Note: the following review is based on the Whitaker House edition of All of Grace.
Charles Spurgeon is renowned the world over as one of the greatest preachers ever to live. Saved at age 15, he began preaching at 16, and became pastor of the New Park Street Chapel in London when he was 19. Spurgeon dearly loved Jesus, and passionately proclaimed the gospel to sometimes more than ten thousand people every week (the Metropolitan Tabernacle was built in 1861 to hold all the people who would come to hear him preach), and he saw many people saved through his ministry.
All of Grace, by the author’s own admission, is a book written with the intention “that many will be led to the Lord Jesus.” This intention leads to an extremely thorough and clear articulation of the good news of Jesus centering around the truth that “while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).
This is arguably the most crucial point of Spurgeon’s message, in large part due to the heavy attack it faces today. We see ourselves as strong, though we are weak. We sese ourselves as capable of earning our salvation, although we have no hope of doing so. Spurgeon puts it this way: “He did not come to save us because we were worth saving, but because we were utterly worthless, ruined, and undone” (pg. 90).
Spurgeon has the great ability to illustrate the ridiculousness of pride, particularly when addressing the necessity of salvation through faith (and indeed what is faith). On its necessity, he writes, “[God] will not give salvation in a way that will suggest or foster pride… The hand that receives charity does not say, ‘I am to be thanked for accepting the gift;’ that would be absurd” (pg. 79).
He makes his point exceedingly clear: We don’t earn salvation. We don’t deserve it. We don’t choose it. Indeed, we cannot.
It’s pure, unmerited grace.
What I appreciated a great deal while reading All of Grace is this call to the death of pride. If our salvation is in Christ alone, through faith alone, there is no room for boasting. Even when we repent, we cannot take credit. Spurgeon says, “We repent and believe, though we could do neither if the Lord did not enable us” (pg. 116). How often do we really see our ability to repent as a gift from God, as an ability enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit?
In all honesty, I rarely give it much thought. But I realize it’s not something I can or should take for granted. I can only repent and believe because Jesus has allowed me to do so. Should that not, then, drive me to pursue repentance even more? “Repentance is the inseperable companion of faith,” says Spurgeon (pg. 128). If we have faith, we must make a lifestyle of repentance, because “it is not a true faith in Jesus that is not colored by repentance” (pg. 128).
Where there is no repentance, there is only pride.
Spurgeon’s All of Grace is an engaging, compelling and inspiring look at the love of God, one that ends with a passionate appeal for all his readers to trust in the Lord Jesus and meet him (Spurgeon) in heaven, to worship the God who saves by grace. And I look forward to the day that I get to meet him there.