Charles Spurgeon on “Non-Essential” Doctrines

October 4th, 2007 | 1 Comment | Church Issues, Discernment, Scripture, Teaching Charles Spurgeon on “Non-Essential” Doctrines |  Facebook

If you say that any one part of the truth is unimportant, you do as good as say – to that extent the Holy Spirit has come upon an unimportant or valueless mission. You perceive it is declared that he is to teach us “all things”; but if some of these “all things” are really of such minor importance, and so quite non-essential, then surely it is not worth while disturbing our minds with them. And so to that degree, at any rate, we accuse the Holy Spirit of having come to do what is not necessary to be done; and I trust that our minds recoil with holy repulsion from such a half-blasphemy as that..

[If more understood this] they would surely study a great many things that they overlook now, and I think they would not be so apt to excuse their own need of diligence in the school of Christ, by saying:
“Well, there are some all-important doctrines; we have studied them, and that is enough.”

Brethren, when a boy goes to school, he may say, “If I learn arithmetic,
I shall be able to be a tradesman, and that is what I shall be; [so I do not want to learn those other subjects].” But the schoolmaster says, “My boy, you are put under my teaching to learn all things, and it is not for you to pick and choose what class you will attend.” Now, we are scholars under the teaching of the blessed Spirit, and it is not for us to say, “I will learn the doctrine of justification By faith, and when I know that, I shall not trouble my mind about election, I shall not raise any question about final perseverance,
I shall not enquire into the ordinances, whether believer’s baptism or infant baptism is right; I take no interest in these things; I have learned the essential matter, and I will neglect the rest.” Thou will not say this if thou art an obedient disciple, for do you not know that the ministers of Christ have received a commission to teach all things that Christ has taught them, and do you think that our commission is frivolous and [annoying]? Do you think that Christ would bid us teach thee what it is no need of thee to learn, or, especially, that the Holy Ghost would himself come to dwell in the midst of his church and to teach them all things, when out of those “all things” there are, according to thy vain supposition, some things that were quite as well,
if not better, left alone? . . .

There is a tendency, among us all, I suppose, to choose some part of the truth, and attach undue importance to that, to the neglect of other truths. It is a grave question if this is not the origin of various divisions which are to be found in the Church of Christ – not so much heresy, as the attaching of disproportionate importance to some truth, to the disparaging or neglecting of others equally necessary.

Some brother speaking to me the other day, declared of a certain truth,
“You cannot have too much of a good thing.” Whereupon I remarked, that a nose was a good thing, but it might be possible so to exaggerate it that you would spoil the beauty of the face; a mouth is a good thing, and yet it may be very possible to have such a mouth that there would be no particular beauty about the visage, for the beauty of the man consists in proportion, and the beauty of divine truth consists in the proportion in which every part of it is brought into view. Now, there be some who exaggerate one feature, and some another.

There are some brethren who are fond of what is called “the high side” of doctrine. I am fond of it, too, very fond of it, but there is a temptation to bring that out, and to neglect, perhaps, the practical part of the gospel, and to ease into the background, possibly, the invitations of the gospel, and those truths which concern our usefulness in the world. Then, on the other hand, there are some who are so enamored by “experience” that nothing but experiential truth will suit them; they must be always harping upon that one string, and they look down with contempt upon those who hold fast doctrinal truth, which is very wrong, and shows that they have not yet been led into all truth. …

It is all truth, and not some truth, that the Holy Spirit comes to teach.
To teach his children truth in all its harmony, truth in all its parts, truth indeed, as a whole. But it may be said, “There must be some truths which are not so essential as others!” That is granted. There are some truths that are so vital to salvation and peace with God, and there are some others that do not vitally concern the regeneration and conversion of the soul, and upon these men may be in error, and yet not risk their souls for all eternity. But still, even these [less vital] truths are part of the whole body of truth, and the body cannot do without its head, its heart, though it might lose a limb. Yet is that a reason why I should chop off a limb, or consent to have it maimed, because I could still exist without it? I could exist without an eye; shall I not, therefore, mind being blinded? . . .

All truth must be necessary for you and for me, or else the Spirit of God would not have come to teach it to us, and that while we may give more prominent importance to the greater and more vital truths, yet there is not one truth in Scripture to which we are allowed to say,
“Be still, be quiet, we do not want you.”

Brethren, how many of you would be happy if you did but study doctrinal truth! You go lean and starved through the world, because your minister does not preach the doctrines of grace, and does not give you the full weight of the truths of the sovereign grace of God. Still, if you but studied them for yourselves, you might yet have a bright eye, and an elastic, bounding footstep, and rejoice in the everlasting love of God, which never leaves his people, but preserves and glorifies them in the end.
- Charles Spurgeon, The Great Teacher and Remembrancer

HT: Old Truth

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One Response to “Charles Spurgeon on “Non-Essential” Doctrines”

  1. Praise God for bringing forth a man as Spurgeon. The Spirit of truth greatly flows throughout his work. I love Spurgeon’s summation for this thought.

    I would only comment, in contemporary Christendom, the word “non-essential” is sometimes used to refer to doctrine that is “non-essential” to salvation. For instance, whether someone is pre, mid, or post is “non-essential”. Also, “non-essential” may refer to a classification of doctrinal differences which two people will not agree on, but, in the end embrace because the differences are “non-essential” to a saving faith and not a threat to truth.

    However, all doctrine I would agree is essential doctrine and whether we oppose or affirm a doctrine we do the body a service to be versed in doctrine so we can proclaim and defend truth.

    -Steve


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