One of the great benefits of continuing in my education is the exposure to books which I would have personally not thought to read. I am currently making my way through The Soul Winner by Charles Spurgeon. My time at Midwestern has certainly grown my knowledge of Spurgeon and definitely my appreciation of him. Until my Evangelism and Discipleship class, I had not read anything written by him. After beginning to read one of his works, I now understand what made Spurgeon such a powerful force in his day.
“…our grand object is not the revision of opinions, but the regeneration of natures.” – Charles Spurgeon, The Soul Winner, 10.
Even though I would say I grew up in the church, I had little working knowledge of any contemporary and historical Christian thinkers. Luther, Calvin, and Edwards were easily dismissed. We even tended to devalue Christian thinkers within our own tradition. I still have never read a Jack Cotrell book. Christian History is important within the diet of the believer. Pastors should not neglect to weave history throughout their regular communication of God’s Word. To hear and understand how God has continued to work after the pages of the New Testament through men and women who have been obedient is both encouraging and challenging. Our lack of historical reflection in conjunction with a biblical vision has led us to some of the disheartening controversies in the news today.
For those of you who may not know, Charles Spurgeon was the preacher at Metropolitan Tabernacle, London in the 19th century. Spurgeon is known as the Prince of Preachers because of his “thrilling description, touching anecdotes, sparkling wit, startling episodes, striking similes, all used to illustrate and enforce the deep, earnest home-truths of the Bible.” Spurgeon provided compelling and powerful reasons for a biblical worldview when naturalism, rationalism, and the beginnings of modernism were challenging many assumptions of the Christian masses.
Even in the midst of turmoil, controversy, and competing worldviews Spurgeon remained committed to seeing men and women transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. Spurgeon writes, “We would 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. At the same time, our grand object is not the revision of opinions, but the regeneration of natures. We should bring men to Christ, not to our own particular views of Christianity.”
I am convinced Spurgeon’s words are appropriate and timely for us today. Christians are so consumed with changing of what they view as a flawed opinion, instead of working for the regeneration of hearts. No wonder the American culture is so fed up with Christianity. They should be when Christians are seen fighting for the correct opinion, instead of the beautiful expression of the Gospel we see in Revelation 7:9-10. No wonder white Christians have such a hard time empathizing with their ethnic brothers and sisters in Christ. We fight battles which ultimately have no eternal consequence. We are more concerned with the revision of opinions than being marked with grace. A Christianity built on anything but the Gospel is built on sand.
As we look out into the chaos which threatens to consume our world, may we be focused on displaying true faith in Jesus whose one sacrifice is the model for us all. May we rush to lay down our life for our neighbor. May we see each person as truly made in the image of God, which causes us to first listen and empathize before all else. Let us not seeks to convert people to our particular views of Christianity, but bring them to the cross and to the real Jesus. It is only at the foot of the cross where true repentance and belief can take place. It is at the cross where people are moved from a color-blindness and color-bounded faith to a color-blessed faith where the fullness of Christ is experienced. The cross causes us to worship; it also opens our minds and makes us think. What will help us achieve the grand object?
We are all naturally blind to spiritual realities as a physically blind person is to their surrounding environment. We look at history and cannot see God’s hand, so we take credit for things that are his gifts. We read the Gospel and find it a foolish story–it really cannot be about sacrifice. Even believers find that there is a dullness to their vision, that they do not see everything clearly. However, it is the Gospel that makes a way. It is the Gospel which awakens our eyes to the reality that we are all children of God and accepted by Him. He alone is supreme. When God’s people set our minds on Christ, who is our life, we are empowered by the Spirit to progressively mature and reflect that great day in the future.
May we pray for a wonder of divine grace to be worked upon the soul which far transcends anything that can be accomplished by the power of man. May we pray for the Spirit to work in our life so that we see the sin in our own heart we used to be blind to.