***DISCLAIMER – I RECEIVED THIS BOOK FOR FREE FROM MOODY PUBLISHERS TO REVIEW***
A compiled work by Jason K. Allen, Spurgeon on the Power of Scripture, represents the seventh book I have reviewed for Moody Publishers for 2021. I chose this book because I read some of Spurgeon’s sermons (which are in the public domain) on my podcast. I find his sermons extremely helpful. Moreover, they serve as good counter-sermons to some of the nonsense running wild in visible evangelicalism (see any ARC “church” or any “church” promoting the demonic Enneagram). Finally, I have read no less than a couple books by Jason K. Allen. While he did not really serve in any “writer” capacity for this book, I thought I could trust his compiling skills given my belief that his writing skills are not bad. I can certainly trust his compiling skills more than my “order” skills, for it appears this book is actually Volume 2 of the “Spurgeon Speaks” series. I have not read Volume 1 (titled Spurgeon on the Priority of Prayer). Had I noticed that, I probably would have reviewed the first volume first.
A “structure” section in this book review is not necessary; the book has an introduction, seven sermons (functioning as chapters, really), and an “acknowledgments” section.
After giving some facts about Charles Haddon Spurgeon (i.e., how he is referred to as the “Prince of Preachers”, how he preached up to ten times a week to packed church houses, etc.; p. 9), Allen gives the book’s purpose (p. 10):
Spurgeon often cited prayer as the secret to his power in the pulpit. And indeed it was. But working in tandem with the prayers of God’s people was Spurgeon’s ironclad belief in the Bible as the inspired, infallible Word of God. Spurgeon preached the Scriptures with power because he believed the Scriptures were powerful. God blessed Spurgeon’s preaching of the Word because Spurgeon believed the Bible was the Word of God. In Spurgeon’s day, higher criticism was ravaging the church and undermining the confidence God’s people placed in Scripture. Yet Spurgeon stood as a bulwark, prophetically pushing back against those who assailed Scripture.
And that’s the point of this book, to give the reader a higher, more confident belief in Scripture. But my aim, as was Spurgeon’s, is not to leave it in the abstract. Page by page, as your belief in Scripture is deepened, so will your faith, your perseverance, your confidence, and your joy. Your Christian life will be emboldened, as will your Christian service. Within this book you’ll find seven of Spurgeon’s sermons on the power of Scripture. They’ve been strategically selected and carefully edited, both for maximum impact on your Christian life.
Spurgeon was indeed correct about the Scriptures’ being powerful. Consider these biblical texts:
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:16-21 (ESV)
Jesus Christ Himself said that the Scriptures, which are truth, cannot be broken (John 10:35; John 17:17). The Bible is most definitely the infallible Word of God. Based off the sermons I have read by Spurgeon, there is no doubt he held to that belief on the Bible.
As Allen noted, this book has seven sermons by Spurgeon. Their emphasis is on the power of Scripture. Conveniently, one can find most of the sermons on spurgeongems.org. Here are the sermons:
The Word of a King
The Bible Tried and Proved
The Infallibility of Scripture
Christ’s Indwelling Word
The Warnings and Rewards of the Word of God
How to Read the Bible
Since one can find most of the sermons on the public domain, I only give the notable quotes from the sermons. Before I do that, it’s important to know the key verses of those sermons. Consider the following texts (any bolding is done by me):
4 For the word of the king is supreme, and who may say to him, “What are you doing?”
Ecclesiastes 8:4 (ESV)
The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
Psalm 12:6 (ESV)
but if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be eaten by the sword;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Isaiah 1:20 (ESV)
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16 (ESV)
Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands,
they would be regarded as a strange thing.
Hosea 8:12 (ESV)
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
Psalm 19:11 (ESV)
3 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?5 Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.
Matthew 12:3-7 (ESV)
Obviously, the sermons’ collective emphasis is on the words of the LORD. This is a good thing, for His words are pure (Psalm 12:6).
In this section, I show some of the notable quotes from the aforementioned sermons. In my citation, I give the page number in the book and the sermon number from the “Sermons” section of this review.
To Christians the word of God is the only rule of faith and practice. Our doctrine is of authority because it is God’s word, and for no other reason. Our ordinances are valid because instituted by God’s word; they are idle ceremonies if they be not so commanded. All the rites, rules and regulations of man are of no value.
