Soul Care with Spurgeon: Sovereignty and Salvation

“The world likes a religion they cannot comprehend. But, have you never noticed how gloriously simple the Bible is?” Charles Spurgeon

We recently received an email at Baylight inquiring about counseling services. Not understanding the nature of our ministry, the person asked if we employed “EFT” or “Emotionally Focused Therapy.” EFT is one of the many hundreds, if not thousands of secular counseling theories that mental health therapists may choose to specialize in over-against all the others.

EFT was developed by Drs. Sue Johnson and Les Greenberg. It finds its roots in attachment theory, which states that “humans are hardwired for strong emotional bonds with others.” In EFT, emotional “disconnections” are considered to be one of the underlying issues whenever couples experience discord. Therefore, according to an article published at PsychCentral.com, “The aim of EFT is to help couples overcome these negative cycles, re-establish their connection, and strengthen their emotional bond.”

Taking care to not turn this article into a discussion of counseling theory, the inquiry reminded me of just how pervasive is the psychologizing of the church today. Our friend, in their email, explained that a Christian counselor elsewhere shared with them that EFT was a highly effective treatment option for couples counseling. Taking it upon expert advice, the person set out in good faith to find someone near them who could show them where to find this hope for their marriage.

To be sure, there are true observations made within the theory of Emotionally Focused Therapy. Human beings are indeed “hardwired” for relationships and community. Without question, emotional disconnect in a marriage will provide a foundation for relational dysfunction. To recognize these truths, and to then seek ways to bring healthy emotional bonds back into a marriage is a worthy goal.

But, armed with a biblical understanding of the issues, we understand that these goals, as stated, are not sufficient in and of themselves.

The purpose of marriage, as revealed in Scripture, is not to simply “get along well enough,” but to display the majesty of the Gospel for the glory of God. Within the confines of biblical marriage, husband and wife can learn about and experience together the substance of what it means to “glorify God and enjoy him forever” (WSC 1).

But, as two sinners who have entered into a lifelong covenant together, the biblical vision for marriage will not come so easy. There will be difficulty. The question is, to what or to whom will Christian couples look?

Look Unto God

This week’s edition of “Soul Care with Spurgeon” comes from a sermon that he preached on January 6, 1856, at New Park Street Chapel, in Southwark. The title of the sermon was “Sovereignty and Salvation.” Spurgeon’s text was Isaiah 45:22:

Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

In this message, Spurgeon shared just a portion of his conversion story. It had been just six years prior, to the day and almost to the hour, that a teenaged Charles found himself taking refuge in the confines of a small Methodist church from a raging snow storm. Unbeknownst to him, Charles had a divine appointment with God that day, mediated through a country pastor preaching the word of God from the Isaiah passage mentioned above.

Charles recounted how he had been “in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.” By the grace of God, he came to feel the “bitterness of that bondage, and to cry out by reason of the soreness of its slavery.” In a moment, Spurgeon shared that the “grace of faith was vouchsafed to me.” The pastor, through the command given in Isaiah 45:22, had exhorted his audience, in general, and young Spurgeon, specifically, to “Look!” unto God.

This “looking unto God” because “he alone is God and beside him there is none other” was the thrust of the sermon. Repeatedly, and in various ways, he exhorted his audience to set aside the vanities and philosophies of man in favor of the wisdom of God. “Systems of infidelity pass away like a dew drop before the sun, for God says, ‘I am God, and besides me there is none else,’” Spurgeon warned.

Without question, Spurgeon would have included in these “systems of infidelity” today’s unending stream of psychological theories that attempt to understand and answer the problems of man apart from Scripture. I suspect he would have been incredulous at the thought of a professing believer directing another to look not at God for hope, but at a secular theory of humanity that knows nothing of the cross of Christ.

Spurgeon understood in this sermon that the Gospel, in its simplicity, was not lacking anything. But, in their unbelief, people were then and are now inclined to pursue what they consider to be scientific and even religious sophistication over a bloodied and crucified Savior. For this reason, Spurgeon risked simplicity in his message by exhorting those who were enslaved to sin and suffering to “Look unto God and be ye saved!” There is no stumbling, he said, when a man walks with his eyes turned up to Jesus.

A Simple Plea

Nothing in Spurgeon’s sermon or this post should be construed as suggesting that there is not hard work to be done in soul care, or in understanding how the heart and soul of man interacts with the physical body and brain. Good scientific research in the field of neuroscience is revealing more to us about the otherwise unseen interface between the body and the soul of man. It truly is an exciting time to be involved in psychology, the care and cure of souls.

Equally exciting, however, is the way in which nothing that has been or is being revealed in scientific research proves to be a threat of any kind to the Gospel. Instead, we see science repeatedly affirming what has already been proclaimed in Scripture.


For this reason, while actual, physical science marches on, we confidently echo the cry of Spurgeon in “Sovereignty and Salvation,” that those around us, “Look unto God, and be saved, all the ends of the earth, for he is God, and there is none else.”