Spurgeon: “Shall the Eternal fail thee?”

Posted by on Nov 27, 2013 in Charles Spurgeon

Spurgeon: “Shall the Eternal fail thee?”

20131120 fearnot1 Spurgeon: Shall the Eternal fail thee?

“Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord and thy redeemer the Holy one of Israel.”
(Isaiah 41:14)

Get rid of fear, because fear is painful. How it torments the spirit! When the Christian trusts, he is happy; when he doubts, he is miserable. When the believer looks to His Master and relies upon Him, he can sing; when he doubts His Master, he can only groan.

What miserable wretches the most faithful Christians are when they once begin doubting and fearing! It is a trade I never like to meddle with, because it never pays the expenses, and never brings in any profit—the trade of doubting.

Why, the soul is broken in pieces, lanced, pricked with knives, dissolved, racked, pained. It knoweth not how to exist when it gives way to fear. Up, Christian! thou art of a sorrowful countenance; up, and chase thy fears.

Why wouldst thou be for ever groaning in thy dungeon? Why should the Giant Despair for ever beat thee with his crabtree cudgel? Up! Drive him away! Touch the key of the promises; be of good cheer! Fear never helped thee yet, and it never will.

Fear, too, is weakening. Make a man afraid—he will run at his own shadow; make a man brave, and he will stand before an army and overcome them. He will never do much good in the world who is afraid of men.

The fear of God bringeth blessings, but the fear of men bringeth a snare, and such a snare that many feet have been tripped by it. No man shall be faithful to God, if he is fearful of man.

No man shall find His arm sufficient for him, and His might equal to his emergencies unless he can confidently believe, and quietly wait. We must not fear; for fear is weakening.

Again; we must not fear; for fear dishonors God. Doubt the Eternal, distrust the Omnipotent? Oh, traitorous fear! Thinkest thou that the arm which piled the heavens, and sustains the pillars of the earth shall ever be palsied?

Shall the brow which eternal ages have rolled over without scathing it, at last be furrowed by old age? What! Shall the Eternal fail thee? Shall the faithful Promiser break His oath? Thou dishonorest God, O unbelief! Get thee hence!

God is too wise to err, too good to be unkind; leave off doubting Him, and begin to trust Him, for in so doing, thou wilt put a crown on His head, but in doubting Him thou dost trample His crown beneath thy feet.

—Charles Haddon Spurgeon. From a sermon titled, “Fear Not”

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Spurgeon, Inerrancy, and What We Still Need Today

Posted by on Nov 26, 2013 in Apologetics, Charles Spurgeon, Inerrancy, The Gospel and the Ministry


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Spurgeon, Inerrancy, and What We Still Need Today
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20130130 promise law 300x140 Spurgeon, Inerrancy, and What We Still Need TodayCharles Haddon Spurgeon’s influence today is felt more than ever, as he is the most published Christian author in church history.1 He is often quoted in sermons, articles, books, tweets, and other quote-worthy mediums among Christians. Helmut Thielicke helpfully points out the impact and influence of Spurgeon’s ministry when he notes that, “The fire Spurgeon kindled turned into a beacon that shone across the seas and down through generations, was no mere brush fire of sensationalism, but an inexhaustible blaze that glowed and burned on solid hearths and was fed by the wells of the eternal Word. Here was the miracle of a brush that burned with fire and yet was not consumed.”2

Albert Mohler explains that “the defining characteristic of Spurgeon’s ministry was an undiluted passion for the exposition and proclamation of God’s Word.”3 Spurgeon’s influence is felt today because he was a man of the people, a man whose infectious love for the Lord Jesus Christ spilled over into all he wrote, said and did. Spurgeon’s influence won him many friends and many critics but it is undeniable that his influence is felt on evangelicalism today because of his passionate pursuit of proclaiming the glory and majesty of Christ in everything he said and wrote.

Spurgeon’s influence is still felt today in evangelicalism, because he was a man of conviction. Spurgeon did not seek after controversy but rather picked which battles he entered into with great care only choosing to enter into those battles which compromised the Christian faith. Spurgeon’s example is instructive to Christian ministry leaders as many supposed evangelicals today claim to follow in the line of evangelicalism, but do not have a high view of the Bible. If the story of Church history has taught evangelicals anything it should be that when a high view of Scripture is upheld then Jesus will be brought glory. The example of Spurgeon is especially important in this regard as he had a high view of God’s Word and of His Son Jesus Christ. Spurgeon proclaimed the Word of God in a time when truth was under attack, much like today, but did not compromise.

