For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Spurgeon

There may be some who find my following a post on rock music with a post on Spurgeon both strange and offensive.  What can I say?  I'm a man of eclectic tastes.  But apart from Jesus and Paul, my life and ministry have not been more influenced by any one person that Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  (It should be obvious by the fact that my blog ID picture is a caricature of me in a famous Spurgeon pose)

I know I'm not alone in this.  Hundreds, even thousands, have been affected by the life and ministry of the Prince of Preachers.  God used him in such amazing ways.  While there have been many useful vessels down through the years, perhaps none have had more wide ranging influence that Spurgeon. 

Born on June 19, 1834 in Essex, England, Charles Spurgeon never had a formal theological education.  And yet, by the age of 21 he was the most popular and influential preacher in London.  Thousands would come to hear him proclaim the Gospel.  But unlike many of today's "popular" preachers, for Spurgeon it was never about fame and acclaim.  It was always about Christ.  Always about faithfulness to the Scripture.  So much so that he was eventually at odds with many of his contemporaries because of their accommodation to contemporary culture rather than faithfulness to Christ.  The Downgrade Controversy near the end of his ministry, in the minds of many, was a direct cause of his later health issues and even his death. 

All throughout his ministry, Spurgeon was keen on proclaiming the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth.  If folks didn't like it, then so be it.  And the soundness of the Truth Spurgeon proclaimed is evidenced by how widely he is read and respected even today.  Not many in the church have never heard the name.  (In my church, if they haven't heard they haven't listened considering how often I quote him!).  Full copies of his sermons were published during his ministry, and the collected volumes of those sermons are still widely popular today.  In addition, Spurgeon was a prolific writer, and most of his works are, again, still available and still popular. 

Interestingly, Spurgeon was a "Calvinist."  With all that's going on these days about the "New Calvinism" and other issues related to Reformed Theology, so many folks think it's something new.  Not only is Reformed thought merely a systematic statement of biblical truth, rediscovered during the Protestant Reformation, it was at the heart of Spurgeon's life and ministry.  He called himself a Calvinistic Baptist, while at the same time emphasizing that our identity is not in labels, but in Christ.  But to Spurgeon, to preach Christ was to preach what men call "Calvinism."

Lest you doubt me, Spurgeon wrote "A Defense of Calvinism" in which he states plainly: "I have my own Private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else."  Doesn't get more plain than that.

But of course, Spurgeon wasn't just about theological debates. In fact, one of the "knocks" against him during his lifetime was how "common" he made everything. Though in many respects a theological giant, he wasn't about academics per se. He was about proclaiming the Gospel.  He loved to preach the Word of God and literally gave his life to that endeavor.  His passion for the Word of God is legendary, and any and all preachers would do well to read and emulate Spurgeon in this.

I could go on and on about how God has used this man and his writings and sermons in my life.  I have to be careful, quite honestly, not to put 'ol Charles to high on a pedestal.  Which is why it was nice that one time I was reading a sermon of his and I actually found something I disagreed with Spurgeon about.  I thought, "wow, he can be wrong after all."  (It's a joke, people).  

But if you want to read more, go on over to the Spurgeon Archive and browse around. Read the nice biography posted there. Read some sermons.    Or go pick up a copy of Iain Murray's wonderful book: The Forgotten Spurgeon.  But if you haven't read anything by or about the man, then it really is your loss.  Thank God for faithful servants like C. H. Spurgeon.   


Gregg Metcalf said...

I too love this man and have been deeply influenced by him. He indeed was a "Prince."

I have Murray's biography and I have Spurgeon's "autobiography," The Treasury of David, His sermons, devotional bible et al. Just like a lot of guys I have what ever I can get my hands on by or about this guy. Loved Lectures to My Students.

Great post and thanks for give a nod to him on S day!

By the way, did you get a chance to read my post for "P" day?

Scott said...

Thanks, and no, I didn't get that until now. I thought I checked on the day, but I don't know what I was thinking. Thanks for highlighting Phil. He was talked about quite a lot in my house, and zoo trips always brought it up. Thanks again.