Charles Spurgeon’s Call to Preach Christ in a Christly Manner.

“Ministers of the gospel, let Christ be your subject, and let Christ be your model: find in him not only the truth you utter, but the way and life of your utterance.”

Christ was zealous for his Father’s business. Zeal for God’s house consumed him so thoroughly that he was in great distress until his mission (that is, his excruciating death) could be accomplished (Luke 12:50; John 2:17). As such, argued Spurgeon, Christ always preached solemnly. “There was weight about every word that he said, meaning in every gesture, force in every tone. He was never a trifler.”

 

All of Charles Spurgeon’s advice to the preacher who aims, as he did, to woo for Christ was summed up in an address he gave at the Pastors’ College in 1881, titled “Preach Christ in a Christly Manner.” His students were all expecting him to urge them to preach Christ, and he did not disappoint: “Ministers of the gospel, let Christ be your subject, and let Christ be your model: find in him not only the truth you utter, but the way and life of your utterance.”[1] And yet, he added, “As for Christ’s being our subject, I have spoken upon that theme so many times that there is the less need on this occasion to dwell upon it at any length.”[2] His focus in this address would be on Christ as the model for the preacher.

Christ was zealous for his Father’s business. Zeal for God’s house consumed him so thoroughly that he was in great distress until his mission (that is, his excruciating death) could be accomplished (Luke 12:50; John 2:17). As such, argued Spurgeon, Christ always preached solemnly. “There was weight about every word that he said, meaning in every gesture, force in every tone. He was never a trifler.”[3] Christ, in other words, took in all seriousness the eternal gravity of his task in all his dealing with people. Yet Spurgeon knew how easily that “seriousness” could be misinterpreted by men who are not full of the joy of the Lord. And so he added:

Although our Lord always spoke solemnly, yet never drearily, there is a pleasant interest about his words, for he preached glad tidings joyfully. It was evidently his meat and his drink to do the will of him that sent him. He delighted in his ministry, and in it he found refreshment. I cannot imagine our Saviour during those three years wearing the aspect of one who was tired of his work, or as speaking merely because he was expected to do so, in a dull, monotonous, lifeless manner. His heart was in his sermons, and parables, and gracious talks; he loved to be God’s ambassador, and would not have exchanged his office to rule empires.[4]

Christ also preached meekly. He was not pompous or overbearing, but spoke to sinners as a kind friend to friends. Thus, “scolding in the pulpit, bitterness in conversation, asperity of manner, and domineering over others are not for us, for they are not Christly things.”[5] Of course, that too could be misinterpreted, and so Spurgeon added that while Christ preached meekly, he also did so courageously. His gentle and loving “meekness” cannot be confused with tame harmlessness. He would rebuke sin roundly and not shy from speaking of hell re. But Spurgeon’s point was that in all Christ’s fearless proclamation of the truth, bold never meant “brutal,” and courageous never meant “callous.”

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