January 11, 2014

The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon - Book Review

The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon (Long Line of Godly Men Profiles) is the second book that I have read by Steven J. Lawson. The first one was The Expository Genius of John Calvin, which you can find my review of by clicking here.

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.

I highly recommend this book. Whatever the cost, it is worth every penny. Consider picking up the Kindle version on Amazon.