Tag Archives: Doctrine

“A fair test of all worship and doctrine” by William Plumer

“It is a fair test of all worship and doctrine if we can ascertain whether it exalts God (Psalm 99:5, 9).

Whatever puts up the creature and human inventions is false and foolish.

Whatever puts Jehovah on the throne and makes Him Lawgiver, King, Judge, Redeemer, and All, is right.”

–William Plumer, Studies in the Book of Psalms: A Critical and Expository Commentary With Doctrinal and Practical Remarks (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1867/2016), 894. Plumer is commenting on Psalm 99.

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“The great love of Jesus” by Charles Spurgeon

“Jesus has loved His own people from of old. A most blessed fact! He has loved them eternally. There never a time when He did not love them.

His love is positively dateless: before the heavens and earth were made, and the stars were first touched with the torch of flame, Jesus had received His people from His Father, and written their names on His heart.

‘Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.’ Jesus, before all the world, set the crown of His peculiar love upon those whom He foreordained unto His glory.

This love of His is infinite. Jesus does not love His own with a little of His love, nor regard them with some small degree of affection, but He says, ‘As the Father hath loved me, even so have I loved you,’ and the Father’s love to the Son is inconceivably great, since they are one in essence, ineffably one.

The Father cannot but love the Son infinitely, neither doth the Son ever love His people less than with all His heart. It is an affection which no angelic mind could measure, inconceivable, unknown.

Jesus loved His people with a foresight of what they would be. Love is blind, they say, but not the Saviour’s love. He knew that ‘his own’ would fall in Adam; He knew that as they lived personally each one would become a sinner; He understood that they would be hard to reclaim and difficult to retain, even after they had been reclaimed; He saw every sin that they would commit in the glass of the future, for from His prescient eye nothing can be hidden.

And yet He loved His own over the head of all their sins, and their revoltings, and their shortcomings. Hence we see that He bears towards them an affection which cannot be changed, for nothing can occur which He has not foreseen, nothing therefore which has not already been taken into calculation in the matter of His choice.

No new circumstance can shed unexpected light upon the case. No startling and unforeseen event can become an argument for a change. Hence Jesus’ love is full of immutability. There are no ups and downs in the love of Christ towards His people.

On their highest Tabors He loves them, but equally as well in their Gethsemanes. When they wander like lost sheep His great love goes after them, and when they come back with broken hearts His great love restores them.

By day, by night, in sickness, in sorrow, in poverty, in famine, in prison, in the hour of death, that silver stream of love ripples at their side, never stayed, never diminished. Forever is the sea of divine grace at its flood; this sun never sets; this fountain never pauses.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Faithfulness of Jesus,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 14 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1868), 270-271.

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“Give them all the more of it” by Charles Spurgeon

“If anything is hated bitterly, it is the out-and-out gospel of the grace of God, especially if that hateful word ‘sovereignty’ is mentioned with it.

Dare to say ‘He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and he will have compassion on whom he will have compassion,’ and furious critics will revile you without stint.

The modern religionist not only hates the doctrine of sovereign grace, but he raves and rages at the mention of it. He would sooner hear you blaspheme than preach election by the Father, atonement by the Son, or regeneration by the Spirit.

If you want to see a man worked up till the Satanic is clearly uppermost, let some of the new divines hear you preach a free-grace sermon. A gospel which is after men will be welcomed by men; but it needs a divine operation upon the heart and mind to make a man willing to receive into his inmost soul this distasteful gospel of the grace of God.

My dear brethren, do not try to make it tasteful to carnal minds. Hide not the offence of the cross, lest you make it of none effect.

The angles and corners of the gospel are its strength: to pare them off is to deprive it of power. Toning down is not the increase of strength, but the death of it.

Learn, then, that if you take Christ out of Christianity, Christianity is dead. If you remove grace out of the gospel, the gospel is gone.

If the people do not like the doctrine of grace, give them all the more of it.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Our Manifesto,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 37 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1891), 49. This from a sermon on Galatians 1:11.