The book of human decrees is not to be regarded in the church of Christ. You may put in the front of it, “printed by authority”, but to the church of Christ it has no authority. You may adopt a creed as the standard of any particular church, but that gives it no authority to bind the conscience. It may be authorized by princes, bishops, and holy men, but wherein it differs from the Word of the Lord, or adds thereto, it is to the children of God as a puff of wind. The sole authority in the church is Christ Himself; He is the head of His church, and His word is the only authority by which we are ruled, for “where the word of a king is, there is power.” But all are usurpers who act as lords in the church where Jesus alone is Master and Lord.
pp. 18-19 (sermon 1)
I would contend that vision-casters are usurpers, for they are all about the pastor’s vision. I would also contend that HVG advocates are usurpers, for they set aside the Word of God in favor of their Gnostic Pharisaical nonsense. Finally, I would contend that promoters of the demonic Enneagram are usurpers, for they set aside the Word of God in favor of a demonic, occultic and narcissistic johnny-come-lately piece of trash. Those people need to hold to the Word of God as the only rule of faith and practice. Sadly, they do not do such a thing.
I remember how I felt when first in London: I could not endure the horrible wilderness of bricks by which I was surrounded. I sighed for the green fields and the fresh air and longed to get back to my country charge. But this kind of self-indulgence will not do: “Where the word of a king is, there is power,” and wherever the King sends you, you must go, and go without questioning. If He should send you to preach at the gates of hell, go and preach there.
pp. 20-21 (Sermon 1)
In my post that refuted false teacher Max Lucado, I stated this:
I’ve heard the phrase, “If I had an opportunity to preach the Gospel in hell, I’m going.”
Perhaps (if not certainly) Spurgeon was the influence of that phrase. It’s a good one. Moreover, I would use that phrase as justification for preaching at any church (real one or otherwise) in the world. I would do this to both preach the Gospel and, if applicable, refute any false teachers present at that place.
I conceive it to be an evil habit to make preferences in Holy Scripture. We must preserve this volume as a whole. Those sin against Scripture who delight in doctrinal texts but omit the consideration of practical passages. But remember that men of God in old time took great delight in the commands of the Lord. They respected the Lord’s precepts, and they loved His law. If any refuse to hear of duties and ordinances, I fear that they do not love God’s Word at all. He who does not love it all loves it not at all. On the other hand, they are equally mistaken who delight in the preaching of duties but care not for the doctrines of grace. They say, “That sermon was worth hearing, for it has to do with daily life.” I am very glad that they are of this mind, but if they refuse other teaching of the Lord, they are greatly faulty. I fear you are not of God if you account a portion of the Lord’s words to be unworthy of your consideration. Beloved, we prize the whole range of words of the Lord. We do not set aside the histories any more than the promises.
Above all, do not drop into the semi-blasphemy of some, who think the New Testament vastly superior to the Old. I would not err by saying that in the Old Testament you have more of the bullion of truth than in the New, for therein I should be falling into the evil that I condemn. But this I will say: they are of equal authority, and they cast such light upon each other that we could not spare either of them. “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:9). In the whole book, from Genesis to Revelation, the words of the Lord are found, and they are always pure words.
Neither is it right for any to say, “Thus spoke Christ himself; but such-and-such a teaching is Pauline.” Nay, it is not Pauline; if it be here recorded, it is of the Holy Ghost. Whether the Holy Ghost speaks by Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or John, or James, or Paul, the authority is still the same. Even concerning Jesus Christ our Lord this is true, for He says of Himself, “The word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:24). In this matter, He puts Himself upon the level of others who were as the mouth of God.
pp. 37-38 (Sermon 2)
I think the middle paragraph could easily be aimed at heretic Andy Stanley, for he is one who wants to “unhitch” from the Old Testament. The third paragraph could easily be aimed at heretics like Beth Moore, for she is one who has done the disgusting act of pitting Jesus’ words against Paul and vice versa. Supposedly, other Red-Letter Christians (i.e., Shane Claiborne, Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren and mega-heretic and blasphemer Richard Rohr) do this same thing. It is amazing that Spurgeon’s words ring as true now as they did during the time he said them. Oh would Christians prize the whole range of the LORD’s words.
In the Word of God, the teaching has unique dignity. This Book is inspired as no other book is inspired, and it is time that all Christians avowed this conviction. Where are we if our Bibles are gone? Where are we if we are taught to distrust them? If we are left in doubt as to which part is inspired and which is not, we are as badly off as if we had no Bible at all. I hold no theory of inspiration; I accept the inspiration of the Scriptures as a fact.
p. 64 (Sermon 3)
Consider again that all Scripture is inspired of God and profitable for many great things (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Jesus Christ, who is God in human flesh, said Scriptures cannot be broken (John 10:35). He is a risen Savior. Nobody else has His credentials. I’ll go with Jesus on His view of the Scriptures. It’s good that Spurgeon has a view of Scripture that is not less than that of Jesus.
