How C.H. Spurgeon Would Have Ended Up In A Lunatic Asylum!

The following excerpt is from “Men Bewitched,” a sermon preached at some indeterminate time in the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.

hen I was about fifteen or sixteen years of age, I wanted a Savior, and I heard the gospel preached by a poor man, who said in the name of Jesus—”Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” It was very plain English, and I understood it, and obeyed it and found rest.

I owe all my happiness since then to the same plain doctrine.

Now, suppose that I were to say, “I have read a great many books, and there are a great many people willing to hear me. I really could not preach such a commonplace gospel as I did at the first. I must put it in a sophisticated way, so that none but the elite can understand me.”

I should be—what should I be? I should be a fool, writ large.

I should be worse than that, I should be a traitor to my God; for if I was saved by a simple gospel, then I am bound to preach that same simple gospel till I die, so that others too may be saved by it.

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.

About Charles Haddon Spurgeon – one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time and undoubtedly the most celebrated preacher of the 19th century, began his ministry as a country-boy with only a year of formal education. But even without much training, his brilliant mind and depth of spiritual insight quickly became legendary throughout the world. During his lifetime Spurgeon is estimated to have preached, in person, to over ten million people. He published over 3,500 sermons, totaling between 20 and 25 million words and more than 38,000 pages. Today, over a century after his death, his sermons and devotional texts continue to challenge and touch Christians and non-Christians alike. It is no wonder that this country-boy became known as the “Prince of Preachers.”

Born on June 19, 1834 in Kelvedon, England, Spurgeon wouldn’t become a Christian until the age of fifteen. It happened one Sunday morning when a snowstorm kept him from reaching the church he usually attended. He ducked down a side street and stumbled across a small building with a sign that read, “Artillery Street Primitive Methodist Chapel.” Regardless of his own misgivings, he entered the small church and while listening to a Methodist layman comment on Isaiah 45:22, he “Saw at once the way of salvation!” Spurgeon immediately committed his life to Christ and became a zealous servant of God.

Desiring to share his new faith, Spurgeon began preaching. He preached his first sermon in 1851, at the age of sixteen, to a group of farmers and wives gathered in the village of Teversham. His text was 1 Peter 2:7, “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” Audiences were held spellbound by the young Spurgeon’s speaking power, and he was offered his first pastorate at the Baptist Chapel in Waterbeach when he was only seventeen. The church, which had about ten members when he arrived, was soon bursting at its doors with over four hundred in the congregation. His inspiring style had caught the interest of many, and soon after his twentieth birthday, the country-preacher was called to be the new pastor of the prominent New Park Street Baptist Church in London. New Park Street was a church that had formerly been pastored by such spiritual giants as Benjamin Keach, John Gill, and John Rippon.

In a day when preaching was considered not only a source of spiritual nourishment, but also of entertainment and political commentary, Spurgeon’s powerful and stimulating sermons drew enormous crowds. On a single night in London, preaching at the Crystal Palace, he preached to a congregation of 23, 654 without the use of a microphone! His sermons were published weekly in the “Penny Pulpit,” from 1855 until 1917, twenty-four years after his death. He published many religious books, including Lectures to My Students and Treasury of David, a seven-volume devotional-commentary on the Psalms. He also founded and served as president of the Pastor’s College in London, established the Stockwell Orphanages for boys and girls, and oversaw dozens of evangelistic and charitable enterprises. Spurgeon preached his final sermon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in June of 1891.

Spurgeon married Susannah Thompson in January of 1856 and late in the following year they had twin sons, Thomas and Charles. Unlike Spurgeon’s mother who had seventeen children, nine of whom died in childbirth, Charles and Susannah had only the two boys.

Charles Spurgeon died at the relatively young age of 57, in January of 1892. His funeral service was held a week later, on February ninth, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Over 60,000 people waited in line to file past his casket.

