 12 years, important years because prior to that date, Lloyd-Jones had given very little attention to books. I think he never wrote a book in his life, but thankfully, sermons have been recorded, and in those next 12 years, many books were taken down, somewhat edited and brought out to the world. There were exceptions. His sermon on the mount was published earlier, in 1959-60, and to my mind, that’s a starting point. If you haven’t read Lloyd-Jones ‘Sermon on the Mount’, make that a starting point. So, that’s the outline of his life. He died March 1st, 1981.

I want to talk about understanding Lloyd-Jones. After being a preacher for more than 50 years, he could preach no more when his health was gone, close to the end. One day, a visitor came to see him, and to encourage him. They said to him, „It must be a disappointment that you are no longer able to preach. „Not at all,” he said. „I did not live for preaching.” Now, that statement is a key to understanding Lloyd-Jones, „I did not live for preaching.” What did he live for? Well, he believed that every Christian should live for something much greater than preaching or any work. He said, „A life spent in communion with God is the only life worth living.” To reconcile to God, to live in His presence,  is a far greater privilege than any work we do for Him. And he would often quote to younger men, the words of our Lord, when the disciples came back rejoicing that, indeed, the spirits are made subject to them, and our Lord told them, „In this rejoice not, but rather that your names are written in the heaven.” „To know God is life eternal. Our work is important, our work is a privilege, but brethren, you should never make it the greatest thing. I did not live for preaching.” (MLJ)

The thing with my address, really, this morning, is that to understand Lloyd-Jones, you have to start with God. And if you start with God, you have to start with theology. Theology means talking about God. There’s a quotation of Lloyd-Jones that’s often repeated. He says, „Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire.: But, when that is expounded, that  statement, the emphasis is usually on the man and the fire. But that’s not where Lloyd-Jones had the emphasis. It’s theology, coming through a man that is on fire.

There are books about Lloyd-Jones and there’s a fair sized one published recently, called ‘Engaging with Martyn Lloyd-Jones’. And my great objection to it is that theology is almost without existence in the book. That’s an exaggeration, but, there’s no concentration on it. At one point, one of the writers gives a warning that Lloyd-Jones read history from a firm calvinistic basis. That’s meant to be  a warning. He doesn’t tell you whether he thinks calvinism is true or false. The question is: What was his theology? Why was it so important to him? And it was vital to him, because he believed as we ought to believe that the message is far more important than the messenger. Details about Lloyd-Jones’s life and how he prepared sermons is all very interesting. But, actually, what he believed and what his theology was, is far more important. It’s really the key to understanding the man.

When he was a medical student, he learned that elementary principle that when a doctor, first sighting a patient, has to look at not the particular details that the patient may mention, but look at the whole person, look at the whole picture. Start with that and the same with his life and the life of other Christians; look at the big picture. And with Lloyd-Jones, the big picture is what he believed about God.

He believed that the Bible contains a message about God, and that message should be foundational to all our preaching. And the message is that God, for His own glory, and for the salvation of sinners has purposed a salvation for a great multitude. He has planned it, He has determined it a success. It’s about the giving of eternal life. The God who cannot lie promised before the world began. That’s the starting point. Let me give you this quotation from Lloyd-Jones: „The sovereignty of God and God’s glory is where we must start and everything else issues from here. If it were not for Gods grace, there would be no hope for the world. Man is a fallen creature with his mind in a state of enmity toward God. He is totally unable to save himself and to reunite himself with God. Everyone would be lost if God had not elected some for salvation, and that unconditionally. It is only through Christ’s death that it is possible for these people to saved. And they would not see or accept that salvation, if God through His irresistible grace, the Holy Spirit had not opened their eyes and persuaded them, not force them, to accept the offer. Even after that, it is God who sustains them, and keeps them from falling. The church is a connection of God’s elect.

