Look to Christ
The touchstone of Spurgeon’s life and ministry was undoubtedly looking to Christ. He was converted as a teenager when he walked into a chapel as a very poor preacher was preaching on Isaiah 45: “Look unto me and be saved all the ends of the earth.”
The preacher looked to him and said, “Young man you look very miserable, you need to look, look, look to Jesus Christ.” To that Spurgeon said, “I could have looked until I could have looked no longer until my eyes had failed me.”
That looking to Christ was at the very heart of what he set out to do with the rest of his life. During the first sermon that he preached in the Metropolitan Tabernacle, his church in London, he said, “I propose that the subject of this house, for as long as it shall stand, shall be Jesus Christ.”
That looking to Christ was at the very heart of what he set out to do with the rest of his life.
Just over 30 years later, he preached a sermon that my wife has marked up in my copies of Spurgeon’s sermons. He preached a sermon that marvelously demonstrated and proclaimed the beauty and glory of Christ with a call to look to him and to trust in him.
In it, Spurgeon says, “Christ is the most magnanimous of captains, there is none like him in all the world. He always takes in the battle the bleakest side of the hill, he always carries the heavier end of the cross. Oh, that you would enlist under the banner of Jesus Christ unto this day. For in forty years I have served him and I have received nothing from him but love.”
And that Christ-centeredness—that looking to Christ for his own salvation to the very last words in the pulpit—was really what defined Spurgeon’s ministry and why I think Spurgeon is so profoundly useful and relevant for today.
We have a tendency to distract ourselves from Christ towards many good things, doctrines for instance, that might take away from Christ. Jesus becomes just one brick in the wall of our system rather than, as Spurgeon saw him, the sun in the solar system of our theology and thinking. The centrality of Christ was key for Spurgeon.
What is preaching really all about? How should we approach it, as preachers and ordinary Christians?
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Fruitful ministry is less about self and more about Christ.