Spurgeon’s Channel of Encouragement by Chuck Swindoll

Blessed Are The Persecuted! (Sometimes we feel like human lightning rods as displayed below!)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon remains one of the most colorful and gifted preachers in the history of the church. Any man who loves to preach and desires to cultivate the art and skill of communication must study Spurgeon. Before the man was 30 years old, he was the most popular preacher in England. The new Metropolitan Tabernacle was filled to overflowing every Lord’s Day as people came miles by horse and buggy to hear the gifted man handle the Word of God. They were challenged, encouraged, exhorted, fed, and built up in the Christian faith. He was truly a phenomenon.

As a result, he also became the object of great criticism by the press, by other pastors, by influential people in London, and by petty parishioners. The man, not always a model of quiet piety (to say the least), had numerous enemies. Normally, he handled the criticism fairly well . . . but finally, it began to get to him. He began to slump beneath the attacks. The persecution started to take a severe toll on his otherwise resilient spirit.

I am told that his wife, seeing the results of those verbal blows on her husband, decided to assist him in getting back on his feet and regaining his powerful stature in the pulpit.

She found in her Bible Matthew 5:10-12 and she printed the words of this passage on a large sheet of paper. Then she tacked that sheet to the ceiling of their bedroom, directly above Charles’s side of the bed! Every morning, every evening, when he would rest his enormous frame in his bed, the words were there to meet and to encourage him.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The large sheet of paper remained fixed to the ceiling for an extended period of time until it had done the job. May Mrs. Spurgeon’s tribe increase! It is refreshing to think how a marriage partner can be such a vital channel of encouragement.

And it is also encouraging to see that we have no corner on the problem of persecution. Did you observe what Christ said? “In the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Servants, that statement will help us call a halt to the next pity-party we are tempted to throw for ourselves. We are not alone. Persecution has been going on for centuries.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll. Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living. Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 1981, 117-18.

About the Author: In the summer of 1977, the sermons that Chuck Swindoll preached at the First Evangelical Free Church in Fullerton, California, were broadcast on twenty-seven stations in the United States. Listeners responded immediately to the lively message of this down-to-earth pastor who could communicate God’s truth in terms they could understand and apply to their lives. In 1979, the radio ministry of Insight for Living was officially born, beginning on just a handful of stations. Today, more than two thousand stations carry the program around the world in seven different languages.

Two passions have directed the life and ministry of Chuck Swindoll: an unwavering commitment to the practical communication and application of God’s Word and an untiring devotion to seeing lives transformed by God’s grace. Chuck has devoted more than four decades to these goals, and he models the contagious joy that springs from enthusiastically following Jesus Christ

While on the island of Okinawa during his tour of duty in the United States Marine Corps, Chuck recognized that the Lord was calling him to devote his life to the gospel ministry. With Cynthia, his partner in life for more than fifty-one years, Chuck has devoted himself to the challenge of communicating practical, biblical truth and its application in the context of God’s grace.

After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, Chuck enrolled in Dallas Theological Seminary [DTS]. Chuck’s course of study at DTS and the lifelong mentors he met there have permanently marked his life and the course of his ministry.

Chuck graduated magna cum laude from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1963 with three major honors:

  • Harry A. Ironside Award for Expository Preaching
  • Christian Education Award for the greatest achievement in the field of his academic major
  • Faculty Award for the most outstanding graduate in the opinion of the faculty

Chuck has also received four honorary doctorate degrees in recognition of his outstanding contributions to ministry:

  • Doctor of Divinity, Talbot Theological Seminary, 1977
  • Doctor of Humane Letters, Taylor University, 1986
  • Doctor of Laws, Pepperdine University, 1990
  • Doctor of Literature, Dallas Baptist University, 1997

For more than forty years, Chuck’s pulpit ministry has emphasized the grace of God alongside an uncompromising commitment to practical, biblical truth and its application. He has served the following congregations in his pastoral ministry:

  • Grace Bible Church, Dallas, Texas, Assistant Pastor, 1963–1965
  • Waltham Evangelical Free Church, Waltham, Massachusetts, 1965–1967
  • Irving Bible Church, Irving, Texas, 1967–1971
  • First Evangelical Free Church, Fullerton, California, 1971–1994
  • Stonebriar Community Church, Frisco, Texas. In October of 1998, Chuck founded Stonebriar Community Church, where he continues to serve as senior pastor.

As a pastor, Chuck has received the following awards:

  • Clergyman of the Year, Religious Heritage of America, 1988
  • Named one of the top twelve preachers in the nation by the Effective Preachers Program of Baylor University and George W. Truett Theological Seminary, 1997

Ranked second to Rev. Billy Graham in a 2009 survey which asked 800 Protestant pastors to name the living Christian preachers who most influenced them (survey conducted by LifeWay Research).

Chuck’s congregation extends far beyond the local church body. Through the Insight for Living broadcast, Chuck’s teaching is on the air in every major Christian radio market in all fifty states and  through more than 2,100 outlets worldwide in numerous foreign languages, and it is also available to an exploding Webcast and podcast audience. While Chuck serves as chairman of the board, his wife, Cynthia, serves as president and chief executive officer of Insight for Living. They have directed its expansion to become one of the leading radio programs in Christian broadcasting. Their leadership has made Chuck’s messages accessible to 100 percent of the world’s population. Headquartered in Plano, Texas, Insight for Living now has a staff of over 125 employees. We also maintain offices in Melbourne for our Australian listeners, in Brasilia for our Brazilian listeners, in Vancouver for our Canadian listeners, and in London for our listeners in the United Kingdom.

As teacher on Insight for Living, Chuck has received the following awards:

  • Program of the Year, National Religious Broadcasters, 1994
  • Religious Broadcaster of the Year, National Religious Broadcasters, 1999
  • Hall of Fame Award, National Religious Broadcasters, 2000

Chuck’s prolific writing ministry has blessed the body of Christ for over thirty years. Beginning with You and Your Child in 1977, Chuck has contributed more than seventy titles to a worldwide reading audience. His most popular books in the Christian Bookseller’s Association include: Strengthening Your Grip, Improving Your Serve, Dropping Your Guard, Living on the Ragged Edge, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, The Grace Awakening, Simple Faith, Laugh Again, The Finishing Touch, Intimacy with the Almighty, Suddenly One Morning, The Mystery of God’s Will, Wisdom for the Way, The Darkness and the Dawn, A Life Well Lived, and the Great Lives from God’s Word series, which includes Joseph, David, Esther, Moses, Elijah, Paul, Job, Jesus: The Greatest Life of All, and his most recent addition, The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal.

As a writer, Chuck has received the following awards:

  • Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement Award, Evangelical Press Association, 1997

Twelve Gold Medallion Awards, more than any other Christian author to date

After serving as Dallas Theological Seminary’s fourth president for seven years (1994–2001), Chuck became the seminary’s chancellor in 2001. As the sixth-largest seminary in the world, DTS’s primary goal is to equip godly servant-leaders for the proclamation of God’s Word and the building up of the body of Christ worldwide, a mission Chuck wholeheartedly supports in his life and teaching. He continues to uphold the school’s motto, “Preach the Word,” as he serves in leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary, at Insight for Living, and at Stonebriar Community Church.

Thabiti Anyabwile on Winning Souls With C.H. Spurgeon

At the conclusion of T4G, a dear brother approached me to give me a copy of Spurgeon’s classic, The Soul Winner: Advice on Effective Evangelism.  Perhaps he felt sorry for me because I didn’t have any Spurgeon quotes for my sermon.  But I suspect, having gotten to know him and his wife a little, it was one of those loving gestures that so often occur in the brief exchanges God blesses us with at our churches and at conferences.  Praise the Lord.

I’ve been reading the book slowly, enjoying Spurgeon’s unique gift and praying the Lord would make me a better evangelist.  In God’s grace, I’m feeling fresh stirring and I’m praying the Lord would not stop until He gives me real fire.

From time to time, I’m hoping to reflect a little on The Soul Winner and I hope you’ll join me.  We begin today with chapter 1, “What Is It to Win a Soul?”