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“Bloodless, boneless, tasteless, colourless, lukewarm, undogmatic Christianity” by J.C. Ryle

“The times require at our hands distinct and decided views of Christian doctrine. I cannot withhold my conviction that the professing Church of the nineteenth century is as much damaged by laxity and indistinctness about matters of doctrine within, as it is by skeptics and unbelievers without.

Myriads of professing Christians now-a-days seem utterly unable to distinguish things that differ. Like people afflicted with colour-blindness, they are incapable of discerning what is true and what is false, what is sound and what is unsound.

If a preacher of religion is only clever and eloquent and earnest, they appear to think he is all right, however strange and heterogeneous his sermons may be. They are destitute of spiritual sense, apparently, and cannot detect error.

Popery or Protestantism, an atonement or no atonement, a personal Holy Ghost or no Holy Ghost, future punishment or no future punishment, High Church or Low Church or Broad Church, Trinitarianism, Arianism, or Unitarianism, nothing comes amiss to them: they can swallow all, if they cannot digest it!

Carried away by a fancied liberality and charity, they seem to think everybody is right and nobody is wrong, every clergyman is sound and none are unsound, everybody is going to be saved and nobody going to be lost.

Their religion is made up of negatives; and the only positive thing about them is, that they dislike distinctness, and think all extreme and decided and positive views are very naughty and very wrong!

These people live in a kind of mist or fog. They see nothing clearly, and do not know what they believe. They have not made up their minds about any great point in the Gospel, and seem content to be honorary members of all schools of thought.

For their lives they could not tell you what they think is truth about justification, or regeneration, or sanctification, or the Lord’s Supper, or baptism, or faith, or conversion, or inspiration, or the future state. They are eaten up with a morbid dread of CONTROVERSY and an ignorant dislike of PARTY SPIRIT.

And yet they really cannot define what they mean by these phrases. The only point you can make out is that they admire earnestness and cleverness and charity, and cannot believe that any clever, earnest, charitable man can ever be in the wrong!

And so they live on undecided; and too often undecided they drift down to the grave, without comfort in their religion, and, I am afraid, often without hope.
The explanation of this boneless, nerveless, jelly-fish condition of soul is not difficult to find.

To begin with, the heart of man is naturally in the dark about religion,—has no intuitive sense of truth,—and really NEEDS instruction and illumination. Besides this, the natural heart in most men hates exertion in religion, and cordially dislikes patient painstaking inquiry.

Above all, the natural heart generally likes the praise of others, shrinks from collision, and loves to be thought charitable and liberal. The whole result is that a kind of broad religious “agnosticism” just suits an immense number of people, and specially suits young persons.

They are content to shovel aside all disputed points as rubbish, and if you charge them with indecision, they will tell you,—“I do not pretend to understand controversy; I decline to examine controverted points. I daresay it is all the same in the long run.”

Who does not know that such people swarm and abound everywhere? Now I do beseech all who read this paper to beware of this undecided state of mind in religion. It is a pestilence which walketh in darkness, and a destruction that killeth in noon-day.

It is a lazy, idle frame of soul, which, doubtless, saves men the trouble of thought and investigation; but it is a frame of soul for which there is no warrant in the Bible, nor yet in the Articles or Prayer-book of the Church of England.

For your own soul’s sake dare to make up your mind what you believe, and dare to have positive distinct views of truth and error. Never, never be afraid to hold decided doctrinal opinions.

And let no fear of man and no morbid dread of being thought party-spirited, narrow, or controversial, make you rest contented with a bloodless, boneless, tasteless, colourless, lukewarm, undogmatic Christianity.

Mark what I say. If you want to do good in these times, you must throw aside indecision, and take up a distinct, sharply-cut, doctrinal religion. If you believe little, those to whom you try to do good will believe nothing.

