12/15/2010

Our Aim in Every Bible Study (Charles Spurgeon)

The grand object of the Christian ministry is the glory of God. This being our chief aim, we humbly seek the edification of Christians and the salvation/conversion of non-Christians. How? Briefly, we must declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). But how do we do this in principle and practice?

  • Depend entirely upon the Spirit of God, since conversion is a divine work. This is obviously easier said than practiced, for we incline toward our own will, effort, method, passion and desire.
  • Teach/preach the most prominent truths in the Bible (that leads to edification/conversion).
What then are the most prominent truths in the Bible that we emphasize/exalt/teach/preach?
  • First and foremost teach/preach Christ and him crucified (1 Cor 1:23; 2:2). Where Jesus is exalted souls are attracted. The teaching/preaching of the cross is the wisdom of God and the power of God to save souls (1 Cor 1:18). This includes declaring the evil of sin, which points to the need of a Savior.
  • Teach the depravity of human nature. Bryan Chapell, President of Covenant Seminary, coined the phrase FCF - Fallen Condition Focus - which he says that every Bible study should focus on. Perhaps a way this may be done is when the teacher/preacher truly or practically confesses his/her own sin, weakness, or vulnerability, since the student might think that they are "less sinful."
  • Teach the necessity for the Holy Spirit's divine operation, for no man can awaken his spiritual deadness. No man, no matter how resolved, can change himself even one iota that counts to God. Only the Holy Spirit works to transform one's inner being. No man can demand this, for God does whatever pleases him according to his own divine purpose (Ps 115:3; 135:6).
  • Teach the justice of God and that every transgression will be punished (Nu 32:23; Jn 16:8; Ac 24:25).
  • We must be most of all clear about the great soul-saving doctrine of the atonement. We must teach a real bona fide substitutionary sacrifice, and proclaim pardon as its result (Isa 53:5; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Cor 5:21). This shows how God can be just and the justifier of him that believes (Rom 3:26).
  • Teach/preach justification by faith as the way atonement becomes effectual in the soul's experience. This is so important because every man's natural spontaneous default is always to our own merit, or to work righteousness, where we depend on how much we pray, read the Bible, repent, work, sacrifice, etc, not realizing or applying that even these "good Christian practices" are entirely the work of God's grace and initiative. Christ's work is done completely once and for all, and we can add nothing to it (Heb 10:12). So, when we emphasize or highlight the imperatives of the Bible (say, "make disciples" or "feed my sheep"), we might inadvertently lead one to think that their justification is up to their performance or compliance or obedience. No man's justification is ever up to them (Rom 3:24; Eph 2:8,9).
  • Teach/preach earnestly the love of God in Christ, and magnify the abounding mercy of God, but always do so in conjunction with His justice.
In brief, men must be taught concerning themselves, their sin, and their fall, as well as their Savior, redemption, regeneration, atonement, justification, sanctification, and so on. But not only teach the above but use modes of handling those truths which are likely to lead to a good result. Perhaps I may address this in another blog.

This is adapted from Lectures To My Students by Charles Spurgeon (Chap 23, On Conversion As Our Aim).

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