Charles Spurgeon famously recited a line from the Apostle’s Creed upon taking each step up into his formidably-sized pulpit: ‘I believe in the Holy Ghost.’ In the halls of seminary, at least the one I am a part of, men like Spurgeon are revered for their giftings but the remark, if you follow their lead too close, is, you’re not Spurgeon, so don’t try to be.
I found this application when hearing people talk about how he would enter his pulpit with just a notecard’s worth of notes. But what of his pattern of repeating the Apostle’s Creed’s line “I believe in the Holy Spirit.” Why was this reminder so essential to Charles Spurgeon’s preaching that he repeated it to himself as he raised his body with one push of the leg above the last up to his heavenly task?
Don’t try it they say. Don’t attempt to be Spurgeon with his last-minute sermon prep, spiritualizing texts, mere index-cards for notes, etc, etc. The problem is Spurgeon would’ve lambasted such folk, not for their humility but for their pride. Spurgeon’s key was not his photographic memory, his oratory abilities or his lucid illustrations. Spurgeon’s key was “I believe in the Holy Spirit.”
Listen to this Spirit-dependent man: “‘I believe in the Holy Ghost.’ This is one of the articles of the creed, but it is scarcely believed among professors so as to be acted on.” This hits close to Reformedom’s home. We confess the Apostle’s Creed, but do we really believe it strongly enough to act upon it? May the Lord force Reformed men to lean upon the Spirit and faith! Hear more:
“Many ministers appear to think that they are to choose the text; they are to discover its teaching; they are to find a discourse in it. We do not think so. We are to use our own volitions, of course, as well as our understandings and affections, for we do not pretend that the Holy Ghost will compel us to preach from a text against our wills. He does not deal with us as though we were musical boxes, to be wound up and set to a certain tune; but that glorious inspirer of all truth deals with us as with rational intelligences, who are swayed by spiritual forces congruous to our natures: still, devout minds evermore desire that the choice of the text should rest with the allwise Spirit of God, and not with their own fallible understandings, and therefore they humbly put themselves into his hand, asking him to condescend to direct them to the portion of meat in due season which he has ordained for his people. Gurnal says, “Ministers have no ability of their own for their work. Oh! how long may they sit tumbling their books over, and puzzling their brains, until God comes to their help, and then — as Jacob’s venison — it is brought to their hand. If God drop not down his assistance, we write with a pen that hath no ink: if any one need walk dependently upon God more than another, the minister is he.”
Another time Spurgeon was preparing to preach one text, but after having prepared it felt compelled to preach another at the last moment. Having finally decided to preach the second text which was pressed upon him, he began extemporaneously to do so. Suddenly the gas lights went out. While the church staff attempted to figure out the problem, Spurgeon announced he could preach in the dark from the text from memory that he had studied so diligently was Isaiah 50:10-11 which speaks of a person walking in darkness as a light and a person walking in the light as in darkness. Clearly he lacked no striking illustrations for that sermon!
This is the appeal for a Spirit-driven ministry. Be filled brothers.