May 31, 2023

Let’s Talk about the Trials in Spurgeon’s Life with Steven Lawson

Stephen Nichols & Steven Lawson
Let’s Talk about the Trials in Spurgeon’s Life with Steven Lawson

Throughout his ministry, Charles Spurgeon faced opposition from every side. Today, Dr. Steven Lawson joins Dr. Stephen Nichols to discuss how the Lord used the trials that Spurgeon faced to further the message of the gospel.


Dr. Stephen Nichols: Well, welcome back to episode part two of our conversation with Dr. Steve Lawson on Charles Haddon Spurgeon. And we’re here at Ligonier’s National Conference. And so you might hear some background noise as folks are milling around us, but we’re here to talk about Spurgeon. You introduced the idea that God did bring some trials and there was some suffering in the life of Spurgeon and how God used that. Do you mind just taking us into that a little bit further?

Dr. Steven Lawson: Well, Spurgeon was a big target. He stood very tall, and he preached in the largest Protestant house of worship in the world. And so, he had many, many supporters, but he also had many detractors. And so, there were those who sought to bring him down from other theological persuasions. In fact, he even took on the Church of England. He took on the Anglican Church of England. And the most distributed sermon he ever preached was a powerful sermon out of Mark 16 against baptismal regeneration. And that was the title of the sermon “Baptismal Regeneration.” And those around him urged him not to go after the national church-state, but Spurgeon could not be held back.

And so, he decried that there would be any regenerating power in the font or in a baptistry, and preached really salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. And it created an enormous controversy there in England. He was shot at from the Catholics as he was very clearly Protestant and came from French Huguenot stock. His heroes were Bunyan and men like that who had suffered for the gospel. He was persecuted by hyper-Calvinists who really were merciless against him. He was opposed by Arminians. And so, it’s just coming at him from every side to say nothing of the world and even the secular press in London that sought to put him down.

Dr. Stephen Nichols: So, while this is happening though, he’s expanding the church and there’s more and more people coming and there’s more and more people reading his sermons.

Dr. Steven Lawson: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Dr. Stephen Nichols: So, this is just a persuasion of the truth that Spurgeon was just equipped and used by God to proclaim.

Dr. Steven Lawson: God uses controversy to spread the word. It puts it into the public eye and what they meant for evil, God meant for good. And so, in the providence of God, God used that to expand the breadth of his ministry.

Dr. Stephen Nichols: Do you think it’s Spurgeon’s Calvinism and his understanding of the sovereignty of God and belief in providence that gave him an anchor through those trials and through all those accusations that were coming out?

Dr. Steven Lawson: No question about it. And he could be subject to great discouragement, and he could become depressed. And he basically died of a broken heart as a result of being censored by the Baptist Union. He died in France as he had to withdraw just to lick his wounds. But yes, the sovereignty of God was an anchor for his soul, so much so that Spurgeon said that the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which I rest my head at night. And that was his solace, that was his comfort to know that God was in control of even the trials and tribulations with which he was being afflicted.

Dr. Stephen Nichols: I’ve heard it said that Spurgeon wrote more words in the English language than any other person.

Dr. Steven Lawson: Yes.

Dr. Stephen Nichols: Is that true?

Dr. Steven Lawson: That is true. That is true. And I have his 63-volume set of his sermons, and those are only 50 per year that were printed. Well, he preached hundreds and hundreds each year, more hundreds. And that’s just really the tip of the iceberg. That’s like a greatest hits album. They had to come up with the top 50 for that year, but he’s preaching throughout the week. He’s preaching in multiple places, multiple times. And so all of that along with the Treasury of David for example, and-

Dr. Stephen Nichols: Lectures to My Students.

Dr. Steven Lawson: The Lectures to My Students, and the many other books that he wrote. He is the most prolific author in the English language.

Dr. Stephen Nichols: Well, thank you so much, Dr. Lawson. I’m sure we can spend even more episodes on Charles Haddon Spurgeon, but thank you for that look at least at the tip of the iceberg of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Well, you’ve been listening to Dr. Steve Lawson. And I’m Steve Nichols, and thanks for joining us for 5 Minutes in Church History.