In “Why I’ve started reading Spurgeon again” Jefferson Vann encourages people to read the works of this 19th century Baptist preacher.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a 19th century English Baptist “prince of preachers” whose writings (mostly collections of his sermons and devotions) are still highly valued by Christians today. I remember taking up reading Spurgeon years ago, but finally gave it up in disgust.
I just could not handle his constant references to heaven as the hope of the saints. As a conditionalist, I do not believe that heaven is my hope. I believe that Jesus Christ is my hope. I don’t expect to go to heaven. I expect my saviour to come from heaven. There is a difference.
I also do not believe that human beings have an immortal soul that continues to live in a state of conscious awareness between the time the body dies and is resurrected at the coming of Christ. I believe the whole person dies, and remains in an unconscious sleep state until awakened by Christ on resurrection day. Spurgeon believed that human beings have an immortal element which remains conscious and very alive during this state. His references to “man’s immortal nature” were to me a flat denial of God’s exclusive immortality, as taught in scripture. So, as a consequence, my attempts at reading Spurgeon were few and far between.
I have come back to Spurgeon – not because my beliefs have changed. I am still a card-carrying conditionalist, and all my studies in the Bible – even translating large sections of it – have not served to cast any doubt on the doctrines of life only in Christ.
I have come back to Spurgeon because his writings are the works of a committed Christian, and as such, are worth a read.
I have come back to Spurgeon because he had a masterful way of showing the practical nature of spiritual things, and showing how the whole story of the Bible applies to the Christian’s everyday life.
I have come back to Spurgeon because I need encouragement in the Scriptures. I have had my fill of “self-help” Christianity, and it has soured in my stomach. Spurgeon believed that the scriptures themselves can be the Christian’s source of encouragement. Such was the conviction of another great Christian: the apostle Paul:
Romans 15:4 (my translation) Because everything that was written in former times was written to teach us, so that as we endure and stay encouraged by the scriptures we may keep our hope.
Now that I’m reading Spurgeon again, I find my mind is more consistently thinking about spiritual things, and less likely to be distracted by worldly concerns. I find my memory bringing up texts of scripture instead of weird miscellany or doubts and fears. Praying is coming easier. Sinning is harder. It’s like I have found a Christian friend to walk with me and counsel me as I go through hard times.
Thank you, Lord, for my brother Charles.
A Selected Bibliography:
Spurgeon, C. H. Morning and Evening. Marshall Pickering, 1990.
Spurgeon, C. H., and G. Holden Pike. Sermons of Rev. C.H. Spurgeon. New York: Funk and Wagnalls Co, 1892.
Spurgeon, C. H. The Best of C.H. Spurgeon. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Book House, 1990.
Spurgeon, C. H. The Quotable Spurgeon. Wheaton, Il: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1990.
Spurgeon, C. H. The Treasury of David. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 1990.
Spurgeon, C. H. Twelve Sermons on Prayer. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Book House, 1990.
For a fuller list of Spurgeon’s writings, see