Tuesday, July 19, 2005

C.H. Spurgeon and the Plan of Salvation

From: Bible Baptist Church Tommy H. Heffner Sr
Sent: Tuesday, July 12, 2005 6:17 PM

“It will not save me to know that Christ is a Saviour; but it will save me to trust him to be my Saviour. I shall not be delivered from the wrath to come, by believing that his atonement is sufficient; but I shall be saved by making that atonement my trust, my refuge, and my all. The pith, the essence of faith lies in this---a casting oneself on the promise. It is not the life buoy on board ship that saves the man when he is drowning, nor is it his belief that it is an excellent and successful invention. No! he must have it around his loins, or his hand upon it, or else he will sink.”

C.H. Spurgeon http://www.akjb.org


Thanks for regurgitating Spurgeon. I have a few questions and comments on your recital.

I do not understand the mechanism of salvation as you and Spurgeon see it. What exactly is it that saves you? Normally, you contend that one must merely accept on faith (believe, without proven facts as the basis) that Christ’s death on the cross constitutes a blood sacrifice of a perfect human being to atone for our sins and overcome our sin nature so that we can have relationship (fellowship or divine Sonship) with God. Now you say one must “trust” Christ to be one’s Savior, wholeheartedly trust that atonement, and be surrounded by it as though by a lifebuoy.

I don’t get all the emphasis on trust. If it is so hard to trust something that you must put effort and emphasis into it, maybe it isn’t that trustworthy. Even so, either you believe something or you don’t. Apparently, Spurgeon thinks believing is not enough, and one must believe so strongly as to be frenetic about it. Perhaps he is saying that’s how he feels, and everybody else ought to feel the same. Well, I guess he’s the preacher, so why shouldn’t he preach?

On the other hand, why should we believe him? His message is clear - his words indicate he is trying to pass on an essential truth to us. And yet he provides no credible support for his faith-trust in the salvation power of atoning sacrifice, and he gives us no compelling reason to believe it. In fact, the thing he’s encouraging people to trust seems so illogical and weird as to defy any kind of belief, much less trust.

Besides, Jesus very clearly did not agree with his ideas. In particular, Jesus never publicly discussed, or even mentioned, the concept of atonement.

Let us consider for a moment what Jesus did discuss, teach, and command. Look up and study the associated references in your Authorized King James Version of the Holy Bible:

  1. Jesus told people to “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15).
  2. He ordered his apostles to preach in the same way (Matthew 10:7, Mark 6:12).
  3. He said he was bringing the gospel to this world directly from the Father himself (John 5:30, 6:39; 14:10)
  4. He told the apostles (and, by extension us and all other people) to
    1. Love others (John 13:34)
    2. Forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15, 18:21-22, Mark 11:25-26)
    3. Serve others unselfishly and lovingly (John 13:14, Luke 22:26)
    4. Love God (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37)
    5. Believe him and his God-given authority to teach those things (John 3:16, John 14:24).
  5. He said forgiving others earns God’s forgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15),
  6. He said not forgiving others earns God’s displeasure (Matthew 18:35),
  7. He said loving God and other people earns everlasting life (Luke 10:25-28)
  8. He said serving others earns a high status in heaven (Matthew 23:11).
  9. Jesus encouraged people to embrace their Sonship with God on faith, seeing God as their Heavenly Father (Matthew 5:16, 5:48, 6:1, 6:14, 6:26, 6:32, 11:27, 18:14, 23:9, Mark 11-25 Luke 11:13)
  10. He encouraged people to see themselves as God’s children, and all humans as their brothers (Matthew 5:41-48, 12:50).
  11. He went so far as to state that God’s spirit indwells us (Luke 17:21, John 14:23), thereby having the most intimate possible relationship with us.
  12. He offered hope that we can become like God in aligning our wills with that of our Heavenly Father (Matthew 7:21, 12:50, John 14:21), not only because God’s spirit is in us (see above), but also because we have the ability to be relatively perfect (Matthew 5:48), and after we pass his approval we can meet the Father in person (John 14:6).
  13. He referred to scripture (implying it is true) that suggested we are children of the most High (God), and are or might someday be gods, perhaps to worlds in the outer reaches of the ever expanding and materializing universe (Psalms 82:6, John 10:34-36).
  14. From the very beginning of his public ministry, Jesus taught his good news gospel about the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 4:23; 9:35, 10:7, Mark 1:14-15, Luke 7:22, Luke 9:6), and he explained that was the reason he was sent to this world (Luke 4:23). Never once in his public teachings did Jesus mention anything about his death or its relevance as an atoning sacrifice, nor did he encourage trusting in it as an element of salvation.
  15. However, at the very end of his time here on earth, Jesus ordered his apostles (and therefore us) to teach his commands and his gospel about the Kingdom of Heaven to all creatures (including Jews and Gentiles) in all nations on earth (Mark 16:10, Matthew 28:19-20). He did not tell his apostles to identify as gospel and/or teach some other religious philosophy or doctrine of salvation, but he did warn his apostles against false prophets who would attempt to inveigle them into believing a false gospel (Matthew 7:15, 24:11, 24:24, Mark 13:22, Luke 6:26).

That’s what Jesus taught. His gospel message, authority to teach it, and orders for us to teach it are crystal clear throughout the Bible’s four gospel records of his life.

So where does Spurgeon get the goofy idea that trusting Christ’s bloody atonement as though it were a lifebuoy is what saves us? And precisely how does that mechanism work? How is it possible that God can be appeased by ordering the murder of his only-begotten son, a perfect being nearly his equal, as a sacrifice, and how does that atone for any sin at all? How is it logical that God would violate his second commandment “Thou shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13) by ordering the senseless murder of his perfect son. What is it about a blood sacrifice that erases sin? Why should we believe God wants any kind of sacrifice to be made to him, as though he were some corrupt Mafia chief who could be bribed? What need does God have of a sacrifice from others when he is already infinite, perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, and has everything?

To me it seems Spurgeon is tossing us a millstone dressed up like a lifebuoy, one that sinks to the bottom of the sea as soon as someone dumb enough to believe him grabs hold of it. His false notions about salvation are the kind of false prophesies against which Jesus warned his apostles, and they surely lead astray God’s children, especially the young children who trust preachers to tell them the uncomplicated truth. Both the Urantia Book and the Bible are very clear and emphatic about this:

Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Mark 9:42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

The Urantia Book, Page 1761 - Entering Capernaum at twilight, they went by unfrequented thoroughfares directly to the home of Simon Peter for their evening meal. While David Zebedee made ready to take them across the lake, they lingered at Simon's house, and Jesus, looking up at Peter and the other apostles, asked: "As you walked along together this afternoon, what was it that you talked about so earnestly among yourselves?" The apostles held their peace because many of them had continued the discussion begun at Mount Hermon as to what positions they were to have in the coming kingdom; who should be the greatest, and so on. Jesus, knowing what it was that occupied their thoughts that day, beckoned to one of Peter's little ones and, setting the child down among them, said: "Verily, verily, I say to you, except you turn about and become more like this child, you will make little progress in the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever shall humble himself and become as this little one, the same shall become greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso receives such a little one receives me. And they who receive me receive also Him who sent me. If you would be first in the kingdom, seek to minister these good truths to your brethren in the flesh. But whosoever causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea. If the things you do with your hands, or the things you see with your eyes give offense in the progress of the kingdom, sacrifice these cherished idols, for it is better to enter the kingdom minus many of the beloved things of life rather than to cling to these idols and find yourself shut out of the kingdom. But most of all, see that you despise not one of these little ones, for their angels do always behold the faces of the heavenly hosts."

To be honest, Tommy, I don’t know why you feel the need to quote Spurgeon in your sermons. He’s not much of an authority on the gospel or the plan of salvation. In fact, he shows that he does not understand it at all.

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