Albert Mohler explains “Spurgeon was a man, possessed by deep passion for the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”4 Spurgeon’s passion for the Word of God and the person of Jesus consumed all of his waking hours. Spurgeon’s conviction to preach the Word of God without compromise is needed among evangelicals today more than ever. In recent days some voices are calling for a “big-tent” evangelicalism that is more inclusive than exclusive.

This is a big mistake.

The early church fathers to the 16th century Protestant Reformers across Europe, and up to the present day conservative evangelicals, have all affirmed verbal plenary inspiration, and biblical inerrancy.

Clement of Rome (A.D. 80-100 taught, “You have looked closely into the Holy Scriptures, which are given through the Holy Spirit. You know that nothing unrighteous or falsified has been written in them.” (1 Clement, XLV. 2.3.) Augustine wrote to Jerome (A.D. 394), “It seems to me that most disastrous consequence to follow upon our believing anything false is found in the sacred books, that is to say, that the men by whom the Scriptures have been given to us, and committed in writing, did not put down in these books anything false.” (Cited by James Olive Buswell, Outlines of Theology, 24.)  Calvin thought of Scripture as “the sure and infallible record,” “the inerring standard,” “the pure Word of God,” “the infallible rule of His Holy Truth,” “free from every stain or defect,” “the inerring certainty,” “the certain and unerring rule,” “unerring light,” “infallible Word of God,” “has nothing belonging to man mixed with it,” “inviolable,” “infallible oracles.” Inerrancy was the view of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, as well as of the entire church; inerrancy is the ‘central church tradition.” (John D. Hannah, ed., Inerrancy and the Church (Chicago: Moody, Press, 1984), ix.). The Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) was founded in 1949 and had a singular doctrinal statement at its founding that affirmed inerrancy: “The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. (“Evangelical Scholars Remove Robert Gundry for His Views on Matthew,” Christianity Today, February 3, 1984.)

At the end of the day those who want to redefine evangelicalism and reshape it in their own mold do so at their own peril. Evangelicals today would be wise to follow the example of Spurgeon who stood on the Word of God and called his readers to “read not so much man’s comments, or man’s books, but read the Scriptures, and keep your faith on this, — “God said it.”13

The ministry of Spurgeon is instructive to Christians today because Spurgeon was a man aflame with the glory of the grace of God. Spurgeon made an impact because of his passion for and stance on evangelical truth, which he contended for, defended, and proclaimed with all of his might to the glory of God. Men of passion and conviction are needed in evangelicalism today, men who will contend, defend and proclaim the truth of substitionary atonement, the authority and inspiration of Scripture, eternal punishment for unbelievers, original sin, and the absoluteness of Christianity.

Godly men of passion and conviction will be maligned and persecuted– as was Spurgeon, but they must follow the example of Jesus and men like Spurgeon who modeled for Pastors, ministry leaders, and believers how to stand firm in the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. While truth is under attack today on many fronts inside and outside the church, an even greater need and threat is arising from within its ranks, and that is found in the need of men to stand up and be counted.

Every generation of believers must determine if they are going to stand for biblical truth or lay down their swords and accept the lie of liberalism. While there is much to be commended in recent days in evangelicalism especially in the growing movement of Christians, ministries and churches that are discussing what is the Gospel and its implications; there is still much to be alarmed about as many are questioning and casting aside the authority of the Word of God either through how they use the Bible, what they think about Adam being a historical person, or their stance on gender roles. This generation of believers will have to decide– as did Spurgeon—if they will stand on the Truth of the Word of God and lift up the Son of God among the nations, or whether they will lay down their sword and succumb to the lie of liberalism.

At the end of the day, Spurgeon was right “believers must never adjust the Bible to the age, but the age to the Bible.”14 Believers have been given the Word of God not to speculate on, but to study, to mediate upon, contend for, defend and proclaim to the nations. The Word of God always stands in judgment of men never do men stand in judgment of it. This fact reveals the fundamental problem going on inside and outside the church by exposing as Spurgeon knew in his time that the issues of today are old issues rooted in who is authoritative, God or man. As with every generation before and everyone after it, the Truth of God’s Word will remain authoritative, unchanging and unrelenting as it seeks to lift high the name and glory of Jesus among the nations.

As the Word of God did its work in Spurgeon’s time so today evangelicals can be encouraged that the Word of God is sharper than any two edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God is the means God uses by His Spirit to pierce the heart of the convinced atheist, rejecters like Judas, and deniers like Peter. Evangelicals today need to stand firm in the grace of God and the Word by looking to the example of men like Spurgeon and be encouraged that God by His grace is still working to bring people to Himself and build His church for His glory and praise.



