The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon Hardcover – February 27, 2012
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“Steve Lawson, a great preacher in his own right, has emerged as our generation’s finest biographer of great preachers. His works on John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards are both masterpieces. Steve has a knack for pointing out and explaining the outstanding traits that made each of these unique preachers truly important and influential. This work on Charles Spurgeon is likewise brilliant, highlighting Spurgeon’s Calvinistic convictions alongside his evangelistic zeal—showing why those two characteristics are perfectly harmonious and equally essential characteristics of any truly biblical ministry. A riveting work, this book will fuel your enthusiasm for both sound doctrine and earnest evangelism.”
“Charles Spurgeon was a model pastor-theologian. His theology came to life in his plea for sinners to be reconciled to God. Lawson points us to the necessity of a theology fueled by fervor for evangelism in this excellent primer on the prince of preachers.”
“I own at least three dozen different biographies of the prince of preachers, but Steve Lawson’s new book on Charles Spurgeon will from now on have a key place of prominence in my short list of favorites. Dr. Lawson understands what made the great preacher’s heart beat: it was the gospel, charged with a passion for the souls of lost people and kept steady by the doctrines of grace. The clear rhythm of that pulse reverberates through this book, and it’s a catchy beat. I’m profoundly glad for that, and I hope countless readers will be moved to get in step with the cadence.”
“Steve Lawson provides a succinct and captivating analysis of the heart of one of the greatest preachers of all time. Spurgeon’s ministry is legendary, but what animated and motivated his life and ministry is often overlooked. With ample extracts from Spurgeon’s own writings and sermons, this book reveals how the gospel of Jesus Christ provided both the power and content of his preaching. Far from being a distraction to the gospel, those doctrines that are historically known as Calvinism caused Spurgeon to understand the person and work of Jesus more clearly and preach Christ more passionately. While some who do not hold to Spurgeon’s view of the doctrines of grace might wonder how he could be a Calvinist and yet be evangelistic, Lawson clearly demonstrates that the prince of preachers was a bold evangelist precisely because of his Calvinism. There is much wisdom in this book both for preachers and for those who value preaching.”
“For more than thirty-six years, Steve Lawson has had an intense interest in the ministry of Charles Spurgeon. In April 1976, he wrote a paper on Spurgeon’s theological controversies for a Baptist history class at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In that paper, Lawson said about Spurgeon, ‘He magnified God’s grace and glorified God’s Son.’ Lawson has shown in this book how those traits of Spurgeon’s ministry, plus his thorough commitment to the infallibility of Scripture, his fervent grace-centered evangelism, his utter dependence on the work of the Holy Spirit, and his personal courage, make Spurgeon transcend the ages as a model for church-centered gospel ministry. Every Christian will be encouraged by Lawson’s description of Spurgeon’s life and his analysis of Spurgeon’s driving commitments to the whole counsel of God. Loaded with pungent quotes from Spurgeon and punctuated with helpful and pertinent exhortations from Lawson, this is a book for us all.”
- Publisher : Reformation Trust (February 27, 2012)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 175 pages
- ISBN-10 : 156769280X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1567692808
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.25 x 0.75 x 7.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #286,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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This biography is not just about time and dates in Spurgeon’s life but a biography of his theology. After the first chapter on Spurgeon’s life and legacy, the rest of the chapters was on how his theology drove Spurgeon’s ministry. I especially appreciated the chapter on Sovereign grace in Spurgeon’s preaching and also the chapter on Spurgeon’s evangelistic fervor.
I learned several things from the book about Spurgeon’s life that I did not know previously. For instance, I did not know Spurgeon did not have any formal theological training, having not attended any seminary or degrees yet he was quite theologically astute. Before reading the book I knew Spurgeon was a ferocious reader and I now further appreciate Spurgeon’s tenacity in self-education! I saw as application for preachers today is to continuously grow in one’s theology and not just resort to thinking one need not grow just because of one’s “success” in ministry or because of a theological degree one has attained in the past.
I’ve also learned that Spurgeon founded the Pastor’s College at the age of twenty two, which is all the more remarkable given his lack of formal theological education. The book also mentioned how for the first fifteen years of the school Spurgeon himself covered the cost of the school by the sales of his weekly sermon. There is something encouraging to see a man who is so committed to training up godly and biblical pastors that he puts his own money and time into it.
