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5 Stars Out Of 5
The Work of God's Grace: From Start to Finish
February 8, 2015
I recently read this wonderful work of 125 short pages in which Charles Spurgeon presents the work of the Trinity in saving sinners. This book has a decidedly evangelistic tone, as the preacher addresses the reader in the imperative saying things like, Come and see, Now look at this, and Listen to me. I believe this book would be profitable reading not only for unsaved individuals, but for someone who is a new believer, someone whos unsure if hes saved, someone who wants to understand how one is saved, or someone whos struggling with a sense of guilt or unworthiness before God. Its also a great little book to reaffirm and remind any believer of all that God has done for him to bring about his salvation and to keep him in the faith. Topics addressed in this brief work include: grace, regeneration, justification, faith, repentance, sanctification, Christs intercession, and the preservation of the believer. Spurgeons skillful use of illustrations helps the reader in his understanding of these truths.
Spurgeon begins by explaining the wonderful truth that God justifies the ungodly (Rom. 4:5), and that it is only the ungodly who needs God to justify him. Spurgeon comments,
"Nobody else but God would ever have thought of justifying those who are guiltyBut, even if anybody had thought of justifying the ungodly, none but God could have done itHe is able to treat the ungodly as if they had been always godlyIf God has justified a man it is well done, it is rightly done, it is justly done, it is everlastingly done."
But, Spurgeon goes on, God did not stop there. He doesnt just declare us to be godly, He is in the process of making us so. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus died to save us from our sins and to take away our sins. Yet every believer knows that its impossible to stop sinning, even though we have the desire to:
"We can never be happy, restful, or spiritually healthy till we become holy. We must get rid of sin, but how can we?. Salvation would be a sadly incomplete affair if it did not deal with this part of our ruined estate. We want to be purified as well as pardoned. Justification without sanctification would not be salvation at all. It would call the leper clean and leave him to die of his disease."
So we come to realize that it is not only by grace that we have been saved (Eph. 2:8), but that it is also by grace that we are being saved, and it takes faith to believe that the redeeming power of Christ is doing this work in us. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (I Cor. 1:18).
Spurgeon eloquently explains how grace and faith are related and how they bring about salvation. He describes grace as a fountain which gives life, and faith as the vehicle God uses to deliver the life-imparting grace to us. A person is foolish if he expects water to flow from an aqueduct which is not connected to the water supply. Likewise if a persons faith is in anything but Christ, it cannot result in life-giving salvation. I thought this was a good illustration of why we must be careful that were not trusting in our faith to save us. Rather, it is what our faith is connected to or founded on that is the source of our salvation.
Next Spurgeon looks at the stages of faith: knowledge, belief, and trust. Upon hearing the Gospel, the mind receives and processes the information, but this is not enough to produce faith. Next the mind, if opened and enlightened by the Holy Spirit, believes these things to be true, and so he is one step closer to true faith. But Spurgeon adds that one more ingredient is needed to complete it,
"Trust is the lifeblood of faith; there is no saving faith without itCast yourself upon Jesus. Rest in Him. Commit yourself to Him. Faith is not a blind thing, for faith begins with knowledge. It is not a speculative thing, for faith believes facts of which it is sure. It is not an unpractical, dreamy thing, for faith trusts and stakes its destiny upon the truth of revelation."
Again, it is the object of a persons faith that determines whether it will result in life, not the quality or strength of it. Everyones faith is different in the way it develops and is exercised. A new believers faith is usually different than a more mature believers faith. To this he adds a qualifier: Faith is the root of obedience; faith which refuses to obey the commands of the Saviour is a mere pretence and will never save the soul. Spurgeon continues to remind the reader that everything we have that plays a part in our salvation comes from God; we cannot do or contribute anything to it. Like faith, repentance is also a vehicle God uses in our conversion. And just like faith, its not something we can generate in our own strength. Repenting is a change of heart, a turning away from sin toward God, but I am utterly unable to do this on my own. I found this chapter to be helpful and encouraging because I often feel I am not repentant enough because I dont have a deep feeling of grief and dont physically weep over my sin. But Spurgeons comments gave me some perspective on this; he says,
"Remember that the man who truly repents is never satisfied with his own repentance. The main point is the turning of the heart from sin to Christ. If there is this turning, you have the essence of true repentance, no alarm and no despair should ever have cast their shadow upon your mindRepentance will not make you see Christ, but to see Christ will give you repentanceLook away, then from the effect to the cause, from your own repenting to the Lord Jesus, who is exalted on high to give repentance."
In this book, Spurgeons desire is to help the reader to see that he or she can and must be saved only by Gods grace, that by His grace we are made holy, and by His grace we will persevere until the end.
To the unbelieving readers who pick up this book Spurgeon says to delay no longer and to stop making excuses saying they need to understand more about how salvation works before they will believe. Asking questions about how to believe merely wastes time that they cannot afford to waste, and it gets them no closer to having faith. There is nothing to do except to obey the command, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31).
Spurgeon was one of the most eloquent and spiritual of all preachers, and his writing rises to the level of his preaching. All of Grace is a classic all believers should read. Spurgeon boldly and skillfully teaches grace without falling into any related errors (antinomianism or the divorce of faith from repentance). His comments on faith are also very timely and well worth heeding. Though Spurgeon was a committed Calvinist, Arminians will find nothing objectionable in this book. Everyone should profit from reading it.
I am actually re-reading All of Grace, not having read it for a number of years. I particularly appreciated this issue because of the brief history of Brother Spurgeon in the front. This is one of the features of which i spoke in the review summary.