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Him We Proclaim: Heeding Spurgeon’s Call to Preach Jesus from the Entire Bible

On March 13, 1859, the preeminent preacher of Victorian England, Charles Spurgeon, delivered one of his most memorable sermons, “Christ Precious to Believers,” to a congregation of over 10,000. The congregation, having long since proven too large for Spurgeon’s New Park Street Church now filled London’s largest indoor auditorium, the Music Hall of the Royal Surrey Gardens.

Impressing upon his hearers the centrality of Jesus and the imperative to preach Christ from all of the Bible, Spurgeon paraphrased a recent exchange between a sage, elderly pastor and minister in training. “Don’t you know, young man, that from every town and every village and every hamlet in England, wherever it may be, there is a road to London? So from every text in Scripture there is a road toward the great metropolis, Christ. And my dear brother, your business is, when you get to a text, to say, ‘Now what is the road to Christ?’ I have never found a text that had not got a road to Christ in it, and if ever I find one . . . I will go over hedge and ditch but I would get my Master, for the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a saviour of Christ in it.”[1]

The apostolic mandate to “preach Christ and him crucified” that Spurgeon exemplified with force and animation in Victorian England is all the more urgent for the 21st-century church. Moreover, Spurgeon’s call echoes forward to this day in homiletical classrooms across America. This call is not merely a nudge toward a more polished homiletical delivery; rather it comes with the weighty knowledge that the message of a crucified and risen Christ alone saves. Thus, it is indeed “Him we proclaim.”

Our culture finds itself at the intersection of geopolitical tumult abroad, encroaching secularism at home, and a general sense of the decay of so many markers of Christian civilization that generations past  held constant and sure. This backdrop accentuates the need and the promise of preaching. Not just any preaching will do, however. We must settle for nothing less than preaching that is muscular in biblical content, courageous in delivery, and Christ-centered in focus. Moreover, we must be about the business of producing preachers who are submissive to the authority of Scripture, under compulsion to declare the whole counsel of God, and who exult in proclaiming the riches of Christ every time they fill the pulpit.

Spurgeon’s preaching legacy lives on through the massive 63-volume collection of his pulpit ministry at both New Park Street and the Metropolitan Tabernacle. It has been noted that you can turn to the last page of any of Spurgeon’s preserved 3,563 sermons and you will find him pointing his hearers to Christ. As president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, which owns Spurgeon’s 7,000-volume library and various other memorabilia from his ministry, including his writing desk, I am reminded again and again of his relentless desire to preach Jesus.

Likewise, those who are called to preach must point their congregants to Jesus, and those who train preachers must have a similar gospel emphasis. Exegesis and hermeneutics classes must show students how faithfully to interpret Christ. Systematic theology classes must point students to Jesus, the apex of the whole Bible. Evangelism classes must be designed to train students to spread the gospel of Christ most effectively and energetically. And, of course, homiletics classes must equip young preachers with the tools to preach Christ. This continuity of study bespeaks a collective intentionality to see the name of Christ known among the nations.

Declaring Christ from the entire Bible is more than a theological trend or an interpretive approach; it is a biblical mandate, a Great Commission necessity, and the primary aim of biblical preaching. Spurgeon’s goal must be our own—to preach Jesus in every sermon.

[1] Charles H. Spurgeon, “Christ Precious to Believers,” sermon at Music Hall, Royal Surry Gardens, London, March 13, 1859.

topicsChurch HistoryEvangelicalismPreaching

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