Over the last several weeks, I have been making my way through an 895-page biography of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Spurgeon was the pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle of London in the mid- to late-1800s. He is noted by most scholars to be the greatest preacher and pastor since the Apostle Paul. He was probably the first megachurch pastor. He preached to nearly 6,000 people each time the doors were opened. He held special services in which he requested that church members stay home so lost people could fill the room. He was a passionate evangelist who preached in numerous venues to multiplied thousands.
It is worthwhile for me to share with you a glimpse into the heart of this great man of God. Hear his words as he preached on the first Sunday night his church met in its new large tabernacle: “I beseech you never to cease to pray that here God’s Word may be a quickening, a convincing, a converting word. The fact is, brethren, we must have conversion work here. We cannot go on as some churches do without converts. We cannot, we will not, we must not, we dare not. Souls must be converted here, and if there be not many born to Christ, may the Lord grant to me that I may sleep in the tomb of my fathers and be heard of no more. Better indeed for us to die than to live, if souls be not saved.”
No wonder thousands were converted under his proclamation of the Gospel. It is not surprising that thousands were baptized into this great Baptist church in England. Do you feel the passion of the preacher? Do you sense that he was convinced that for the preacher and the church no priority superseded the ministry of evangelism?
His preaching was Christ centered. He said of his pulpit work, “I take a text and make a beeline to the cross.” I find his statement on sermons challenging and worthy of emulation: “Sermons are valuable in proportion as they speak of Him and point to Him. A Christless Gospel is no Gospel and a Christless discourse is the cause of merriment to devils . . . Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, only have we laboured to extol.” Does that sound like the sermons you preach or the ones you hear?
We modern preachers need to take his words to heart. Oh, that our preaching would ring with the pure, simple and clear presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Frankly, we preachers could spend a lifetime seeking to expose the whole Gospel and examining the full spectrum of the life of the Lord and still need multiple more lifetimes to tell of our magnificent Savior.
But do not miss Spurgeon’s passionate word to the church. It is strong. He plainly declares that if we do not give ourselves to seeing converts come to Christ, we have no reason to exist. It is the first work of the church.
I can hear some say, “Then we should close the doors of our church for we have few converts.” Or, “If our pastor declared the Gospel each Sunday there would be no lost people to hear it.” My friend, that is the point. We must go to the highways and hedges and compel them to come in.
Conversions and baptisms will not rise because we wish they would get better. Our churches will continue to see baptisms fall until pastors, staff, deacons and the membership feel the passion of C. H. Spurgeon. “Better indeed for us to die than to live, if souls be not saved.” This is no casual approach to evangelism. He was consumed with the fire of the Holy Spirit for souls. Perhaps it is time that we preachers and members allow God to pour some spiritual gasoline on our dry souls and set us aflame with passion for the lost.