Archives For Spurgeon

Below is a research paper I did recently on the Life & Ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Out of all the time I have spent at seminary, I think this has been my favorite research paper to write. Through this experience, I learned how much more I like Spurgeon and how much I respect his work (or the work the Lord did through him).

I hope that this paper can be educational for you personal study and inspiring for you ministry. Enjoy! 😀 

The Preaching and Methods of Charles Haddon Spurgeon

 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a 19th century Baptist preacher and professor, never attended any formal ministry training and was never ordained as a preacher, yet he became on of the greatest preachers that ever lived. Over the course of the life of Spurgeon, he published several thousand sermons, authored many theological books, preached to crowds of up to twenty four thousand, established a seminary, and received the title “Prince of Preachers”.  Although Spurgeon lived in a different time period with different cultural problems than are faced today, there is no dispute that there was something very special about the ministry of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. This paper will seek to examine the ministry of C.H. Spurgeon as a preacher and pastor by taking a closer look at the methods of the man behind the ministry and title.[1]

This will be done through a brief examination of the dedicated life and study of Spurgeon, the preparation and method of Spurgeon’s preaching, and the theology of Spurgeon.

spurgeon_chair1

Spurgeon Portrait

 

The Dedicated Life and Study of Spurgeon

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born in Kelvendon, Essex, England on June 19, 1834 into a family with a long line of congregational preachers. As one would expect, growing up in a family of congregational preachers, Spurgeon’s boyhood years were filled with prayers and devotional time with the Lord. However, Spurgeon did not come to conversion quickly. Spurgeon wrestled with the concept of the presence of God until the age of fifteen. Then on a snowy night in a small Primitive Methodist chapel during an evening service, the veil was lifted from Spurgeon’s eyes and he came to know Christ. Spurgeon recounts this incident with fond words of recollection saying,

“Then and there the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him.”[2]

The time before Spurgeon’s conversion was of no loss to the great Prince of Preachers. In his early years with his father and grandfather, Spurgeon was being forged into the avid reader and dedicated researcher that his future ministry would require. It was during this time that Spurgeon was introduced to several theological works from his predecessor’s libraries. One such work was John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress, which became a lifelong companion for Spurgeon’s devotional reading and sermon illustrations. This time also built Spurgeon into the veracious consumer of books that he was. It is said that Surgeon’s library consisted of over twelve thousand books, including both religious and non-religious titles. [3]

It was also during this time that Spurgeon’s study habits were formed, which allowed him to read and memorize theories, illustrations, concepts, and principles that would aid his preaching in his future. Although Spurgeon was never afforded the privilege of attending a seminary or receiving a formal theological education, his pursuit of understanding the Scripture and the world around him is clearly profound. There exists no dispute that Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s dedicated study habits were imperative for his ministry. As a result of his wide range of study and constant consumption of information, Spurgeon was able to keep his illustrations and applications fresh throughout the tenure of his preaching career. Even though constant study was hard for Spurgeon, as it is for most, Spurgeon understood and saw the value of his study. At times, he would even show his disdain for it by commenting on his feelings for his study. On one such occasion Spurgeon said, “I scarcely ever prepare for my pulpit with pleasure. Study for the pulpit is to me the most irksome work in the world.”[4]  Although Spurgeon did not always care for his studies; he consistently pushed through to do what needed to be done because He understood the value and importance of the preacher’s study.[5]

“An idler has no right in the pulpit. He is an instrument of Satan in damning the souls of men. The ministry demands brain labor. The preacher must read and study to keep his mind in good trim. Above all, he must put heart work into his preaching. He must feel what he preaches. It must never be with him an easy thing to deliver a sermon. He must feel as if he could preach his very life away before the sermon is done.”[6]

