Charles Spurgeon’s Christ-likeness in The Sword and the Trowel
This leads us to how Charles Spurgeon lived what he preached. From the day of the winter storm which led him into a Methodist church in 1834 until his death in 1892, Spurgeon lived out the gospel that saved him. His life was full of difficulties, but he never changed what had and would never change in him. His articles in the Sword and the Trowel show his passions and desire to preach Christ always. Spurgeon’s passion was to see men come to know God and serve him. Spurgeon’s heart can be seen as Christ-like when he writes the following,
“To those who are thus earnest for the Lord’s glory I send my heart’s gratitude, and for those who are not as yet aroused to like ardor, I put up my fervent prayers that they may no longer lag behind their brethren. Our children are growing up around us, our great city is daily adding to its enormous bulk, and our cemeteries are being gorged with the dead; so long as one soul remained unsaved and in danger of the unquenchable fire, it behooves every Christian to be diligent to spread abroad the healing savor of the Redeemer’s name. Woe unto that man who conceals the light, while men are stumbling in the darkness. Woe unto him who keeps back the bread of life in the season of famine. Beloved, I am persuaded better things of you, though I thus speak.”
Spurgeon not only preached and wrote of his love for Christ but lived out his theology, turning it in to doxology and showing others the gospel centered life he lead. This spirituality was easily seen in and throughout his life due to his many friends and popularity. Becoming a preacher at the age of nineteen and having a great sense of humor allowed Spurgeon to become both nationally as well as internationally known. With the spread of his messages and his publications his name was quickly well known. With this bought much popularity in all sides of Christianity, including liberalism, dispensationalism, hyper-Calvinist, and the well liked Reformed side.
During his pastorate and teaching, Spurgeon loved to teach others about how to preach Christ. Although he is often criticized in regard to his preaching style, he is praised for unpacking the text in an accurate manner; his heart was right. Spurgeon’s heart wanted to see all God’s people retain the same zeal and same passion in which they received Christ. Spurgeon life taught his students that preaching Christ was their number one calling and should be done boldly. He says,
As for Christ’s being our subject, I have spoken upon that theme so many times that there is the less need on this occasion to dwell upon it at any length. What other topic can engross a Christian minister’s attention? He is certainly untrue to him who called him if he puts his Master into any but the chief seat, or overshadows him with other themes. Whatever else you leave out let Christ Jesus never be forgotten. Preach all that you know about Christ—all that you have learned from the Scriptures, all that you have experienced at his hands, all that his Spirit; has enabled you to perceive and enjoy. “Not a bone of him shall be broken” set him forth in his entirety. Give each of his doctrines a fair share of your attention, for blessed are they who keep his sayings. Preach all that Christ set forth in his life; all that he commanded, all that he (lid, all that he suffered, and all that he was.”
Although Spurgeon is criticized for being too young, too loose in his sense of humor, and not being serious enough, many great things are said about him. He is honored for his love for Christ, for Christ being the center of his preaching, for his pastoral shepherding, his care for kids, his teaching of students, and his magazine, The Sword and the Trowel. The reason that individuals enjoy Spurgeon is because of his profound sentences about Christ. He had a way with words that cut the heart and helped mold the convictions from Scripture. His clear presentation of the gospel touched the hearts of both sinners and saints both in his generation and ours. Charles Spurgeon painted beautiful pictures of Christ in words. He says,
“Our great concern is concerning Christ. “For him shall constant prayer be made.” It does not much matter what becomes of us, the common soldiers, so long, as our great Guard could defy death for themselves, but were over anxious about the emperor, so every loyal soldier of Christ feels that the one question in the present conflict is, “How goes it with the King?” Is he crowned? Is he exalted? Is he winning his way among the sons of men? Brothers, it may be that our star is waning.”
