Thursday, March 28, 2013


(Because of the wretched state of Red Deer’s pulpit space, it is now, as predicted by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3, the time to ‘pluck up that which is planted…a time to break down…a time to weep…a time to cast away stones’ and even ‘a time to refrain from embracing.’ And it is certainly more ‘a time to speak’ than ‘a time to keep silence.’ Be that as it may, the wrecking ball of negative criticism should be followed by the laying down of truth. To this end, we introduce the sermon sketch as an intermittent blog feature. As the term ‘sketch’ implies, this kind of post, in distinction from the usually lengthy analysis, will be pithy. The source for each sketch will be indicated at the bottom of each post.) 


“The poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11.5.)

Introduction. The disciples of John the Baptist came to some doubts about whether Jesus was the Messiah. Then Jesus answered, “Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see…the poor have the gospel preached to them.” The Jews had forgotten Old Testament prophecies too much; they only looked for a Messiah clothed in worldly majesty and dignity. “The poor have the gospel preached to them” will endure three translations.

(1) The Authorized Version. Almost every impostor has aimed his doctrine principally at the rich and the respectable and the princes and nobles. Christ aims first at the poor. He begins at the lowest rank, that the fire may burn upward. The gospel should be preached where the poor will come, or we should take it to them. The only reason I do not take it to the street in London is because this would disturb the peace. My heart is for preaching in the open air. The last time I did it twelve thousand souls surrounded me—and I trembled. Now we should preach attractively. The Puritans were popular because they were not dry. Instead of fancy language, we need the gospel of Christ, complete with parables and true stories. Look at the preaching style of Jesus. People just had to hear such a Preacher! Some gnashed their teeth—but multitudes crowded around him. He was too zealous and earnest to be dull and boring; too humane to be incomprehensible. And the gospel must be preached simply. Latin will do no good. There is a type of preacher, he goes down so deep into the subject that he stirs the mud at the bottom, and cannot find his way up again. John Bunyan, a surpassing genius, became the apostle of Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire because he spoke plainly. And we must preach the gospel: sinfulness and restoration, the blood of Christ and the pardon from guilt. Controversy and logic, science and philosophy, these will not do. And the gospel must be preached. The battle must be fought in the pulpit mainly, not the news-press. God will bless preaching.

(2) The Genevan Version. Calvin and Cranmer used this version much. The meaning at our verse is that the poor are ‘gospelized.’ The cheat is made honest, the harlot modest, etc. To gospelize a man is to save him from hell, to blot out his sins, to make him heavenly, etc. It is the greatest miracle in the world, greater than raising the dead. O! we love godliness anywhere! But what is more moving than a poor girl, for instance, in an upper room, with a lean-to roof, with nothing but a bed, a table, and a chair in there, and a candle and a Bible? There she is on her aching knees, wrestling with God! It is an honor to the gospel that those who want it most receive it!

(3) Wyckliffe’s Version. ‘Poor men are taking to the preaching of the gospel.’ But—“Ah!” say some, “they had better be minding their plows or blacksmith’s hammers.” Bunyan was a pot-mender; Whitefield, a pot-washer. And the Reformation in England was more promoted by the poor than by the rich. What an honor to the gospel! Their names are forgotten—but not in eternity. I do not undervalue high learning. The more the better. But it is not absolutely necessary.

Selection from Conclusion. “And now, beloved, I have opened my mouth for the dumb, and pleaded the cause of the poor, let me end by entreating the poor of the flock to consider the poor man’s Christ; let me urge them to give him their thoughts, and may the Lord enable them to yield him their hearts. ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.’ May God bless the high and low, the rich and poor…for his name’s sake.”

{This sermon by C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) is sketched by M. H. Gaboury.}

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