Spurgeon’s study habits should be understood and adopted by all who take the pulpit today. It is vital for missionaries, pastors, evangelists, and preachers to dedicate themselves to the study of God’s Word, as well as the literature of the world around them for the sake of those who do not know Christ and those who are still being discipled in the faith. For those who do not know the Lord, a minister of the Gospel must be culturally relevant in order to communicate effectively the message of the gospel to those who are perishing. How sad would it be for a preacher to have spent all his life in books concerning the “deeper” theological issues, and then to go out and share the good Word only to have his audience shrug him off due to his lofty speech? The study a pastor is equally important for those who are in the process of discipleship in the church as well. It is far too common for a pastor to get comfortable in his pastorate and become lethargic in his study to the point that his illustrations are used so frequently that his congregation knows which one he will use before he uses them. This idle practice often gives the congregation a since of arrogance in their knowledge of the Word and the assumption that they have arrived in their understanding of the biblical message. Because this is not the case, a pastor must keep his study fresh in order to remain applicable to his audience and keep them captivated with new understanding and material. This is evident not only in the witness of Spurgeon, but also in the Scripture itself, as the Apostle Paul studies and relates to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 9:19-24.

 

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Spurgeon Preaching at Surrey Gardens

The Preparation and Method of Spurgeon’s Preaching

Spurgeon’s dedicated preparation and study also led to the formation of his extemporaneous preaching methods. Since Spurgeon possessed a well-trained memory as well as a wide range of study, he never wrote his sermons down beforehand. Spurgeon had other theological reasons for this as well. Spurgeon had a very strong conviction for the Holy Spirit to lead his message from the start. Spurgeon’s reliance on the Holy Spirit in his preaching is made evident through quotes such as: “It were better to speak six words in the power of the Holy Ghost than to preach seventy years of sermons without the Spirit.”[7]  Also, “You might as well expect to raise the dead by whispering in their ears, as hope to save souls by preaching to them, if it were not for the agency of the Holy Spirit.”[8]  Spurgeon clearly emphasized the reliance on the Holy Spirit over the flesh in the preparation and delivery of sermons.

Spurgeon intentionally tried to accomplish reliance on the Spirit in his preaching in several ways. First, was Spurgeon’s selection of the text. Spurgeon was not a book-by-book or verse-by-verse style of preacher. Instead, the famed preacher read a wide variety of Scriptures and waited on the Holy Spirit to make the Scripture that should be preached evident. As a result of this reliance on the Holy Spirit’s revelation of text, this often times led to very last minute text preparation. In most cases, Spurgeon did not settle on a sermon text until the Saturday before a Sunday service or in the afternoon just prior to an evening service. Therefore, Spurgeon clearly was versed in nearly all subjects beforehand so that he could preach wherever the Spirit would lead him. Once the text was selected and confirmed, Spurgeon briefly wrote a few notes on a sheet of paper and then went out to proclaim the Word.

The second evidence is found in Spurgeon’s strong desire to see souls come to know the Lord. Since Spurgeon believed that he could not draw men to the cross and that only the Holy Spirit could, he scarcely relied on the notes that he wrote down for his sermon. Instead he allowed the Spirit to lead the way as he preached. Corresponding to Spurgeon’s understanding of the Spirit leading the service was his high view of Scripture in the sermon. Spurgeon distinctly believed that the proclamation of the Word of God was the first priority in the service and that the only way for the sermon to be better would be to add more Scripture.

“We should resolve that we will quote more of Holy Scripture. Sermons should be full of Bible; sweetened, strengthened, sanctified with Bible essence. Bible hearers, when they hear indeed, come to be Bible lovers.”[9]

Spurgeon was not afraid to cover the obscure or hard topics of Scripture either. Whether Spurgeon was preaching against the sins of the day or his theological critics he understood the Scripture to be the pillar of his sermons. His resolve to preach the Bible and all the truth in it even lead him to preach obscure passages such as Job 6:6[10] in response to some of his critics of the day. Spurgeon said this in regard to preaching the full counsel of God.

“You cannot leave out that part of the truth which is so dark and so solemn without weakening the force of all the other truths you preach. You rob of their brightness, and their urgent importance, the truths which concern salvation from the wrath to come. Brethren, leave out nothing. Be bold enough to preach unpalatable and unpopular truth.”[11]

Although Spurgeon desired to preach the full counsel of Scripture, he understood that the Word of God is what called men to salvation. Therefore, one of the major aspects of his preaching was expressed in his desire for men to come to know God. This desire then revealed itself in the intentions of Spurgeon to preach in a simple manner for his audience. When Spurgeon would preach, he would recite the Scripture, explain the Scripture and apply the Scripture with his own thoughts and illustrations in a clear way that all could understand. Because Spurgeon himself was saved through simple preaching by a lay minister, he often refers to the way that he was saved in reference to this principle.

