Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Most Unlikely Recruits

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

The Most Unlikely Recruits

     Men and women have come in simply out of curiosity—a curiosity often created by some unfounded story or malicious slander of prejudiced minds. Yet Jesus Christ has called them and they have become both His disciples and our warmhearted friends. Some of the most unlikely recruits has been, in after days, our most valuable soldiers. They began with aversion and ended with enthusiasm. They came to scoff but remained to pray. Such cases are not at all uncommon.

     They were not unusual in the days of Whitefield and Wesley. They tell us in their journals of persons who came with stones in their pockets to throw at the Methodists, but whose enmity was slain by a stone from the sling of the Son of David. Others came to create disturbances, but a disturbance was created in their hearts that could never be quelled till they came to Jesus Christ and found peace in Him. The history of the church of God is studded with the remarkable conversions of persons who did not wish to be converted, who were not looking for grace but were even opposed to it, and yet, by the interposing arm of eternal mercy, were struck down and transformed into earnest and devoted followers of the Lamb. 

From The Autobiography of Charles Spurgeon

It is true that “the history of the church of God is studded with the remarkable conversions.” Think of the murderous persecutor Saul of Tarsus who encountered Jesus on a road near Damascus. This unlikely recruit to Christianity spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ far and wide. 

Think of an atheistic college professor named C.S. Lewis who eventually surrendered to the truth in the Bible, calling himself the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England. Lewis went on to write some of the most influential Christian apologetic books of the 20th century. 

And most personally, think of yourself. Paul reminds us, “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth” (1 Corinthians 1:26). Yet God is using you right now to build His Church.

Keep on loving Jesus. Keep on sharing Jesus with your unsaved friends—no matter how antagonistic they may seem to your message. You never know what God may do with those “reluctant recruits.” 

9 Quotes From “Shepherding God’s Flock”

T.M. Moore has given pastors a phenomenal training resource in Shepherding God’s Flock. Please be sure to check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“The work of church leaders today—and especially of that class of leaders called elders, with which this study is concerned—has been shaped and conditioned more by the temper of our times than by the teaching of God’s Word.” 

“According to Paul, any church that does not have in place elders—and other leaders working with them—who are functioning as shepherds is a church that is not in order.… A church without a strong ministry of shepherding is a flock without genuine pastoral care, oversight, and equipping. It may be very active, even happy, and may be ‘growing’ in what some consider impressive ways. But without shepherding as the framework and integrating dynamic, such a church will always be something less than what God intends.” 

“Where the work of shepherding is being faithfully pursued, the gospel goes forth with power, lost sheep are located, and the flocks of God grow as He adds new souls to the fold.” 

“Where faithful shepherds are at work, the Lord’s sheep will be well fed. Both milk and the meat of the Word will be their daily diet, according to the needs and callings of each. Well-fed sheep are healthy, strong, and fruitful in their own contributions.” 

“The work of shepherding begins in relationships of mutual love and trust, spiritual friendships where sheep and shepherd know, love, and care about one another.” 

“Only when the people feel known and loved, and only when they know and love those who are called to lead them—only then will they be willing to follow where the shepherds of the church are seeking to take them.” 

“In the Christian life, people tend to live up to or achieve, not the level of their abilities, for their abilities are virtually limitless, given the presence of the indwelling Spirit of God. Rather, they tend to live up to the level of their vision—of what they see for their lives in Christ. Unless we are leading them into God’s vision for their lives, the people of God will settle for something less than the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” 

“When temptation arises we can follow one of two courses. Either we will fall through temptation into sin, or we will grow through temptation into a higher stage of sanctification. … The shepherd’s task is twofold: first, he must help the Lord’s sheep to recognize temptation, by grounding them firmly in the law and Word of God; second, he must equip and encourage them in finding the way of escape from temptation, so that they may grow as the Lord intends.” 

“Jesus’ approach to bearing witness was thus energetic, proactive, continuous, compassionate, and pioneering. Should we expect anything less from the shepherds He has left to bring other lost sheep into His fold?”

The Genealogy of a Healthy Church

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:2)

Paul list four generations in this healthy church—Paul ➡️ Timothy ➡️ faithful Christians ➡️ others. 

We all have a role to play, and every role is vital in a healthy church. Are you a…

Paul: a first generation Christian that needs to start the ball rolling?

Timothy: one who needs to pass along what you have learned to the next generation?

faithful Christian: someone that is actively living out what has been taught to you?

member of the Body of Christ: one that needs to reach out to someone who isn’t a part of the Body yet?

Every single role is indispensable if the Church is going to remain healthy. If any part of this genealogy is lost, the whole Church suffers.

Growth Problems

…the number of disciples was increasing… (Acts 6:1).

Growth is a nice problem to have. But it is still a problem that needs to be addressed, or else the growth can implode an organization. 