The truth revealed by the Holy Ghost is so sublime that its poetry outsoars the eagle wing even of a Milton. It is a deep so profound that the plumb line of Sir Isaac Newton could never find the bottom of it. The greatest minds have been delighted to yield their highest faculties to its wondrous truths. Dear young friends, you who have only lately put on Christ, I beseech you not to let other books stand on the front shelf and the Bible lie behind. Do not, for the most part, read those other books, and only read small portions of Scripture now and then. Let it always have the chief place.
p. 77 (Sermon 4)
Nate Pickowicz wrote an incredible book called How To Eat Your Bible. In it, he gives some outstanding tips on how one can essentially let the Bible “always have the chief place.”
In the fifth sermon, Spurgeon gives a quote admitting his affirming the five points of Calvinism. Consider this:
I believe there is a better epitome in the five points of Calvinism: election according to the foreknowledge of God; the natural depravity and sinfulness of man; particular redemption by the blood of Christ; effectual calling by the power of the Spirit; and ultimate perseverance by the efforts of God’s might. I think all those need to be believed in order to salvation.
p. 96 (Sermon 5)
A discussion on Calvinism is for another day. It is important to see Spurgeon’s affirmation of Calvinism from his own admission.
To keep the Word of God is, first of all, earnestly to study it so as to become acquainted with its contents. Know your Bible from beginning to end. I am afraid there is but little Bible searching nowadays. If the Word of God had been diligently studied, there would not have been so general a departure from its teachings. Bible-reading people seldom go off to modern theology. Those who feed upon the Word of God enjoy it too much to give it up. Comparing spiritual things with spiritual, they learn to prize all revealed truth, and they hold fast the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Dear young people, if you never read a single book of romance, you will lose nothing, but if you do not read your Bibles, you will lose everything. This is the age of fiction, and hence the age of speculation and error. Leave fiction and give yourself wholly to the truth. The Bible is the thesaurus of heavenly knowledge, the encyclopedia of divine science: read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the same, and then you will be keeping the sayings of God.
pp. 114-115 (Sermon 6)
Recall that Spurgeon said these words in the 19th century. This was well before such nonsense as the Enneagram, the ARC, HVG theology (somewhat) and even vision-casting became big things. If the Word of God was diligently studied in our day, there would be very little tolerance for the nonsense that sadly passes for Christianity today.
Here’s the last quote I show for this review:
If you do not find Jesus in the Scriptures, they will be of small service to you, for what did our Lord Himself say? “You search the Scriptures, for in them you have eternal life…But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40), and therefore your searching comes to nothing. You find no life and remain dead in your sins. May it not be so with us.
SUCH A READING OF SCRIPTURE IS PROFITABLE
Such a reading of Scripture that implies that understanding and entrance into its spiritual meaning, along with the discovery of the divine Person who is the spiritual meaning, is profitable, for here our Lord says, “If you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” It will save us from making a great many mistakes if we get to understand the Word of God, and among other good things we shall not condemn the guiltless.
I have no time to enlarge upon these benefits, but I will just say, putting all together, that the diligent reading of the Word of God with the strong resolve to get at its meaning often begets spiritual life. We are begotten by the Word of God: it is the instrumental means of regeneration. Therefore, love your Bibles. Keep close to your Bibles. You seeking sinners, you who are seeking the Lord, your first business is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but while you are yet in darkness and in gloom, love your Bibles and search them! Take them to bed with you, and when you wake up in the morning, if it is too early to go downstairs and disturb the house, get half an hour of reading upstairs. Say, “Lord, guide me to that text which shall bless me. Help me to understand how I, a poor sinner, can be reconciled to You.”
pp. 145-146 (Sermon 7)
It should be obvious by now that Charles Haddon Spurgeon loved Holy Scripture. His emphasis was on reading and understanding Holy Scripture. It is objectively verifiable that he was one who pointed his hearers to Holy Scripture. Oh would there be more pastors in our day who would point people to Holy Scripture. Moreover, may they explain that the Scriptures are about Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.
Jason K. Allen has done a nice service in compiling seven excellent sermons from Charles Haddon Spurgeon. These sermons obviously revere and promote the Word of God. Spurgeon understood the power of Scripture. Moreover, he loved Scripture. May we do the same.