“Let us love the practice of holiness as much as the belief of the truth.”
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58
For Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the Apostle Paul was the “great master of doctrine.” Spurgeon said that “if you want the Christian creed elaborated, and its details laid out in order, you must turn to the epistles of Paul.” But at the same time, Spurgeon also believed that Paul was “always a practical teacher.”
In Spurgeon’s view, Paul as not “like those who hew down trees and square them by rule and system, but forget to build the house therewith.” Rather, Paul possessed the “habitual custom of making practical use” of the doctrines he established. Thus, when Paul used his famous “therefore” in his letters, this was to be understood as “an inference of godliness.”
Spurgeon took Paul’s example as a lesson, and urged his congregation to “never reckon that we have learned a doctrine till we have seen its bearing upon our lives.” Indeed, “Whatever we discover in God’s word,” the believer was to pray that “the Holy Spirit to make us feel the sanctifying influence of it.” In short, Biblical doctrine is good, but doctrine applied is better.
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon examined at length “The two great points of Christian character.” In his first “great point” Spurgeon focused on the phrase “‘be ye stedfast, unmoveable.’” Here he noted that “two things are wanted in a good soldier, steadiness under fire, and enthusiasm during a charge.”
Spurgeon affirmed that “we want the dashing courage which can carry a position by storm” but emphasized that “the most essential virtue for victory is for a soldier to know how to keep his place, and ‘having done all to stand.’”
Spurgeon wanted his congregation to remain “stedfast” and urged them on in a number of ways. First, he charged them “be ye stedfast in the doctrines of the gospel.” He told them plainly to “know what you know, and knowing it cling to it.” While some in the culture thought it the “highest wisdom to suspect the truth of everything” the Christian was to “buy the truth at any price and sell it at no price,” and to avoid the seduction of doubt.
Second, Spurgeon urged his congregation to be “stedfast in character.” He noted that “right in the middle of the chapter upon the resurrection [Paul] speaks about character.” The inference was that the knowledge of Christ’s resurrection would affect the way that Christians lived. Here Spurgeon lamented, “How many professors were once [exceedingly] zealous, but now are careless! the fire of their love burns dimly, its coal all but quenched.” Indeed, Christians could not let their character be stained or their love for Christ be quenched.
In his second “great point,” Spurgeon described Christians as “‘always abounding in the work of the Lord.’” Here he asserted that “We should all have work to do for our divine Master.” In fact, he insisted that “every Christian should be labouring in the Lord in some sphere of holy service.” Whether at home, at work, or in any occupation Spurgeon would ask “What are you doing for Jesus?”
Furthermore, Spurgeon wanted believers to “abound” in serving the Lord. He urged all who could hear him to “do much, very much, all you can do, and a little more.” Since he believed that “our vessels are never full till they run over” Spurgeon wanted to fill his life with service for Christ in every possible capacity. He wanted his whole life to be dedicated to serving Jesus Christ.
In the second, and final, section of his sermon, Spurgeon examined “The motive which urges us to these two duties.” Here Spurgeon offered a word of warning to his hearers. He said that “if we derive our motives for Christian labour or stedfastness from the things which we see, our spirit will oscillate from ardour to coldness, it will rise and fall with the circumstances around us.”
Rather, Spurgeon believed that to “get such a faithfulness” as seen in his text, “we must disentangle ourselves from the idea of being rewarded here.” Since “Jesus Christ is risen from the dead” the believer was not “fighting for a dead man’s cause” or for rewards limited to this life. Indeed, Spurgeon knew that “our work of faith is not in vain, because we shall rise again.” And so, to persevere in Christian stedfastness, the believer must look to the risen Christ and the promised consummation of his coming kingdom.
Why you should take up and read:
For Charles Spurgeon, the Apostle Paul was the “great master of doctrine.” In light of Paul’s example, Spurgeon believed that we must “never reckon that we have learned a doctrine till we have seen its bearing upon our lives.” In this sermon, Spurgeon laboured to help his congregation understand the implications of the promised resurrection and how that should urge them to stedfastness. For those desiring likewise please take up and read.
Here is the link to the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/motives-for-steadfastness#flipbook/
Phillip Ort serves as the Director of The Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City while studying in The Residency Ph.D. program.