So, my argument is, if people bypass Lloyd-Jones’s theology and just begin to talk about his life, and this and that, they’re missing the big thing. This is the key. Now, it’s quite possible someone could object to this statement and say, „Well, I’ve read Lloyd-Jones and I don’t find him talking about calvinism; I don’t understand how you can say it’s a key to his thinking and his theology. And the mistake there is that Lloyd-Jones didn’t believe in using labels. And he wasn’t really happy with people that were always parading what their label was. It is true, he didn’t often use the word calvinistic. But, what those truths represent were at the very core of his life and his heart. Not long before his death, he said, „Finally, nothing matters, but the fact that we are in God’s hands. We and our works are nothing. It is His choosing us, before the foundation of the world that matters. And He will never leave us, nor forsake us.” This was the greatest thing for him.

How did he come to that theology? He didn’t come to it from his denomination, surprisingly perhaps, because he came from a Welsh Presbyterian Church, which is also called the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church. It was once soundly calvinistic. But, by the time of his youth, like other denominations in Britain, had drifted a long way from it. When Lloyd-Jones was 14 years old, a friend asked him to write in his autograph book, and he wrote these words, a verse: „For we are all like swimmers in the sea, poised on the top of a huge wave of fate, which hangs uncertain as to which side fall, and whether it will heave us up to land, or whether it will roll us out to sea, we know not.” That’s what he wrote. The words of the poet Browning. He was 23 before that belief was turned upside down. In the midst of his medical work, rubbing shoulders with these great and mighty men. St. Bartholomew’s hospital was a sort of center of rationalism, evolution. Science was king, almost worshipped, and this was the atmosphere in which he was living. But, by the time he became about 23, he confronted a problem that science couldn’t begin to answer. And that is the problem of „What do you do with guilt and selfishness, and greed, pride, envy, lust?” He could see these things in colleagues, and then, more and more, in himself. And, God convicted him of sin. At the age of 24 he became a real Christian. He loved medicine. But the thought that prevailed with him, finally, was: What’s the use of healing people’s bodies, if their whole eternity is going to be one of misery and wretchedness. He knew so little of Gospel preaching that was going on, and it was born in his heart that God was calling him to the Gospel ministry. It was a big struggle. He lost a lot of weight, before he made up his mind that God was calling him to preach. He then began to preach in South Wales, in  1927. (Transcript from the first 12:50 minutes, with 32 minutes remaining of the video)

Master’s Seminary. VIDEO by Joshua Crooch

Spurgeon and the Love of God

The most serious difference of all between evangelical Calvinism and Hyper-Calvinism arises on the subject of the Love of God. In the fourth and final point in Iain H Murray’s  book ‘Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism, Murray lays out Spurgeon’s case (P 88).

Spurgeon saw that behind the distortion of predestination, and the unwillingness to believe that gospel invitations are to be addressed freely to all men, lay a failure to understand what Scripture reveals about the character of God himself. If God has chosen an elect people, then Hyper-Calvinism argued, he can have no desire for the salvation of any others and to speak as though he had, is to deny the particularity of grace. Of course, Hyper-Calvinists accepted that the gospel be preached to all, but they denied that such preaching was intended to demonstrate any love on the part of God for all, or any invitation to all to receive mercy.

A sermon of 1858 which Spurgeon preached on „Sovereign Grace and Man’s Responsibility” identified this crucial difference with Hyper-Calvinism. He took for his text the words of God quoted by Paul in Romans 10:20-21, „I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, all day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.’ In such words Spurgeon saw proof that God can be said to desire the salvation even of those who persist in rejecting him:

‘Lost sinners who sit under the sound of the gospel are not lost for the want of the most affectionate invitation. God says he stretches out his hands…What did he wish them to come for? Why, to be saved. „No,” says one, „it was for temporal mercies”. Not so my friend, the verse before is concerning spiritual mercies, and so is this one, for they refer to the same thing. Now, was God sincere in his offer? God forgive the man dares say he was not. God is undoubtedly sincere in every act he did. He sent his prophets, he entreated the people of Israel to lay hold on spiritual things, but they would not, and though he stretched out his hands all the day long, yet they were „a disobedient and gainsaying people’, and would not have his love.

