I. Charles Spurgeon Centrality of The Sword and the Trowel

Charles Spurgeon published his first magazine with only one article, What Shall be Done for Jesus? In this article he introduces the reasoning behind his ministry and most of all his number one passion in life, Christ. Spurgeon saw the importance to make his first article Christocentric, and show the importance of Christ to the believer. He reveals to the believer the importance of centering ministry and life in general on what Christ had accomplished in the believer by washing them pure from sin. Spurgeon explains the importance of the three offices of Christ (priest, prophet and king) and the signifigance of them to the believer to remember and live out. He reveals how Christ pleased and glorified God to his utmost and how the believer should as well. He pleads to both the lost and his flock, showing the importance of Christ–the gospel–to all of mankind. Spurgeon says,

In every other act of grace the design of the King is to honor the Lord Jesus. You cannot taste the sweetness of any doctrine till you have remembered Christ’s connection with it. You are washed from every sin, but how? Ye have “washed your robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” You are sumptuously arrayed from head to foot; ye are appareled as the King’s sons and daughters, but who is this that hath clothed you? Are you not robed in the righteousness of your Lord Jesus Christ? Up to this moment you have been preserved, but now? “Preserved in Christ Jesus.” The Holy Spirit is the author of your sanctification, but what has been the instrument by which he has purified you? He has cleansed you by the water which flowed with the blood from the wounds of the expiring Savior. Our eternal life is sure; because he lives, we shall live also.”[1]

It can be seen that Spurgeon’s love for Christ was always the center of his life, his preaching, his study, his writing, and most of all center of everything in which he did. Spurgeon is well known for his preaching Christ every Sunday morning. Today in the 21st century of America it is very easy to walk into a church and never hear of Christ in the Sunday morning message, but Spurgeon says this about his church,

We love Christ better than a sect, and truth better than a party, and so far are not denominational, but we are in open union with the Baptists for the very reason that we cannot endure isolation, lie who searches all hearts knows that our aim and object is not to gather a band around self, but to unite a company around the Savior.”[2]

Spurgeon’s love for Christ was most important not only to his personal life but in his pastoral life. His desire was to teach the importance of Christ to the lost and the found. Spurgeon wanted to reach the lost of his day, but moreover he wanted the ones in his flock to see the need for evangelism. This is why he would always preach to two crowds on a Sunday morning. One of Spurgeon’s enjoyments was to preach and teach the gospel of Christ to his flock. He would often publish articles for believers to read on how Christ could be enjoyed. One of the perfect examples of this would have been his letter in 1867 called; The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength.[3] Spurgeon would often reveal from the Scripture how Christ was the believer’s hope to for the church and that Christ was what was central to the believer’s life. Showing the necessity of Christ to the believer gave them the strength to become mature in the faith and grow in the pursuit of sanctification. Spurgeon saw that the spirituality of the believer needed to have a firm foundation of knowing Christ and living out Christ-likeness every day. One of his lengthy articles called Christ and His Table Companions shows just how important this relationship with Christ is in the life of the believer when it comes to the Lord Supper,

“We finish with this word of deep regret that many here cannot understand what we have been talking about, and have no part in it. There are some of you who must not come to the table of communion because you do not love Christ. You have not trusted him; you have no part in him. There is no salvation in sacraments. Believe me; they are but delusions to those who do not come to Christ with their heart. You must not come to the outward sign if you have not the thing signified. Here is the way of salvation — believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”[4]

Spurgeon wanted all to know that the Lord’s Supper was not about playing games. He knew that some did not even know of Christ and for that he did not want them partaking or even trying to be seen in relationship with Christ. Spurgeon cared deeply about his people and cared much more for their souls than often times they did. His love for Christ was shown to his flock and how he preached to them every Sunday no matter what the audience’s spiritual condition was. There was always room for the believer to learn more about Christ. Spurgeon wanted the gospel to not only be a once-in-a-life changing event but something lived out daily. This Christ-centered approach not only helped the elect mold their lives to that of Christ, but allowed the gospel to be preached and offered freely to those who may have been sitting there with no clue about what was to be preached. For the lost coming to see and hear the prince of preachers was one thing, but to hear Christ exalted was above all things. Spurgeon loved to the see lost souls, damned to hell, come to the saving knowledge of Christ. This was why he preached, taught the Scriptures, and published books and magazines such as the Sword and the Trowel. If anyone loved preaching Christ to sinners it was Charles Spurgeon. Spurgeon’s spiritual sense for preaching was shown throughout his works by emphasizing on Christ always. Article after article written by Spurgeon clearly outlines how to know and see Christ. I often ask myself how one could possibly be lost after reading Charles Spurgeon’s articles on the saving Christ. One that is of great magnitude was written in 1877 entitled, To Seek and Saved Which is Lost. A section of this stated this,

“My dear friends, you and I were lost in the sense of having broken the law of God and having incurred his anger, but Jesus came and took the sin of men upon himself, and as their surety and their substitute he bore the wrath of God, so that God can henceforth be “just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.” This blessed doctrine of substitution, I would like to die talking of it, and I intend, by divine grace, to live proclaiming it, for it is the keystone of the gospel. Jesus Christ did literally take upon himself the transgression and iniquity of his people, and was made a curse for them, seeing that they had fallen under the wrath of God; and now every soul that believeth in Jesus is saved because Jesus has taken away the penalty and the curse due to sin. In this let us rejoice.”[5]

Christ was central to Spurgeon’s message, magazines, and most of all his life. Spurgeon wanted everyone to know the good news which had saved him and in every chance and way possible he spoke about His Savior. For him, this was not a job or a message that he gave. This was his life. Spurgeon could tell others about the joy and work of Christ because of the change that it Christ had made in him.

[1] Spurgeon, 1865, What Shall be Done for Jesus?, p. 7-8.

[2] Spurgeon, 1866, Spurgeonism, p. 252.

[3] Spurgeon, 1867, p. 356-59.

[4] Spurgeon, Vol. 3, 1873, The Lord and His Companions, p. 302.

[5] Spurgeon, Vol. 5, 1877, To Seek and Save Which are Lost, p. 43.


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