Thursday, January 03, 2013


(The year before his death in 1892 Charles Spurgeon delivered an address at the Pastor’s College Conference entitled: The Greatest Fight in the World. It was enthusiastically received by a great assembly of hearers and at the close of the meeting urgent requests were made for its publication. This received wide acclaim, being translated into other languages and passing through several editions in English. After Spurgeon's death a Christian friend arranged that a copy of the book should be sent to every minister in England. That particular edition was entitled, C. H. Spurgeon's Final Manifesto, an apt title for one of Spurgeon's last works, since it reflects the convictions of a lifetime concerning the great central issues of the Faith. The following are excerpts from the last chapter on Our Strength.)
Our Strength
 “Granted that we preach the Word alone; granted that we are surrounded by a model church, which, alas, is not always the case; but, granted that it is so, OUR STRENGTH is the next consideration. This must come from THE SPIRIT OF GOD. We believe in the Holy Ghost, and in our absolute dependence upon him. We believe; but do we believe practically? Brethren, as to ourselves and our own work, do we believe in the Holy Ghost? Do we believe because we habitually prove the truth of the doctrine? We must depend upon the Spirit in our preparations. Is this the fact with us all? Are you in the habit of working your way into the meaning of texts by the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Every man that goes to the land of heavenly knowledge must work his passage thither; but he must work out his passage in the strength of the Holy Spirit, or he will arrive at some island in the sea of fancy, and never set his foot upon the sacred shores of the truth.”

“We cannot succeed in supplication except the Holy Ghost helpeth our infirmities, for true prayer is “praying in the Holy Ghost.” The Spirit makes an atmosphere around every living prayer, and within that circle prayer lives and prevails; outside of it prayer is a dead formality. As to ourselves, then, in our study, in prayer, in thought, in word, and in deed, we must depend upon the Holy Ghost.”

“In the pulpit do we really and truly rest upon the aid of the Spirit? I do not censure any brother for his mode of preaching, but I must confess that it seems very odd to me when a brother prays that the Holy Ghost may help him in preaching, and then I see him put his hand behind him and draw a manuscript out of his pocket, so fashioned that he can place it in the middle of his Bible, and read from it without being suspected of doing so. These precautions for ensuring secrecy look as though the man was a little ashamed of his paper; but I think he should be far more ashamed of his precautions. Does he expect the Spirit of God to bless him while he is practicing a trick? And how can He help him when he reads out of a paper from which anyone else might read without the Spirit’s aid? What has the Holy Ghost to do with the business? Truly, he may have had something to do with the manuscript in the composing of it, but in the pulpit his aid is superfluous. The truer thing would be to thank the Holy Spirit for assistance rendered, and ask that what he has enabled us to get into our pockets may now enter the people’s hearts. Still, if the Holy Ghost should have anything to say to the people that is not in the paper, how can he say it by us? He seems to me to be very effectually blocked as to freshness of utterance by that method of ministry. Still, it is not for me to censure, although I may quietly plead for liberty in prophesying, and room for the Lord to give us in the same hour what we shall speak.”

“Remember, again, that he will never encourage idleness. The Holy Ghost will not come to rescue us from the consequences of willful neglect of the Word of God and study. If we allow ourselves to go up and down all the week doing nothing, we may not climb the pulpit stairs and dream that the Lord will be there and then tell us what to speak. If help were promised to such, then the lazier the man the better the sermon. If the Holy Spirit worked only by impromptu speakers, the less we read our Bibles and the less we meditated on them the better. If it be wrong to quote from books, "attention to reading" should not have been commanded. All this is obviously absurd, and not one of you will fall into such a delusion. We are bound to be much in meditation, and give ourselves wholly to the Word of God and prayer, and when we have minded these things we may look for the Spirit's approbation and co-operation. We ought to prepare the sermon as if all depended upon us, and then we are to trust the Spirit of God knowing that all depends upon Him. The Holy Ghost sends no one into the harvest to sleep among the sheaves, but to bear the burden and heat of the day. We may well pray God to send more "labourers" into the vineyard; for the Spirit will be with the strength of labourers, but he will not be the friend of loiterers.”

Recollect, again, that the Holy Ghost will not bless us in order to sustain our pride. Is it not possible that we may be wishing for a great blessing that we may be thought great men? This will hinder our success: the string of the bow is out of order and the arrow will turn aside. What does God do with men that are proud? Does he exalt them? I trow not (i.e., think not), Herod made an eloquent oration, and he put on a dazzling silver robe which glistened in the sun, and when the people saw his vestments and listened to his charming voice, they cried, "It is the voice of a god, and not of a man"; but the Lord smote him, and he was eaten of worms. Worms have a prescriptive right to proud flesh; and when we get very mighty and very big, the worms expect to make a meal of us. "Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall." Keep humble if you would have the Spirit of God with you. The Holy Ghost takes no pleasure in the inflated oratory of the proud; how can he? Would you have him sanction bombast? "Walk humbly with thy God", O preacher! for thou canst not walk with him in any other fashion; and if thou walk not with him, thy walking will be vain.”(most emphasis mine, cw)

(I have just finished reading The Greatest Fight in the World in the Evangelical Press edition from 1980 and I was greatly blessed as I so often am reading Spurgeon. I have quoted small excerpts, but the entire book is only 64 pages and may be ordered from Pilgrim Publications. Here is a link to order it: Should you desire just to read it online, here is a link to the Spurgeon Archive. Be blessed!)

 It is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live one” (unknown author).

Civility or Grace
“Civility does but wash a man, grace changes him…Civility is but strewing flowers on a dead corpse. A man may be wonderfully moralised, yet but a tame devil.”
Thomas Watson, The Beatitudes

Gospel Warning
This is a warning I hope we all take to heart. As people of The Word, we have to ask ourselves how we can really expect to improve on a perfect model.  Cautiously I will say that some new ways of applying the unchanging biblical principles are fine...we need to be able to communicate with 21st Century culture, but we must not abandon the heart of the Gospel and basics of authentic discipleship in the process. Charles Woodruff


Marianne Lordi said...

Hi Charles,
I pray that all is well with you. I know that you have times of weariness but my hope is that Christ himself is refreshing you for the work he has for you!

I loved this teaching by Spurgeon. I am always in awe of men like him who were so inspired in their writings by God's Spirit. There are many good teachings within this one message. I am taking them all to heart. We are in a time when the darkness is taking down so many yet we are to stand, holding on by faith, and be the light as Christ shines through us. We must continue! There is too much at stake to grow weary now that we are so close to the end.

Stay strong, my brother. You are doing a great work for the kingdom and I thank God that he uses you as he does. I hope to talk to you soon. I have you in prayer. May God keep you strong and your mind clear and focused.

charles said...

Marianne, Your kindness is once again shown. Thank you. I am coming along. If it was not for God's grace, I would be in the pit. I know that; I always have. He is strengthening me with His marvelous grace. Just pray for me. As you said, we are not far from the finish line now, either way. He will come again, or take me home to be with Him. Either way, I rejoice. You are correct, Spurgeon was one of the greatest of God's men. I love him. He inspires me. Thanks again. I'll be in touch.