“True faith may be known by this, that it begets a great esteem for the person of Christ.”
Christians are the happiest people in the world, at least according to Charles Spurgeon. Echoing the Westminster Shorter Catechism, Spurgeon claimed that “The chief end of man” was to “please God his Maker.” Furthermore, if man pleased God, he did that which “conduces most to his own temporal and eternal welfare.” In short, pleasing God would bring a “great amount of happiness.”
But, the all-important question was “how can I please God?” According to Spurgeon, one could “strive as earnestly as you can, live as excellently as you please,” and be eminent for “everything that is lovely and of good repute,” but none of these things on their own could please God. The missing key was faith.
In the first section of his sermon Spurgeon engaged in “Exposition” of the question “What is faith?” First, he noted that faith requires knowledge, for, “A man cannot believe what he does not know.” For Spurgeon it was hard to affirm faith in a person “unless he knows what he believes.” And so, Spurgeon believed that all “should know of the Bible,” and that believers should “lay hold of the whole matter of the Sacred Scriptures,” and especially the part which “concerns the person of our all-blessed Redeemer.”
Second, Spurgeon asserted that “assent must go with faith.” The Scriptures were to be received as the “very truth of the living God,” including their inspiration. Furthermore, no one was allowed to “halve” the Scriptures, that is, to cut out parts they didn’t like. Furthermore, “half-heartedness” was not permitted. Indeed, if willful Spurgeon would say “you have not the faith which looks alone to Christ.”
Third, Spurgeon asserted that “affiance to the truth was necessary.” Mere believing was not enough, but rather “taking hold of [truth] being ours, and in resting on it for salvation.” Merely believing in the atonement was not enough, rather, as Spurgeon said, “I shall be saved by making that atonement my trust, my refuge, and my all.” The “essence” of faith lay in “casting one-self on the promise.”
In the second section of his sermon Spurgeon came the grand “Argument,– why, without faith, we cannot be saved.” First, Spurgeon reminded his congregation that there never was a man who pleased God “without faith.” Furthermore, he warned that not all repentance was genuine. After all, “Judas repented, and went and hanged himself, and was not saved.” Even king Saul “confessed his sins” but was not saved.
Second, Spurgeon articulated faith as a “stooping grace.” That is, some do not believe “because [they] are too proud to believe.” In short, “the door of heaven is so low” that no one refusing to bow in humility to King Jesus would be saved.
Third, Spurgeon reminded his hearers that “Faith is necessary” precisely because “works cannot save,” while in his fourth point he claimed there is no “union to Christ” apart from faith, and that such a union was “indispensable to our salvation.”
Fifth, and finally, Spurgeon told his hears that without faith it “is impossible to persevere in holiness.” Spurgeon wanted all people to be “downright,” that is, settled in their conviction of faith and committed to its practice. For Spurgeon, one never had to be ashamed of bold living by faith, rather, “the only thing to be ashamed of is to be hypocritical.”
In the third section of his sermon Spurgeon asked the penetrating “Question….Dost thou believe on the Lord Jesus Christ with all thy heart?” In Spurgeon’s view the stakes were high. Indeed, “Christ will have all or nothing; he must be a whole Saviour, or none at all.” To have such faith it was necessary for one to have “renounced his own righteousness.” In short, “If thou puttest one atom of trust in thyself thou hast no faith.”
Finally, true faith may be known by this peculiar mark, “that is begets great esteem, for the person of Christ.” And with this in view, Spurgeon concluded with this passionate exhortation:
“Cast yourselves upon his love and blood, his doing and his dying, his miseries and his merits; and if you do this you shall never fall, but you shall be saved now.”
Why you should take up and read:
Charles Haddon Spurgeon had a deep belief in Jesus Christ, and therefore, he had a deep love for Jesus Christ. In this sermon, Spurgeon rejoiced in the salvation grounded in “love” and “blood,” and based upon Christ’s “doing” and “dying,” his “miseries” and “merits.” This sermon serves as a classic explanation of saving faith and provides rich reading for those in Christ, and especially those out. Therefore, take up and read.
Here is the link to the Sermon of the Week: https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/faith#flipbook/
Phillip Ort serves at the Director of The Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City where he is also pursuing a Master of Divinity degree.