05 December 2010

A Word in Favor of Mature, Not-So-Restless Reformers

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from "Ripe Fruit," a sermon preached on Sunday morning, 14 August 1870, at the Met Tab in London.

he church wants mature Christians very greatly, and especially when there are many fresh converts added to it. New converts furnish impetus to the church, but her backbone and substance must, under God, lie with the mature members.

We want mature Christians in the army of Christ, to play the part of veterans, to inspire the rest with coolness, courage, and steadfastness; for if the whole army is made up of raw recruits the tendency will be for them to waver when the onslaught is fiercer than usual. The old guard, the men who have breathed smoke and eaten fire before, do not waver when the battle rages like a tempest; they can die but they cannot surrender. When they hear the cry of "Forward," they may not rush to the front so nimbly as the younger soldiers, but they drag up the heavy artillery, and their advance once made is secure. They do not reel when the shots fly thick, but still hold their own, for they remember former fights when Jehovah covered their heads.

The church wants in these days of flimsiness and timeserving, more decided, thorough-going, well-instructed, and confirmed believers. We are assailed by all sorts of new doctrines. The old faith is attacked by so-called reformers, who would reform it all away. I expect to hear tidings of some new doctrine once a week.

So often as the moon changes, some prophet or other is moved to propound a new theory, and believe me, he will contend more valiantly for his novelty than ever he did for the gospel. The discoverer thinks himself a modern Luther, and of his doctrine he thinks as much as David of Goliath's sword, "There is none like it."

As Martin Luther said of certain in his day, these inventors of new doctrines stare at their discoveries like a cow at a new gate, as if there were nothing else in all the world but the one thing for them to stare at.

We are all expected to go mad for their fashions, and march to their piping. To whom we give place; no, not for an hour. They may muster a troop of raw recruits, and lead them whither they would, but for confirmed believers they sound their bugles in vain. Children run after every new toy; any little performance in the street, and the boys are all agog, gaping at it; but their fathers have work to do abroad, and their mothers have other matters at home; your drum and whistle will not draw them out.

For the solidity of the church, for her steadfastness in the faith, for her defense against the constantly recurring attacks of heretics and infidels, and for her permanent advance and the seizing of fresh provinces for Christ, we want not only your young, hot blood, which may God always send to us, for it is of immense service, and we cannot do without it, but we need also the cool, steady, well-disciplined, deeply-experienced hearts of men who know by experience the truth of God, and hold fast what they have learned in the school of Christ.

May the Lord our God therefore send us many such; they are wanted.

C. H. Spurgeon


Steve B said...

The tragedy comes when those stalwart, mature, and foundational leaders and teacher in the church are swept aside by a youthful pastor or congregation who fails to heed their cautions. Eventually, the church will morph into something so unpalatable to the stalwarts, who may in turn be branded as throw-backs and reactionaries, that they leave the church, taking their anchoring stability with them.

And a once-solid, Bible-preaching church becomes little more than a glorified youth group.

Colin Maxwell said...

Spurgeon using Luther's humorous word pictures. Doesn't get much better than this...

John said...

What a timely post. Timeless, sadly.

donsands said...

The prince of preachers. Excellent quote.

"The discoverer thinks himself a modern Luther, and of his doctrine he thinks as much as David of Goliath's sword, "There is none like it."

This is so true. I had a full-preterist friend of mine, compare himself to Luther, in the way that Luther stood for truth of Scripture.

ProgMan said...

It never ceases to amaze me how applicable Spurgeon is to today. As John wrote: "Timeless, sadly."

John said...

wow! This ties in with what I am reading in Piper's response to N.T Wright.

"Whether we should follow Wright as a new Luther over against the Reformation and fifteen hundred years of wrong-footed conceptuality is open to question. I don’t think so. One of the differences between Wright and the Reformers is that the latter labored to link their thinking to the writings of the church fathers (hence the Reformers’ adoption of the slogan, ad fontes, "back to the sources"). In his recurrent reminders that he is a Protestant-like, Scripture-only man, Wright does not communicate the kind of respect for history and careful treatment of it that wins our confidence."

If anyone is interested, I just blogged on this issue last night.


Terry Rayburn said...

"deeply-experienced hearts of men who KNOW BY EXPERIENCE the truth of God"

Spurgeon the Mystic :)

Seriously, I think this is what John was getting at in 1 John 2:14 when he writes:

"I have written to you, FATHERS, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, YOUNG MEN, because you are strong, and the Word of God abides in you..."

There is an experiential "knowing" of the Lord (which is not strictly an "age" thing, but often coincides with age) that goes beyond the [important] knowledge of theology.

This takes time, though it's neither automatic nor guaranteed. We all know old Christians who are rather flippantly immature.

But there is a beauty in an old Saint who is as comfortable with Jesus as two old dogs are, sleeping together on the living room carpet to keep warm.

I used to have theological discussions with my 80-something Grandma Rayburn, who sat in her rocking chair with her Jimmy Swaggart Commemorative KJV bible that Jimmy sent her in return for her pennies sent monthly from her Social Security check.

She wasn't closed to the discussions, but she so knew Jesus, and had know him for so long, that her experience of Him was transcendental and her theology was sorta swallowed up in their comfortable love for each other, and her fire for making Him known.

Though a [technically Arminian] Nazarene, it wouldn't occur to her to examine the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints, because it wouldn't occur to her that she could "lose" her salvation.

It was her and Jesus.

And with that abaondon that some old folks have who have passed caring what everybody thinks, she never stopped telling EVERYONE she came in contact with about Him, graciously but with obvious passion.

Anonymous said...

here here!

Anonymous said...

or is it hear hear?

DJP said...

It all depends on whether you want people to come to where you are, or listen to Spurgeon's words.

The Blainemonster said...

"As Martin Luther said of certain in his day, these inventors of new doctrines stare at their discoveries like a cow at a new gate, as if there were nothing else in all the world but the one thing for them to stare at."

Gotta love Luther!

Thomas Louw said...

A very true word.
Now we must find ways for the “war veterans” to pass on their experience. Many veterans have gone cold and are all but inspiring. Luckily in our church most of the older guys are still on the go inspiring learning new things and teaching others. The culture is really one of sharing across age gaps.
How this happened I don’t know. I think it is just an organic thing. Everybody got this “I m hungry for more and will learn from anyone.”
Pastor Joel James somehow inspires everyone, young and old. How did it happen I don’t know I have never seen it before? (I have been around)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there are mature Christians in the army of Christ, but due to the age aparteid-ism)which in my humble opinion seems to be quite popular), younger Christians are not benefitting from the wisdom of veterans, they don't know any.

Just thoughts from Oz!

thomas4881 said...

Mature Christians don't look back. They strive towards the goal!