“There is a power in God’s gospel beyond all description.”
Charles Spurgeon had a deep and abiding belief in the power of the gospel. Indeed, he believed that the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ was the pinnacle of true wisdom and knowledge, and from his early years vowed to preach nothing other than “Christ and Him crucified.”
In this sermon Spurgeon exposed the dangerous flaws of worldly wisdom. He began by declaring “What contempt hath God poured out upon the wisdom of this world!” That “contempt” was God’s decision to allow sinful man to reap what he had sown.
Spurgeon observed that the world was “corrupt, filthy, and depraved” and was consumed with “lusts too abominable even for our imagination to dwell upon for a moment.” In essence worldly wisdom had made vice a virtue, and virtue a vice.
However, he believed “There is a power in God’s gospel beyond all description.” The solution was to preach “Christ and Him Crucified.” But what, according to Spurgeon, was “Christ and Him Crucified?
It was not “to give our people a batch of philosophy every Sunday morning and evening, and neglect the truth of this Holy Book.”
It was not “to leave out the main cardinal doctrines of the Word of God, and preach a religion which is all a mist and a haze, without any definite truths whatsoever.” Rather, it was to preach about the person and work of Jesus Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit in conversion.
In the first section of his sermon Spurgeon examined the “Gospel Rejected.” He said, “One would have imagined that when God sent his gospel to men, all men would meekly listen, and humbly receive its truths,” however this was not the case.
Rather he said that man was a monster “so vile, so depraved, so polluted” that when the gospel was preached “one universal hiss went up to heaven.”
In Spurgeon’s day “progress” was the chief virtue. People thought they were, “growing better,” but he insisted “You are growing worse.”
In his sermon Spurgeon addressed two types of sinners who reject the gospel, the Jew and the Greek. In Spurgeon’s view the gospel was a stumbling block to the Jew because he typified anyone who placed works or tradition above the call of the gospel.
Second, the Jew was also understood as a formalist, one whose worship consisted of outward practices and a “love a superficial religion.”
Third, the Jew was understood as a notional Christian, a man who was “orthodox in his sentiments” but whose ‘faith’ stayed “in this dark attic of the head” while his religion never touched his heart.
For the Greek the gospel was a stumbling block because he had an “intense aversion” to religion. One who was always learning but never coming to the true knowledge of God.
The problem was that the Greek “believes all philosophy except the true one; he studies all wisdom except the wisdom of God.” Similar to today if you were to speak to the Greek of the exclusivity of the gospel, and of salvation in Christ alone, the Greek would call you a “bigot.”
In the second, and briefest, section of his sermon Spurgeon celebrated the “Gospel Triumphant.” Whereas the Jew and the Greek decry the gospel as a stumbling block, or foolishness, Spurgeon believed that “Christ shall not die for nothing.”
Spurgeon compared the “open call” of the gospel to sheet lightning which arks across the sky, while the “special call” was the lightning bolt of grace which struck the repentant sinner. He knew that the salvation of his hearers was outside his control and so he said, “I leave it with [God].”
In the third and final section of his sermon Spurgeon spoke of the “Gospel admired.” He probed the consciences of his listeners to see if they had truly experienced new life with Jesus Christ. He wanted to know if they had been born again.
However, Spurgeon also assured struggling believers that “it is not your hold of Christ that saves you, but his hold of you!”
Why you should take up and read:
Billy Graham once said that Charles Haddon Spurgeon “extolled Christ – everlastingly.” Today Spurgeon is well known for his Christocentric preaching, and that focus can be traced back to this sermon where he first vowed to preach nothing but “Christ and Him Crucified.” For the reader wanting to meditate on “Christ and Him Crucified” this sermon is highly recommended.
Here is the link to the Sermon of the Week: https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/christ-crucified#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.