Mar 25, 2009

Spurgeon - Born Again by Faith

"This change is often described as a birth. See the third chapter of the Gospel of John, which is wonderfully clear and to the point: “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This birth is not a birth by baptism, for it is spoken of as accompanied by an intelligent faith which receives the Lord Jesus. Turn to John 1:12, 13: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on his name: which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” So that believers are “born again” and receive Christ through faith: a regeneration imparted in infancy and lying dormant in unbelievers is a fiction unknown to Holy Scripture."

This is very clear. Those who say that Spurgeon never affirmed that faith preceded regeneration, or opposed the idea, should recant after reading these words. He plainly says that believers are "born again through faith" and "receive Christ by faith."

He says:

"In the third of John our Lord associates faith and regeneration in the closest manner, declaring not only that we must be born again, but also that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. We must undergo a change quite as great as if we could return to our native nothingness and could then come forth fresh from the hand of the Great Creator. John tells us, in his first epistle, 5:4, that “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world,” and he adds, to show that the new birth and faith go together, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” To the same effect is 1 John 5:1, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” Where there is true faith, there is the new birth; and that term implies a change beyond measure, complete and radical."

"Paul, in Colossians 1:13, further speaks of God the Father and says, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” John calls it a “passing from death unto life” (1Jo 3:14), no doubt having in his mind that glorious declaration of his Lord and Master: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (Joh 5:24)."

"Once more, as if to go to the extremity of forcible expression, Peter speaks of our conversion and regeneration as our being “begotten again.”

Again, this is clear and plain! Notice that Spurgeon did not believe that men were "begotten" by "regeneration" (technical non-scriptural definition) alone, but by conversion also!

"Regeneration and conversion, the one the secret cause and the other the first overt effect,[2] produce a great change in the character."

Did Spurgeon contradict what he said earlier? No, again, I believe that Spurgeon is using the word "regeneration," in these remarks, not by its scriptural use and definition, but by its technical or theological definition, and yet he makes it clear that he does not believe that, using that technical definition, a man is born again who is not converted, and that he did not believe that the words begotten, regenerated, or converted were distinct and separate experiences. Thus, he denies the leading principles of those who teach that men are regenerated, born again, begotten, or converted before faith.

He said:

"O brethren, conversion makes a difference in us most mighty indeed, or else what did Christ mean when He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mat 11:28)?"

"Why, beloved, instead of supposing that we can do without conversion, the Scriptures represent this as being the grand blessing of the covenant of grace. What said the Lord by His servant Jeremiah? “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer 31:33). This passage Paul quotes in Hebrews 10:16, not as obsolete, but as fulfilled in believers. And what has the Lord said by Ezekiel? Listen to the gracious passage, and see what a grand blessing conversion is: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Eze 36:26, 27). Is not this the blessing of the Gospel by which we realize all the rest? Is not this the great work of the Holy Ghost by which we know the Father and the Son?

Spurgeon ascribes the prophecy of Ezekiel and Jeremiah, not to a regeneration that precedes conversion, but to conversion itself. Spurgeon clearly equated, as do the scriptures, regeneration and conversion.

He wrote:

"Do you know anything about this? I trust that a great number of you have experienced it and are showing it in your lives, but I fear some are ignorant of it. Let those who are unconverted never rest till they have believed in Christ and have a new heart created and a right spirit bestowed. Lay it well to heart, that a change must come over you which you cannot work in yourselves, but which must be wrought by divine power. There is this for your comfort: Jesus Christ has promised this blessing to all who receive Him, for He gives them power to become the sons of God."

What "blessing" is promised to the unregenerate dead sinner? Is it not regeneration and new life? How does Spurgeon tell sinners to obtain "this blessing"? By faith! By "receiving him"! Begotten by faith!

He said:

"It is also always attended with simple, true, and real faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, that is the King’s own mark: without it, nothing is of any worth. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Joh 3:14, 15); and that passage is put side by side with “ye must be born again,” in the same address, by the same Savior, to the same inquirer. Therefore, we gather that faith is the mark of the new birth; and where it is, there the Spirit has changed the heart of man; but where it is not, men are still “dead in trespasses and sin.”

From a sermon delivered on Lord’s-Day morning, July 19th, 1874,
by C. H. Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

See here

Or here

1 comment:

Bruce Oyen said...

You did a good, an excellent, job on this matter, Stephen!