Scripture: Charles Spurgeon’s Unshakable Foundation
Throughout his ministry, Charles Spurgeon’s preaching rested squarely on this impregnable rock—that the Bible is exactly what it claims to be, the inspired Word of the living God. As he stepped into the pulpit, he spoke with confidence in the infallible purity and saving power of God’s Word. For Spurgeon, when the Bible speaks, God speaks.
Spurgeon’s strong belief in the doctrines of grace was firmly rooted and grounded in this truth. He did not proclaim the doctrines of sovereign grace simply because the Reformers or Puritans affirmed them. Rather, he believed them because he found them clearly stated in the Bible. Though he considered himself a staunch Calvinist, Spurgeon asserted, “I believe nothing merely because [John] Calvin taught it, but because I have found his teaching in the Word of God.” He further stated: “‘Calvinism’ did not spring from Calvin; we believe that it sprang from the great Founder of all truth. Perhaps Calvin derived it mainly from the writings of Augustine. Augustine obtained his views, without doubt, through the Spirit of God, from the diligent study of the writings of Paul, and Paul received them of the Holy Ghost, from Jesus Christ.” Though he agreed, on the whole, with Calvin and other Reformed theologians, Spurgeon’s beliefs were founded exclusively on what he saw plainly taught in Scripture. He was, as it were, the embodiment of sola Scriptura—Scripture alone.
Voicing his sole allegiance to the Bible, Spurgeon renounced any confidence in the traditions of men or in the authorities of the church per se. He maintained:
The Holy Ghost revealed much of precious truth and holy precept by the apostles, and to His teaching we would give earnest heed; but when men cite the authority of fathers, and councils, and bishops, we give place for subjection, no, not for an hour. They may quote Irenaeus or Cyprian, Augustine or Chrysostom; they may remind us of the dogmas of Luther or Calvin; they may find authority in Simeon, Wesley, or Gill—we will listen to the opinions of these great men with the respect which they deserve as men, but having done so, we deny that we have anything to do with these men as authorities in the church of God, for there nothing has any authority, but “Thus saith the Lord of hosts.” Yea, if you shall bring us the concurrent consent of all tradition—if you shall quote precedents venerable with fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen centuries of antiquity, we burn the whole as so much worthless lumber, unless you put your finger upon the passage of Holy Writ which warrants the matter to be of God.
This fundamental commitment to the Bible was the cornerstone on which Spurgeon built his ministry. Those who stand in pulpits, he contended, must believe that the Bible is not the word of the men who recorded it. Rather, they must affirm that it is the written Word of the living God. Iain Murray explains: “They have a message to announce, that is not their own and they are sure of it. To entertain doubt over whether Scripture is all given by inspiration of God is instantly to lose the true authority that is required of a preacher and evangelist.” Murray then emphatically adds, “No man will preach the gospel aright who does not wholly believe it.” In just this manner, Spurgeon was convinced that the Bible is divine revelation, the very Word of God.
This excerpt is adapted from Steven Lawson’s The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon.