W. Y. Fullerton published a biography of Charles Hadden Spurgeon in 1920. Fullerton knew Spurgeon personally and served with him at Metropolitan Tabernacle from 1870-1893 as an assistant Pastor. His final paragraph in his book reads this way: “To me he is master and friend. I have neither known nor heard of any other in my time, so many sided, so commanding, so simple, so humble, so selfless, so entirely Christ’s man. Proudly I stand at the salute!” What a powerful tribute to a great man.
I want to highlight one aspect of Fullerton’s tribute of Spurgeon which is a major feature of his ministry; Spurgeon was “so simple”. Not that Spurgeon was a simpleton, but that he possessed a gift to make the complex simple in order that all could understand. Spurgeon was a gospel centered preacher. He aimed and looked for conversions to Christ, hatred of sin, and changed lives as the result of his preaching. Spurgeon says, “I do not know of any sermon preached here without conversions.” Can any modern preachers make this bold statement? Can I make this statement? The story is told by Spurgeon when he was invited to speak at London’s Crystal Palace to over 23,000 people. Prior to his speaking engagement, he toured the great hall, ascended the platform, stood on the speakers spot and tested the acoustics (this was before microphones and sound systems). He bellowed in his great baritone voice, “Beloved the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.” A lone worker up in the balcony of the Palace dropped his tools, fell to his knees, repented of his sins, and gave his life to Christ. Legend? Perhaps, but the occurrences of this happening regularly to Spurgeon’s hearers is too frequent to dismiss it outright.
Listen to Spurgeon’s passion for clear, simple, “red – hot” gospel preaching,
“It will be our dull sermons that will haunt us on our dying beds, out teachers preaching, our long studyings, when we might have preached better had we come away and preached without them, our huntings after popularity, instead of saying to the people, “You are dying, escape for your life, and fly to Christ,” Preaching to them in red-hot simple words the wrath to come, and the love of Christ.”
Hear Spurgeon again;
“Preach the gospel, the gates of hell shake. Preach the gospel, prodigals return. Preach the gospel to every creature; it is the master’s mandate and the master’s power to everyone who believes.”
If Spurgeon were to come to 2012 and attend a modern evangelical or charismatic church, would the Prince of Preachers give a hearty amen to the pulpiteer? Here is how Spurgeon evaluates a sermon, “The sermon which does not lead to Christ, or of which Jesus Christ is not the top and the bottom, is a sort of sermon that will make the devils in hell laugh, but might make the angels of God weep. No man who preaches the gospel without zeal is sent of God to preach at all.” Consider following Spurgeon’s lead and be simple in our preaching. Present the gospel simply and with zeal and perhaps if Spurgeon visited our meeting, we might hear his hearty “AMEN!”
Dr. Steven J. Ottolini is President of Covenant Leadership Training Institute. MA Theology, Covenant Seminary, St Louis, MO. Ph.D. Theology, Trinity Seminary, Newburgh IN. Celebrating 32 years of Christian ministry. Married to Molly 35 years, father of 3 and grandfather to Eleanora Jayne Ottolini, 9 months.