“If I was saved by a simple gospel, then I am bound to preach that same simple gospel till I die, so that others may be saved by it. When I cease to preach salvation by faith in Jesus, put me into a lunatic asylum, for you may be sure that my mind is gone.”[12]   

Spurgeon understood that his audience could not respond if they did not understand the message of the gospel. Therefore, he was intentional about making sure that the message was made as clear as possible so that no one could leave one of his services wondering how to come to Christ.

There are many applications that can be brought from Spurgeon’s example and heart in preaching. The first and foremost is the preacher’s reliance on the Holy Spirit in the pulpit. Whether a preacher works from his manuscript notes, an outline or by memory while preaching, it is imperative for him to rely fully on the Holy Spirit to both lead in the message and in the calling of souls.

With reliance on the Holy Spirit, the preacher must also have strong confidence in the Word of the Lord. The preacher must understand that his words and ideas are not nearly as important as the message from God, and therefore must take a back seat to the Scripture. This includes preaching from the hard to understand and difficult verses in the text. Pastors must be committed to preaching the full counsel of God’s Word.

If the pastor is going to be faithful in proclaiming the Word of the Lord, he must be diligent in calling people to salvation. The faithful preacher must imitate our Lord Jesus Christ in concern for those who are lost like sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:35; Luke 19:10). With this being the case, the preacher must be intentional in communicating God’s Word effectively to His people. The preacher must be diligent to pronounce the Scripture and its application in a way that captures the attention and engages his audience to act according to God’s Word.

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Spurgeon Preaching at Exeter Hall

The Theology of Spurgeon

Theologically, Spurgeon was a bit of an anomaly in the realm of preachers for his time. Because Spurgeon held the free will of man and the Calvinist concept of God’s election in a balance when he preached, he drew a picture of the relationship of God’s sovereign grace working in relationship with man’s free will for his audiences. His understanding was that God elected humanity to salvation through the response of man from an effectual calling to salvation. Therefore, election and freewill did not conflict but worked together.[13] We can see this in the way that Spurgeon describes the elect,

“I am quite certain that God has an elect people, for he tells me so in his word. And I am equally certain that everyone who comes to Christ will be saved, for that also is his own declaration in the Scriptures. When people ask me how I reconcile them, I usually say there is no need to reconcile them, for they have never yet quarreled with one another.”[14]

Spurgeon believed that a loving God would not predestine anyone to go to hell, and so his approach to ministry was to give free gospel presentations to all who would hear the saving message of Christ, and then trust the Lord to elect those who would receive Him. Through this, Spurgeon was rejecting the idea that man was a fallen creature that could do no good, as total depravity would declare. Instead, Spurgeon’s understanding was that man through his sin has diminished the image of God, rendering himself unable to respond to the gospel without the saving work of God. Spurgeon explains his thoughts on this while describing the rejection of the Gospel by depraved man.

“Nothing that I know of so clearly proves that man’s heart is absolutely estranged from all that is good as that man rejects the gospel of grace, refuses divine mercy, and tramples underfoot the very blood of the Son of God.”[15]

In this theology Spurgeon held to the Calvinistic understanding of limited atonement with a minor tweak. Spurgeon understood the notion that the atonement of Christ would only be effectual for the elect, but that elect were those who called upon the name of the Lord.[16] Spurgeon affirmed this practice through his explanation,

“Our savior has bidden us to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). He has not said, “preach it only to the elect,” and though that might seem to be the most logical thing for us to do, yet since he has not been pleased to stamp the elect in their foreheads or put any distinctive mark on them, it would be an impossible task for us to perform. When we preach the gospel to every creature, the gospel makes its own division, and Christ’s sheep hear his voice, and follow him.”[17]

This balance of election and free will is then continued in Spurgeon’s view of the perseverance of the saints. For Spurgeon, the perseverance of the saints was securely linked with the confirmation of God’s elect. Spurgeon often stated this fact in his sermons,

