Sunday, January 3, 2016
A Thick Book
About this time last year I was read several books about some of the spiritual giants from the past. One of the names which appeared in several of those readings was Charles Spurgeon. Known as the "Prince of Preachers," he lived and preached in England during the 19th century. While I knew about this great preacher, I had never read any of the sermons he preached so I decided it was time to get acquainted first hand. From the bookstore I purchased "The Essential Works of Charles Spurgeon" which not only contained many of his sermons, but also selections from his autobiography. The autobiography alone was worth the cost of the book. A year later I have read about 600 pages of this 1400 page book. A man can only stand so much preaching especially when he is on the pew side of the altar!
When I read these sermons which are even good to read, I can only imagine what it must have been like to hear Spurgeon preaching them with the passion that is obvious within the print. And, as I read, I find myself wondering about my own preaching and the preaching that is a part of contemporary pulpit offerings. I fear too much of it is about entertainment. I fear we cop out by selling people short in terms of what they are able and wanting to hear. Most of all, I fear we are selling the gospel short. Could it be that we preachers do not really believe the preached gospel can stand alone, but that it must have our humor, our stories, our wit in order to be palatable? Spurgeon had illustrative materials, but it was the Bible which really took the spotlight in his preaching.
He was what is called an expository preacher, one who took the text and stayed in it throughout the sermon. Nowadays, we tend to figure out what we think needs to be said and find a text which makes it seem like a Biblical sermon. There is a vast difference. I have always remembered one thing my seminary preaching professor told us, "People don't care what you think. They come to hear the Word of God." Charles Spurgeon certainly had that one figured out.