“Out of weakness were made strong.” – Hebrews 11:34
Charles Haddon Spurgeon rejoiced in the strength of God. In his view, mankind was weak and only God’s strengthening grace would enable “us to be mighty in the work of God.” However, not all forms of “weakness” were alike, each had its own remedy.
First, Spurgeon turned his attention to weaknesses which “are of God’s appointment, and necessarily incident to manhood.” Such “infirmities” were natural or physical and therefore “not sinful.” In this sense, Christians experiencing weakness owing to physical affliction “may continue to be subject to them without regret.” Accordingly, Spurgeon’s own gout, arthritis, and lupus were not culpable, but rather provided occaision for God to display his glory as Spurgeon “in weakness” was “made strong.”
However, there was a second kind of weakness which Spurgeon asserted was “sinful.” Such weakness was not “from nature” but rather “fallen nature.” Indeed, not from “God’s appointment” but from “our sinfulness.” Here Spurgeon made a critical distinction, saying, “We cannot pray for strength in sinful weakness, but must earnestly plead for strength to come out of it and to be made strong.”
It was with this “sinful” spiritual weakness in view that Spurgeon lamented the “predominant lukewarmness,” “want of enthusiasm,” and “deficiency in force” within the Church. In response Spurgeon stated his purpose directly, “I would stir up those who are beginning to imagine that weakness is the normal and proper state of a Christian; that to be unbelieving, desponding, nervous, timid, cowardly, inactive, heartless, is at worst a very excusable thing.” Spurgeon wanted his hearers to know that such a condition is “not proper at all” and longed for “faith to lift us out of it.”
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon chose to “Mention cases of the cure.” Looking to the Reformation, Spurgeon remarked that “When men believe intensely they act vigourously.” And since “the church’s weakness springs mainly…from a want of faith in her God, and in the revelation which God has entrusted to her” it was key that faith in God’s Word to be strengthened. A “great work” which Spurgeon believe God used Luther to accomplish.
Similarly, Spurgeon saw Whitefield as a shining beacon who, “in an age destitute of spiritual life,” “proclaimed the truth” as revival swept the land. He exhorted his hearers to “have faith in God and the truth” for “the truth cannot be destroyed, nor God defeated.” In practical terms “when the sinner…comes to trust himself with Jesus,” looking to the “blood sprinkled” and “righteousness wrought out,” then he can “pray,” “sing,” “melt in penitence,” or “rise up in flames of love.”
In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon turned to “Analyse the medicine.” Here Spurgeon noted that one of faith’s “ingredients” was “a sense of right.” He elaborated saying, “Faith is a belief in the rightness of that which God reveals, a trusting in its truth.” Second, Spurgeon discerned the “ingredient” of “heavenly authority,” noting that “a man who is naturally weak will often act very bravely when he has authority to back him.”
Third, faith entailed a “consciousness of heavenly companionship.” Thus by faith, the man “afraid to go to battle alone” would be strengthened by the “companionship of his God and Saviour.” Fourth, faith carried an “expectation of supernatural help.” Even in the direst difficulties of life “faith hears the wheels of Providence working on her behalf.” Fifth, and finally, faith contained the “prospect of ultimate reward.” Accordingly, Spurgeon spurred his hearers on saying, “I hope you will not despair because of the gloomy aspect of the present age.” Indeed, Spurgeon believed “we yet may live to thank God for the apparent retrograde movements of to-day, for upon this the Lord may ride to a brighter ultimate triumph.”
In the third section of his sermon, Spurgeon briefly remarked that the point is to “Administer this medicine.” Here Spurgeon addressed every aspect of life, saying, “I pray you to seek more faith.” Whether in sickness or in health, in poverty or wealth, Christians were commanded “Do not doubt your God till you have cause to doubt him.”
In the fourth, and final, section of his sermon, Spurgeon called his congregation to “Praise the physician.” Here Spurgeon noted that it was “our Father who is in heaven” who taught us to “trust him.” But, Christians were also to “bless the Lord Jesus” with “equal thankfulness” for “we would never [have] been capable of faith…if there had not been a Mediator.”
Why you should take up and read:
Charles Haddon Spurgeon rejoiced in the strength of God. He knew that mankind was weak and only God’s strengthening grace would enable “us to be mighty in the work of God.” In this sermon Spurgeon exulted in God’s gracious strength which filled up what was lacking in mankind’s weakness. For those wanting “out of weakness be made strong” please take up and read.
Here is the link to the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/gods-cure-for-mans-weakness#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.