“We never preach the saving power of temporary, unpractical, unsanctifying faith. If a man says, “I believe in Christ, and therefore I shall be saved,” his faith will have to be tested by his life. If, sometime after, he has no faith in Christ, that faith which he claimed to have is proved to be good for nothing. The faith of God’s elect is an abiding faith. “Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three” (1Corinthians 13:13). Thus true faith is classed among the abiding things; it is undying, unquenchable. If you truly believe in Jesus, it is for life.”[18]

Consequently for Spurgeon, the evidence of salvation is the continuity of faith in the life of the believer and the consistent rejection of sin. In Spurgeon’s theology, the perseverance of the saints is key to understanding the grace of God and the security of a believer.

“I have often said that if any man could convince me that Scripture did not teach the perseverance of believers, I would at once reject Scripture all together as teaching nothing at all, as being an incomprehensible book, of which plain man could make head nor tail, for this seems to be of all doctrines the one that lies most evidentially upon the surface.”[19]

Through C.H. Spurgeon’s unique understanding of the grace of God and the free will of man, he was able to preach the full counsel of God’s Word and also appeal to both the Calvinist and the Arminian believers in his congregation. His theology also aided him in his evangelistic efforts. As Spurgeon believed in the full sovereignty of God, he had full confidence in God’s plan and provision for him. Because Spurgeon affirmed man’s response was a sign of his election, he was able to offer the gospel freely to all who would listen without fear of the non-elect.[20]

Spurgeon’s unique perspective can also be noted as a theological position that focuses on the important value in theology. Spurgeon’s position claims both sides of what could be a divisive argument. His position avoids the conflict and gets down to what theology should be about, glorifying God. Because Spurgeon believed in election through the response of the saints, he viewed himself as the simple tool the Lord used to do His salvation work. Therefore, the Lord received all the glory in the salvation of the saints.

spurgeon-preaching

Spurgeon Preaching

 

Conclusion

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a uniquely gifted preacher who had an immeasurable impact on the world of Christianity. Even though he did not have a formal education or ordination, his commitment to his studies and to God more than made up for his lack of formal credentials. His commitment is clearly seen in his dedicated life and study methods, his preparation and preaching methods, as well as his theological beliefs.

Even though Spurgeon lived in a time period past with a culture dealing with different trials and temptations, the truth of Spurgeon’s commitment to God and His mission still hold true and have great value in today’s society. There is much to be gained for those who model Spurgeon’s values in ministry and the churches of today would benefit greatly from the godly men who would take up such a calling.

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Spurgeon’s Grave & Memorial

 

Bibliography

 

Lawson, Steven J. The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon The Long Line of Godly Men Profiles. Orlando, Fla.: Reformation Trust Pub., 2012.

 

Pike, G. Holden. The Life and Work of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. 6 vols. London: Cassell & Company, Ltd., 1892.

 

Spurgeon, C. H. Final Perseverance : A Sermon Delivered on Sunday Morning, April 20, 1856 Penny Pulpit No. 2587. London J. Paul, 1856.

 

________. Lectures to My Students [Selections]. Grand Rapids,: Zondervan, 1962.

 

________. The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit; Sermons Preached and Revised. [London]: Banner of Truth Trust, 1969.

 

Spurgeon, C. H., and Tom Carter. 2,200 Quotations : From the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon : Arranged Topically or Textually and Indexed by Subject, Scripture, and People. Trade pbk. ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1995.

 

Spurgeon, C. H., and NetLibrary Inc. A Defense of Calvinism. Pensacola, Fla.

Boulder, Colo.: Mount Zion ;

NetLibrary. http://www.netLibrary.com/urlapi.asp?action=summary&v=1&bookid=2009075.

 

Spurgeon, C. H., Susannah Spurgeon, and Joseph Harrald. C.H. Spurgeon: The Early Years, 1834-1859. London,: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1967.

 

 



[1] G. Holden Pike, The Life and Work of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 6 vols. (London: Cassell & Company, Ltd., 1892).

Steven J. Lawson, The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon, The Long Line of Godly Men Profiles (Orlando, Fla.: Reformation Trust Pub., 2012).

[2] C. H. Spurgeon, Susannah Spurgeon, and Joseph Harrald, C.H. Spurgeon: The Early Years, 1834-1859 (London,: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1967). P87-88

[3] Pike.

