"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Is There Enough Gospel In Modern Sermons to Save?

Last night I watched a little Christian television. I don't normally spend much time listening to the preachers on Daystar, TBN, or other television networks, but I watched enough last night to cause Rachelle to implore me to turn it off. After listening to a couple of the messages, I couldn't help but wonder if a lost person in bondage to sin could have listened to those same messages and heard enough gospel to have their lives transformed by the Spirit of God. I realize that the Spirit produces regeneration, but the Bible indicates the means by which He transforms lives is the "foolishness of the message" of the cross (I Corinthians 1:21). My thoughts last night drifted toward the preaching of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Mr. Spurgeon preached in London, England during the mid-1800's at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Every week, the previous Sunday's message was edited, published and sold world-wide for a penny. These "Penny Pulpit Sermons" were bestsellers, and many circuit-riding preachers in the American western frontier read them to their congregations in place of delivering a message of their own. Spurgeon was famous before there was Internet, television or even radio. He used print media to spread the gospel until his death. On Sunday, February 7, 1892, Southern Baptist theologian B.H. Carroll, the pastor of First Baptist Church, Waco, Texas (1871-1899) and later the first president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas (1908-1914), delivered an address in Nashville, Tennessee commemorating Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The "Prince of Preachers" had died in Mentone, France the week before on Sunday, January 31, 1892. The following words of B.H. Carroll, commemorating Spurgeon's preaching, came from Carroll's hour-long address:
"Mr. Spurgeon was pre-eminently a preacher. He preached more sermons, perhaps, than any other man. More people have heard him than have heard any other man. More people have read and do read his sermons than the sermons of any other man. More of them have been translated into foreign tongues than any other sermons. More people have been converted by reading them, in more countries, than by, perhaps, all other published sermons. Livingstone had one of them in his hat when he died, having carried it through Africa. A widow was found half frozen on an Alpine mountain peak, reading one of them through her tears. A bush-ranger in Australia was converted by reading one, blood-stained, which he had taken from the body of a man he had murdered."
I consider the above paragraph one of the greatest testimonies to the power and effectiveness of Spurgeon's messages. He, unlike many today, knew what it meant to saturate his sermons with the power of the gospel.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have read Spurgeon's sermons before and felt the Spirit in them. They are like the bones of Elisha (2Kings 13:21).

To me, today's gospel seems to appeal to the mind, intellect and senses. How can the Spirit work when a "person" is the center of attention?

Chris Auten said...

Wade:

Good morning; rather than send an email I just wanted to let you know directly how much your writings and teachings on the power of the gospel through the lens of grace has meant to me. This "foolishness of the message" espoused by Paul and preached by folks such as yourself is a daily cup of cool water to these parched lips.

I am so glad there are people willing to take a stand on the gospel while showing that it is a love story reconciling all of creation to God through his Son and it is through that love that saves us once we are freed up to believe it. These last few years have given me a much better understanding of just how unfair, arrogant, vulgar and sometimes idiotic grace can be and I thank God for it because without that I would be in real trouble.

Steve Brown has a new book entitled, "Three Free Sins: God is Not Mad at You" and is well worth reading. It mirrors much of your writing and more importantly your heart in preaching the word. I would highly recommend this book to everyone, but it will make some people mad. But, as I have learned, sometimes the truth agitates.

Blessings on your week,
Chris

Wade Burleson said...

Chris,

Thanks so much for the comment and kind words.

I am ordering Steve Brown's book, per your recommendation, this morning! Thanks, my friend!

Wade

Anonymous said...

I wish the title of your sermon was required study at all of our seminaries!

The answer to your question is "usually, no!"

We spend our time either majoring on the minors and bashing each other over them, or on making sure we cater to the felt needs of the lost.

I first joined a Baptist church (SBC) because that was where the gospel was preached, with a focus on salvation.

It is my prayer the grand old convention will someday return to that!

Linda

WatchingHISstory said...

All who accept Christ will go to heaven and all who refuse to accept Him will be damned to an eternal hell. Now how simple is that?

Anonymous said...

Wade-
I used to watch quite a bit of the programs you mention,(TBN,Daystar,etc.,) but the longer I studied the Bible on my own...well, you know, things I saw and heard started to not always line up (prosperity gospel, Word of Faith,etc). Have rediscovered J. Vernon McGee on the radio (we used to listen when I was a kid,) also, I enjoy your sermons very much on Wartburg Watch.

Anonymous said...

the 'gospel' that changes lives is called the 'euangelion'. It brings the good news of healing and blessing.