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Calling sinners to Christ [Thawed out Thursday]

Here's a hurriedly written essay on repentance and evangelism.  The basic point is this:

Unbelievers can't repent.  Believers must - all the time.

One of the implications is that evangelism is calling sinners to come to Christ just as they are. Two men preaching in the 19th century grasped this very well indeed.

Here is Spurgeon calling sinners to repentance:

Do not attempt to touch yourself up and make yourself something other than you really are, but come as you are to Him who justifies the ungodly. ...The Gospel will receive you into its halls if you come as a sinner, not otherwise. Wait not for reformation, but come at once for salvation. God justifieth the ungodly, and that takes you up where you now are; it meets you in your worst estate. Come in your disorder. I mean, come to your heavenly Father in all your sin and sinfulness. Come to Jesus just as you are: filthy, naked, neither fit to live nor fit to die. Come, you that are the very sweepings of creation; come, though you hardly dare to hope for anything but death. Come, though despair is brooding over you, pressing upon your bosom like a horrible nightmare. Come and ask the Lord to justify another ungodly one. (From "Justification of the Ungodly" by C.H. Spurgeon.  A sermon on Romans 4:5 - found in "All of Grace")

And this is from a wonderful piece called Evangelical Repentance by John Colquhoun (1748-1827)

Do you postpone the act of trusting in the Lord Jesus for all His salvation, till you first sit down and mourn awhile for your sins, or till your heart be so humbled that you may be welcome to Him, and so have from your own resources a warrant for trusting in Him? Do you object against coming to Christ because you are not certain that your conviction of sin and your repentance are of the right sort? Do you apply yourself to the exercise of repentance in order to be qualified for believing in Christ, or do you apply your conscience to the commands and curses of the broken law, in order so to repent as to be entitled to trust in Him? Know, I entreat you, that this preposterous and self-righteous course will but sink you the deeper in unbelief, impenitence, and enmity to God the longer you try in this manner to seek for evangelical repentance in your heart or life, the farther you will be from finding it... Do not try to wash yourself clean in order to come to the open fountain of redeeming blood; but come to it as you are, and, by the immediate exercise of direct confidence in the Lord Jesus, wash away all your sins (Ezek 36:25).


0 thoughts on “Calling sinners to Christ [Thawed out Thursday]

  1. Heather

    The Lord will graciously accept us in whatever pathetic condition He finds us.
    But He loves us too much to leave us there.

    A very hard lesson I've had to learn.

    Interestingly, as I've been drawn closer to Christ, the attitude of sorrowful repentance grows as the Spirit reveals ever more of what I've been forgiven.

    Good reminder, Glen.

  2. Missy

    For years I said I'd look into going to church after I quit smoking and cussing. Well, I quit cussing when I started having kids that repeated me. I quit smoking when the doc told me my baby would die if I didn't. A few weeks later, from the left and right came invitations to study the Bible or visit a church. Hmmm... sometimes God brings you there, and you realize your bad habits weren't the ugly things you should have been worried about.

  3. Heather

    Tim Cairns,

    I took the liberty of clicking your link. I did not hear the particular sermon that caused such offense, but is it possible the vicar neglected to properly balance his message?

    I'm all for Biblical submission, but I think part of the reason some people get offended about this type of message is that (apart from the natural tendency of women to rebel against "headship"), the teaching is often highly imbalanced.

    In the US, out of order women get blamed for wrecked up marriages but no one bothers to point out that men are to love their wives in the same way that Christ loved the Church--and that they often fail, as well.

    If pastors are going to address the need for women to submit, it should be done the way Paul did it. Speak to the duties and failures of men--and then to the women--together. Otherwise, there's going to be hurt feelings and blame shifting because the "other" party didn't get held to account. No one will actually hear what's being said, no matter how true it might be.

    My observation is that those who want to know Biblical truth will respond to it when it is accurately presented. Those who don't want to know would reject it even if the Lord Himself appeared to tell them.


  4. Glen

    Yikes Tim,

    I don't know the curate personally but I do know of him. I'm sure any number of my sermons could be culled for even more sensational material. It was surely the vicar's paper for General Synod that was newsworthy - not a 1 Peter 3 sermon by a curate that could have been preached by a thousand evangelicals up and down the country.

    Here's the link to the sermon in question. I'll listen and see what I think:

    Hi Heather - I agree for the need for balance. But my first suspicion is that the *reporting* of this story is unbalanced. But I'll listen to the sermon to make up my mind. Also - don't forget that the sermon is on 1 Peter 3:1-6, which is all about women. (And the men only get one verse (v7)). The balance might have to be struck in the whole sermon series rather than the one-off.

  5. Si

    Peter Ould (who has a rather thorough blog post on this news story here: ) gives the link to the Reform leaflet issued to parishioners:

    Wouldn't all this be better off in one of Glen's Trinity and marriage/family posts? Especially given that the leaflet makes the Trinity - Father, Son and Spirit are equal in status, yet different in roles, and some of those roles involve submission to the others.

    Still, it's here now!

    As for the Sermon series - it's a two sermon series, from what I can make out. 1Peter3:1-6 two weeks ago, and verse 7 last week. A week on the women, and a week on the men. While there's only 1 verse, there's more to discuss in that verse for men - the first 6 verses make one point and expand on it, giving examples.

  6. Heather

    No worries, Glen.

    If the pastor was preaching his way through 1 Peter, it's something that he couldn't well avoid. To be honest, I love that passage as Paul understands that the wife is to mirror the Church's relationship with Christ, (the husband.) In the same way that a wife is to not be taking charge, flaunting herself and flirting with other men, neither is the Church to be outside of Christ's direction, prostituting herself in an outwardly showy (but inwardly hollow) manner.

    And, there's definitely a sermon wrapped up in verse 7 when you look beyond the human relationship to what it ought to be representing.

    Just thinking that if this is the only point he's ever touched on concerning marriage and wifely submission, I can see how it might get some folks uptight. People on our side of the pond can sure make a mess of this subject when they miss the foundational reason for the order of authority.

    I do agree that the media representation could have completely misrepresented the whole thing. They have an odd way of doing this...

  7. Tim Cairns

    sorry people for taking us off topic, I really am. I just saw the headline on the Daily Telegraph website and clicked in nervous anticipation wondering was it our own good host who had preached said sermon! it wasn't, but I did figure Glen might know the person.

    anyway...... again apologies for taking us off topic!

    Ok view, it’s good (for woman and men) phew back on topic.

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