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Review: Spurgeon on the Christian Life: Alive in Christ

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Posted by Ben Sear, 24 Jul 2020

Ben Sear reviews Mike Reeves's introduction to Charles Spurgeon's teaching on the Christian life.

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Michael Reeves has gifted us an excellent addition to the “Theologians on the Christian Life” series, which is clearly written and a joy to read. Reeves does a good job of letting Spurgeon do much of the talking, which he tells us is exactly what he set out to do. The book is, therefore, full of wonderful Spurgeon stories and quotations. The chapter themes provide us with a clear presentation of Spurgeon’s theology and ministry priorities, but also his character and desire to enjoy his God-given life. I think, if anything, it was “meeting” the person of Spurgeon in this book that was the most encouraging part.

In the opening chapter we meet a man whose theology shaped his life, which led to living life “full-on.” He was a kind man, a fun man, someone who lived in the knowledge of his Heavenly Father’s care and sought to enjoy and learn as much about this God-given world as he could.  He believed that cheerfulness wins souls. The later chapters remind us that Spurgeon’s life certainly wasn’t free from suffering. He was a man who wrestled with depression and physical pain, but we are given an insight into how he found comfort in Christ and spoke comfort into the lives of others.

We are reminded in the book about Spurgeon’s conversion and how he was encouraged to look to Christ and live and how Spurgeon’s life became about wooing people to that same saviour. Christ was, therefore, central to Spurgeon’s life and ministry and the early chapters of the book explore how his Christocentric perspective shaped his attitude towards Scripture, theology and preaching. As a fellow preacher I was deeply encouraged to keep on preaching the cross with confidence, to believe as Spurgeon did that this is the message that will bring about faith in Christ and transform lives. His attitude towards the necessity for deep learning (he had a library of over twelve thousand books) combined with clarity in proclamation makes him a wonderful example to all who want to make Christ known. The following chapters touch on the topics of regeneration, baptism, human sin and prayer, to name a few.
Readers of this book may find themselves disagreeing with Spurgeon here and there (as I do), but you don’t need to agree with everything he held true to be thoroughly encouraged. Spurgeon certainly was a great preacher and I learnt a lot about preaching from reading this book, but above all I was encouraged by a brother of the past to seek joy in Christ and to make him known boldly. I would encourage you to read this book and “meet” Spurgeon on the pages. I think that Michael Reeves has done a great job in a relatively short book to introduce us to Spurgeon’s life as a Christian in a clear and captivating way.

Ben Sear is vicar of Maresfield and Nutley churches in East Sussex.

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