I was also much encouraged by Spurgeon’s example when I learned how often Spurgeon preached during the week. Lawson stated in the book that Spurgeon preached as much as ten times during the week. My favorite quote from Spurgeon in the book is the following: “We find ourselves able to preach ten or twelve times a week, and we find we are the stronger for it…‘Oh,’ said one of the members, ‘our minister will kill himself.’…That is the kind of work that will kill no man. It is preaching to sleepy congregations that kill good ministers” (14).
I recommend this book for all Christians, given how Spurgeon is so widely read still today. I especially recommend this book for Pastors to be rekindled as a preacher to have a Gospel focus like Spurgeon. Sometimes historical theology can be quite edifying when we want examples of godly men and virtues of guys who are closer to us than those who are far removed from our time. The author did a good job balancing honoring Spurgeon while not idolizing him, and Lawson is able to do this in the book by looking at Spurgeon’s theology, which points us towards Jesus, the Gospel and the Bible.
When I was younger, reading biographies was not all that important to me. I enjoyed fiction, most specifically, science fiction and fantasy. But as I have "aged" biographies, especially those focused on prominent people in church history, have begun to draw my attention and have brought me great encouragement. And Steven J. Lawson does an amazing job of bringing these individuals to life through his knowledge and study and by focusing on essential details and aspects of their lives.
In this book about Charles Spurgeon, I have used the "highlight" feature on my kindle more than any other book that I have read. Nearly every page had some quote from Spurgeon that I found either encouraging, thought provoking, or convicting.
The author begins this book by talking about the impact that Spurgeon had on him as a Pastor. After being confronted with the Biblical teachings on the sovereignty of God, he found himself wrestling with how to preach. Then he says that Spurgeon showed him:
"In one hand, he (Spurgeon) held the sovereignty of God in man's salvation. With the other hand, he extended the free offer of the gospel to all. He preached straightforward Calvinistic doctrine, then, in the same sermon, fervently urged lost sinners to call on the name of the Lord. Having expounded the truths of predestination, he then warned his listeners that if the refused Christ, their blood would be on their own hands. In sermon after sermon, this prolific preacher expounded God's sovereign grace with unmistakable precision. Yet, he did it with a genuine passion for the lost."
"I concluded that this was what it must look like to be consumed with the glory of God in the salvation of the elect and, at the same time, be filled with flaming zeal in reaching sinners with the gospel. There was no cold, clinical Calvinism here -- no dead orthodoxy, no 'frozen chosen' religion, no empty rehearsing of Reformed doctrine for people to take or leave as they might choose. Neither was there any shallow evangelism that portrayed God as pacing heaven, wringing His hands, desperate for someone to accept Him. Instead, here was what the Puritans described as a fire in the pulpit, yielding both the light of Calvinistic truth and the heat of evangelistic passion."
"In Spurgeon, I saw a historical example of what God was calling me to be and do. I finally understood that my Reformed theology was not a hindrance but a launching pad for evangelism. Here was the best of both worlds. I already had come to see clearly how these twin truths meet in the Bible. Now I could see how they come together in preaching."
"Tragically, many pulpits today are pulled toward on of two extremes -- the dead orthodoxy of Hyper-Calvinism or the shallow inconsistencies of Arminianism. In the former error, the doctrines of grace are upheld, but with little burden for the lost and no free offer of the gospel to all. In the latter error, there is soul-winning fervor, but the supreme authority of God in the salvation of men's souls is denied. Between these polar opposites stands the biblical Calvinism, claiming the high ground in both message and ministry."
There are so many other quotes and sayings of Spurgeon that I wanted to include in this review, but I believe that this quote from Lawson captures the importance of reading about Spurgeon, while at the same time revealing much of my own heart as well.
Spurgeon was a five point Calvinist meaning that he believes in predestination. But even though he believes that God has already picked those who will be saved, Spurgeon believed that evangelism was necessary. Many Calvinist discount evangelism, but Spurgeon saw it as his God give duty to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and press for people to make a decision for Christ.
Lawson will detail the passion of Spurgeon for scripture and preaching as well as his passion for holding the Bible in high regard and not abandoning the truths of scripture by preaching feel good sermons. Spurgeons passion is something that is needed today in our church culture. Too many pastors are leaving the Gospel out of their sermons and discounting the Word of God as being authoritative.
This short book should be a great inspiration to young preachers and missionaries everywhere to not abandon scripture and to continue to preach and teach the hard truths of the Bilbe.
I think lay people as well as professional clergy will benefit greatly from this short, but definitive work.