[4] C. H. Spurgeon and Tom Carter, 2,200 Quotations : From the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon : Arranged Topically or Textually and Indexed by Subject, Scripture, and People, Trade pbk. ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1995). P.162

[5] C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students [Selections] (Grand Rapids,: Zondervan, 1962).

[6] C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit; Sermons Preached and Revised ([London]: Banner of Truth Trust, 1969). Vol. 18 P. 485

[7] Spurgeon and Carter, 2,200 Quotations : From the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon : Arranged Topically or Textually and Indexed by Subject, Scripture, and People. P.102

[8] Ibid. P.157

[9] C. H. Spurgeon, Final Perseverance : A Sermon Delivered on Sunday Morning, April 20, 1856, Penny Pulpit No. 2587 (London J. Paul, 1856.).

[10] “Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt, or is there any taste in the juice of the mallow?” Job 6:6 ESV

[11] Spurgeon and Carter, 2,200 Quotations : From the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon : Arranged Topically or Textually and Indexed by Subject, Scripture, and People. P.123

[12] Ibid. P.162

[13] C. H. Spurgeon and NetLibrary Inc., “A Defense of Calvinism,” (Pensacola, Fla.

Boulder, Colo.: Mount Zion ;

NetLibrary). http://www.netLibrary.com/urlapi.asp?action=summary&v=1&bookid=2009075.

[14] Spurgeon and Carter, 2,200 Quotations : From the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon : Arranged Topically or Textually and Indexed by Subject, Scripture, and People. P.64

[15] Ibid. P.55

[16] Spurgeon and NetLibrary Inc., “A Defense of Calvinism.”

[17] Spurgeon and Carter, 2,200 Quotations : From the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon : Arranged Topically or Textually and Indexed by Subject, Scripture, and People. P.63

[18] Ibid. P.139

[19] Ibid. P.139

[20] Spurgeon and NetLibrary Inc., “A Defense of Calvinism.”

People warned Spurgeon that he would break down physically and emotionally under the stress of such expansive preaching. Spurgeon replied: “If I have done so, I am glad of it. I would do the same again. If I had fifty constitutions I would rejoice to break them down in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.” He added: “We find ourselves able to preach ten or twelve times a week, and we find we are the stronger for it…. ‘Oh,’ said one of the members, ‘our minister will kill himself.’ … That is the kind of work that will kill no man. It is preaching to sleepy congregations that kills good ministers.” Spurgeon found strength in preaching.

-Steven Lawson, The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon

The Work of a Preacher according to @CharlesSpurgeon

Refusing to resort to worldly entertainment in order to attract a crowd or to employ gospel gimmicks to induce a spurious response, Spurgeon relied on God’s Word for the success of his ministry. He affirmed: “I would rather speak five words out of this book than 50,000 words of the philosophers. If we want revivals, we must revive our reverence for the Word of God. If we want conversions, we must put more of God’s Word into our sermons.” His gospel preaching was grounded in his commitment to biblical truth.

-Steven Lawson, The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon

The Role of the Word in Church According to @CharlesSpurgeon

With certainty, Spurgeon concluded that each word of the Bible is from God Himself: “The words are God’s words, the words of the Eternal, the Invisible, the Almighty, the Jehovah of this earth. This Bible is God’s Bible, and when I see it, I seem to hear a voice springing up from it, saying, ‘I am the Book of God; man, read me. I am God’s writing; open my leaf, for I was penned by God; read it, for He is my Author.’”

-Steven Lawson, The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon

God is the author of Scripture @CharlesSpurgeon

In my devotional this morning I was inspired by the content that Oswald Chambers put forth. He addresses an issue that is not discussed as much as it should be in the Christian world today. Chambers addressed the topic of how to get more connected with God. I paraphrased a few of my thoughts while reading it below. (you can read the entire devotional for yourself at www.utmost.org)

My vision of God is dependent on the condition of my character. If my character is flawed, so will my vision be. My character determines whether God’s truth can be revealed to me. 

Before you can claim to see the Lord, there must be something that is conformed to the likeness of God in you. This requires you to put God first in all circumstances before we can be in continual communion with Him.

