Spurgeon believed in the power of the Gospel in a “resistant place.” Do you? Do I?
In 1851, a young man of only 17 years old went into the small village of Waterbeach, England. He had every reason to try out new-and-improved methods of bringing the Gospel, as one could say that it was one of the “most resistant” places in England. As a young man he had every reason to try out the new theories of the day that would appeal to a youngster like him, and certainly bring in more results. Here is Charles Spurgeon’s own account of what he experienced:
“Did you ever walk through a village notorious for its drunkenness and profanity? Did you ever see poor wretched beings, that once were men standing, or rather leaning against the posts of the ale-house, or staggering along the street? Have you ever looked into the houses of the people, and beheld them as dens of iniquity, at which your soul stood aghast? Have you ever seen the poverty, degradation, and misery of the inhabitants, and sighed over it? ‘Yes’, you say, ‘we have.’ But was it ever your privilege to walk through that village again, in after years, when the Gospel has been preached there? It has been mine. I once knew just such a village as I have pictured – perhaps in some respects one of the worst in England – where many an illicit still was yielding its noxious liquor…and where in connection with that evil, all manner of riot and iniquity was rife. There went into that village a lad, who had no great scholarship, but who was earnest in seeking the souls of men. He began to preach there and it pleased God to turn the whole place upside down. In a short time the little thatched chapel was crammed, the biggest vagabonds in the village weeping floods of tears, and those who had been the curse of the parish became its blessing. Where there had been robberies and villainies of every kind, all round the neighborhood, there were none because the men who used to do the mischief were themselves in the house of God, rejoicing to hear of Jesus crucified…I do testify, to the praise of God’s grace, that it pleased the Lord to work wonders in our midst. He showed the power of Jesus’ name, and made me a witness of that Gospel which can win souls, draw reluctant hearts, and mould a fresh the life and conduct of sinful men and women.”
Spurgeon ministered there for three years before going to London, where it would seem that God honored him for his trust in the power of the Gospel. He did not look for new and improved techniques, but rather trusted in the:
- power of preaching “Jesus crucified”
- power of the Lord “to work wonders in our midst,”
- “power of Jesus’ name” and
- power of the Gospel to “win souls, draw reluctant hearts, and mould afresh the life and conduct of sinful men and women.”
Spurgeon had learned with the Apostle Paul to say, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16) and “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (I Corinthians 2:2).
A few heart to heart questions:
1. Do your/my methods show that we have an implicit distrust in the power of the Gospel? Do you/I feel like we have to help it out somehow?
2. Are you/am I somewhat ashamed of the Gospel? How does that show up?
3. Has the lure of good techniques about which you/I might like to know everything or even experimentation beyond “Jesus Christ and him crucified” in the ‘resistant place’ where you are/ I am tell us something about what we truly trust in?
4. Is Spurgeon’s story and Paul’s experience something of another time and age, and they do not apply in the “hard place” where you are/ I am?