HUMAN INABILITY (TOTAL DEPRAVITY OF MAN)
A SERMON DELIVERED ON SABBATH MORNING,
MARCH 7, 1858, BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON,
“No man can come to Me, except the Father who sent Me draws him.” John 6:44.
“COMING to Christ” is a very common phrase in Holy Scripture. It is used to express those acts of the soul wherein leaving at once our self-righteousness and our sins, we fly unto the Lord Jesus Christ and receive His righteousness to be our covering and His blood to be our atonement.
Coming to Christ, then, embraces in it repentance, self-negation and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It sums within itself all those things which are the necessary attendants of these great states of heart, such as the belief of the Truths of God, earnestness of prayer to God, the submission of the soul to the precepts of God’s Gospel and all those things which accompany the dawn of salvation in the soul. Coming to Christ is just the one essential thing for a sinner’s salvation. He that comes not to Christ, do what he may, or think what he may, is yet in “the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.” Coming to Christ is the very first effect of regeneration. No sooner is the soul quickened than it at once discovers its lost estate, is horrified thereat, looks out for a refuge and believing Christ to be a suitable one, flies to Him and reposes in Him. Where there is not this coming to Christ, it is certain that there is as yet no quickening—where there is no quickening, the soul is dead in trespasses and sins—and being dead it cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
We have before us now a very startling announcement—some say very obnoxious. Coming to Christ, though described by some people as being the very easiest thing in all the world, is in our text declared to be a thing utterly and entirely impossible to any man unless the Father shall draw him to Christ. It shall be our business, then, to enlarge upon this declaration. We doubt not that it will always be offensive to carnal nature, but nevertheless, the offending of human nature is sometimes the first step towards bringing it to bow itself before God. And if this is the effect of a painful process, we can forget the pain and rejoice in the glorious consequences! I shall endeavor this morning, first of all, to notice man’s inability, wherein it consists. Secondly, the Father’s drawinags—what these are and how they are exerted upon the soul.
Coming to Christ is so obnoxious to human nature that although, as far as physical and mental forces are concerned, (and these have but a very narrow sphere in salvation), men could come if they would—it is strictly correct to say that they cannot and will not unless the Father who has sent Christ draws them! Let us enter a little more deeply into the subject and try to show you wherein this inability of man consists in its more minute particulars. 1. First it lies in the obstinacy of the human will. “Oh,” says the Arminian, “men may be saved if they will.”
We reply, “My dear Sir, we all believe that. But it is just the “if they will” that is the difficulty. We assert that no man will come to Christ unless he is drawn. No, we do not assert it, but Christ Himself declares it—‘You will not come unto Me that you might have life.’ And as long as that, ‘you will not come,’ stands on record in Holy Scripture, Christ shall not be brought to believe in any doctrine of the freedom of the human will.”
It is strange how people, when talking about free will, talk of things which they do not at all understand. “Now” says one, “I believe men can be saved if they will.” My dear Sir, that is not the question at all. The question is, are men ever found naturally willing to submit to the humbling terms of the Gospel of Christ? We declare, upon Scriptural authority, that the human will is so desperately set on mischief, so depraved and so inclined to everything that is evil—so disinclined to everything that is good—that without the powerful, supernatural, irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit, no human will will ever be constrained towards Christ!
You reply that men sometimes are willing without the help of the Holy Spirit. I answer—did you ever meet with any person who was? Scores and hundreds, no, thousands of Christians have I conversed with, of different opinions, young and old—but it has never been my lot to meet with one who could affirm that he came to Christ of himself without being drawn. The universal confession of all true Believers is this—“I know that unless Jesus Christ had sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God, I would to this very hour have been wandering far from Him—at a distance from Him—and loving that distance well.” With common consent, all Believers affirm the Truth of God that men will not come to Christ till the Father who has sent Christ draws them!
2. Again, not only is the will obstinate, but the understanding is darkened. Of that we have abundant Scriptural proof. I am not now making mere assertions, but stating Doctrines authoritatively taught in the Holy Scriptures and known in the conscience of every Christian—that the understanding of man is so dark that he cannot by any means understand the things of God until his understanding has been opened! Man is by nature blind within. The Cross of Christ, so laden with glories and glittering with attractions, never attracts him because he is blind and cannot see its beauties. Talk to him of the wonders of the Creation. Show to him the many-colored arch that spans the sky. Let him behold the glories of a landscape—he is well able to see all these things.
But talk to him of the wonders of the Covenant of Grace; speak to him of the security of the Believer in Christ; tell him of the beauties of the Person of the Redeemer and he is quite deaf to all your descriptions! You are as one that plays a goodly tune, it is true, but he regards not, he is deaf, he has no comprehension! Or, to return to the verse which we so specially marked in our reading, “The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned,” and inasmuch as he is a natural man, it is not in his power to discern the things of God. “Well,” says one, “I think I have arrived at a very tolerable judgment in matters of theology. I think I Understand almost every point.”
True, that you may do in the letter of it—but in the spirit of it, in the true reception thereof into the soul and in the actual understanding of it, it is impossible for you to have attained—unless you have been drawn by the Spirit! For as long as that Scripture stands true—that carnal men cannot receive spiritual things—it must be true that you have not received them unless you have been renewed and made a spiritual man in Christ Jesus.
The will, then and the understanding, are two great doors, both blocked up against our coming to Christ! And until these are opened by the sweet influences of the Divine Spirit, they must be forever closed to anything like coming to Christ.