Posted On May 19, 2021

Spurgeon, Conversion, and Soul Winning

by | May 19, 2021 | Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

A non-witnessing Christian is an oxymoron. In one way or another, Christians are called by their risen Lord to testify to the glorious Gospel. Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said that “soul winning is the chief business of the Christian minister; [and] indeed, it should be the main pursuit of every true believer.”[1] Is soul winning your chief business? Is it the main pursuit of your life? Are you burdened to see the lost come to faith in Jesus Christ? Maybe it has not been the case. Well, I want you to think upon the Lord’s saving grace in your life.

For Spurgeon, his own conversion experience gave him a deep burden for the lost. The prince of preachers knew that if he was going to win souls, he must be able to speak of what he has heard, seen, and tasted in salvation. Spurgeon wrote the following: “There can be no true testimony except that which springs from an assured conviction of our own safety and joy in the Lord.”[2]

Walking in Darkness:
As we consider Charles Spurgeon’s conversion experience, we must begin prior to his conversion. Despite Charles’ giftedness in academics and his exposure to robust Puritan literature from a young age, he remained spiritually dead and in need of the new birth (John 3:3). Recalling his unconverted state as a child, Spurgeon wrote the following:

I had heard of the plan of salvation by the sacrifice of Jesus from my youth up; but I did not know any more about it in my innermost soul than if I had been born and bred a Hottentot. The light was there, but I was blind: it was of necessity that the Lord himself should make the matter plain to me.[3]

Out of divine providence, it was through his mother’s evangelistic labors that the Lord began to prepare Spurgeon’s soul for the gospel. Spurgeon writes:

“Fathers and mothers are the most natural agents for God to use in the salvation of their children. I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever made such an impression upon my mind as the instruction of my mother; neither can I conceive that, to any child, there can be one who will have such influence over the young heart as the mother who has so tenderly cared for her offspring. A man with a soul so dead as not to be moved by the sacred name of ‘mother’ is creation’s blot. Never could it be possible for any many to estimate what he owes to a godly mother … How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape from the wrath to come?”[4]

Though Spurgeon’s mother had an inestimable impression upon his life, it was not until fifteen when Spurgeon was converted to Christ. On Sunday morning, January 6, 1850, as Spurgeon was walking to church, providentially, a snowstorm drove him into a small Primitive Methodist church in Colchester.[5]

Seeing with Eyes of Faith:

On this day, there were only a dozen people in attendance, and even the minister did not show up. Instead, a shoemaker went up into the pulpit to preach. His text was Isaiah 45:22: “Look unto Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth.” There was nothing eloquent about this man. The power to save was not found in him but in the gospel that he preached (Rom 1:16). Recalling his conversion, Spurgeon said that “this man was really stupid … He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text.”[6] Realizing that Spurgeon was a stranger, the preacher fixed his eyes upon young Spurgeon and dealt with his soul:

“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 … and you always will 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 … Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothing to do but to look and live.’[7]

Through the simple preaching of the gospel, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Spurgeon was converted to the Lord Jesus Christ, and his life was radically changed forever:

“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 … 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.”[8]

The Converted Soul Winner:
This radical conversion shaped Spurgeon’s life and ministry. It gave him great confidence in the power of preaching to save the vilest sinner. It was Spurgeon who said the following: “The revealed Word awakened me, but it was the preached Word that saved me.”[9] The suddenness of Spurgeon’s conversion showed him that God could break the hardest of hearts in a single moment and change their eternal destiny forever. Thus, from this point on, Spurgeon was resolved to preach the everlasting gospel by the Holy Spirit’s power.

In the following journal entry, notice how Spurgeon’s conversion experience fueled his evangelistic efforts. Since he has received abundant pardoning grace, he wanted the world to know such a Savior. Spurgeon writes:

“When my eyes first looked to Christ, He was a very real Christ to me; and when my burden of sin rolled from off my back, it was real pardon and a real release from sin to me; and when that day I said for the first time, ‘Jesus Christ is mine,’ it was a real possession of Christ to me … And oh, how I loved my Saviour Christ then! I would have given all I had for him! How I felt towards sinners that day! The Lad that I was, I wanted to preach, and tell sinners’ round, what a dear Saviour I had found… How earnestly do I wish that my life may be spent in lighting one soul after another with the sacred flame of eternal life!”[10]

Spurgeon was a man who was gripped by redeeming love, and as a result, he was resolved to win souls to Jesus Christ. Do you long to have more evangelistic fervor in your Christian life? Yes! Where do you begin? It all begins and ends at the cross. Stoke the fires of your soul by meditating on the mercies you have received in Jesus Christ. Preach the gospel to your soul each day. We never ‘out live’ the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each day, we ought to have the gospel at the forefront of our minds. The gospel must shape everything that we say and all that we do. My friend live near to the cross of Jesus! Dr. John Piper writes the following: “You never, never, never outgrow your need for this gospel. You don’t begin the Christian life with this and then leave it behind and get stronger with something else. God strengthens us with the gospel to the day we die.” Do you want to be a soul-winner? Be strengthened by the gospel each day.

[1] C. H. Spurgeon, The Soul Winner: Advice on Effective Evangelism (1992; repr., Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus, 2015), 5.

[2] Spurgeon, Autobiography: The Early Years, 158.

[3] C. H. Spurgeon, Autobiography: The Early Years, ed. Susannah Spurgeon and Joseph Harrald (1900; repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1976), 1:80.

[4] Ibid., 44.

[5] Ibid., 87.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., 88-89.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid., 86.

[10] Ibid., 99.

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