“If Calvin was the greatest theologian of the church, Jonathan Edwards the greatest philosopher, and George Whitefield the greatest evangelist, Spurgeon surely ranks as its greatest preacher.”
So says the author of The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon, Steven Lawson. This short book is one of many in A Long Line of Godly Men Profiles, a series published by Reformation Trust. It briefly highlights the life of Spurgeon, from his calling to belief in a small Methodist church to his preaching in the large Metropolitan Tabernacle.
Spurgeon is described as a man of diligence and nobility, a man of steadfast faith in the Scripture. “For Spurgeon,” Lawson writes, “when the Bible speaks, God speaks.” Convinced of the doctrines of grace, Spurgeon preached Christ in every sermon and always accompanied human responsibility with the call of the gospel. He “firmly held the sovereign grace of God in one hand and the free offer of the gospel in the other.”
Unsurprisingly, he burned with a passion to see the lost saved—so he preached with burning fire. His high view of preaching was illustrated in a rather humorous story recapping a Saturday evening—his weekly time set apart for sermon preparation:
Spurgeon guarded his Saturday evening sermon preparation time, allowing no intrusion. Once, an uninvited guest came to his home to see him while he was preparing for Sunday. When the maid answered the door, this person sent her to Spurgeon, requesting an audience with him. Spurgeon directed her to say that it was his rule to see no one at that time. The visitor replied, “Tell Mr. Spurgeon that a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ desires to seek him immediately.” The frightened maid brought the message, but Spurgeon answered, “Tell him I am busy with his Master, and cannot see servants now.” (p. 34)
It was Spurgeon’s reputation of a courageous, unwavering, and devoted life that drew me to this book. But it was his unquenchable desire to draw sinners to Christ that kept me captivated and moved. Spurgeon preached forcefully and directly. He never softened the gospel, nor hid the tough doctrines from his hearers. He gave the gospel in full and in power. When the Scripture commanded, so did he, “Come to Christ now!”
Steven Lawson is the senior pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama, and a teaching fellow of Ligonier Ministries. He graduated from Texas Tech University (B.B.A.), Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M.), and Reformed Theological Seminary (D. Min.).
Here are some notable moments from the book:
- If we want revivals, we must revive our reverence for the Word of God.
- Better to speak six words in the power of the Holy Ghost than to preach seventy years of sermons without the Spirit.
- The words of Scripture thrill my soul as nothing else ever can. They bear me aloft or dash me down. They tear me in pieces or build me up. The words of God have more power over me than ever David’s fingers had over his harp strings.
- An idler has no right in the pulpit. He is an instrument of Satan in damning the souls of men … He who has ceased to learn has ceased to teach. He who no longer sows in the study will no more reap in the pulpit. The black velvet backdrop of man’s sin must be laid out before the sparkling diamond of God’s sovereign grace can be seen in its dazzling luster.
- A man is not saved against his will, but he is made willing by the operation of the Holy Ghost.
- No man can be said to preach the whole gospel of God if he leaves out, knowingly and intentionally, one single truth of the blessed God.
- When I cease to preach salvation by faith in Jesus, put me into a lunatic asylum, for you may be sure that my mind is gone.
- Avoid a sugared gospel as you would shun sugar of lead. Seek that gospel which rips up and tears and cuts and wounds and hacks and even kills, for that is the gospel that makes alive again. And when you have found it, give good heed to it. Let it enter into your inmost being. As the rain soaks into the ground, so pray the Lord let his gospel soak into your soul.
As some of you know, Spurgeon was a quotable man. He spoke with such cleverness that nearly everything he said was quotable. There is so much more that I highlighted in the book but did not list above. In fact, this is just a hunch, but I think the author quoted Spurgeon almost as much as he wrote original words about him. He let Spurgeon speak for himself—this made it all the more interesting to read.