Spurgeon and Murray on Conversion


Consider these words from Charles Spurgeon, from his sermon entitled, “The Pentecostal Wind and Fire” (MTP, volume 27):

Furthermore, there was not merely this immediate confession, but as a result of the Spirit of God there was great steadfastness. “They continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine.” We have had plenty of revivals of the human sort, and their results have been sadly disappointing. Under excitement nominal converts have been multiplied: but where are they after a little testing? I am sadly compelled to own that, so far as I can observe, there has been much sown, and very little reaped that was worth reaping, from much of that which has been called revival. Our hopes were flattering as a dream; but the apparent result has vanished like a vision of the night. But where the Spirit of God is really at work the converts stand: they are well rooted and grounded, and hence they are not carried about by every wind of doctrine, but they continue steadfast in the apostolic truth.

Consider also these words from Iain Murray:

“There is an urgent need today for the recovery of the truth about conversion. A widespread controversy on this subject would be a healthy wind to blow away a thousand lesser things [emphasis added]. A renewed fear of God would end much worldly thinking and silence a multitude of raucous services. There has been much talk of evangelism, and many hopes of revival, but Spurgeon would teach us that the need is to go back to first things” (The Old Evangelicalism: Old Truths for a New Awakening, p. 68).

Here is a question worth pondering: Why isn’t there a controversy raging over conversion? Is it because we are all agreed on what it is? Is it because we do not think that the encouragement of false conversions through unbiblical evangelism is not important? Is it because we love ease and quiet and care more about what others think of us than we do for the glory of God and the eternal welfare of souls?

Why is there no controversy over conversion?

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7 Responses to “Spurgeon and Murray on Conversion”

  1. A controversy over conversion would have an aftermath of conversions.
    I think it would shake some people into biblical self-examination. I remember when I first realized that my sinners prayer did not save me. At twenty years old, I had been trusting in my decision for three years! It took a course on Systematic Theology to open my eyes to GRACE.

  2. I think part of the reason there is no controversy is because our churches get it half right. Conversion is generally understoood by all to be faith and repentance, but is rarely properly recognized. It is presumed to be present if someone “comes forward.” I am actually writing about this at the moment on my blog, but will be specifically addressing the issue of the soul’s preparation for conversion, how we’ve lost this understanding, and how to recover it.

  3. I would say that in many SBC churches it because numbers matter more than authenticity. We’re more concerned about getting as many people on the rolls so we can brag to those in our associations and state and national conventions. For many others its just not important because they’re not reaching out to the lost anyways so they just don’t care.

    For the rest of us it is probably a quiet disagreement. Differences on the matter exist, but for the sake of calm many who would engage in the discussion just keep silent. Maybe a good outburst is what is needed to spur us to examine the issue in earnest…

  4. Anonymous

    I think there is a controversy, within local congregations, where the pastor emphasizes regenerate membership. Then people get upset. “Are you telling me that Uncle Louie isn’t saved?! You can’t say that! Even though he hasn’t been to church since his baptism 47 years ago, and even though he cheated on his wife, got drunk, robbed the bank and did a little time, I was there when he prayed that prayer. I know he was sincere because there was a tear in his eye! What’s wrong with you pastor? You need to teach what Southern Baptists believe, not this man-made legalism!”

  5. Worthless numbers and false conversions would naturally arise, at least in part, from leadership placing a “goal” for the number of people baptized. I don’t remember Christ giving His disciples a goal number when He sent them out. The numbers that were given throught the book Acts were used solely to show the greatness of God after the fact. We’re trying to motivate like the world. The way we get motivated, is if WE experience revival.
    The church is rightly praying for “revival,” but equating that word with the mass conversion of souls. If it’s not alive, it can’t be revived. We do need revival, though. The languishing spirits of re-born church members need to be revived to the truth. Then, and only then, can the church be prepared to make disciples of mass conversion numbers. We can still multitudes being converted, but the church needs to make hersself ready first.

  6. There is no controversy because controversy might upset the apple cart for everyone whose salaries are assured by maintaining the comfortable status quo. We pick the battles that are easiest to win. That means that we squawk over gay marriage, but we name schools after icons of the revival movement. We attack what’s not popular and tolerate—even elevate—what is popular.

  7. Bob Ross wrote about this issue in “A REFORMED BAPTIST WRITES 052404 – IS MURRAY’S PEDOBAPTIST “INFANT BAPTISM INVITATION SYSTEM” MORE LIKELY TO PRODUCE CONVERTS THAN SOUTHERN BAPTISTS” and he said, “So far as my own preferences are concerned, it seems to me that at least some of the Reformed Baptists whom I know are marching too much to the tune of Pedobaptist writers and practices. They seemingly are allowing their thinking to be governed by the likes of Berkhof, Murray, Sproul, and some other Pedobaptists [baptizers of infants].”



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