The wrestling angel gifted Jacob with a limp as a permanent reminder of his encounter with God. Jacob's life-long policy was to run. His final glory was that he learned to lean (Hebrews 11:21). A wound is a good thing if it is accepted as a stewardship from God, appropriated as a channel of God's strength and consecrated to God's purpose. Where dependence is the objective weakness is the advantage.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


June 19, 1834 – January 31, 1892

Today is the birthday of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the greatest preacher ever to preach in the English language. I'd be happy for disagreements, because other candidates could inspire a nomination for second place. Whitefield? Martyn Lloyd-Jones? John Stott? I really have no idea who should be second.
But I suspect it's a distance second.
Spurgeon was the son and grandson of ministers but was not converted without difficulty. The precipitating event was a snow-storm while the 15 year-old was trying to walk to a ferry on a Sunday morning early in the year 1850. Realizing the inadvisability of pressing against the weather he took shelter in a Primitive Methodist Chapel at Colchester. Conditions were such that the preacher never arrived at the service, so the sexton preached extemporaneously from Isaiah 45:22: "Look to Me. all ye ends of the earth and be saved."
Spurgeon did and he was.
The sexton's name is lost to history.
Within five years hardly a building in England could house the crowds who wanted to hear the boy preacher.
He began as pastor of a small chapel in Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire. He left there for New Park Street Chapel, London. Soon the facilities were inadequate to contain the throngs, and so, in time, the great Metropolitan Tabernacle was built.
What was the secret of his greatness?
God, God and God.
Apart from that obvious answer four things stand out.
!) Spurgeon had an unshakeable conviction that the Bible is the Word of God. He ministered in an era when confidence in biblical authority was in dramatic decline. The emergence of evolution meant that human life was being accounted for naturalistically. Liberal criticism contended that Holy Scripture could be accounted for humanly. The day of confidence in the divine source of anything seemed to be passing. Spurgeon never blinked. His sermons were powerful because they reposed on the infallible authority of a speaking God.
2) Spurgeon was a lover of the Lord Jesus Christ. He adored the immaculate Person of the bleeding Savior. He worshipped as he preached and showed the worship of Jesus to be a beautiful and necessary thing from which no sane creature should shrink.
3) He believed in the absolute sovereignty of God when it came to saving sinners. Possessed with gifts of evangelistic persuasion unparalleled in the world he nevertheless insisted, "I could as easily create a planet as I could save a soul. Salvation is God’s work."
4) He embraced the sphere of human instrumentality with ardor. He believed that the sovereign God sovereignly determined to use the pleading of fallen creatures to bring their fellows to repentance. And so he pled. Solemnly but winsomely, logically yet not without emotion, and lovingly yet without compromise he pled.
Under God's good hand he preached up a harvest
And under God's hand he reaped abundantly.
Of course his sermons were not solely evangelistic. His sermons fed the church, grew disciples and raised up missionaries.
Nor was he solely a pulpit warrior. He founded an Orphanage and a Pastor's College. He supported the widows of pastors. He provided cheap books for ministers and he sent out home and foreign workers.
He took no salary but lived off the sale of his sermons and books.
We now languish in a second century since Spurgeon.
May God grant another.


N.A. Winter said...

Really appreciated this. I so admire Spurgeon's sermons, and although I haven't studied preachers well enough to argue over who would be second, I'm happy to agree (in my ignorance) that he was the greatest who spoke in the English language.

Butch P said...

Get much from your Jacob's Limp. Hope all is well with you and yours.