On Choosing a Text: Charles Spurgeon

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was said to have preached 600 sermons before his twentieth birthday. This week I find myself having to prepare for 2 sermons and a study. When I’m asked to preach somewhere I always find myself asking ‘What should I preach?’ I know a lot of people recycle sermons from church to church. I’ve used a couple of my sermons twice, but most of the time I find myself writing something new. Why wouldn’t I? Sermon preparation is such a joyful time. It is a time to dive deep into the riches of God’s word and see his work. All the ore that is found while mining in the depths of God’s word won’t be put on display come Lord’s day yet its value is like the gold market today, steadily rising.

The past week and this week I’ve been studying Habakkuk and 2 Thessslonians. I’ve also been asked to teach this Tuesday from Colossians 1:26-27. I’ve been doing much meditation upon my texts and praying amidst my studies. My text in Colossians came upon me easy as we’ve been going through it verse by verse since November in a house bible study with the ambition of planting a church. As for my choosing of the jewels in Habakkuk and 2 Thessalonians it took longer.

I mentioned Spurgeon earlier for a reason. I’ve also been reading Lectures to My Students this week. You’ll be sure to see more posts from this reading as time progresses. But one of the lectures I’ve read this week is titled “On the Choice of a Text.” It has been incredibly helpful so far. That lecture along with the others I’ve been blessed to read.

I hope you’re blessed with a few quotes:

“When the text gets a hold of us, we may be sure that we have a hold of it, and may safely deliver our souls upon it.”

“As a further assistance to a poor stranded preacher, who cannot launch his mind for want of a wave or two of thought, I recommend him in such a case to turn again and again to the Word of God itself, and read a chapter and ponder over its verses one by one; or let him select a single verse, and get his mind fully exercised upon it.”

For you Puritan lovers out there, “If men wish to get water out of a pump which has not been lately used, they first pour water down, and then the pump works. Reach down one of the Puritans, and thoroughly study the work, and speedily you will find yourself like a bird on the wing, mentally active and full of motion.”

I wish I’d read this the morning of a sermon I found myself preparing when I was to preach at 2 O’Clock that Lord’s day when I was seventeen: “We ought to be always in training for text getting and sermon making…A man who goes up and down from Monday morning till Saturday night, and indolently dreams that he is to have his text sent down by an angelic messenger in the last hour or two of the week, tempts God and deserves to stand speechless on the Sabbath. We have no leisure as ministers, we are never off duty, but are on our watchtowers day and night. Students, I tell you solemnly, nothing will excuse you from the most rigid economy of time; it is at your peril that you trifle with it. The leaf of your ministry will soon wither unless, like the blessed man in the First Psalm, you meditate in the law of the Lord both day and night.”

I hope these prove to be edifying for ministers young and old. I pray the Lord uses you in your preparation and delivery of sermons. Grace and Peace.


One thought on “On Choosing a Text: Charles Spurgeon

  1. We spent time in the Edwards class with Andy Davis talking about the texts Edwards chose, and why. Of course, he didn’t give advice like this, so it was mostly speculation.

    Nonetheless, it is interesting to see what Spurgeon said, since he wasn’t the “expositor” that most of us think of now a days—the James M Boyce type, or MacArthur, going painstakingly verse by verse from first to last in a book.

    So, I like his idea that the text has to get a hold of us. I’ve learned the best sermons are simply from the overflow of personal study, not when I’ve scoured the scriptures looking for a sermon.

    And, Spurgeon’s been my Puritan before, who primed my homiletical pump. I don’t know how people could never listen (or read) to great sermons, and think they’re better for it.


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