Gospel Progressing in Conflict

by Frank Jones


"The suffering of the Puritans, the illustrations in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, the bloody strictures of Bonner and his crew, the Pope and his crew, the progress made for truth and the gospel through stocks, prison, burnings, and blood permeated Spurgeon’s understanding of mission theology. That they did not count their lives dear to themselves in comparison to the great calling of working for the defense and propagation of the gospel—such scenes settled in Spurgeon’s memory and molded his conscience. God’s gospel would make progress when its propagators looked death in the face and did not relent. The issues of eternity overwhelm any temporal and, relatively speaking, momentary suffering that a gospel missionary might endure. When Baptist missionaries returned from Ireland because the Irish hooted them, and threw stones at them, Spurgeon snarled, “Now don’t you think you see Paul taking a microscope out of his pocket, and looking at a little man who should say to him, ‘I shall not go there to preach, because the Irish hooted me!’” What a small edition of a preacher such an intimidated creature must be. But they threw stones! Tell that to Paul with a face unashamed. But the police interfered, they might put us in stocks, and some might even die. “Our business is to preach the word,” Spurgeon responded; “Where is that zeal which counted not its life dear, so that it might win Christ?” The killing of a few of our ministers would prosper Christianity, he preached; if men die by the hundreds and thousands in defense of hearth and home, so surely it is no great grief to lose a dozen to death in the cause of the gospel. “I would count my own blood most profitably shed in so holy a struggle,” Spurgeon affirmed. When the gospel prospered aforetime, it did so because some laid down their lives for it and others walked “to victory over their slain bodies.” (Nettles, T. J. Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (Revised edition ed.). Mentor, 25.)