The book that changed the following three men is Iain Murray’s The forgotten Spurgeon (Banner of Truth)
I first read this book over twenty years ago on the bus as I travelled to work at a solicitor’s office in Stockton-on-Tees. Its first benefit was to create within me a love for church history. It showed me that we have so much to learn from the past, and with a perceptive guide to lead us these lessons can become clear.
But more important, this little book became my introduction to Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Through my years in the ministry of God’s Word what a source of strength and inspiration he has been, both in the example of his life and the legacy of his writings. Spurgeon was a man of unflinching principle. He was ready to stand firm on what he saw revealed in the Bible, h o w ever unfashionable that might make him. As a result he appeared out of date even during his lifetime in spite of his great popularity.
What an encouragement Spurgeon is to persevere in the unadorned declaration of the Word of God. When my zeal to preach the gospel is flagging, it is so often Spurgeon who seems to rekindle the fresh.
Richard Wigham pastor of Llantrisant Baptist Church, near Cardiff.
As far back as my childhood I had been blessed with hearing the gospel in the Sunday school of a Brethren Assembly, and I was baptized at the age of sixteen. In my early twenties I married a Welsh girl, and after two years we moved from my home town of Liverpool to my wife’s birthplace of Llangollen. It was not long after this that I was invited to a service in a Baptist church in Wrexham. All I can remember about that meeting was one book that stood out on the book table. Having heard the name of Spurgeon so often my curiosity was aroused by this title, The forgotten Spurgeon. What a valuable purchase it turned out to be.
The themes of God’s sovereignty, election and the certainty of salvation for all those for whom Christ died were powerfully preached by Spurgeon. It became clear to me that my salvation depended entirely upon a great God, his will and purpose, his love and mercy. My trust had to be in the spotless righteousness of God’s Son and not in my failing efforts to come up to God’s standards. All of this is in the Bible, but it had somehow not sunk into me until that time.
Assurance of my salvation came shortly after I had finished the book. People noticed a new tone to my preaching: God’s free and sovereign grace now became my theme.
Doug Pearse pastor of Glanrafon Evangelical Church, Llangollen.
I had not been a Christian for long when I was handed a copy of this book in the Spanish language. At that time I knew no English, but later on, when I learned the language and could compare my copy with the original I found it had been translated very well indeed. This book has been very influential in moulding my understanding of what communion with God is and what the Christian life is all about.
The first thing that stands uppermost in my mind is the clear sense The forgotten Spurgeon gave me of the reality of the existence of God. Some may wonder why I say this: let us remember that our God and Saviour is not merely a concept to be grasped but a living God, one who sovereignly makes his presence known both to mind and heart. Iain Murray mentions in the first part of this book the sense of the immanence of God during some of the New Park Street prayer meetings. God used such descriptions to convey to me a spiritual awareness of his presence among his people. Before my conversion I had my doubts concerning the existence of God. Although I had been a Christian before reading this book God used it to impress me afresh with the experiential conviction of his reality. God did indeed exist, and he has made himself known in his dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, through the pages of the Bible. There was this felt consciousness of his own majestic coming amongst his people. The God Spurgeon believed in is a real and living God. He acts. He works. He convinces men of their sin. He persuades them to embrace Jesus Christ as the only perfect Mediator between God and man. He is the same God today. He has not changed. He is alive.
In the second place, it taught me about the glory and value of the doctrines of grace. The second part of the book is devoted to this. With numerous quotations we see how Spurgeon defines and defends the doctrines of grace. He shows us their excellency and superiority over any other human system of theology. I hold them very dear because, using these quotations of Spurgeon and also using John Owen’s terminology, I came to experience something of the power of these truths abiding in my own heart. There is a spiritual relish in my soul for this teaching. It helps me to hold on in the dark hour of temptation and suffering. It invigorates the mind and heart. It encourages me to persevere in holiness and evangelism.
Finally, through this book, I began to appreciate the greatness of preaching. Preaching is God’s chosen instrument to communicate his message to the people. In an age when preaching in many churches is discarded as God’s means of saving his people, it is good to be enthused by such a great preacher as Spurgeon into seeing how God used preaching to save so many.
This book is an ideal introduction to Spurgeon. But for me it was much more: it was an encounter with the life-transforming God the Scriptures present. That is surely the greatest thing a book can do for anybody.
Jose More no Berrocal pastor in Ciudad Real, Spain.