“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” – James 1:2-4
For Charles Haddon Spurgeon, showing a “true brotherly sympathy with believers in their trials” was a “main part of Christian fellowship.” Since “every one that is born of the Spirit of God” is a “brother to every other that is born of the same Spirit,” it was essential for Christians to “let brotherly love continue,” especially in “deed and truth.”
Accordingly, Spurgeon reasoned that “if we are not tempted ourselves at this moment, others are: let us remember them in our prayers.” For as Spurgeon said, “in due time our turn will come, and we shall be put into the crucible.” So, “just as we would desire to receive sympathy and help in our hour of need, let us render it freely to those who are now enduring trial.”
In Spurgeon’s view, “the whole tendency of our holy faith is to elevate and to encourage.” For Spurgeon, “Grace breeds no sorrow,” except “the healthy sorrow which comes with saving repentance.” In short, grace “comes not to make men miserable,” but to “wipe all tears from their eyes” in the end. It was through this lens of grace that Spurgeon weighed and judged his own afflictions and he urged his congregation to do the same.
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon examined “The essential point assailed by temptation or trial.” Here he stated plainly that “It is your faith which is tried.” He asserted that just as “faith is the mark of the chosen of God,” God’s foes “become the foes of all the faithful.” Just as the “hand of faith is against all evil,” so then “all evil is against faith.” Since faith is a “blessed grace…pleasing to God” it is equally “displeasing to the devil.” Indeed, just as “by faith God is greatly glorified” so then by faith “Satan is greatly annoyed.”
For Spurgeon, this meant that the believer’s faith in God was a primary target of attack by the enemy. Because “faith is a vital to salvation as the heart is vital to the body” and brought God glory, Spurgeon asserted that “the object of the enemy is to strike [faith] down.”
Furthermore, Spurgeon cautioned his congregation saying, “the natural tendency of trouble is not to sanctify, but to induce sin.” While God’s purpose was for battle-proven faith to bring him glory, Spurgeon acknowledged that because of human sinfulness “a man is very apt to become unbelieving under affliction.” Indeed, this was a grave sin to be avoided at all costs, as the believer’s only hope of endurance in affliction was faith in God.
In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon turned his attention to “The invaluable blessing which is gained by the trial of our faith.” Here he noted that “our faith is tried and proved.” For Spurgeon proven faith was precious, for “our own looking within seldom yields solid comfort” whereas “actual trial is far more satisfactory.” In short “the way of trying whether you are a good soldier is to go down to the battle.” Indeed, Spurgeon believed that trials can prove “our sincerity,” “the truthfulness of our doctrinal belief,” “the strength of the Lord,” and “the purity of your motives.” In short, “trials are like fire; they burn up nothing in us but the dross, and they make the gold all the purer.”
In the third section of his sermon, Spurgeon expounded upon “The priceless virtue which is produced by trial, namely patience.” Here Spurgeon exclaimed, “Patience! We all have a large stock of it – until we need it, and then we have none.” Specifically, he identified five types of patience: “a patience that accepts trial as from God without a murmur,” “to bear ill-treatment, slander, and injury without resentment,” “acting without undo haste,” “we can wait without unbelief,” and “endurance.” The fruit of such patience was manifold. The patient Christian can give “blessing in return for cursing” and “go steadily and readily about work for Jesus” without grumbling.
In the fourth, and final, section of his sermon, Spurgeon addressed “The spiritual completeness promoted.” He remarked that “the very best thing is that which will make the man himself a better man; make him right, and true, and pure, and holy.” Spurgeon believed that “afflictions by God’s grace make us all-round men, developing every spiritual faculty.” In his view, our trials, “when blessed of God,” do not bruise our Christian fruit but rather “make us patient, ripen us.” After all, only the fruit which “has felt its measure of the burning sun” then “develops a lusciousness which we delight in.”
Why you should take up and read:
For Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “true brotherly sympathy with believers in their trials” was a “main part of Christian fellowship.” In his experience, he found that “a certain amount of trouble appears to be needful” to bring out the “sugar of graciousness” in God’s people. Simply, God uses trials and troubles to refine his people. In this sermon, Spurgeon addressed the sensitive subjects of trials, temptations, and afflictions, and modelled for his congregation how to grow and hold fast in the midst of the midst of the storm. For those wanting to learn likewise please take up and read.
Here is a link to the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/all-joy-in-all-trials#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.