by Charles H. Spurgeon
A book review by Paul Ellis
February 13, 2014
I smile when people when people say things like, “Joseph Princewas the first to preach the gospel of grace,” or “Andrew Wommack had this message before anyone.” I smile, because the gospel of grace is no new message. It is as ancient as the Garden of Eden. Indeed, the Bible calls it the eternal gospel (Rev 14:6).
But if we must give credit to pioneering preachers, then I choose Jesus followed by the apostle Paul.
Prior to the coming of Jesus, the eternally good news of God’s love and grace was obscured behind the temporary strictures of the law-keeping covenant. Some wise old guys like Abraham, David and Isaiah saw it, but it is fair to say that the good news of God’s grace was not widely appreciated until Jesus showed up and revealed his Father’s loving heart. As John said, “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
So the gospel of grace is no new thing. People have been proclaiming it for at least two thousand years. And in the 19th century few people did it better than the grace preacher Charles H. Spurgeon.
Reading All of Grace is like having Spurgeon step out of Victorian England and into your living room. You can almost smell the chimney fires of London in this book. The language is old. The sentences run forever. But the hundred-year old message thunders loud and clear. Spurgeon spells out his gospel point by pulpit-thumping point. He’s passionate. He’s emphatic. And by golly, if you refuse to believe his message of grace, “then there’s something wrong about you altogether” (p.79).
Spurgeon writes of the “abyss” of God’s grace. “Who can measure its breath? Who can fathom its depth? Like all the rest of the divine attributes, it is infinite.”
Again and again Spurgeon hammers Romans 5:6: “Christ died for the ungodly.”
With these foundations laid, Spurgeon goes on to demystify faith. Faith is a work of grace; it’s the conduit along which grace flows. It is not the means for saving us but it is the means by which salvation comes to us.
Spurgeon describes true repentance as a change of mind, something that happens after we see Christ. He staggers at the idea that repentance may be measured in tears shed or groans heaved. He says, “Unbelief and despair are sins, and therefore I do not see how they can be constituent elements of acceptable repentance” (p.65).
At many points in the book Spurgeon anticipates reader’s fears and questions. Near the end of the book he notes that some Christians are worried that they shall not persevere to the end. They fear that they shall stumble at the last hurdle and lose all. Spurgeon scorns this fear for what it is – trust in self instead of Jesus.
Given all the mixed-grace that is preached in this day and age, it’s refreshing to drink pure, sweet grace straight from the tap. In Spurgeon’s case it’s like taking a draft from a hundred-year old bottle of well-aged wine.