The Personal Testimony of
Charles Spurgeon

Was Spurgeon Saved By Way of a "Lordship Salvation" Gospel?


The following is taken from the biography of Spurgeon by Arnold Dallimore (Moody Press, 1984), pages 18-20


The story of Spurgeon’s conversion is widely known, but it may well be repeated, and it cannot be better told than in the words in which he himself presented it:

I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now, had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Church. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people’s heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved....

The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now it is well that preachers be instructed, but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was—"LOOK UNTO ME, AND BE YE SAVED, ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH" (Isa. 45:22)

He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimmer of hope for me in that text.

The preacher began thus: "This is a very simple text indeed. It says ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pain. It aint liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look.

"But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Ay!" he said in broad Essex, "many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some say look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some on ye say ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin.’ You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ "

Then the good man followed up his text in this way: "Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me, I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sitting at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! look unto Me!"

When he had . . . . managed to spin out about ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger.

Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said, "Young man, you look very miserable." Well, I did, but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home. He continued, "And you will always be miserable—miserable in life and miserable in death—if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved." Then lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do, "Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothing to do but look and live!"

I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said—I did not take much notice of it—I was so possessed with that one thought . . . . I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, "Look!" what a charming word it seemed to me. Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away.

There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, "Trust Christ, and you shall be saved." Yet it was, no doubt, all wisely ordered, and now I can say—

"E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die. . ."

That happy day when I found the Saviour, and learned to cling to His dear feet, was a day never to be forgotten by me . . . . I listened to the Word of God and that precious text led me to the cross of Christ. I can testify that the joy of that day was utterly indescribable. I could have leaped, I could have danced; there was no expression, however fanatical, which would have been out of keeping with the joy of that hour. Many days of Christian experience have passed since then, but there has never been one which has had the full exhilaration, the sparkling delight which that first day had.

I thought I could have sprung from the seat in which I sat, and have called out with the wildest of those Methodist brethren . . . "I am forgiven! I am forgiven! A monument of grace! A sinner saved by blood!"

My spirit saw its chains broken to pieces, I felt that I was an emancipated soul, an heir of heaven, a forgiven one, accepted in Jesus Christ, plucked out of the miry clay and out of the horrible pit, with my feet set upon a rock and my goings established . . . .

Between half-past ten o’clock, when I entered that chapel, and half-past twelve o’clock, when I was back again at home, what a change had taken place in me! Simply by looking to Jesus I had been delivered from despair, and I was brought into such a joyous state of mind that, when they saw me at home, they said to me, "Something wonderful has happened to you," and I was eager to tell them all about it. Oh! there was joy in the household that day, when all heard that the eldest son had found the Saviour and knew himself to be forgiven.

(Taken from Iain Murray, ed., The Early Years (London: Banner of Truth, 1962), p. 87-90).


  1. Notice how Christ-centered the gospel presentation was.

  2. Notice that due emphasis was placed on the death and resurrection of Christ, the all-sufficient Saviour (1 Cor. 15:3-4).

  3. Notice how God used the "foolishness of preaching" to save Spurgeon, and that the focus was on Christ and Him crucified (compare 1 Cor. 1:20-25).

  4. Notice how Spurgeon was instructed to look away from SELF and to focus on the SAVIOUR.

  5. Notice that the emphasis of the sermon was upon LOOKING, not DOING. He was to look in the direction of Christ and he was not told to focus on fulfilling any requirements. The only requirement was that he LOOK.

  6. Notice how simple the terms of salvation were: "Look and live!" "Trust Christ and you shall be saved."

  7. Notice that the substitute preacher did not say anything about the terms of discipleship and the demands that are incumbent upon every saved person to follow and obey Christ.

  8. Notice that the substitute preacher did not tell Spurgeon to "submit to Christ’s Lordship" or "fulfill the terms of discipleship" or "turn from and forsake all sin" or "hate father, mother, wife, children, etc." These things are the rightful results of salvation but not the simple terms of salvation.

  9. Notice Spurgeon’s joyful conclusion: "Simply by looking to Jesus I had been delivered from despair." "Oh, that somebody had told me this before, ‘Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.’ "

For a wonderful sermon by Spurgeon dealing with the question of what a person needs to do to be saved, see his sermon entitled, "The Warrant of Faith" available from Pilgrim Publications, Box 66, Pasadena, TX 77501.


Looking to Christ and Not to Self

The following is from Spurgeon's sermon entitled A Sermon for the Worst Man on Earth (based on Luke 18:13).  See  [Sermon #1949]

Then, dear Friends, remember, if we begin to preach to sinners that they must have a certain sense of sin and a certain measure of conviction, such teaching would turn the sinner away from God in Christ to himself.  The man begins at once to say, "Have I a broken heart?  Do I feel the burden of sin?"  This is only another form of looking to self.  Man must not look to himself to find reasons for God's Grace.  The remedy does not lie in the seat of the disease—it lies in the Physician's hands.  A sense of sin is not a claim, but a gift of that blessed Savior who is exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins.  Beware of any teaching which makes you look to yourself for help!  You must, rather, cling to that doctrine which makes you look only to Christ!  Whether you know it or not, you are a lost, ruined sinner, only fit to be cast into the flames of Hell forever.  Confess this, but do not ask to be driven mad by a sense of it.  Come to Jesus just as you are and do not wait for a preparation made out of your own miseries.  Look to Jesus and to Him alone.

If we fall into the notion that a certain sense of sin has a claim upon god, we shall be putting salvation upon other grounds than that of faith—and that would be false ground.  Now, the ground of salvation is—"God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  A simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the way of salvation!  But to say, "I shall be saved because I am horribly convicted of sin and driven to desperation," is not to speak like the Gospel, but to rave out of the pride of an unbelieving heart.  The Gospel is that you believe in Christ Jesus; that you get right out of yourself and depend alone on Him!  Do you say, "I feel so guilty"?  You are certainly guilty, whether you feel it or not!  And you are far more guilty than you have any idea of.  Come to Christ because you are guilty, not because you have been prepared to come by looking at your guilt!  Trust nothing of  your own, not even your sense of need.  A man may have a sense of disease a long time before he will get healing out of it.  The looking-glass of conviction reveals the spots on our face, but it cannot wash them away.  You cannot fill your hands by putting them into your empty pocket and feeling how empty it is!  It would be far wiser to hold them out and receive the gold which your friend so freely gives you.  "God be merciful to me a sinner" is the right way to put it, but not, "God be merciful to me because I sufficiently feel my sinnership, and most fittingly bewail it."


The Middletown Bible Church
349 East Street
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 346-0907

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