In this instance, the early Christian church was growing rapidly and attempting to address the need for getting food to widows. Apparently, some of the widows were being overlooked in that food distribution. 

To start the ball rolling on solving this growth problem, the apostles gave some simple parameters: We will focus on preaching, the rest of you should select administrators to oversee the food ministry (vv. 2-4). The job description was pretty simple too—they must have a good reputation, be full of the Holy Spirit, be wise, and (this is implied) be willing to serve.

Notice the trust the church leaders placed in that congregation: 

  • seek out from among you
  • they chose
  • they set them [the candidates] before the apostles

The congregation was pleased by both the apostles’ plan and the level of trust that was conferred on them. It appears that seven men were the unanimous selection of both the congregation and the church leaders. 

After these men were installed in their new administrative roles, look at the results:

  • more preaching
  • more salvations
  • more inroads into the Jewish religious leadership sect
  • more people fed
  • more miracles performed
  • and more persecution from those threatened by the church’s rapid growth

It’s interesting to note that Luke uses the word added to talk about the church’s growth in chapters 1-5, but after this growth problem is successfully resolved, Luke stops using added and only uses multiplication terminology. 

When handled the right way, growth problems—or any problems, for that matter—lead to more growth. 

A mark of a godly leader is one who handles growth problems correctly. 

This is part 36 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

Links & Quotes

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“The Apostle Paul tells us that a temple of God, properly adorned and maintained, grows in unity and maturity in the Lord Jesus, as pastors and teachers equip church members to do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16). A building and other facilities can aid in this process, but they are not essential. Indeed, in many ways they can actually distract us from our task by so defining and confining what we do in the name of ministry that our endeavors consistently look more like the ways of the world than the work of the Lord, more like maintaining and maximizing an institution than seeking and advancing a Kingdom not of this world. … As we build our churches let us not lose sight of the fact that what matters most to the Lord is not the number, shape, and usability of the buildings we erect, but the health, growth, and ministries of the people in whom He has come to dwell.” —T.M. Moore

“When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow.” —Anais Nin

“The Lord’s Prayer contains 56 words; the Gettysburg Address, 266; the Ten Commandments, 297; the Declaration of Independence, 300; and a recent U.S. government order setting the price of cabbage, 26,911. At the state level, over 250,000 bills are introduced each year. And 25,000 pass the legislatures to disappear into the labyrinths of the law.” —Al Ries and Jack Trout

“For some (even for some Christians), faith is best defined as ‘believing in something that lacks supporting evidence.’ But this is not the definition of faith that is presented on the pages of Christian Scripture.” Read more from J. Warner Wallace on how Christianity Promotes Rational (and Evidential) Exploration.

Frank Turek points out, “Remember, Moses was on the wrong side of the golden calf. And [Abraham] Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was on the wrong side of Dred Scott.…” In this post he shares why same-sex “marriage” proponents are on the wrong side of God, evolution and humanity.

[VIDEO] This 5-minute clip of noted New Testament scholar N.T. Wright on homosexuality is well worth your time—

My son tipped me off to a thought-provoking post on dating relationships: How Our Dating Culture As Already Broken Your Future Wife’s Heart.

Links & Quotes

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“Historically speaking, God’s glory has often shone the brightest when the church was at its weakest. In fact, Christians should see times of cultural/political weakness as a time of the greatest opportunity to exhibit Christ.” So true! Check out the post God’s Glory And The Church’s Weakness.

For anyone who interacts with teenagers, Mark Merrill has a helpful post: 7 Cs For Communication With Teens.

Seth Godin says, “Do overs are possible, but they take guts.” Read more in his post The Do Over.

Yep, it’s true…

Death of a social media outlet

The Counselor

The CounselorThere are several people in the Bible that are called “a counselor.” But there is only One Who is called “the Counselor.” This is the title Jesus gave to the Holy Spirit, when He said One was coming Who would be of invaluable help to us.

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. On that first Pentecost after Christ’s ascension, something amazing happened to the followers of Jesus—they were baptized in the Holy Spirit. The Counselor saturated their lives with His wisdom.

From this moment the Christians operated in extraordinary wisdom, power, discernment, boldness, and effectiveness.

Josh McDowell points out, “By AD 100, the apostles had died, but the Christian Church was still in its infancy, with fewer than twenty-five thousand proclaimed followers of Christ. But within the next two hundred years, the fledgling church experienced explosive multiplication of growth, to include as many as twenty million people. This means the church of Jesus Christ quadrupled every generation for five consecutive generations!” (emphasis added)

This type of growth was only possible because of the counsel The Counselor imparted every day to these new Christians. And this same counsel and help and empowerment is available to all Christians today!

This Sunday at Calvary Assembly of God we begin a new series called “The Counselor.” If you are in the Cedar Springs area and don’t have a home church, I invite you to come join us to learn more about this power that is for you.

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