Spurgeon regarded the denial of God’s desire for the salvation of all men as no mere theoretical mistake. For it converged with one of the greatest obstacles to faith on the part of the unconverted, that is to say, a wrong view of the character of God. Men „imagine that God is a severe being, angry and fierce, very easily moved to wrath, but not so easily to be induced to love’. The truth of divine love is the last to enter men’s heads.

Spurgeon comments, „We think that ultra-calvinism, which goes vastly beyond the teaching of Christ…gets its support from a wrong view of God. To the ultra-calvinist his absolute sovereignty is delightfully conspicuous. He is awe-stricken with the great and glorious attributes of the Most High. His omnipotence appals him, and his sovereignty astonishes him, and he at once submits as by a stern necessity to the will of God. He, however, too much forgets that God is love…To see the holiness, the love, the justice, the faithfulness, the immutability, the omnipotence, and the sovereignty of God, all shining like a bright corona of eternal and ineffable light, this has never been given perfectly to any human being, and inasmuch as we have not seen all these, as we hope yet to see them, our faulty vision has been the ground of diver’s mistakes.’

If it were not that ‘God is love’ his presence could never have been desirable to sinners. The gospel presents love as the attraction. „God so loved”. It is love that draws, as the record of the four Gospels make abundantly plain. What was it that moved him as he saw the multitude but a compassion for all? (Matt. 9:36) What but love brought him to weep over lost Jerusalem? (Luke 19:41) and to say, „How often would I have gathered thy children…and ye would not!” (Matt.23:37)The preaching of Christ contained a promise of welcome for all and his whole life revealed him longing for the salvation of men and women. ‘None of us,’ says Spurgeon, ‘loves men as Christ loves them. We say,”Sinner, only trust in Christ.” Ah, ye do not know what a great „only” that is. It is a work so great that no man can do it unaided by God…But if anything can call faith into excercise,”he goes on, it is the knowledge ‘that Christ is willing to receive thee'”. Preaching Christ for Spurgeon, had to include the urging of this knowledge upon all:

„If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” He invites men to come, he pleads with them to come; and when they will not come he gently upbraids them wih such words as these, „Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life”… All our Lord’s sermons were so many loving calls to poor aching hearts to come and find what they need in him. „Beloved, there is nothing that so delights Jesus Christ as to save sinners…

But it is more than knowledge of the love of God as taught in SCripture which preachers need. They must themselves be possessed by the love of which they speak. Invitations to trust in Christ preached without love are no invitations at all.

It was Spurgeon’s own persuasion of the love of Christ for the souls of the men that lies at the heart of his weekly evangelistic preaching in London for thirty-seven years. He had no hesitation in concluding sermons with such words as, „Cast yourself upon the Saviour’s love and you shall go down to your house justified”. Sometimes Spurgeon made reference to his own experience, then entreating:

„Do you turn away and say you will not be commanded? Then again will I change my note…I exhort you to flee to Christ. Oh my brother, doest thou know what a loving Christ he is? Let me tell thee from my own soul what I know of him…I thought that Christ was cruel and unkind. Oh I can never forgive myself that I would have thought so ill of him. But what a loving reception did I have when I went to him. I thought he would smite me, but his hand was not clenched in anger but opened wide in mercy…his eyes were full of tears. He fell on my neck and kissed me…I entreat you to stop and consider. Do you know what it is you are rejecting this morning? You are rejecting Christ, your only Saviour…I should be worse than a fiend if I did not now, with all love and kindness and earnestness, beseech you to „lay hold on eternal life, to labour not for the meat that perishes, but for the meat that endureth unto everlasting life”.

