All of Grace by Charles Spurgeon“True religion is supernatural at its beginning, supernatural in its continuance, and supernatural in its close. It is the work of God from first to last.”
I just finished 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 who’s unsure if he’s saved, someone who wants to understand how one is saved, or someone who’s struggling with a sense of guilt or unworthiness before God. It’s 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, Christ’s intercession, and the preservation of the believer. Spurgeon’s 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 guilty…But, even if anybody had thought of justifying the ungodly, none but God could have done it…He is able to treat the ungodly as if they had been always godly…If 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 doesn’t 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 it’s 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:
Grace is the fountain and the stream; faith is the aqueduct along which the flood of mercy flows down to refresh the thirsty sons of men. It is a great pity when the aqueduct is broken…The aqueduct must be kept entire to convey the current. Similarly, faith must be true and sound, leading right up to God and coming right down to ourselves, that it may become a serviceable channel of mercy to our souls…We must not look so much to faith that we exalt it above the divine source of all blessing which lies in the grace of God.
A person is foolish if he expects water to flow from an aqueduct which is not connected to the water supply. Likewise if a person’s 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 we’re 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. “How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10). 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 it…Cast 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 person’s faith that determines whether it will result in life, not the quality or strength of it. Everyone’s faith is different in the way it develops and is exercised. A new believer’s faith is usually different than a more mature believer’s faith. This is how Spurgeon describes different degrees of faith:
Sometimes faith is little more than a simple clinging to Christ, a sense of dependence and a willingness to depend…Faith is seen when one man relies upon another because of a knowledge of the superiority of the other. This is a higher faith, the faith which knows the reason for its dependence and acts upon it…Another and higher form of faith is that faith which grows out of love. This is the kind of faith which the happiest of believers exercise toward Christ.
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 pretense 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, it’s 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 don’t have a deep feeling of grief and don’t physically weep over my sin. But Spurgeon’s 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 mind… Repentance will not make you see Christ, but to see Christ will give you repentance …Look away, then from the effect to the cause, from your own repenting to the Lord Jesus, who is exalted on high to give repentance.
As with faith, we must be careful not to be trusting in our repentance to save us, but in Christ who grants repentance. And just as we are unable to begin the work of salvation by producing faith or repentance, neither are we able to sustain ourselves in our own strength. Once again, it is God’s grace that will preserve us, for He is not only the author of our faith, but the finisher of it as well (Heb. 12:2).
- “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
- “He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Cor. 1:8-9).
- “Those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified” (Rom. 8:3).
And so in All of Grace Charles Spurgeon’s desire is to help the reader to see that he or she can and must be saved only by God’s grace, that by His grace we are made holy, and by His grace we will persevere until the end. To the unbelieving reader who picks 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). So with that I leave you with these final words of warning to those who are not trusting in Christ:
If you will not believe till you can understand all mysteries, you will never be saved at all; and if you allow self-invented difficulties to keep you from accepting pardon through your Lord and Saviour, you will perish in a condemnation which will be richly deserved. Do not commit spiritual suicide through a passion for discussing metaphysical subtleties.