April 25, 2024

Augustus Nicodemus Lopes on Spurgeon’s New Park Street Pulpit

Stephen Nichols & Augustus Nicodemus Lopes
Augustus Nicodemus Lopes on Spurgeon’s New Park Street Pulpit

When Christians come to understand the doctrine of election, they’re often awakened afresh to the wonders of the gospel. Today, Augustus Nicodemus Lopes joins Stephen Nichols to discuss a sermon that changed his mind about Calvinism.


Dr. Stephen Nichols: Welcome back to another season of Open Book. Ordinarily on Open Book, I get to visit with folks in their libraries, and it’s always a treat for me to spend time in these theologians’ natural habitats of their libraries, and we sit with their books.

And my guest for this season is all the way from Brazil, and I would love to be in his library in that beautiful city of Recife in Brazil, but I wasn’t able to get there, and he has come to us. So, we’re here in the studio, and we’re going to spend this season with our good friend down in Brazil, Dr. Augustus Nicodemus Lopes. Dr. Nicodemus, it is great to have you on Open Book.

Dr. Augustus Nicodemus Lopes: Thank you, Dr. Nichols. It’s a great privilege for me to be at the Open Book a season, and I do hope that what we do here will be blessed by God to your many hearers.

Nichols: Well, as we’ve seen on these seasons of Open Book, books are very influential in people’s lives, and you’ve chosen a great stack of books for this season. And the first is actually a sermon in a book. It’s a sermon by none other than Charles Hadden Spurgeon. It’s from his New Park Street Pulpit sermons, and it’s a sermon entitled “Election.” And this sermon also ties into very important moment in your life.

Lopes: That’s true.

Nichols: So, tell us about this sermon and about this book.

Lopes: Yes. I was raised in a Presbyterian church, which was very Calvinistic, in Brazil. But then when I was about sixteen or seventeen years old, I just left church, left the gospel, and left everything related to that. And I lived a very wild life for a few years, until when I was twenty-three, the Lord called me. My mom was the instrument that He used to call me back. She’s my mother twice, I used to say.

But then, I had become very angry with the Calvinists because when I was away from the church, no pastor went after me to bring me back. And I thought that was because of the doctrine of election. They would say, “Well, if this guy is elected by God, he’s going to come back, or he’s going to be saved at end.” So, that prevented them from doing some action to rescue me from the state I was. So, when I was converted, I became very much Arminian. I hated everything related to predestination. Once, I have to confess—I already asked God to forgive me—I’d already said that predestination was a doctrine of the devil: “The devil is the father of that doctrine.”

And so anyway, this pastor, my pastor in the Presbyterian church, he prayed for me, and he gave me once a book written by Spurgeon: New Park Street Pulpit. He gave me that book when I was going to preach the gospel in the interior of the country. He didn’t say anything; he just said: “Oh, here’s a book. When you have time, just read it.” He didn’t say anything else.

Nichols: Interesting.

Lopes: And I have read Finney’s account of revival, Finney’s biography, John Wesley’s whole series of sermons—I’ve read that. I was pretty much an Arminian. But then when I went by myself, I was by myself one night preaching the gospel in the interior of the country, then I saw the book that was just hanging in there and I said, “Well, I’ll take a look at this thing.” And I opened the index of the sermons, and then I found I was struck by the title of a sermon. It was “Election,” and I just went directly to that sermon to read it.

I started reading as an Arminian, and I finished on my knees as a Calvinist, so to say. My eyes were opened. That was a turning point in my life. So, I said, “Woah, man, now I understand.” And the next step was to rearrange my mind and my preaching, my practice, and everything. It was like kind of a second conversion, you know? And this is why I chose that book, and it made such a difference in my life up to this point.

Nichols: You know, I’ve heard this story so many times of folks coming out of Arminianism, or coming out of, perhaps, more charismatic sort of circles, or prosperity gospel circles, where they’re hearing the Reformed faith, and it’s almost presented as if it were like a second awakening to the gospel.

So many things you just said I love. First, I want to go back to that comment you made about your mother and how she was your mother twice.

Lopes: Yes.

Nichols: I was thinking of, “You’re in good company, Augustus, with Augustine.” As we all know, it was Monica who tracked him down.

Lopes: Monica, yes.

Nichols: God is the hound of heaven, but Monica was the hound on earth that God used in his life. And it sounds like God used your mom in your life.

And then a sermon from Spurgeon—and you mentioned it, the New Park Street Pulpit. This was his church before Metropolitan Tabernacle.

Lopes: It was. He was a very young man at the time. I guess he was seventeen or eighteen years old. Can you imagine that?

Nichols: Unreal—and taking London by storm, really, as a minister. So, your church in the interior—now, having read the sermon on election, did you want to preach then on?

Lopes: Oh yeah, no doubt. Then my preaching changed.

Nichols: I bet.

Lopes: My preaching changed, and a few people noticed that. But then at that time, after that—you know, up to that time, after reading Finneys and Wesleys and all that stuff, I had decided not to go to a seminary to get ready for the ministry. I just wanted to go on as I was and just plant churches and everything. But after I understood the Reformed faith, I felt the need to study more. I said, “There is so much here that I need to learn and to teach.” And it was then when I decided to go to the seminary, which was a very, very Reformed seminary at the time in my hometown. And this is when I decided to really go deep in the Reformed faith. And then the other books came to make a difference in my life after that.

Nichols: I was going to say, I have a hunch you just opened the door to the next book we’re going to hear about.

Lopes: Absolutely.

Nichols: Well, we look forward to sitting with you again for another episode of Open Book, but I just want to say my appreciation for this opener and this first book and just drawing our attention to the fact that sermons not only impact that original audience, but they can have quite a life long after they’ve been preached.

Lopes: Yes, and I’d like to just add something, if I may.

Nichols: Sure.

Lopes: That special sermon was translated into Portuguese. I don’t know if the whole New Park Street Pulpit was translated, but I know that that sermon in particular, “Election,” it has been translated into Portuguese and published and has been a blessing to many people in the same way it was to me. It is in Portuguese now.

Nichols: Well, that’s wonderful to know. Well, thanks. I appreciate your being with us. I look forward to another episode with you, and I want to thank you all for joining us for another episode of Open Book.

I’m Steve Nichols, and that was another Open Book. Open Book is a podcast about the power of books and the people they’ve shaped. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please leave a rating or review wherever you’re listening. It’s the best way to help others discover us, and it’s a great encouragement to me. I’ll see you next week for another episode of Open Book.