[1] Eric W. Hayden. “Did You Know: A Collection of True and unusual facts about Charles Haddon Spurgeon.” Christian History, 10:1, #29, (February 1991).

[2] Helmut Thielicke, Encounter with Spurgeon, trans. John W. Doberstein (Cambridge, MA: James Clarke & Co., 1964) 1.

[3] Albert Mohler, He Is Not Silent: Preaching In A Postmodern World, (Chicago, Moody, 2008), 163.

[4] Albert Mohler, He Is Not Silent: Preaching In A Postmodern World, (Chicago, Moody, 2008), 163.

[5] Roger E. Olsen, “Postconservative Evangelicalism.” In Four Views On The Spectrum OF Evangelicalism, 163. Edited by Andrew David Naselli and Collin Hansen. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

[6] Roger E. Olsen, “Postconservative Evangelicalism.” In Four Views On The Spectrum OF Evangelicalism, 179. Edited by Andrew David Naselli and Collin Hansen. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

[7] Albert Mohler, “A Confessional Response to Postconservative Evangelicalism.” In Four Views On The Spectrum Of Evangelicalism, 196. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

[8] Mark. A. Noll, David W. Bebbington, George A. Rawlyk, eds. Evangelicalism: Comparative Studies in Popular Protestantism in North America, the British Isles, and Beyond, 1700-1990 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

[9] Roger E. Olsen, “Postconservative Evangelicalism.” In Four Views On The Spectrum OF Evangelicalism, 182. Edited by Andrew David Naselli and Collin Hansen. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

[10] Albert Mohler , “Confessional Evangelicalism.” In Four Views On The Spectrum Of Evangelicalism, 91. Edited by Andrew David Naselli and Collin Hansen. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

[11] Albert Mohler , “Confessional Evangelicalism.” In Four Views On The Spectrum Of Evangelicalism, 78. Edited by Andrew David Naselli and Collin Hansen. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

[12] Albert Mohler , “Confessional Evangelicalism.” In Four Views On The Spectrum Of Evangelicalism, 91. Edited by Andrew David Naselli and Collin Hansen. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

[13] Charles Spurgeon, From “The Plea of Faith,” The New Park Street Pulpit, Vol. 2 (London: Passmor and Alabaster, 1856), 273-280.

[14] Charles Spurgeon, An All-Around Ministry: Addresses to Ministers and Students (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1906), 230.

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The How, What, and Why Of Preaching The Gospel by Charles Spurgeon

Posted by on Apr 23, 2013 in Charles Spurgeon

The How, What, and Why Of Preaching The Gospel by Charles Spurgeon

041312 howwhatwhygospel The How, What, and Why Of Preaching The Gospel by Charles Spurgeon

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost”
(1 Timothy 1:15)


Paul had just described his ordination in 1 Timothy 1:12. He then went on to speak of the grace manifested in the call of such a person to the ministry (verse 13), and of the further grace by which he was sustained in that ministry.

Incidentally he was led to mention the message of his ministry. We may profitably use the text of this occasion. Paul’s words help us see how to preach the gospel, what is the gospel we preach, and why we preach this gospel.

How We Preach the Gospel

We preach the gospel with unapologetic certainty. Notice that Paul considers the gospel message to be a “trustworthy saying” (verse 15). In other words, there is no reason to doubt the truth of our message. We can be sure because it is a revelation of God, it is attested by miracles, it bears its witness within itself, and it has already proved its own power upon our hearts.

We also preach the gospel as an everyday truth. Paul calls it a “saying” or proverb. The gospel affects not just at the point of salvation but at home, in business, in sickness, in health, in life, in death. The gospel is for all of life—everyday.

We also preach the gospel as a common bearing. In other words, this “saying” is to be heard by all kinds of people. Every person is a sinner in need of God’s saving love.

We also preach the gospel in a way that claims our attention. Paul says it is “deserving of full acceptance” (verse 15). We must believe it to be true and worthy of acceptance!

What Gospel Do We Preach?

First, we preach the good news—gospel—of a person. This person is “Christ Jesus”, the anointed of God, the Savior of men, who once died but now lives forever.

We also preach the gospel of divine visitation and holy condescension. “Christ Jesus came into the world” by His birth as a man, his mingling with men, and his bearing our sorrows and sins for us.

We preach a gospel for sinners. Jesus “came into the world to save sinners.” For this salvation, Jesus labored, lived, and died. He died to make atonement for our sin; yet He is now risen on high and pleads for us in heaven (Romans 8:34).

We preach a gospel of a finished work. Jesus finished his saving work before He left the world, and that work is complete to this day. God is ready to apply this saving work through Jesus Christ to all who would come to Him in faith.

