Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Review: The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon (2012)

The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon. Steven J. Lawson. 2012. Reformation Publishers. 145 pages.

The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon made me giddy. It did. I absolutely LOVED it. It was so RICH in Spurgeon quotes. I think that is what I probably loved the very most about it. Not only do readers get a biography of Charles Spurgeon, readers are treated to some wonderful excerpts from his sermons and writings. Spurgeon's theology is also explained quite well. The book may serve as an introduction for some into the glorious doctrine of sovereign grace. And what a lovely introduction it would be!

The idea of a Calvinist being a passionate evangelist, someone zealous to reach the lost and proclaim the gospel, was not new to me. (I LOVED J.I. Packer's great book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.) But it might be new to some readers. And it might make quite a pleasant surprise.

The first chapter gives readers a brief biography of Charles Spurgeon. The remaining chapters focus on his ministry, his theology, his message. The second chapter, for example, focuses on the Bible. The sixth chapter focuses on the work of the Holy Spirit. Readers learn not only about one man and his ministry, but rich, gospel truths as found in the Word of God. It is an excellent presentation of basic gospel truths.

From the preface:
This gifted preacher, perhaps the greatest since the Apostle Paul, was, by his own admission, a Calvinist--Reformed to the core, deeply committed to the doctrines of grace. But at the same time, he was an evangelist. How could these seemingly opposite realities fit together? How could one be both staunchly Calvinistic and passionately evangelistic? Spurgeon showed me. In one hand, he firmly 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 they 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. (xix)

From chapter one:
Throughout his prolific ministry, Spurgeon was consumed with a gospel zeal. He made it his practice to isolate one or a few verses as a springboard to proclaim the gospel. He asserted, "I take my text and make a beeline to the cross." Every time Spurgeon stepped into the pulpit, he set his gaze intently on the salvation of sinners through the proclamation of the saving message of Jesus Christ. (2)
From chapter two:
Throughout his ministry, Charles Spurgeon's preaching rested squarely on this impregnable rock--that the Bible is exactly what it claims to be, the inspired Word of the living God. As he stepped into the pulpit, he spoke with confidence in the infallible purity and saving power of God's Word. For Spurgeon, when the Bible speaks, God speaks. Spurgeon's strong belief in the doctrines of grace was firmly rooted and grounded in this truth. He did not proclaim the doctrines of sovereign grace simply because the Reformers or Puritans affirmed them. Rather, he believed them because he found them clearly stated in the Bible. (19, 20)
If we want revivals, we must revive our reverence for the Word of God. If we want conversions, we must put more of God's Word into our sermons. (22) ~ Charles Spurgeon
From chapter three:
There is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified unless we preach what is nowadays called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the Gospel and nothing else. I do not believe that we preach the Gospel unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah, nor do I think we can preach the Gospel unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend the Gospel which allows saints to fall away after they are called. (38, 39) ~ Charles Spurgeon
Spurgeon never whispered anything, and certainly not his allegiance to the doctrines of grace. (39)
For Spurgeon, the gospel never shines brighter than through the lens of the doctrines of grace. (39)

From chapter four:
Spurgeon relentlessly preached the gospel with bold proclamations. He never murmured the message of salvation but declared it forcefully. He said, "I always feel that I have not done my duty as a preacher of the gospel if I go out of this pulpit without having clearly set before sinners the way of salvation." No matter what his text, he felt that his sermon must include a proclamation of the gospel. (64)
It is virtually impossible to find any Spurgeon sermon that does not have some loving appeal to the unconverted. (69)
From chapter five:
For Spurgeon, no subject was more captivating, no truth more satisfying, and no name more powerful than Jesus'. He declared, "Preach Christ, that is the magnet; He will draw His own to Himself...If we want to see conversions there must be more constant preaching of Christ; Christ must be in every sermon and He must be top and bottom of all the theology that is preached." (89)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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