Spurgeon’s words will forever live on in the believers of today and tomorrow. He paints pictures for the bride of Christ to follow. But he also encourages the believer to take up his duty and fight for her groom. He paints pictures in the mind of his readers to shine as a light for Christ and to never let that glow fade. The believer must never give up but keep on fighting for Christ. Spurgeon says later in the article, “We might, I say, have had seine trembling before of the ark of the Lord if this had been a mere inference or opinion; but we have none now; for as surely as this book is the infallible Word of God, so surely must Christ win the day. As surely as God cannot lie, so surely must he upon whom the Lord laid the iniquity of men, rise from all his sorrows to a glorious victory.”
You may wonder how this shows Christ-likeness. Spurgeon, after being converted, changed and molded his life to that of Christ. He wanted his readers to know what gave him life to live and by revealing the Savior and Redeemer to those who listened and read his words, he showed what Christ did for him. Spurgeon in all meekness and kindness presented Christ to all those he could. It should always be stated that Spurgeon cared for others. He wanted others to see and know Christ like he did. He wanted all of mankind to come to Christ. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was man who truly stood for Christ and was a warrior of his own time, standing for the core beliefs and doctrine of Christ until the day he would meet Him face to face.
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.”
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.”
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. 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.”
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.”
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.
I. Charles Spurgeon’s Reasoning of The Sword and the Trowel
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, well known for being called the “prince of preachers” with his massive 63 volume set of sermons, was one of the most famous Baptist preachers of all time. Many others might know him for his well known commentary on the book of Psalms, The Treasury of David, or his devotional talks like Morning by Morning or Evening by Evening. Charles Spurgeon was well known for his famous books like, Commentating on Commentaries, All of Grace, Lectures to My Students, or even his massive four volume autobiography. Some only know him because of his fine love for cigars but it seems that many have not heard or known about his magazine which was published throughout his ministry as a pastor. Charles Spurgeon started a magazine in the year of 1865 called The Sword and the Trowel, and would continue it until his death in 1892. This was a publication which published articles including his sermon texts from the previous month, articles about Christianity, articles for being a pastor, articles about Spurgeon himself and his church as well as writings and reviews of the Reformed and Puritans’ works which he loved dearly, to even updates of the orphanages in which he had a part to play in throughout his ministry. From the introduction of his first magazine Spurgeon made it clear for the purpose behind his magazine saying,
“Our magazine is intended to report the efforts of those churches and associations, which are more or less intimately connected with the Lord’s work at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, and to advocate those views of doctrine and church order which are most certainly received among us. It will address itself to those faithful friends scattered everywhere, who are our well-wishers and supporters in our work of faith and labor of love. We feel the want of some organ of communication in which our many plans for God’s glory may be brought before believers, and commended to their aid. Our friends are so numerous as to be able to maintain a magazine, and so earnest as to require one. Our monthly message will be a supplement to our weekly sermon and will enable us to say many things which would be out of place in a discourse. It will inform the general Christian public of our movements, and show our sympathy with all that is good throughout the entire Church of God. It will give us an opportunity of urging the claims of
Christ’s cause, of advocating the revival of godliness, of denouncing error, of bearing witness for truth, and of encouraging the laborers in the Lord’s vineyard.”
Charles saw an importance that both the elect and the lost needed. He wanted to inform others of the need for Christ. In a time that many had lost hope and a time when many churches had begun to lose their truths of the gospel, he did not want to see the church lose their hope. Spurgeon wanted to publish a magazine to not cover 1865 alone, but to examine the Lord’s work, which had always existed and would continue forever more.. This must have been a goal in publishing his magazine, The Sword and the Trowel because he mentions it from the beginning,
“Our matter, for the most part, belongs not to 1865 alone, but to all time, and is of the kind which never grows stale; and wherein we chronicle work peculiar to a certain year, the record may stimulate you to do the like in the time now current.”
No matter whom the reader may have been, Spurgeon wanted all to know that the purpose behind publicizing The Sword and the Trowel was to reveal the work in which God had allowed him to partake in.