“All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.” – Psalm 22:27
For Charles Spurgeon, Psalm 22 always reminded him of the cries of Christ: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Ps. 22:1) But when he preached on the concluding verse he remarked that “towards the end…its tone is singularly altered.” Indeed, at the end “mournfulness departs and joy occupies its place,” Christ the “mighty hero sees the conflict ended,” wins the victory, sees “the travail of his soul,” and is “satisfied” (Isa. 53:11).
It was this theme, “The Triumph of Christianity,” that Spurgeon set his heart to preach on for the “annual missionary Sabbath” on April 21st, 1872. Indeed, Spurgeon was resolute to preach as “a dying preacher to dying hearers,” and “not to forget those who are perishing before our eyes” even as the celebrated “the coming triumphs of Christ.”
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon boldly asserted that “The conversion of the nations to God may be expected.” He began by reflecting upon the psalm again: “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship him.’” (Ps. 22:1) However, his reflection caused him to lament “how little progress has the kingdom of God made in the world in these latter days!”
As Spurgeon surveyed his own time, the “progress” of Victorian England looked more like moral “regress.” Drunkenness, gambling, prostitution, and unbelief continued to proliferate and Spurgeon knew that the gospel which saves souls was the answer. Indeed, the gospel, and the salvation in Jesus Christ was “the true and only remedy for the ills of human society.” People needed to be transformed from the inside out, born again, and “nothing else will ever cure earth’s woes.”
With this in mind Spurgeon called his congregation to persevere in diligence, saying, “the battle is long and weary, and the end is not yet.” Men wanted a “coarser system of religion,” one that would allow their “lust” and “pride,” but ground could not be ceded. A pure gospel would always “kindle men’s hostility,” for “true Christianity causes a warfare and division.” It has to “force its way against inveterate hatred” and “only the grace of God could make it spread.”
And so, Spurgeon called his congregation to hope, for “we shall not labour well if we do not labour in hope.” He lamented that “we have not used very great means yet,” admitting that our gospel efforts are often “little more than…the crumbs from under our table.” Instead, Spurgeon exhorted his congregation to “become fired with the love of Christ” which would propel them to labour for his cause with true self-denial.
In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon affirmed that “The conversion of the nations will occur in the usual manner of other conversions.” Here Spurgeon identified three steps in conversion. First, “They shall ‘remember.’” Spurgeon was convinced that “by-and-by” the nations will remember their “wickednesses,” “debauchery,” “covetousness,” “tyranny,” “cruelty,” and “idolatry.” Indeed, it was “the work of the missionary to stir the world’s memory,” and tell it “over, and over, and over again about its Saviour” so that sinners might “respond to the voice of the gospel.”
Second, there must be a “turning to the Lord.” Indeed, not just “turning,” but “turning to the Lord.” While some would “turn from drunkenness to total abstinence” that was not itself genuine conversion. Third, and finally, the nation must “worship before him.” In short, Spurgeon believed that “every sinner who has truly turned to God has become a worshipper.” And with this in mind, Spurgeon insisted upon using the “ordinary means,” namely “preach the gospel, preach the gospel, preach the gospel, preach the gospel,” for that is how sinners would be saved.
In the third, and final, section of his sermon Spurgeon declared “The means to accomplish this result are to be found at Calvary.” Here Spurgeon exclaimed “it is through the cross that the nations shall fear and tremble and turn to God.” Indeed, Spurgeon did not look to the church’s “treasuries,” “institutions,” “zeal,” or “the ability of her preachers,” rather he declared “I look to the cross” and the “conquering crucified One.”
“Jesus has won many hearts…but oh, he must have more, he must have more….it is imperative that he should possess them…he must reign.”
Why you must take up and read:
For Charles Spurgeon, the “Triumph of Christianity,” indeed the triumph of Christ, was a glorious theme. The atoning death of Christ was his “motive for attempting the spread of the gospel.” Simply, “because Jesus died we feel he must be glorified.” In this sermon Spurgeon rejoiced in the present and future victories of the cross. For those wanting to contemplate the missionary mandate of the cross please take up and read.
Here is the link to the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/the-triumph-of-christianity#flipbook/
Phillip Ort serves at the Director of The Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City where he is also pursuing a Master of Divinity degree.