Review of CH Spurgeon’s The Soul Winner
‘Even if I were utterly selfish, and had no care for anything but my own happiness, I would choose, if I might, under God, to be a soul-winner, for never did I know perfect, overflowing, unutterable happiness of the purest and most ennobling order, till I first heard of one who had sought and found a Saviour through my means. I recollect the thrill of joy which went through me!’
In The Soul Winner Spurgeon is as quotable as ever. The book is a series of edited lectures to students and pastors about a passion that was absolutely central to Spurgeon’s view of the Christian Life and to the secret of his success: communicating Christ to others.
While not being overtly autobiographical the work is full of insights into Spurgeon’s own priorities in life and ministry. And, as I say, it’s a pretty obvious clue as to why he was able to build the world’s largest evangelical church of the 19th century.
Before he was converted Spurgeon himself went from church to church in order to hear the gospel message. He was open, he was hungry for God and knew that he was not right with God.
He visited several evangelical churches in his search for the Christian message. The churches he visited were all Bible-believing, faithful, worshipping communities. But, sadly, while they celebrated their own security in Christ, and while they were focussing well on the needs of the believers, in Spurgeon’s own description of his search, there was nothing for him – no actual direct gospel message that was intended to connect with someone searching for Christ.
Perhaps, as in our day, the majority of evangelical churches were rightly concerned with edifying believers, preparing them to cope with the pressures of life – but, wrongly, ignoring the non-believers in their communities. That was for special evangelistic events, not for the public meetings of the church!
Finally, one morning, hindered by the snow, Spurgeon found his way to a ‘Primitive Methodist’ meeting. The pastor didn’t arrive, so, unprepared, a deacon stood up and preached the gospel! He preached directly to the non-believer, ‘Look unto Me and be saved, all the earth!’ The deacon said you couldn’t work for this, you must just look! Everyone can look, a child can look, the most educated, the least educated – all can look to Christ and be saved!’
Then he turned directly to Spurgeon and said, ‘Have you looked to Jesus, young man?’ Spurgeon was struck to the heart and gave his life to Christ.
From then on, as we know, he determined to build a church that was evangelistically relevant – every Sunday as well as in its other ministries! He deliberately spoke to the outsider, the guest, the non-Christian in his messages. And what became the Metropolitan Tabernacle grew to 5000 and he was instrumental in training and sending 200 church planting leader across the world, including to Cape Town (in Waal Street – the building has since been demolished).
As I say, this book is not a biography of Spurgeon, but it contains his passion, his energy, his exhortation to his generation of believers to reach out and share the good news with others – from the horses’ mouth!
Won’t you get this book and be impacted by one of the truly great church leaders of a former generation? Your neighbour may well thank you for it!
© 2009 Church History Blog / Lex Loizides