We preach a gospel of effectual deliverance. It was God’s desire “to save sinners.” Not to half save them, not to make them salvable, not to help them save themselves… but to save them wholly and effectually from their sins.

Why Do We Preach It?

Of course, we preach the gospel to others because we ourselves have been saved by it! Furthermore, I love Paul’s attitude toward his own sin; he says he is the “foremost” of sinners. If we consider ourselves the chief sinner among men, we would be all the more zealous to preach the good news that saved us to them. It should be something that you desire and cannot help. The saving work of Jesus creates an inward impulse that compels us to tell others of the miracle of mercy that God wrought upon us.

Praise be to God!

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Hope in His Word

Posted by on Apr 1, 2013 in Charles Spurgeon

Hope in His Word

20130125 hopeinhisword Hope in His Word

“Remember the word unto Thy servant, upon which Thou hast caused me to hope.”
(Psalm 119:49)

Whatever your special need may be, you may readily find some promise in the Bible suited to it.

Are you faint and feeble because your way is rough and you are weary? Here is the promise-”He giveth power to the faint.” When you read such a promise, take it back to the great Promiser, and ask Him to fulfill His own word.

Are you seeking after Christ, and thirsting for closer communion with Him? This promise shines like a star upon you-”Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Take that promise to the throne continually; do not plead anything else, but go to God over and over again with this-”Lord, Thou hast said it, do as Thou hast said.”

Are you distressed because of sin, and burdened with the heavy load of your iniquities? Listen to these words-”I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions, and will no more remember thy sins.” You have no merit of your own to plead why He should pardon you, but plead His written engagements and He will perform them.

Are you afraid lest you should not be able to hold on to the end, lest, after having thought yourself a child of God, you should prove a castaway? If that is your state, take this word of grace to the throne and plead it: “The mountains may depart, and the hills may be removed, but the covenant of My love shall not depart from thee.”

If you have lost the sweet sense of the Saviour’s presence, and are seeking Him with a sorrowful heart, remember the promises: “Return unto Me, and I will return unto you;” “For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee.”

Banquet your faith upon God’s own word, and whatever your fears or wants, repair to the Bank of Faith with your Father’s note of hand, saying with the Psalmist, “Remember the word unto Thy servant, upon which Thou hast caused me to hope.”

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Inerrancy, Olsen, Spurgeon, and Evangelicalism

Posted by on Jan 16, 2012 in Charles Spurgeon, Inerrancy

Inerrancy, Olson, Spurgeon, and Evangelicalism 

            Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s influence today is felt more than ever, as he is the most published Christian author in church history.[1] Helmut Thielicke helpfully points out the impact and influence of Spurgeon’s ministry when he notes that, “The fire Spurgeon kindled turned into a beacon that shone across the seas and down through generations, was no mere brush fire of sensationalism, but an inexhaustible blaze that glowed and burned on solid hearths and was fed by the wells of the eternal Word. Here was the miracle of a brush that burned with fire and yet was not consumed.”[2]

Dr. Albert Mohler explains that “the defining characteristic of Spurgeon’s ministry was an undiluted passion for the exposition and proclamation of God’s Word.”[3] Spurgeon’s influence is felt today because he was a man of the people, a man whose infectious love for the Lord Jesus Christ spilled over into all he wrote, said and did. Spurgeon’s influence won him many friends and many critics but it is undeniable that his influence is felt on evangelicalism today because of his passionate pursuit of proclaiming the glory and majesty of Christ in everything he said and wrote.

Spurgeon’s influence is still felt today in evangelicalism, because he was a man of conviction. Spurgeon did not seek after controversy but rather picked which battles he entered into with great care only choosing to enter into those battles which compromised the Christian faith. Spurgeon’s example is instructive to Christian ministry leaders as many supposed evangelicals today claim to follow in the line of evangelicalism, but do not have a high view of the Bible. If the story of Church history has taught evangelicals anything it should be that when a high view of Scripture is upheld then Jesus will be brought glory. The example of Spurgeon is especially important in this regard as he had a high view of God’s Word and of His Son Jesus Christ. Spurgeon proclaimed the Word of God in a time when truth was under attack, much like today, but did not compromise.

