Gospel Firepower

Some say evangelism is like tossing lit matches into upright kegs. Most kegs are filled with water, some are filled with gunpowder. C.S. Lewis was thinking gunpowder when he wrote this (Letters, 3:324–325):

My feeling about people in whose conversion I have been allowed to play a part is always mixed with awe and even fear; such as a boy might feel on first being allowed to fire a rifle. The disproportion between his puny finger on the trigger and the thunder and lightning which follow is alarming. And the seriousness with which the other party takes my words always raises the doubt whether I have taken them seriously enough myself.

“To be laughed at is no great hardship to me”

What does it look like when a preacher implores sinners to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20)? Perhaps it resembles something like this excerpt taken from the conclusion to a sermon by Charles Spurgeon (The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 4, sermon 171):

Preaching, you see, takes away my voice. Ah! it is not that. It is not the preaching, but the sighing over your souls that is the hard work. I could preach for ever: I could stand here day and night to tell my Master’s love and warn poor souls; but ’tis the after-thought that will follow me when I descend these pulpit steps, that many of you, my hearers’ will neglect this warning.

You will go; you will walk into the street; you will joke; you will laugh. …

To be laughed at is no great hardship to me. I can delight in scoffs and jeers; caricatures, lampoons, and slanders, are my glory; of these things I boast, yea, in these I will rejoice. But that you should turn from your own mercy, this is my sorrow.

Spit on me, but oh! repent!

Laugh at me: but oh! believe in my Master!

Make my body as the dirt of the streets, if ye will but damn not your own souls!

Oh! do not despise your own mercies.

Put not away from you the gospel of Christ. There are many other ways of playing fool beside that. Carry coals in your bosom; knock your head against a wall: but do not damn your souls for the mere sake of being a fool, for fools to laugh at.

Oh! be in earnest upon an earnest subject. If there be no hereafter, live as you like; if there be no heaven, if there be no hell, laugh at me!

But if these things be true, and you believe them, I charge you, as I shall face you at the judgment bar of the Lord Jesus in the day of judgment—I charge you, by your own immortal welfare, lay these things to heart.


With Our Arms About Their Knees

These words from Charles Spurgeon were originally preached to Christian parents of unbelieving children and to wives of unbelieving spouses. The quote is from his sermon on Jeremiah 4:20 (sermon #349) delivered on 9 Dec 1860:

Oh my brothers and sisters in Christ, if sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies and if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay, and not madly to destroy themselves. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.