For me, reading C.H. Spurgeon is like hiking up a mountain on a beautiful fall day and taking a breath of that fresh mountain air. His writings invigorate me. They stir my emotions and have a deep impact on my affections. The reason for this is because Spurgeon was so Christocentric.
With almost every sentence, you are learning something about Jesus. He was always striving to place Christ before the eyes of his hearers and readers. Everything was centered upon the person of Jesus. When it came to the law, he focused on how the law was to drive us to Christ. When it came to morality, he focused on how we are to live a life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When it came to prophesy, he focused on how Christ fulfilled it. Christ! Christ! Christ! was the theme of the Prince of Preachers. This was true at the beginning of his ministry as well as the end of his ministry.
In his first sermon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle Spurgeon said, “I would propose that the subject of the ministry of this house, as long as this platform shall stand, and as long as this house shall be frequented by worshippers, shall be the person of Jesus Christ.” Then, thirty years later, these are Spurgeons last words from the Metropolitan Tabernacle pulpit:
It is heaven to serve Jesus. I am a recruiting sergeant, and I would fain find a few recruits at this moment. Every man must serve somebody: we have no choice as to that fact. Those who have no master are slaves to themselves. Depend upon it, you will either serve Satan or Christ, either self or the Saviour. You will find sin, self, Satan, and the world to be hard masters; but if you wear the livery of Christ, you will find him so meek and lowly of heart that you will find rest unto your souls. He is the most magnanimous of captains. There never was his like among the choicest of princes. He is always to be found in the thickets part of the battle. When the wind blows cold he always takes the bleak side of the hill. The heaviest end of the cross lies ever on his shoulders. If he bids us carry a burden, he carries it also. If there is anything that is gracious, generous, kind, and tender, yea lavish and superabundant in love, you always find it in him. These forty years and more have I served him, blessed be his name! and I have had nothing but love from him. I would be glad to continue yet another forty years in the same dear service here below if so it pleased him. His service is life, peace, joy. Oh, that you would enter on it at once! God help you to enlist under the banner of Jesus even this day! Amen.
This Christocentric approach is also what he wanted other preachers to have. He wanted others to unashamedly lift up Jesus Christ in every part of their ministry. And seeing as how there is a lack of Christ centered teaching and preaching today, I think we need to hear the words of this 19th century English Baptist pastor again. Here are some examples of how Spurgeon would encourage others to preach Christ:
I would never preach a sermon – the Lord forgive me if I do – which is not full to overflowing with my Master. I know one who said I was always on the old string, and he would come and hear me no more; but if I preached a sermon without Christ in it, he would come. Ah! he will never come while this tongue moves, for a sermon without Christ in it – a Christless sermon! A brook without water; a cloud without rain; a well which mocks the traveller; a tree twice dead, plucked up by the root; a sky without a sun; a night without a star. It were a realm of death – a place of mourning for angels and laughter for devils.
Leave Christ out? O my brethren, better leave the pulpit out altogether. If a man can preach one sermon without mentioning Christ’s name in it, it ought to be his last, certainly the last that any Christian ought to go hear him preach.
That sermon which does not lead to Christ, or of which Jesus Christ is not the top and the bottom, is the sort of sermon that will make the devils in hell to laugh, but might make the angels of God to weep.
The Spirit of God bears no witness to Christless sermons. Leave Jesus out of your preaching, and the Holy Spirit will never come upon you. Why should he? Has he not come on purpose that he may testify of Christ? Did not Jesus say, “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you”? Yes, the subject was Christ, and nothing but Christ, and such is the teaching which the Spirit of God will own.
You do not really preach the gospel if you leave Christ out; if he be omitted, it is not the gospel. You may invite men to listen to your message, but you are only inviting them to gaze upon an empty table unless Christ is the very centre and the substance of all that you set before them.
The motto of all true servants of God must be, “We preach Christ, and him crucified.” A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.
The best way to preach sinners to Christ is to preach Christ to sinners.
Yes, it is Christ, Christ, Christ whom we have to preach; and if we leave him out, we leave out the very soul of the gospel. Christless sermons make merriment for hell. Christless preachers, Christless Sunday-school teachers, Christless class-leaders, Christless tract-distributors – what are all these doing? They are simply setting the mill to grind without putting any grist into the hopper, so all their labour is in vain. If you leave Jesus Christ out, you are simply beating the air, or going to war without any weapon with which you can smite the foe.
Of all I would wish to say this is the sum; my brethren, preach CHRIST, always and evermore. He is the whole gospel. His person, offices, and work must be our one great, all-comprehending theme. The world needs still to be told of its Saviour, and of the way to reach him.
It has been over a hundred years since Spurgeon said all of these things. Though this may lead some of us to think these are time-bound statements, they are in fact timeless statements. The chief objective of every preacher and teacher should be to preach Jesus Christ in all of his glory. He is a most rare jewel that must be looked at and pondered from every precious facet. The apostles understood this, and so did every faithful preacher and teacher throughout all of church history. We would do well to imitate them.