Dr. Albert Mohler explains “Spurgeon was a man, possessed by deep passion for the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”[4] Spurgeon’s passion for the Word of God and the person of Jesus consumed all of his waking hours. Spurgeon’s conviction to preach the Word of God without compromise is needed among evangelicals today more than ever. In recent days some voices are calling for a “big-tent” evangelicalism that is more inclusive than exclusive. One voice, Dr. Roger Olson, teaches that “evangelicalism has no definable boundaries.”[5] He continues explaining that “evangelicalism is a broad tent that includes a great variety of people all facing toward the center.:[6] The problem with Dr. Olsen’s comment, as Dr. Mohler rightly notes is that “the center is not explained.”[7]

Dr. David Bebbington defines evangelicalism in four ways:

First conversion, or “the belief that lives need to be changed”; second, the Bible, or the ‘belief that all spiritual truth is to be found in its pages”; third, activism, or the dedication of all believers, including laypeople, to lives of service for God, especially as manifested in evangelism (spreading the good news) and mission (taking the gospel other societies); and finally, crucicentrism, or the conviction that Christ’s death was the crucial matter in providing atonement for sin (i.e. providing reconciliation between a holy God and sinful humans.)[8]

Dr. Roger Olson (in his explanation of big-tent evangelicalism) teaches that “those who defend inerrancy have not learned their lesson from history.”[9] The problem with this statement by Dr. Olson regarding inerrancy, as will be demonstrated in the following paragraphs, is that it is historically incorrect and misleading. Evangelicalism should not be defined broadly but rather narrowly by a high view of Scripture and the person and work of Jesus Christ.

“Affirming the total truthfulness, trustworthiness, and authority of the Bible is a first order-theological issue.”[10] Dr. Mohler notes that “first-level theological issues are most central and essential to the Christian faith.”[11] He continues explaining that:

Without an unqualified confidence in the Bible as the revealed Word of God, the Christian Church is left without any means of knowing what the gospel is and what the Christians are to believe and teach. Without affirming biblical inerrancy, the Christian Church is left without any adequate way of expressing a confidence in the Bible’s truthfulness and trustworthiness.[12]

The early church fathers to the 16th century Protestant Reformers across Europe, and up to the present day conservative evangelicals, have all affirmed verbal plenary inspiration, and inerrancy.

Clement of Rome (A.D. 80-100 taught, “You have looked closely into the Holy Scriptures, which are given through the Holy Spirit. You know that nothing unrighteous or falsified has been written in them.” (1 Clement, XLV. 2.3.) Augustine wrote to Jerome (A.D. 394), “It seems to me that most disastrous consequence to follow upon our believing anything false is found in the sacred books, that is to say, that the men by whom the Scriptures have been given to us, and committed in writing, did not put down in these books anything false.” (Cited by James Olive Buswell, Outlines of Theology, 24.)  Calvin thought of Scripture as “the sure and infallible record,” “the inerring standard,” “the pure Word of God,” “the infallible rule of His Holy Truth,” “free from every stain or defect,” “the inerring certainty,” “the certain and unerring rule,” “unerring light,” “infallible Word of God,” “has nothing belonging to man mixed with it,” “inviolable,” “infallible oracles.” Inerrancy was the view of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, as well as of the entire church; inerrancy is the ‘central church tradition.” (John D. Hannah, ed., Inerrancy and the Church (Chicago: Moody, Press, 1984), ix.). The Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) was founded in 1949 and had a singular doctrinal statement at its founding that affirmed inerrancy: “The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. (“Evangelical Scholars Remove Robert Gundry for His Views on Matthew,” Christianity Today, February 3, 1984.)

The remark by Dr. Olson that, “Evangelicals who defend inerrancy have not learned their lesson” is untenable in light of the historical fact that the church fathers, the Reformers, and conservative evangelicals have all affirmed verbal plenary inspiration and inerrancy of the Word of God throughout the history of the Church.[13]

The attack on inerrancy is nothing new since it goes back to the 19th century during the time of Spurgeon. Spurgeon countered the attacks on the Word of God by stating, “Brethren, we shall not adjust our Bible to the age; but before we have done with it, by God’ grace, we shall adjust the age to the Bible.”[14]

Dr. Mohler writing on Spurgeon notes that “the famous preacher found himself engaged in several heated theological disputes and resisted any compromise on substitionary atonement, the authority and inspiration of Scripture, eternal punishment for unbelievers, original sin, and the absoluteness of Christianity.”[15]

At the end of the day those who want to redefine evangelicalism and reshape it in their own mold do so at their own peril. Evangelicals today would be wise to follow the example of Spurgeon who stood on the Word of God and called his readers to “read not so much man’s comments, or man’s books, but read the Scriptures, and keep your faith on this, — “God said it.”[16]

Conclusion

The ministry of Spurgeon is instructive to Christians today because Spurgeon was a man aflame with the glory of the grace of God. Spurgeon made an impact because of his passion for and stance on evangelical truth, which he contended for, defended, and proclaimed with all of his might to the glory of God. Men of passion and conviction are needed in evangelicalism today, men who will contend, defend and proclaim the truth of substitionary atonement, the authority and inspiration of Scripture, eternal punishment for unbelievers, original sin, and the absoluteness of Christianity.