That’s a foundational question, isn’t it?  We have to be clear about the “it” before we can do “it.”  And it’s important that we maintain a sense of the priority of evangelism.  Spurgeon writes, “Soul-winning is the chief business of the Christian minister; indeed, it should be the main pursuit of every true believer” (p. 5).  Amen.  But what is soul winning?

What Soul-Winning Is Not

Spurgeon identifies three things soul-winning is not:

(1) “We do not regard it to be soul-sinning to steal members out of churches already established, and train them to utter our peculiar Shibboleth: we aim rather at bringing souls to Christ than at making converts to our synagogue.”  

He continues, “We count it utter meanness to build up our own house with the ruins of our neighbors’ mansions” (p. 5).  How often do we hear boasts of swelling numbers added to the ranks of the converted (or more often baptism and church membership) at the expense of neighboring fellowships?  I agree with Mr. Spurgeon; that’s not soul-winning as much as its plain ol’ competition.  I love Spurgeon’s charge:

There is such a thing as selfishness in our eagerness for the aggrandizement of our own party; and from this evil spirit may grace deliver us!  The increase of the kingdom is more to be desired than the growth of a clan.  We would do a great deal to make a Paedo-baptist brother into a Baptist, for we value our Lord’s ordinances; we should labor earnestly to raise a believer in salvation by free-will into a believer in salvation by grace, for we long to see all religious teaching built upon the solid rock of truth, and not upon the sand of imagination; but, at the same time, our grand object is not the revision of opinions, but the regeneration of our natures.  We would bring men to Christ and not to our own peculiar views of Christianity.  Our first care must be that the sheep should be gathered to the great Shepherd; there will be time enough afterwards to secure them for our various folds.  To make proselytes is a suitable labor for Pharisees: to beget men unto God is the honorable aim of ministers of Christ. (p. 6)

(2) “We do not consider soul-winning to be accomplished by hurriedly inscribing more names upon our church-roll, in order to show a good increase at the end of the year (p. 6).  Here!  Here!

(3) “Nor is it soul-winning, dear friends, merely to create excitement” (p. 9).

What Soul-Winning Is

Having dispelled the imitation acts, Spurgeon then turns to positively defining “soul-winning” as he sees it.  He brings his students’ attention to three positive aspects of evangelism:

(1) ”I take it that one of its main operations consists in instructing a man that he may know the truth of God (p. 10).

To try to win a soul for Christ by keeping that soul in ignorance of any truth, is contrary to the mind of the Spirit; and to endeavor to save men by mere claptrap, or excitement, or oratorical display, is as foolish as to hope to hold an angel with a bird-lime, or lure a star with music.  The best attraction is the gospel in its purity. The weapon with which the Lord conquers men is the truth as it is in Jesus. The gospel will be found equal to every emergency; an arrow, which can pierce the hardest heart, a balm which can heal the deadliest wound.  Preach it, and preach nothing else.  Rely implicitly upon the old, old gospel.  You need no other nets when you fish for men; those your Master has given you are strong enough for the great fishes, and have meshes fine enough to hold the little ones.  Spread these nets and no others, and you need not fear the fulfillment of His Word, “I will make you fishers of men.” (p. 13)

(2) “Secondly, to win a soul, it is necessary, not only to instruct our hearer, and make him know the truth, but to impress him so that he may feel it (p. 13).

A sinner has a heart as well as a head; a sinner has emotions as well as thoughts; and we must appeal to both.  A sinner will never be converted until his emotions are stirred.  Unless he feels sorrow for sin, and unless he has some measure of joy in the reception of the Word, you cannot have much hope of him.  The Word must be like a strong wind sweeping through the whole heart, and swaying the whole man, even as a field of ripening corn waves in the summer breeze.  Religion without emotion is religion without life. (p. 14)

You and I must continue to drive at men’s hearts till they are broken; and then we must keep on preaching Christ crucified till their hearts are bound up; and when this is accomplished, we must continue to proclaim the gospel till their whole nature is brought into subjection to the gospel of Christ.  Even in these preliminaries you will be made to feel the need of the Holy Ghost to work with you, and by you; but this need will be still more evident when we advance a step further, and speak of the new birth itself in which the Holy Spirit works in a style and manner most divine. (p. 16)

(3) “Of all whom we would fain win for Jesus it is true, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’  The Holy Spirit must work regeneration in the objects of our love, or they never can become possessors of eternal happiness” (p. 16).

