Do you ever wonder how Charles Spurgeon was able to accomplish so much in his relatively short life? Yes, we can point to his rigorous schedule and otherworldly work ethic. It is also important to note his God given talent and aptitude for memory, focus, and extemporaneous brilliance. But Spurgeon’s fruitful and faithful life—thousands of sermons preached, millions of words penned, souls from all corners of the world reached for Christ—was not fueled by coffee and zeal alone. How did Spurgeon preach and live with such confidence and authority?
The real secret to Spurgeon’s gospel gusto was his confidence in the sovereignty and saving power of his God.
“If there be an elect soul whom God predestines to be converted by my word, he may have fetched him home from Australia to-day, by some untoward accident, as it seems to him; or he may have set sail for America, and the ship may have been drifted back; but this I know, that God will shake heaven and earth sooner than suffer one sleet soul to miss the predestined moment.”
The Prince of Preachers chose not rely on his own princely powers of persuasion, but on the surety of his King’s royal decrees. His confidence in evangelism, preaching, teaching, writing, counseling and living all came from an unwavering faith that God is able to accomplish what he wills.
“Conversion is God’s work: it cannot be wrought without his hand. Without him we can do nothing.”
Further, Charles knew that the gospel he preached had the real power. There is not a single sermon, and hardly a single letter, that he failed to drench with gospel witness. He made sure that the thousands of souls saved under his ministry were not convinced by his acute ability to turn a phrase, but by the surety of the gospel message. Once that message went out, he remained confident in its power to save.
“When you preach the gospel, souls will be saved. To secure that end you must stick to the gospel, for that is the one means ordained by God for the conversion of sinners.”
We must admit that simple preachers, teachers, ministers, and lay people do not have Spurgeon’s unique giftings. The everyday Christian sent out to witness to her unbelieving co-worker does not carry in herself the same skill or knowledge as a man who made it his every moment’s work to preach the gospel. The country preacher laboring in service for his small congregation does not possess the same global influence of a man whose sermons are still heard throughout the world over 120 years after his death. And yet, the same Spirit of God flows through them, and the same gospel Word is on their lips.
“I question whether our preaching in unbelief is of much service, but if we preach believing that souls will be saved, then they will be saved. If we preach relying on God’s promise that his Word shall not return unto him void, it will not return void, but there shall be fruit for the sower, according to the assurance of our faithful God.”
What is left for those of us who aren’t that great Victorian preacher? We can preach, reach, share, and live with his same unwavering confidence, if only we believe, as he did, that by our feeble witness God in his grace saves needy sinners. Like Spurgeon, we rely on God’s promise that the boomerang of his preached gospel always comes back bearing fruit, and we make it our mission to proclaim the good news of Jesus until he comes again to make us his own. We may not be Spurgeon, but his message is our message, his God is our God, and his confidence is our confidence.
Drake Osborn works as a research assistant at The Spurgeon Library in Kansas City, where he is pursuing a Master of Divinity from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and serves as a pastoral resident at Emmaus Church. He also blogs at drakeosborn.com, and you can follow him on twitter.