Sunday, January 11, 2015
The Prince of Preachers
I recently read a brief biography on Charles Spurgeon. As most preachers know, his name and better than good preaching are synonymous. As advice to preachers, the writer of the biography said, "Sell all that you have...and buy Spurgeon!" Reading the little bit that I had before me whetted my appetite for more so I followed some of the advice. I spent $17 for a 1400 page book entitled "The Essential Works of Charles Spurgeon." Inside its covers is a testimony of the preacher that was so powerful it simply brought me to a stop for prayer in my reading. There are some other selected writings, but most of the book is filled with sermons he wrote and preached back in 19th century London.
It did not take long to come to an understanding of why "preaching like Spurgeon" is such a compliment. While I cannot imagine anyone preaching in the way that he did and while I cannot conceive of a contemporary congregation accustomed to entertainment from the pulpit listening to his kind of preaching, I still read with awe, envy, and inspiration as I read his sermons. His ability to use words and the way he could move from heavy doctrinal teachings to bringing Jesus into the room to touch the heart of the listener is something that both amazes and inspires me as a preacher. With only 300 pages read, I have already come to the conclusion that preaching like Spurgeon would be no small accomplishment for today's preachers.
The chief thing I take from the book is the power of words. Preachers are given exceptional opportunities to preach. Some say it is before a captive audience, but captive or not, it is still an extraordinary moment. Squandering a single preaching moment with an undisciplined prayer life, careless preparation, or laziness, is not something which should ever be acceptable. None of us may preach like Spurgeon, but we must have his consuming passion to preach the Word of God in a powerful, life changing way, or we should find other work.