This Week's Focus Passage

‘Look unto me, and be ye saved.’

Focus Passage: Isaiah 45:22

‘Look unto me, and be ye saved.’

Without having the pamphlet in hand and before my eyes, memory may nonetheless recall the title as something like, ‘Because of a Storm.’ This pamphlet contains the autobiographical account of the conversion of that renowned London Baptist preacher of the nineteenth century, Charles Spurgeon, who was given the title, ‘The Prince of Preachers,’ by many in his own day and since. He passed from this world to the next in January, 1892 at the relatively young age of fifty-seven. While Spurgeon was considered at the time to be, what was then called, a Particular Baptist, he has been embraced since the twentieth century as a Reformed Baptist. This is due to the fact that his soteriology was Calvinistic. In other words, he believed that salvation is to be entirely ascribed, from beginning to the end, unto the sovereign pleasure of Almighty God, even as is declared in the book of Jonah, 2:9, ‘Salvation is of Jehovah.’ He was known to have declared, in fact, that the Calvinist view of the sovereignty of God in salvation is none other than the biblical view of salvation. The aforementioned pamphlet speaks, as was intimated, of how it was in the providential mercy of God that Spurgeon came to God through Jesus Christ. Those who think lightly of God’s Providence in all things may not appreciate this history as well as they who have been blessed with a better understanding.

Discounting the plight of those sad folk, we believe, as Charles Haddon Spurgeon believed, that it was the Providence of God that directed his steps that memorable morning of January 6, 1850, when a snowstorm indirectly—or as scholars might insist, mediately—was employed to set forth a man as a servant of God to be the means, through his preaching, to bring many to Christ during the forty or so years of his ministry in London, and the world through the publication of his sermons and many of his writings. He was precluded by a weather event from being in his usual place of worship. The young man, Charles, was only fifteen years of age when his intended journey to the church of his usual attendance, although he had not yet found peace with God through the mediation of Christ, was cut short by a snowstorm. He made his way, rather, down an alleyway to a Primitive Methodist church. Here he was met with something foreign to his upbringing. This Methodist Church followed the governmental model of John Wesley in the Anglican fashion of the doctrine of apostolic succession; the continuum of bishops in the line of Peter, considered by many as the first pope. Again, in the wonderful and mysterious Providence of God, the successor to the office of preacher was absent due to the snowstorm and an elderly deacon dutifully, albeit with reluctant timidity, took the podium to bring a word from God to the very small number of attendants. This gentleman took for his text, Isaiah 45:22, Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the end of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else. According to Spurgeon’s account, this gentleman pretty much only read the text and made a few simple observations. But the point of the great change, at least the conviction of need, came when this Primitive Methodist deacon—apparently led by the Spirit, at least in the reflective apprehensions of Spurgeon—looking directly at the young visitor at the back of the small building and speaking with compassion and evident authority right to him, said boldly, ‘young man, you look miserable!’ This declaration became the beginning of the journey to the Celestial City for the fifteen-year-old Spurgeon, and by the grace of God, he never took a backward step from that point on.

What about ourselves? Are we substantially any different from Spurgeon in this experience? Are we any different from a Saul on the road to Damascus? While the circumstances and the details may and shall differ widely, is not the centrality of the Word and the sovereign Providence of God the means generally employed by the Holy Spirit in bringing one of the elect unto God through the blood of the cross? Have we not all been, in one manner or another, been called upon to look unto God in order to be saved? The world would have its dupes, and ourselves were it possible, to look unto anything else; to look unto our own wisdom, to look unto our own knowledge, to look unto our parentage, to look unto others that offer salvation to us through our own efforts. But by the grace of God, and through His longsuffering and forbearance, because of His eternal love for us, we were made deaf to their pleas and blind to their overtures. Rather were we brought to an end of ourselves. We were made to know our sinfulness; that we deserved eternal separation from our Creator. We were made to know that our just dessert was to be cast into the lake of fire that burns forever and forever. We were also brought to see and understand sufficiently that we had no ability to do anything to reconcile ourselves to God. Yea, we would not even had cared anything about the salvation of our souls had not the Lord already been turning us about through His providential mercies. If He had not already been looking to us, we had never looked unto Him. Christ told His disciples in John 4:4 that He must needs pass through Samaria. Humanly speaking the woman of the well of Jacob in that chapter would have never met, nor ever believed on Jesus Christ as the Son of God, had not Jesus determined to pass through Samaria. But He did indeed pass through that country, and did meet this woman at the well. How many lives were intersected because of that determination? How many souls were thus saved through that providential intersection that caused so many Samaritans beside the woman herself to look unto Jesus and be saved?

How has it been with us? It has been no different. If we have been brought to the place where we have looked unto God in Christ, we have been brought through many instrumentalities—which are truly the Providence of God—to be found in a situation or in a place where we heard the gospel call. The Holy Spirit was pleased to mix the preaching with faith—a gift He had given us through regeneration at the exact time appointed from before the foundation of the world. Yea, He made us willing in the day of His power to come to Him, and so we surely did come.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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