Godly men of passion and conviction will be maligned and persecuted– as was Spurgeon, but they must follow the example of Jesus and men like Spurgeon who modeled for Pastors, ministry leaders, and believers how to stand firm in the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. While truth is under attack today on many fronts inside and outside the church, an even greater need and threat is arising from within its ranks, and that is found in the need of men to stand up and be counted.

Every generation of believers must determine if they are going to stand for biblical truth or lay down their swords and accept the lie of liberalism. While there is much to be commended in recent days in evangelicalism especially in the growing movement of Christians, ministries and churches that are discussing what is the Gospel and its implications; there is still much to be alarmed about as many are questioning and casting aside the authority of the Word of God either through how they use the Bible, what they think about Adam being a historical person, or their stance on gender roles. This generation of believers will have to decide– as did Spurgeon– if they will stand on the Truth of the Word of God and lift up the Son of God among the nations, or whether they will lay down their sword and succumb to the lie of liberalism.

At the end of the day, Spurgeon was right “believers must never adjust the Bible to the age, but the age to the Bible.”[17] Believers have been given the Word of God not to speculate on, but to study, to mediate upon, contend for, defend and proclaim to the nations. The Word of God always stands in judgment of men never do men stand in judgment of it. This fact reveals the fundamental problem going on inside and outside the church by exposing as Spurgeon knew in his time that the issues of today are old issues rooted in who is authorative, God or man. As with every generation before and everyone after it, the Truth of God’s Word will remain authorative, unchanging and unrelenting as it seeks to lift high the name and glory of Jesus among the nations.

As the Word of God did its work in Spurgeon’s time so today evangelicals can be encouraged that the Word of God is sharper than any two edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God is the means God uses by His Spirit to pierce the heart of the convinced atheist, rejecters like Judas, and deniers like Peter. Evangelicals today need to stand firm in the grace of God and the Word by looking to the example of men like Spurgeon and be encouraged that God by His grace is still working to bring people to Himself and build His church for His glory and praise.



[1] Eric W. Hayden. “Did You Know: A Collection of True and unusual facts about Charles Haddon Spurgeon.” Christian History, 10:1, #29, (February 1991).

[2] Helmut Thielicke, Encounter with Spurgeon, trans. John W. Doberstein (Cambridge, MA: James Clarke & Co., 1964) 1.

[3] Albert Mohler, He Is Not Silent: Preaching In A Postmodern World, (Chicago, Moody, 2008), 163.

[4] Albert Mohler, He Is Not Silent: Preaching In A Postmodern World, (Chicago, Moody, 2008), 163.

[5] Roger E. Olsen, “Postconservative Evangelicalism.” In Four Views On The Spectrum OF Evangelicalism, 163. Edited by Andrew David Naselli and Collin Hansen. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

[6] Roger E. Olsen, “Postconservative Evangelicalism.” In Four Views On The Spectrum OF Evangelicalism, 179. Edited by Andrew David Naselli and Collin Hansen. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

[7] Albert Mohler, “A Confessional Response to Postconservative Evangelicalism.” In Four Views On The Spectrum Of Evangelicalism, 196. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

[8] Mark. A. Noll, David W. Bebbington, George A. Rawlyk, eds. Evangelicalism: Comparative Studies in Popular Protestantism in North America, the British Isles, and Beyond, 1700-1990 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

[9] Roger E. Olsen, “Postconservative Evangelicalism.” In Four Views On The Spectrum OF Evangelicalism, 182. Edited by Andrew David Naselli and Collin Hansen. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

[10] Albert Mohler , “Confessional Evangelicalism.” In Four Views On The Spectrum Of Evangelicalism, 91. Edited by Andrew David Naselli and Collin Hansen. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

[11] Albert Mohler , “Confessional Evangelicalism.” In Four Views On The Spectrum Of Evangelicalism, 78. Edited by Andrew David Naselli and Collin Hansen. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

[12] Albert Mohler , “Confessional Evangelicalism.” In Four Views On The Spectrum Of Evangelicalism, 91. Edited by Andrew David Naselli and Collin Hansen. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