Iain Murray here ends with a quote from another Calvinist preacher who similarly entreats sinners with, „The Gospel does not say: ‘There is a Savior, if you wish to be saved;’ but, „Sir, you have no right to go to hell. You can’t go there without trampling the Son of God.”

Spurgeon on Human Responsibility

„If he be lost, damnation is all of man, but, if he be saved, still salvation is all of God”

from a sermon entitled „Exposition of the Doctrines of Grace.

This is the third of four reasons Iain Murray in his book ‘Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism recounts Spurgeon’s debate with the Hyper-Calvinists of his time. While doing so, Spurgeon lays down the foundation for a doctrine that helps the reader grasp a better understanding of the most debated texts of Evangelical Christians (in the Arminian v. Calvinism debate).

P.80

The two convictions so far stated -that gospel invitations are to be addressed to al, and that the warrant to believe lies in the commands and promises of Scripture lead us to the heart of the dispute- It concerns the place of man’s responsibility, or his free agency. Free agency is not to be confused with „free-will”. Since the fall, men have not lost their responsibility but they have lost their ability, the will, to obey God. Hyper-Calvinism argues that sinners cannot be required to do what they are not able to do, namely to believe in Christ for their salvation. The ability to believe belongs only to the elect, and that at the time determined by the Spirit of God. So for a preacher to call all his hearers to immediate repentance and faith is do deny both human depravity and the sovereignty of grace.

Spurgeon did not reply to this argument, as many have done, by weakening the biblical teaching on human depravity and inability. His sermons prove the truth of his words,”We shall proclaim the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, without toning it down, and electing love without stuttering over it.” He asserted, as strongly as it has ever been asserted, that the will of God is omnipotent both in the provision and in the application of every part of salvation. But his response to the Hyper-Calvinist argument was to assert another equally biblical truth, namely that man is wholly responsible for his own sin. God is not its author. Those who hear the Gospel and reject the Saviour will not be able to plead that sovereignty prevented them from excercising the obedience of faith. None will be able to claim that God excluded them. No, it is on account of sin alone, including the sin of unbelief, that unrepentant sinners will finally be condemned and lost for ever.

Asked to explain such a mystery, Spurgeon constantly replied that it was not his business to do so. His duty was to deal with the whole range of Scriptural truth and to declare it in its true proportions. To limit the message to such truths as we can see to be consistent with each other is to excercise a liberty to which we have no right. The great error of Hyper-Calvinism is to neglect one side of the Word of God because it does not know how to explain both that the will of Godis effective and sovereign in all things and that man is free and responsible for all his actions. „Both are true; no two truths can be inconsistent with each other, and what you have to do is believe them both.” In an early sermon on ‘Sovereign Grace and Man’s Responsibility’ Spurgeon introduced his subject with these words:

„The system of truth is not one straight line, but two. No man will ever get a right view of the gospel until he knows how to look at the two lines at once…Now, if I waqs to declare that man was free to act, that there is no presidence of God over his actions, I should be driven very near to atheism; and if, on the other hand, I declare that God so overrules all things, as that man is not free to be responsible, I am driven at once to Antinomianism or fatalism. That God predestinates and that man is responsible, are two things that few of us can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is the fault of our weak judgement…it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other.

This truth will be found over and over again in Spurgeon’s sermons. Murray gives another example from another sermon where Spurgeon states:

But I do equally believe in the free agency of man, that man acts as he wills,especially in moral operations- choosing the evil with a will that is unbiased by anything that comes from God, biased only by his own depravity of heart and the peverseness of his habits; choosing the right too, with perfect freedom, though sacredly guided and led by the Holy Spirit…I believe that man is as accountable as if there were no destiny whatsoever…Where these two truths meet I do not know, nor do I want to know.

