Healing and Revival
"Preaching, Prayer, and Compassion"
"Yet, no man probably, in England or in America, in this century, has ever healed so many people as did Mr. Spurgeon, although he was not himself a physician and never wrote prescriptions. He felt that there was unexplainable mystery about the whole matter. Yet, he asserted that there was some power connected with prayer which ought to be used when persons were in pain and could be relieved by it." from "The Life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon" by Russell H. Conwell.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born on June 19, 1834 in Kelvedon, Essex, England. His life was one marked by the miraculous. He came from a family with strong a strong religious background. His parents struggled financially because his father worked during the day and preached at night. He was sent to live with his grandparents in Stambourne. His grandfather was a successful pastor of a Congregational church. His grandparents and Aunt cared him for him. Spurgeon was retuned to his parents, in Coldchester, when he was about seven or eight. When he was ten years old he was visiting with his grandparents and an evangelist named Richard Knill prayed for him and prophesied "I feel a solemn presentiment that this child will preach the gospel to thousands, and God will bless him to many souls."
Spurgeon attended local schools and had only minimal training at New Market Academy for one year in 1849-50. While attending the Academy he came under great conviction of his sins. He struggled for six months. One day he went into a Primitive Methodist Chapel and the minister led him to look to Christ for his salvation by utter dependence on Him. He instantly became alight for the gospel and evangelism. He joined the Baptists and broke with the background of his father and grandfather. In 1852 he thought about going to college but was already preaching part time. One day while walking and considering the matter he heard a voice saying "Seekest thou great things for thyself, seek them not." He believed God had spoken that he was not to go. The small assembly where he was preaching called him to be their pastor, even though he was only 19 years old.
Spurgeon stayed there several months but eventually received a call to the New Park Street Baptist Church in London, England. He preached his first sermon at the church in December 1853 and was accepted as Pastor in April 1854. The church had 232 members when he arrived. Spurgeon was a man of great passion for Christ and compassion for people. His preaching was practical and his belief in the grace of God was the cornerstone of his life. He was also a man of prayer. He believed absolutely that God heard his prayers and many were answered, seemingly miraculously.
In 1854 the entire city was struck by a deadly strain of cholera. People in the church were dying. He was visiting the sick daily and holding funerals. He was breaking under the strain, and feared that he would collapse soon, when he saw a notice in a shoemaker's window. It was the words from Psalm 91:9-10 "Because thou hast made the Lord, which is thy refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation, there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling." God immediately filled him with faith, took away his fear, and strengthened him physically to continue his work. He was fearless in serving people in their hour of desperate need.
So many people came to the services at the church that it was quickly overcrowded. When he was 21 Spurgeon suggested expanding the church. There was hesitation from some of the people who had been in the church a long time, however by the time the expansion was finished it was all paid for and already too small for the congregation. In 1856 the church moved to Surrey Hall but even though it held thousands it was still too small! Spurgeon also married a young woman from his church names Susanna Thomson that year. Spurgeon felt God called him to build a Tabernacle that would have 4200 seats. There was resistance and fear due to the enormous cost. So sure was Spurgeon of the work that he began to preach twice a day in other churches to raise money for the Tabernacle. His church held fairs and bazaars to raise funds. By the time it was built in 1861 4200 seats were too few and every available corner held a chair bringing the capacity to 5500. Amazingly the building was totally paid for with a balance left over on opening day.
Perhaps stemming from the cholera incident, Spurgeon collected and read books on divine healing. He often was called to pray for his parishioners in the midst of their sicknesses. Many remarkable healings occurred. It is said that over the course of his ministry that thousands of people had received prayer from him and had been healed. He was moved, not by intellectual assent to God's healing ability, but simply by a deep sense of compassion and faith in God's answering of prayer. In 1855, Spurgeon prayed for a man who had been critically ill with fever. He attended the church meeting that night and told his acquaintances "Mr. Spurgeon prayed with me this morning. I have been divinely healed." In that same time period a man with partial paralysis was prayed for by Spurgeon and the limp he had for years disappeared. Spurgeon prayed for a man crippled by rheumatism one morning. He felt better immediately and asked Spurgeon to return that evening to pray again. When Spurgeon returned the man met him at the door and told him "The Lord is performing His promises and has answered your prayer." The man was completely well. When Spurgeon prayed for people he would be overcome with the compassion of God for them, often praying for hours over a sick person, It became so significant that in 1861 he spoke from the pulpit about his concern that the successes were causing people to look upon him like the Catholics did Lourdes. Not all were healed, but enough to give his members the very definite idea that God heard his prayers for healing! Sadly his own wife struggled with physical disability, and did not get better for the multitude of prayers Her loving husband prayed for her.
In 1855 Spurgeon started publishing his sermons under the title "The New Park Street Pulpit", and later "The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit." In 1856, at the age of 22, Spurgeon started a Pastor's College. In 1867 he started an Orphanage for boys, and in 1879 added one for girls. He oversaw ministries to the poor that provided clothing, food, and help. His wife began a book-fund to provide poorer ministers of the gospel with books that they would not be able to afford. He was a prolific preacher and write. In 1869 he published the 7-volume "Treasury of David" a devotional on the Psalms and in 1890 he published "Lectures to My Students" a collection of sermons to his students at the Pastors' College.
Spurgeon was a man not afraid to face controversy. In 1864 he preached against Anglican infant baptisms, which caused a break with an Evangelical Alliance, which included Anglicans. 1887 was a significant year for Spurgeon. He was very concerned that liberal theology and the rise of evolutionary thinking were going to "Down Grade" the teaching and ministry of the church. He wrote against the beliefs, but did not feel that people within the Baptist Union were agreeing with him. He resigned from the Baptist Union in October 1887. Spurgeon increasingly had ill health and was forced to break with his preaching schedule to rest. He preached his last sermon in June 1891 and died on January 31, 1892.
Spurgeon was a Calvinist and frequently said "I ascribe my change wholly to God." "If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, 'He is one who says, SALVATION IS OF THE LORD.'" Spurgeon's perspective was that he a destiny to "call in the elect". He believed in God's enduring, reaching, unremitting grace. In the process he became a remarkable preacher and evangelist, who saw thousands of people come to Christ under his ministry. Spurgeon was not a "healing evangelist" and the focus of his ministry was on the grace, compassion, and truth of God found in the Bible. His ministry of healing was based totally on his understanding of the compassion of God towards His children. "Mr. Spurgeon, like the Master whom he so faithfully served, went about teaching and healing the sick. He never took any credit to himself for the healing power which he exercised; and hundreds of persons were physically benefited by his visits, of whom he never afterward directly heard. He regarded himself, as every pastor should, as the mere agent of Divine power, and spoke of himself, in two instances, as unworthy of possessing the gift of healing." (Conwell)
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