[13]Clement of Rome (A.D. 80-100 taught, “You have looked closely into the Holy Scriptures, which are given through the Holy Spirit. You know that nothing unrighteous or falsified has been written in them.” (1 Clement, XLV. 2.3.) Augustine wrote to Jerome (A.D. 394), “It seems to me that most disastrous consequence to follow upon our believing anything false is found in the sacred books, that is to say, that the men by whom the Scriptures have been given to us, and committed in writing, did not put down in these books anything false.” (Cited by James Olive Buswell, Outlines of Theology, 24.)  Calvin thought of Scripture as “the sure and infallible record,” “the inerring standard,” “the pure Word of God,” “the infallible rule of His Holy Truth,” “free from every stain or defect,” “the inerring certainty,” “the certain and unerring rule,” “unerring light,” “infallible Word of God,” “has nothing belonging to man mixed with it,” “inviolable,” “infallible oracles.” Inerrancy was the view of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, as well as of the entire church; inerrancy is the ‘central church tradition.” (John D. Hannah, ed., Inerrancy and the Church (Chicago: Moody, Press, 1984), ix.). The Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) was founded in 1949 and had a singular doctrinal statement at its founding that affirmed inerrancy: “The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. (“Evangelical Scholars Remove Robert Gundry for His Views on Matthew,” Christianity Today, February 3, 1984.)

[14] Charles Spurgeon, An All-Round Ministry: Addresses to Ministry and Students (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1906), 230.

[15] Albert Mohler, He Is Not Silent: Preaching In A Postmodern World, (Chicago, Moody, 2008), 167.

[16] Charles Spurgeon, From “The Plea of Faith,” The New Park Street Pulpit, Vol. 2 (London: Passmor and Alabaster, 1856), 273-280.

[17] Charles Spurgeon, An All-Around Ministry: Addresses to Ministers and Students (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1906), 230. 

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Charles Spurgeon and A Theology of the Holy Spirit In Preaching

Posted by on Jan 13, 2012 in Charles Spurgeon, Preaching, The Holy Spirit

Charles Spurgeon and A Theology of the Holy Spirit In Preaching

            Spurgeon’s understanding of the connection between the Holy Spirit, prayer and preaching is paradigm shifting. His understanding of the connection between preaching and the ministry of the Holy Spirit is not new, but it does need to be brought to the forefront for the modern reader. John Broadus in On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons stated that “The ultimate requisite for the effective preacher is complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit.”[1] Dr. Bryan Chapell teaches that the biblical description of the Spirit’s work challenges “All preachers to approach their task with a deep sense of dependence upon the Spirit of God.”[2]

Dr. Sinclair Ferguson notes that “Little attention has been given in recent literature to the role of the Spirit in relationship to preaching.”[3] Dr. Eswine explains that “Spurgeon’s intentional explicitness regarding the work of the Holy Spirit in preaching offers reasonable explorations into deeper caverns of intricacy, which may enable an infant theology on the Holy Spirit to take more steps.”[4]

Charles Spurgeon believed that “the Spirit of God was precious to the people of God, and therefore sought to make the person and work of Christ the main focal point of his preaching and instruction to other preachers.”[5] Dr. Heisler gets to the heart of what happens when the preacher understands the relationship between the Word and the Holy Spirit when he teaches that “When the Word and the Holy Spirit combine, combustion happens and power results.” He continues explaining that “Spirit-led preaching thrives on the powerful and inseparable tandem of the Word and Spirit.”[6]

The biblical foundations for understanding the ministry of the Holy Spirit in preaching comes from John 14:16-17. Jesus, in this passage, identifies the Holy Spirit as the “Spirit of Truth.” The Spirit of Truth is sent by the Father at the request of the Son, and indwells believers as a resident minister who guides believers into all truth. Jesus elaborates on the Spirit as the guide into all truth when he said in John 16:13, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”

Jesus identified the Spirit’s ministry as a continuation of His own ministry; in fact, John 14:16-18 makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is of the same kind (Deity) as Jesus. The Spirit reveals and glorifies Christ by magnifying Christ’s teaching, Christ’s gospel, and Christ’s work as the grand fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan.[7] The Bible is united in its testimony to Jesus Christ, and the Spirit’s joy is giving witness to this testimony to the people of God. Spirit-led preaching comes into alignment with the Spirit’s ministry of glorifying Jesus Christ by proclaiming the written Word in order to glorify the living Word.[8]

Dr. Greg Heisler notes that “Spirit-led preaching is the biblically defined ministry combined with the theological relationship between the Word and the Spirit. This combination demands Christ-centered preaching.” “The biblical and theological foundation, he explains, for the Word and Spirit in preaching is seen in the fact that the Scriptures are Christ-centered, the Spirit is Christ-centered, and the preacher is to be Christ-centered.”[9]

The Scriptures are Christ-Centered: John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” Luke 24:27, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  John 20:30-31, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”[10]

The Spirit is Christ-Centered: John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 15:26, “”But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” John 16:13-14, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”[11]