Spurgeon – Gospel Invitations

Iain H. Murray, in his book Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism, underlines the contemporary relevance of Spurgeon’s sermons resulting from his „serious and prolonged doctrinal controversy with Hyper-Calvinism” (quote from publisher’s note). During this same time Spurgeon was also battling Arminian doctrine.  Spurgeon’s personal debates with his contemporaries and the sermons they produced were never more needed than in times such as ours (an era that produced the preaching of the prosperity gospel and the cliche’ -„Be saved with this little sinner’s prayer”, etc).  In his book Murray addresses 4 reasons why Spurgeon rejected Hyper-Calvinism. They had to do with differing views on 1)Universal Gospel Invitations 2)Warrant of Faith 3)Human Responsibility and 4)the Love of God.  In the process we will see Spurgeon’s response gleaned out of the Bible as to what the word of God says on these 4 points. This, as any of the other books authored from the pen of  Iain H. Murray, is an essential read and should be in every person’s library along with all of  Spurgeon’s works.

All emphasis (highlighting some sentences) below is mine.

Gospel Invitations are Universal

In this subchapter of Iain Murray’s book (p 69) Murray states:

Spurgeon believed that historical evangelicalism differed from Hyper-Calvinism over the persons to whom the promises of the gospel are to be preached. Hyper-Calvinism views gospel preaching solely as a means for the ingathering of God’s elect. It argues that such words as, „Trust in Christ and you will be saved”, should only be addressed to elect sinners….and that…for a preacher to convey to his hearers the impression that they are all called to receive Christ, and to believe in him for salvation, is to deny, in the opinion of Hyper-Calvinists, the sovereignty of divine grace.

Spurgeon rejected the placing of such a restriction upon the invitation of the Gospel. The gospel is „good news” which God would have proclaimed throughout the world and to „every creature”. It’s message is not simply a statement of facts. It also contains clear,unrestricted, general promises, such as,”He that believeth on him is not condemned” (John 3:18); „Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved”(Romans 10:13); Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). So the preacher has not done his work when he has spoken of Christ and proclaimed the historic facts of salvation. From there he must go on to urge the reception of Christ by all men.

On a side note here, sometimes I still run across the phrase „preach the gospel, if necessary use words”, a phrase that boggles the mind in light of the fact that proclamation can not ensue from silence and the phrase comes „wrongly” from folks adhering to a belief of faith based on works. Spurgeon notes that even just telling someone the historical gospel is not enough. In order to proclaim the gospel we must also urge the reception of Christ by all people.

And if we experience reticence when proclaiming the gospel to an unsaved person (read here- someone committing abhorrent sins, Spurgeon continues to exhort:

In the name of God he (preacher,person proclaiming the gospel) must assure all of the certainty of their welcome and forgiveness on their repentance and faith.

For this he cites Paul preaching in Antioch – Acts 13:38-39, to paraphrase, „all that believe are justified” and Colossians 1:28, „and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus”.

Iain Murray then describes the Hyper-Calvinist argument against gospel invitations because their belief is that grace is special and particular (intended for the elect) to which Spurgeon responded in one of his sermons entitled „Apostolic Exhortation” on the apostle Peter’s words to all his hearers from Acts 3:19,”Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out”. Spurgeon:

Peter preached the Christ of the Gospel – preached it personally and directly at the crowd who were gathered around him…Grown up among us is a school of men who say that they rightly preach the gospel to sinners when they merely deliver statements of what the gospel is, and the result of dying unsaved, but they grow furious and talk of unsoundness if any venture to say to the sinner, „Believe”, or „Repent”. To this school Peter did not belong.

In another sermon Spurgeon refers to the brethren who „do not think it to be their duty to go into the highways and the hedges and bid all, as many as they find, to come to the supper. Oh no! They are too orthodox to obey the Master’s will; they desire to understand first who are appointed to come to the supper, and then they will invite them; that is to say, they will do what there is no necessity to do (i.e. present the gospel to those who are already saved).

In contrast with this, the apostles „delivered the gospel, the same gospel to the dead as to the living”, the same gospel to the non-elect as to the elect. The point of distinction is not in the gospel, but in its being applied by the Holy Ghost, or left to be rejected by man.

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