According to Spurgeon, regeneration will be shown in:

(1) conviction of sin,

(2) the exhibition of a simple faith in Jesus Christ,

(3) unfeigned repentance of sin,

(4) a real change of life,

(5) true prayer, and

(6) a willingness to obey the Lord in all His commandments.  

It’s funny, but many today would regard anything more than “a simple faith in Jesus Christ” as a telltale sign of legalism.  But Mr. Spurgeon was no legalist.  It’s more likely that our own day has so low a view of conversion–equating it only with “a public profession of faith”–that we’ve grown squeamish and downright afraid of insisting that regeneration must entail newness of life, a radical change, a friendly disposition toward God rather than a stubborn refusal (enmity).  If we have any hesitancy at affirming the bulk of this list, might we be unaware of our slippery grip on the magnificence of the new birth?  Might we be in danger of rushing to affirm “professions” while overlooking the fruit of conversion?

It hardly seems necessary to say that the problems Spurgeon identified are with us today, and were with the church during the apostolic era.  The evidence of false converts–biblical, historical, and contemporary–is plentiful.  And one could become discouraged, judgmental, contentious, or indifferent.  But when the Lord of the harvest commands we pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers, we’re meant to understand that the Lord of the harvest plans on reaping and there’s no need for fainting!  We should be encouraged because the problem of false converts simply means the unsaved have been brought near!  We should be encouraged that the cotton has grown so high that by God’s grace we may pick without stooping!  Brother, be encouraged to win souls!

So much more could be said, but Mr. Spurgeon should have the final word of exhortation:

You may say to yourself, at the close of a service, “Here is a splendid haul of fish!”  Wait a bit.  Remember our Savior’s words, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind; which, when it was fully, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.”  Do not number your fishes before they are broiled; not count your converts before you have tested and tried them.  This process may make your work somehow slow; but then, brethren, it will be sure.

Do your work steadily and well, so that those who come after you may not have to say that it was far more trouble to them to clear the church of those who ought never to have been admitted than it was to you to admit them.  If God enables you to build three thousand bricks into His spiritual temple in one day, you may do it; but Peter has been the only bricklayer who has accomplished that feat up to the present.

“Do not go and paint the wooden wall as if it were solid stone; but let all you building be real, substantial, and true, for only this kind of work is worth the doing.  Let all your building for God be like that of the apostle Paul According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; pp. 27-28).

Preach, Mr. Spurgeon! Preach!

About the Author: Thabiti Anyabwile is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. In his own words, “I love the Lord because He first loved me. I love His people because He has given me a new heart. I have received God’s favor in the form of my wife, Kristie. And together we know His blessing through three children. I was once a Muslim, and by God’s grace I have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ. By God’s unfathomable grace I am a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in which I hope to serve Him until He returns or calls me home!”

He earned his B. A. and M. S. degrees in psychology from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. Before moving to minister in the Caribbean, he served with Dr. Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. He is married to Kristie and they have three children: Afiya, Eden, and Titus. As a native of Lexington, North Carolina, he has an affinity for Western-NC-BBQ. Thabiti writes regularly at Pure Church as part of The Gospel Coalition blog crew. He has also authored several books, The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence (Thabiti converted to Christianity from Islam); Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons; Ephesians: God’s Big Plan for Christ’s New People; May We Meet in the Heavenly World: The Piety of Lemuel Haynes; What Is A Healthy Church Member?; The Decline of African American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity; The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African American Pastors. He has also contributing chapters to the following books: For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper; Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God; Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology; Glory Road: The Journeys of 10 African-Americans into Reformed Christianity; and John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology.

The article above is adapted from http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/2012/05/03/winning-souls-with-charles-spurgeon