The victories of Christianity, wherever they have been won, have been won by distinct doctrinal theology:

  • by telling men roundly of Christ’s vicarious death and sacrifice
  • by showing them Christ’s substitution on the cross, and His precious blood
  • by teaching them justification by faith, and bidding them believe on a crucified Saviour
  • by preaching ruin by sin, redemption by Christ, regeneration by the Spirit
  • by lifting up the brazen serpent
  • by telling men to look and live,—to believe, repent, and be converted.

This,—this is the only teaching which for eighteen centuries God has honoured with success, and is honouring at the present day both at home and abroad.

Let the clever advocates of a broad and undogmatic theology,—the preachers of the Gospel of earnestness, and sincerity and cold morality,—let them, I say, show us at this day any English village or parish, or city, or town, or district, which has been evangelized without ‘dogma,’ by their principles.

They cannot do it, and they never will. Christianity without distinct doctrine is a powerless thing. It may be beautiful to some minds, but it is childless and barren. There is no getting over facts. The good that is done in the earth may be comparatively small.

Evil may abound, and ignorant impatience may murmur, and cry out that Christianity has failed. But, depend on it, if we want to ‘do good’ and shake the world, we must fight with the old apostolic weapons, and stick to ‘dogma.’ No dogma, no fruits! No positive Evangelical doctrine, no evangelization!”

–J.C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (London: William Hunt and Company, 1889), 416–419.

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“The one doctrine which I have supremely at heart” by Martin Luther

“I myself can hardly believe I was as verbose when I lectured on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, as this volume indicates. But since I recognise as mine all the thoughts which the brethren have taken such pains to set down in it, I am forced to admit that I said as much and perhaps even more.

For the one doctrine which I have supremely at heart, is that of faith in Christ, from Whom, through Whom and unto Whom all my theological thinking flows back and forth day and night.

Not that I find I have grasped anything of a wisdom so high, so broad and so profound, beyond a few meagre rudiments and fragments; and I am ashamed that my poor, uninspired comments on so great an Apostle and chosen instrument of God should be published.

Yet I am compelled to forget my shame and be quite shameless in view of the horrible profanation and abomination which have always raged in the Church of God, and still rage to-day, against this one solid rock which we call the doctrine of justification.

I mean the doctrine that we are redeemed from sin, death and the devil, and made partakers of eternal life, not by ourselves (and certainly not by our works, which are less than ourselves), but by the help of another, the only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ.”

–Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

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“A tough bit of theology” by C.S. Lewis

“For my own part, I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others.

I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hands.”

–C.S. Lewis, “On the Reading of Old Books,” in God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, Ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), 205.

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“Our faith is a Person” by Charles H. Spurgeon

“Our faith is a Person. The gospel that we have to preach is a Person. And go wherever we may, we have something solid and tangible to preach. If you had asked the twelve apostles, in their day, ‘What do you believe in?’ they would not have needed to go round about with a long reply, but they would have pointed to their Master, and they would have said, ‘We believe Him.’

‘But what are your doctrines?’ ‘There they stand incarnate.’ ‘But what is your practice?’ ‘There, stands our practice. He is our example.’ ‘What, then, do you believe?’ Hear ye the glorious answer of the apostle Paul: ‘We preach Christ crucified.’

Our creed, our body of divinity, our whole theology is summed up in the person of Christ Jesus. The apostle preached doctrine; but the doctrine was Christ. He preached practice; but the practice was all in Christ.

There is no summary of the faith of a Christian that can compass all he believes, except that word Christ. And that is the Alpha and the Omega of our creed, that is the first and the last rule of our practice– Christ, and Him crucified.

To spread the faith, then, is to spread the knowledge of Christ crucified. It is, in fact, to bring men, through the agency of God’s Spirit, to feel their need of Christ, to seek Christ, to believe in Christ, to love Christ, and then to live for Christ.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, C.H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, Vol. 3 (1856-1878), Eds. Susannah Spurgeon and Joseph Harrald (New York: Fleming Revell Co., 1899), 42-43. From the lecture, “De Propaganda Fide,” delivered on January 4, 1859, to the Young Men’s Christian Association in Exeter Hall.

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