The preacher is to be Christ-Centered: 2 Corinthians 4:5, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servantsfor Jesus’ sake.” Acts 28:31, “Proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.” 1 Corinthians 1:23, “But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.”[12] These three categories form according to Dr. Heisler “the foundation for Spirit-led preaching.”[13]

Spurgeon understood the importance of preaching the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit which is why he notes that:

The gospel is preached in the ears of all; it only comes with power to some. The power that is in the gospel does not lie in the eloquence of the preacher; otherwise men would be converters of souls. Nor does it lie in the preacher’s learning; otherwise it would consist in the wisdom of men. We might preach till our tongues rotted, till we should exhaust our lungs and die, but never a soul would be converted unless there were a mysterious power going with it the Holy Ghost changing the will of man. Oh Sirs! We might as well preach to stone walls as preach to humanity unless the Holy Ghost be with the Word to give it power to convert the soul.[14]

Dr. John Stott notes that “preachers must be humble in mind (submissive to the written Word of God), have a humble ambition (desiring an encounter to take place between Christ and His people), and a humble dependence (relying on the power of the Holy Spirit).”[15] Preachers must aim to be faithful to God’s Word by lifting up the glory of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. The confidence the preacher has must come from heartfelt knowledge of the Word of God by dwelling richly upon the Word, which is truth. Only in this way will the preacher know the Truth they profess and be able to bear testimony about the Cross in demonstration of Word and Spirit.

Paul in 2nd Corinthians 4:12 gets to the heart of why preachers and teachers of the Word of God must be surrendered wholly to the Lord when he says, “So death is at work in us, but life in you.” The challenge of preaching is to grow in the task while giving it away, being willing to die for people so that they may live.[16] Death-to-self is demanding, but necessary in order that the preacher may become like Christ, who died so that His people may live. Furthermore, if preachers will not die to self, the people they minister to will not live. The pulpit is a place to present a translucent soul laid over the vicarious suffering of the Lord Jesus, modeling His sacrifice.[17]

Robert Murray M’Cheyne in a letter to his friend Andrew Bonar taught his friend to the following: “Remember you are God’s sword—His instrument—I trust a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and reflections of the instrument will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hands of God.”[18]

Spurgeon’s spirituality emerged from the Word of God. As Raymond Brown expressed it, “His spirituality was essentially a Biblical spirituality.”[19] Spuregon was a man deeply influenced by the Puritans and as such believed that the Gospel was for all of life. Spurgeon “believed in a disciplined spirituality which to him meant diligent, meditative study of the Scriptures.”[20]

Understanding the theology of the Holy Spirit in the life and thought of Spurgeon is important, but it is equally vital for preachers today to know how seriously Spurgeon took his own spiritual growth. Spurgeon’s ministry as this paper has sought to demonstrate was a ministry that was grounded in the Word of God and prayer, and fueled by the Holy Spirit. Spurgeon was a man of God, set ablaze with a passion to declare the majesty of God in the person and work of Jesus Christ.



[1] John Broadus, On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, 4th Edition, revised by Vernon L. Stanfield (Harper San Francisco, 1979), 16.

[2] Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1994), 24.

[3]Sinclair Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, Contours of Christian Theology (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 996), 277.

[4] Zachary W. Eswine, The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Preaching Theory and Practice of Charles Haddon Spurgeon PhD diss. Regent University, 2003, 228.

[5] Greg Heisler, Spirit-Led Preaching (Nashville, B & H Publishing, 2007), 54.

[6] Ibid., 54.

[7] Ibid., 55.

[8] Ibid., 55.

[9] Greg Heisler, Spirit-Led Preaching (Nashville, B & H Publishing, 2007), 63-64.

[10] Ibid., 62-63.

[11] Ibid., 65.

[12] Greg Heisler, Spirit-Led Preaching (Nashville, B & H Publishing, 2007), 65.

[13] Ibid., 64.

[14] Ibid., 126.

[15]John Stott, Between Two Worlds (Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1982), 335.

[16] Steven W. Smith, Dying to Preach Embracing the Cross in the Pulpit, (Grand Rapids, Kregel, 2009), 18

[17] Ibid., 19.

[18] Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne Minister of St. Peter Dundee (Hamilton, Adams, & Co., J. Nisbett & Co., And J. Johnstone & Co., London, 1844). 243.

[19] Lecture given by Raymond Brown at the Celebration of Spurgeon’s 150th anniversary of his birth at William Jewell College, Liberty, Missouri.

[20] Lewis Drummond, Spuregon Prince of Preachers (Grand Rapids, Kregel, 1992), 573.

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