Saturday, February 08, 2014

THE GREATEST FIGHT IN THE WORLD-CHARLES SPURGEON



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.

“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 person 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. There is a link to order it on the Spurgeon Archive. Should you desire just to read it online, here is the link to the Spurgeon Archive. Be blessed!  http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/gfw.htm 

 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

Repentance
“By it [Repentance] a sinner, out of a sight and sense, not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God, and
upon the apprehension of his mercy in Christ to such as our penitent, so grieves for and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavoring to walk with him in all the ways of his commandments.” Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XV Section II

Prayer
"When we rely upon organization, we get what organization can do; when we rely upon education, we get what education can do; when we rely upon eloquence, we get what eloquence can do. But when we rely upon prayer, we get what God can do." A. C. Dixon

You Must Be Made New Men
“They that are truly converted are new men, new creatures; new not only within, but without; they are sanctified throughout, in spirit, soul and body; old things are passed away, all things are become new; they have new hearts, and new eyes, new ears, new tongues, new hands, new feet…they walk in newness of life, and continue to do so to the end of life.”
Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections, pp. 313-14

Wooing Sinners
“Why does God woo and beseech you by his ambassadors, if he is not willing to be in covenant?”
Thomas Watson, Religion Our True Interest.

A Million Voices From the Universe, the earth, the atom, from numberless specialized organs and odd creatures on land, in the air and in the sea, and from the body and mind of man — all bear witness for God and Creation!” Fred John Meldau, Why We Believe in Creation, Not Evolution, originally published by Christian Victory Publishers; Denver, 1959. Out of print. Online edition available. A helpful book. Click link: http://www.present-truth.org/3-Nature/Creation/Creation-not-EvolutionTOC.htm
Brother Meldau was correct. But why can’t most people hear the millions of voices, i.e., see the evidence? Because they have not yet heard the one omnipotent voice -- the Voice of God! Jesus said My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:27, 28)

The Testimony of The Holy Spirit
“Since for unbelieving men religion seems to stand by opinion alone, they, in order not to believe anything foolishly or lightly, both wish and demand rational proof that Moses and the prophets spoke divinely. But I reply: the testimony of the Spirit is more excellent than all reason. For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men's hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what had been divinely commanded ...”
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 1.7.5.

Serving God
Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisors.

The two basic rules of human enlightenment:
1. There is a God.
2. You're not Him!
                        -Mikey, via Charles Rosson, Springdale, Arkansas

Sensitive to Warning- Charles H. Spurgeon
“Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord” (2 Kings 22:19).
Many despise warning, and perish. Happy is he who trembles at the word of the Lord. Josiah did so, and he was spared the sight of the evil which the Lord determined to send upon Judah because of her great sins. Have you this tenderness? Do you practice this self-humiliation? Then you also shall be spared in the evil day. God sets a mark upon the men that sigh and cry because of the sin of the times. The destroying angel is commanded to keep his sword in its sheath till the elect of God are sheltered: these are best known by their godly fear, and their trembling at the Word of the Lord. Are the times threatening? Do Popery and Infidelity advance with great strides, and do you dread national chastisement upon this polluted nation? Well you may. Yet rest in this promise, “Thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace: and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place” (2Kings 22:20). Better still, the Lord Himself may come, and then the days of our mourning shall be ended.
(Very relevant, though written over 120 years ago! From Faith’s Checkbook for April 3rd)

The True Christ is Still the Only Way- Charles Woodruff

Jesus warned us there would be false prophets and false Christs. “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:23, 24). Regardless of what new agers such as Oprah and Eckhart Tolle may say; regardless of what postmodern “organizer” preachers like Rick Warren and Bill Hybels may say; regardless of what hatemonger preachers like Jeremiah Wright and company may say; no matter how apparently successful. and extremely wealthy some of them are. As Chuck Norris, quoting from another, reminded us; “Christ is either who He claimed to be, or He is the most notorious liar who ever lived!” Remember Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

He Must Increase, but I Must Decrease--John 3:30
I would far rather publish the good writings of my brothers and sisters than
to seek glory for myself by always being the one doing the writing, or the
preaching. Let Him who “ever lives to make intercession for us” (Hebrews
7:25), receive any glory that comes from these feeble publishing efforts. To
paraphrase George Whitefield “Let the name of Woodruff perish, but Christ
be glorified!” I only let you know who I am so that I may be of service to you
in Jesus Christ. (Cw)
As George Whitefield himself said:
Unloose my stammering tongue to tell, Thy Love immense, unsearchable”.

Published by Charles Woodruff- email: oursong2000@yahoo.com

2 comments:

Marianne Bernard said...

Hi Charles, I was blessed by this sermon by Spurgeon. He is always so right on with his messages. Too often I find myself trying to do things alone and forgetting that the Holy Spirit is my strength and my wisdom. I still struggle to let go of self and surrender entirely to the leading of Christ. But each day give me a new opportunity to trust him a little more - to see past my troubles and see instead his glory. We sometimes live as if it were never going to end. The truth is that Christ is so very close to returning. He is at the door. Everything in my spirit tells me that is true. We need to hold on just a bit longer and to continue in the race. It is, after all, for the kingdom that we are here. Why do we doubt when we know by God's word that we have already been made victors?

Be blessed, Charles. You are still a blessing to me.

charles said...

Marianne, you are quite correct. Spurgeon was one of the greatest preachers, if not THE greatest. He was so balanced. We can say what we will, and there have been many great preachers over the centuries, but Charles Spurgeon and George Whitefield were the best two IMHO. We are not to just admire them though, but learn from their example and do as they have taught. Pray for me that I will. God help me!