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Archive for November 4th, 2014

THe Gospel Focus of Spurgeon

This book is part of a series by Ligonier Ministries called “A Long Line of Godly Men Profile.”  I’ve enjoyed other books in this series and this one also live up to my expectation.  The author Steve Lawson himself is an excellent Reformed preacher which makes the book insightful since this is a biography of a preacher by a preacher.  In the beginning of the book Lawson made an interesting point of the line of godly men in the Reformed tradition: “If John 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” (1).  Spurgeon is often called today “the Prince of Preachers,” who faithfully preached the Gospel with much power of the Holy Spirit for nearly four decades.

This biography is not just about time and dates in Spurgeon’s life but a biography of his theology.  After the first chapter on Spurgeon’s life and legacy, the rest of the chapters was on how his theology drove Spurgeon’s ministry.  I especially appreciated the chapter on Sovereign grace in Spurgeon’s preaching and also the chapter on Spurgeon’s evangelistic fervor.

I learned several things from the book about Spurgeon’s life that I did not know previously.  For instance, I did not know Spurgeon did not have any formal theological training, having not attended any seminary or degrees yet he was quite theologically astute.  Before reading the book I knew Spurgeon was a ferocious reader and I now further appreciate Spurgeon’s tenacity in self-education!  I saw as application for preachers today is to continuously grow in one’s theology and not just resort to thinking one need not grow just because of one’s “success” in ministry or because of a theological degree one has attained in the past.

I’ve also learned that Spurgeon founded the Pastor’s College at the age of twenty two, which is all the more remarkable given his lack of formal theological education.  The book also mentioned how for the first fifteen years of the school Spurgeon himself covered the cost of the school by the sales of his weekly sermon.  There is something encouraging to see a man who is so committed to training up godly and biblical pastors that he puts his own money and time into it.

I was also much encouraged by Spurgeon’s example when I learned how often Spurgeon preached during the week.  Lawson stated in the book that Spurgeon preached as much as ten times during the week.  My favorite quote from Spurgeon in the book is the following: “We find ourselves able to preach ten or twelve times a week, and we find we are the stronger for it…‘Oh,’ said one of the members, ‘our minister will kill himself.’…That is the kind of work that will kill no man.  It is preaching to sleepy congregations that kill good ministers” (14).

I recommend this book for all Christians, given how Spurgeon is so widely read still today.  I especially recommend this book for Pastors to be rekindled as a preacher to have a Gospel focus like Spurgeon.  Sometimes historical theology can be quite edifying when we want examples of godly men and virtues of guys who are closer to us than those who are far removed from our time.  The author did a good job balancing honoring Spurgeon while not idolizing him, and Lawson is able to do this in the book by looking at Spurgeon’s theology, which points us towards Jesus, the Gospel and the Bible.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

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