As I was reading and thinking through this I couldn’t help but thinking of my life and those around me seeking a deeper relationship with God without knowing really how to get there. It would seem that in the midst of all the easy-going self-help / motivational sermons and bible studies that we have lost our understanding of what it takes to have a correct relationship with God.

[Side Note:  I say this because I listen to a lot of podcasts from across the nation and I read a lot of books and recently it seems that we shy away from the root problem of sin and the value of living a holy life. To be honest, it is troubling to me that the only place I seem to find any illusion to a commitment to holiness is found in the Scripture and in the writings of older theologians such as Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitfield, Moody, etc. or ones that are not as old such as Oswald Chambers or Bill Graham.]

Let us not be fooled friends, the Lord gave you grace for salvation to cover your sins and deliver you from the perils of torment. But He now expects you as Lord to follow Him and be holy unto Him.

“[13] Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. [14] As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, [15] but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, [16] since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16 ESV)

I am not saying that you will or are immediately perfect or sinless. Because we all still fall short of God and even Paul dealt with the struggles of sin in the flesh. (Romans 7) But even Paul while struggling in his sin knew that he could not keep sinning and be in right relationship with God.

“[6:1] What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? [2] By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? [3] Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? [4] We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

[5] For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. [6] We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. [7] For one who has died has been set free from sin. [8] Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. [9] We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. [10] For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. [11] So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
[12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. [13] Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. [14] For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:1-14 ESV)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must realize that the Lord desires for you to be in correct relationship with him and that in order for this to happen we must stop sinning and replace that sin with His presence in our lives. It is the only way we can become closer to him.

Lord, correct my character so I can see you faithfully and you can reveal your truth to me. Lord remove my sin from me so that I can walk more faithfully to you.

Quotes on Living Holy Lives

Spurgeon – “Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord”(read more here)

D.L. Moody – “Lord make me as holy as a sinner saved by grace can be”

Billy Graham – “holiness is God’s priority for our earthly lives. A disciple of Christ should always be careful not to place a higher value on being “happy” than on being holy. Yes, it gives our heavenly Father pleasure for us to have happiness, but not at the cost of our personal holiness.” (read more here)

John Brown – “Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervors, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills.”

AW Tozer – “The holy man is not one who cannot sin. A holy man is one who will not sin.

The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy.

The whole purpose of God in redemption is to make us holy and to restore us to the image of God. To accomplish this He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon.

The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy.

No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts in seeking to know and do the will of God, leaving to Christ the matter of how happy he shall be.”

What have you dedicated more time to this week? Your happiness or your holiness?

Do you have any scriptures or quotes that inspire you to be more holy in your walk with Christ? Post them as a comment for all to see.

Zoe in the Dog Days of Summer

As I was reading this past week, I was thinking on the periods in life when we go through periods of extreme productivity and then we slow down to crawl. Being a student and working, I always have a ton of stuff on my to do list and some days I feel as if I conquered the world by all the things I accomplished and then the next day I wind up feeling like the world conquered me. As I am sure you know, this is extremely frustrating. Just as you think you are getting ahead, your momentum just stops.

The great theologian Charles Spurgeon even comments on this problem with humanity when he says

“My days of sloth have ruinously destroyed all that I had achieved in times of zealous industry; my seasons of coldness have frozen all the genial glow of my periods of fervency and enthusiasm; and my fits of worldliness have thrown me back from my advances in the divine life.” (Morning & Evening, July 3rd)

When I was thinking about this and getting frustrated with myself, I honestly wasn’t thinking of my spiritual life. But once I read the words of Spurgeon, I immediately thought through all that I do that sets me back in my relationship with God and all the times that I have been spiritually zealous for the Lord.

It was a good reminder to think about how we must be fervent in seeking God through prayer and study and how we should be ready and on watch for the idle times in our spiritual lives to push through them. I can only imagine the spiritual growth God would grant if we would stay consistent in seeking him proactively and consistently.

Lord, let us not be apathetic in our passion for you. But ignite our hearts to be zealous for you and your ways. Do not let us get to the point where we get so distant from you that we no longer hear you. But give us the ears to hear and the eyes to see what you would have for us.