“It is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth that we declare when we tell you that Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of Man, is coming upon the clouds of heaven to judge the quick and dead.”
For Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the gospel ministry was a serious and solemn commission. He believed that “every minister must speak, because he is commanded to speak.” Furthermore, “he must speak what he is commanded to speak; and he must be prepared to fall back upon the authority of the Word of God.”
Turning to the example of Paul’s sermon to the Athenians on Mars Hill, he noted that “the apostle was not was not long in his address before he came to the doctrine of the judgment of all men by Jesus Christ.” While Spurgeon admitted that Christ’s coming judgment “may not be called ‘the gospel’” itself, “it is one of those doctrines without which a gospel ministry would not be complete.” In fact, if “utterly neglected such a testimony would not be a complete gospel.”
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon considered “The message which God commands all his servants to declare.” First, Spurgeon asserted that the “message begins…with the assurance that there is a moral government.” Simply, “there is a Judge over the race of men….the world is not left unobserved.” In Spurgeon’s view, “men are not permitted to do whatever is right in their own eyes.” Rather, “the race is not left to anarchy” because “Jesus Christ is head of all.”
Second, Spurgeon subsequently insisted that “there will be a judgment.” He noted that “as the result of there being a government over mankind, an assize will be held, where in cases will be tried, and justice will be administered.” In fact, he believed that “it is wrapped up in the very idea of God that he is Judge of all the earth, and must do right.” God neither “could nor would trifle with evil” and so he must bring justice about.
Third, Spurgeon noted that “this judgment will be conducted by the man Christ Jesus.” He learned from Scripture that God has “ordained and appointed” Jesus Christ “to carry out the business of that day.” Although despised and rejected by men, Jesus now reigns forever as “mediatorial king and sovereign.” While below the “kings of earth stood up to judge him,” but in the end they will “stand before him to be judged” and ultimately “condemned.” When Spurgeon imagined this scene he was moved to exclaim, “O cross, whatever shame there was about thee shall be wiped out for ever among the sons of men, for this man shall sit upon the throne of judgment!”
In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon laboured to stress “The evident importance of this message.” First, he emphasized that God “commanded us to preach this.” For Spurgeon, if God has commanded it that was good enough, for God “must know in his infinite wisdom that there is a great necessity for its being declared.”
Furthermore, he noted that “to preach” meant to “herald” or “proclaim.” And so the Christian preceded the “great Judge, as the trumpeters go before our judges on assize-day,” with the cry, “He cometh! He cometh! He cometh!...Jesus the crucified is coming, appointed Judge of quick and dead.” The consequence was that Christians could not draw back from warning others of final judgment.
Second, Spurgeon overserved that believers are “to testify that it is he.” Here he noted that the Greek word “testify” was “very forcible” something proper for the “courts of law.” And so, not only were Christians to give the proclamation of coming judgment, they also were to “give…solemn affirmation and truthful testimony that it is so.” This great truth of judgment could not only be declared but must be personally affirmed.
Third, Spurgeon noted that this was to be done “unto the people.” Here he was empathic, “not to some few, but to all the people, to the Gentiles, to the nations.” Spurgeon placed great emphasis on warning all because he knew the “dread severity and eternity” of the judgment of God. Indeed, he also counseled his congregation, saying, “The severity which [Jesus] exercises [in judgment] must be inevitable severity.” Spurgeon knew that Jesus Christ will not be a capricious judge, and that all the “pain,” “anguish,” and “wrath” endured by those who love “evil” must be the just consequence for their sin. In light of this weighty truth, Spurgeon urged his hearers not to “quiet men in their sins” but to “beseech them in Christ’s stead that they be reconciled to God.”
Why you should take up and read:
For Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the gospel ministry was a serious and solemn commission. He believed that “every minister must speak, because he is commanded to speak” and “speak what he is commanded to speak,” a charge which also included the truth of God’s coming judgment through Jesus Christ. In this sermon Spurgeon challenged his hearers to not neglect this urgent evangelistic task. For those seeking fresh urgency in evangelism please take up and read.
Here is a link to the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/jesus-the-judge#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.