Blog Entry

Sermon of the Week: No. 182, "Human Inability"

By Phillip Ort Apr 1, 2019

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” – John 6:44

 

For Charles Spurgeon, the Scriptural phrase “coming to Christ” was full of meaning. It expressed the “[act] of soul” whereby sinners left their “self-righteousness” and ran “unto the Lord Jesus Christ” in order to “receive his righteousness.” “Coming to Christ” was an all-encompassing response which embraced “repentance” and “faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Furthermore, Spurgeon believed that “coming to Christ” was the “very first effect of regeneration.” Indeed, as soon as the soul was made alive, and sensible to its danger, it “looks out for a refuge, and believing Christ to be a suitable one, flies to him.” And, although described by some as “the very easiest thing in all the world,” Spurgeon insisted that it was “utterly and entirely impossible to any man, unless the Father shall draw him.”

 

In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon focused on “Man’s inability.” Here he began by asking, “Wherein does this inability lie?” First, Spurgeon asserted that “it does not lie in any physical defect.” In Spurgeon’s view, “If…moving the body or walking with the feet should be of any assistance,” then certainly man has the “power to come to Christ in that sense.”

 

Second, Spurgeon declared that “this inability [does not] lie in any mental lack.” For his proof, Spurgeon noted that all unbelievers are “capable of appreciating as a mere mental act the guilt of sin.” And so, no man could plead “lack of intellect” as an excuse for “rejecting the gospel.”

 

Rather, Spurgeon insisted that man’s inability lies deep “in his nature.” Indeed, Spurgeon said, “Through the fall, and through our own sin, the nature of man has become so debased, and so depraved…that it is impossible for him to come to Christ without the assistance of the Holy Ghost.”

 

Turning to the more “minute particulars” of the problem, Spurgeon first noted that this inability “lies in the obstinacy of the human will.” In his view, no sinful man was ever found “naturally willing” to submit to the “humbling terms of the gospel of Christ.” Rather, the human will was “desperately set on mischief” and “inclined to everything evil.”

 

Second, Spurgeon observed this inability in that “the understanding is darkened.” He believed that “Man is by nature blind within.” Even the cross, “so laden with glories,” could never attract a man whose eyes remained unopened. Indeed, while such a man could intellectually comprehend the cross he could not see its beauty.

 

Third, Spurgeon believed “the affections, which constitute a very great part of man, are depraved.” Here he noted that “it is but the effect of the fall, that man should love sin better than righteousness.” Indeed, Spurgeon insisted that “until these affections be renewed…it is not possible for any man to love the Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Fourth, Spurgeon lamented that even “conscience, too, has been overpowered by the fall.” Indeed, he rejected the modern view that conscience had been untouched by the fall, and “although it is not dead” asserted it “is ruined.” Conscience alone would accuse of guilt to be sure, but it would not make the sinner feel the full dread weight of sin.

 

In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon pointed his congregation to “The Father’s drawings.” Here Spurgeon carefully distinguished between the preaching of the gospel and the drawing of the Father. When he considered Christ’s ministry in Capernaum he thought it curious that the place where Christ himself preached the most met with such little fruit. He reasoned then that “the drawing of the Father” must be something more. Indeed, “a divine drawing” worked in men by the Holy Spirit to “induce them to come to Christ.

 

And so Spurgeon could truly say, “If a man be unwilling to be saved, Christ does not save him against his will.” Rather, at the right time, the Holy Spirit would “make him willing.”

 

In the third, and final, section of his sermon, Spurgeon turned to “conclude by making a practical application of the doctrine.” Here Spurgeon hurled himself into gospel combat, challenging his hearers by saying, “Let me assure you, in God’s name, if your religion has no better foundation than your own strength, it will not stand you at the bar of God.” Indeed, he said “Nothing will last to eternity, but that which came from eternity.” And so rightly concluded by urging his hearers to “come” and “flee” to Jesus Christ.

 

Why you should take up and read:

 

For Charles Spurgeon “coming to Christ” was full of meaning. It expressed the “[act] of soul” whereby sinners left their “self-righteousness” and ran “unto the Lord Jesus Christ” in order to “receive his righteousness.” “Coming to Christ” was an all-encompassing response which embraced “repentance” and “faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” For those wanting to meditate on Christ, or to come to Christ, please take up and read.

 

Here is the link to the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/human-inability#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.