We often hear in the media of the blunders of false preachers spinning tales of over-spiritualized ecstasy and practices that have no reference in the Bible. We hear tele-evangelists begging for money to be given to them so they may impart some blessing to the watcher. Many dare to teach without even using the Word of God. While such teachers are growing in popularity and number day-by-day, many churches find themselves looking for a faithful preacher of the Gospel to shepherd them during these uneasy times. How many churches have been without a pastor for months, even years, and are still waiting for a faithful preacher of God’s Word? For all these people, Spurgeon offers a word of hope.
Preaching in the fall of 1874 on, ‘the Power of the Risen Saviour,’ he longs for another golden age of preachers by the power of the Holy Spirit. And to all those longing with him, Spurgeon calls them to pray:
Often do I pray, and I doubt not the prayer has come from you too, that God would raise up leaders in the church, men full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, standard-bearers in the day of battle. The preachers of the gospel who preach with any power are few; still might John say, ‘Ye have not many fathers.’ More precious than the gold of Ophir are men who stand out as pillars of the Lord’s house, bulwarks of the truth, champions in the camp of Israel. How few are our apostolic men! We want again Luthers, Calvins, Bunyans, Whitfields, men fit to mark eras, whose names breathe terror in our foemen’s ears. We have dire need of such. (MTP 20:751)
Prayer for a faithful preacher is the key. Of all the things that Christians ought to pray for, this should be at the top of the list. Rather than taking faithful preachers for granted, Christians should pray that God would “raise up leaders in the church.” What do these leaders look like? We need pastors committed to a steady diet of preaching and rightly dividing the Word of God as it says in 2 Timothy 2:15. If we are to see an age of “standard-bearers” come about again, these “bulwarks of the truth” should be full of faith and the Holy Ghost, powerful preachers of the Gospel, men who stand out as pillars of the Lord’s church, and men of integrity.
Now, Spurgeon was known in his day as a powerful preacher of God’s Word. For him to call his people to pray for a resurgence of faithful preachers must have seemed strange. Many in his congregation experienced the saving work of Christ as they listened to their pastor preach. Yet, Spurgeon understood that he was the exception and not the norm. Many churches either limped along with dry and gospel-less preaching or were taken in by innovations and distractions from the Word of God. Like our day, the spiritual landscape of London, England, and the world was marked by a lack of faithful preaching. And so, Spurgeon called on his people to pray.
But for all those who longed for God’s Word to flourish, Spurgeon believed that we could pray with great hope. Why? Because it is the Lord Jesus Christ who gives gifts of preachers to his church. He is not dependent on us, but is able to bring back again “a golden age of preachers.”
They are the gifts of Jesus Christ to the church, and will come in due time. He has power to give us back again a golden age of preachers, a time as fertile of great divines and mighty ministers as was the Puritan age, which many of us account to have been the golden age of theology. He can send again the men of studious heart to search the word and bring forth its treasures, the men of wisdom and experience rightly to divide it, the golden-mouthed speakers who, either as sons of thunder or sons of consolation, shall deliver the message of the Lord with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. When the Redeemer ascended on high he received gifts for men, and those gifts were men fitted to accomplish the edification of the church, such as evangelists, pastors, and teachers. These he is still able to bestow upon his people, and it is their duty to pray for them, and when they come, to receive them with gratitude. Let us believe in the power of Jesus to give us valiant men and men of renown, and we little know how soon he will supply them. (MTP 20:751)
If your church is marked by faithful pastors who are committed to God’s Word, then give thanks to Christ for his good gifts. And pray for other churches, even as you continue the work of raising up those who are able to teach. If your church is looking for a pastor, then heed Spurgeon’s words. Pray as a church for Christ to give the gift of a faithful preacher. Do not relegate this matter to the pastoral search committee. Come together as a church to pray and ask God to bring you a powerful, faithful, Spirit-filled man. Then, pray that you would be ready to follow that preacher as he preaches God’s Word. May our churches be marked by another golden age of faithful preachers.
Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared at the blog for the Spurgeon Library.