7 Things Spurgeon Said About Apostolic Movements…

spurgeon-cigars“There may be some who say the success has been proportionate to the agency, and that we could not have been more successful. I am far from being of their opinion, and I do not think they themselves would express it on their knees before Almighty God. We have not been successful to the extent we might have expected, certainly not to an apostolic extent, certainly with nothing like the success of Paul or Peter, or even of those imminent men who have preceded us in modern times, and who were able to evangelize whole countries, turning thousands to God. Now, what is the reason of this? Perhaps we may turn our eyes on high, and think we find that reason in the sovereignty of God, which hath withholden his Spirit, and hath not poured out his grace as aforetime.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

While there’s much to consider in this quote, I’d like to focus on 3 things:

1.  The agency he speaks of is people.  He believed that the eminent privilege of the Church was to proclaim the gospel, that God will rarely do his own work without instruments, and that has always employed “means” in the work of the regeneration of the world.  The stuff of Apostolic movements is you.  To some degree, methodology is important, but more so, medium and message.  

2.  Our expectations might be out of alignment.  To assume outcomes when everything is “done right” in creating a movement, is presumptuous at best and may even border on arrogance.  How often have you heard about “tweaking,” “shifting,” or “nuancing” some formulaic approach to mission?  The apostolic methods of yesteryear might not be the prescriptions of God’s people for today.  Measuring the extent of your success according to your own benchmarks  may just be like saying “mirror mirror on the wall…”  

3.  God may be withholding His Spirit.  This is not something that I hear people talking about often.  What if the place where you want to work, where you live, or where you think you need to be incarnational is intentionally being ignored by God?  What if it’s not His time to be where YOU want to be? (Acts 16:6)  What if the Lord is withholding His Spirit?  All the trend analysis and contextualization in the world isn’t going to get you where God wants to be.

“Concerning Apostolic Movements, Spurgeon also went on to say,

“We must see what the difference is between ourselves and the men of Apostolic times, and what it is that renders our success so trifling in comparison with the tremendous results of Apostolic preaching. I think I shall be able to show a few reasons why our holy faith is not so prosperous as it was then. In the first place, we have not Apostolic men; in the second place, they do not set about their work in an Apostolic style; in the third place, we have not Apostolic churches to back them up; and in the fourth place, we have not the Apostolic influence of the Holy Ghost in the measure which they had it in ancient times.”

 

A few questions:

A.  Can you give an example of where God has done something without an agency?

B.  How do you differentiate a historic account of what has happened in the early church with respect to movements, and what is prescriptive for the church today?

C.  In your opinion, does God “withhold His Spirit” from various places today?  

 

0 thoughts on “7 Things Spurgeon Said About Apostolic Movements…

  1. Marshall says:

    we may remember certain people who have been called out by Him without the agency (of man), even as from the horizon described at Romans 1:20. Also, even in “revival”, more is being done in unexplained spontaneity than can be accounted to His use of men.

    Revivalism, along with various movements, don’t connect well with Acts 2, 4, etc. There have been “greater things” since, though recorded history seldom seems a whit to tell the difference.

    not opinion, yet observation to report how a neglected city may often be taken in unbelief. [Matthew 13:58] New Orleans, Louisiana, as example, has delved a faithless-to-Christ condition nearly into infamy. One might postulate a bit that, since faith comes from God, He may (by human terms of understanding) neglect or deny a city, even such as the city of Sodom long ago; or Nineveh, which apparently experienced seasons for faith. [Jonah 3:6; Nahum 3:7; Zephaniah 2] Yet His compassion is unchanged. (such is beyond our thinking-thru to summary.)

  2. Galen Currah says:

    A. Can you give an example of where God has done something without an agency?

    Such as create the universe? Fire upon Sodom? The conception of Jesus? Cornelius’ vision?

    If by agency you mean a state-registered church or a missionary society, then I confidently affirm that God normally acts without an agency.

    B. How do you differentiate a historic account of what has happened in the early church with respect to movements, and what is prescriptive for the church today?

    What else is there?

    Theologians’ descriptive–prescriptive dichotomy only obscures two facts:
    1) Scriptural testimonies remain “normative”
    2) Most advances of the Kingdom into new territory resemble the historical accounts in the Book of Acts.

    Let me recommend http://www.amazon.com/Miraculous-Movements-Hundreds-Thousands-Muslims-ebook/dp/B00759NKOM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389648318&sr=8-1&keywords=miraculous+movements

    C. In your opinion, does God “withhold His Spirit” from various places today?

    Acts 5:32 “God gives his Holy Spirit to those who obey him.” You can count on it. Theologians whining from behind their pulpits could hardly be said either to obey Jesus or to help others to do so.

  3. Tim says:

    A. Acts 14:17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”

    B. Descriptive accounts become perceptive when they are supported by instructions to do so. Everything Paul did (that I can think of) is prescriptive because he tells us over and over to “follow his example”. Timothy and Titus followed every example of Paul.

    C. Yes. It may or may not be disciplinary or judgement. It may simply be sovereign decree. God’ Spirit has many carried functions in the heart of every believer and outside of it.

  4. Marshall says:

    Galen is writing, “Most advances of the Kingdom into new territory resemble the historical accounts in the Book of Acts.”, while the accounts from the Acts of the Apostles are quite diverse and with dissimilarity. curious.

    Tim is writing, “Everything Paul did (that I can think of) is prescriptive because he tells us over and over to ‘follow his example’. Timothy and Titus followed every example of Paul.”
    Let us hope not to EVERY example. Acts 16:1-3?
    Jesus is the given example [John 13:15], as both Paul & Peter acknowledge [I Timothy 1:16; I Peter 2:21].
    Paul’s approval for modeling [I Thessalonians 1:7] and “imitating” [Philippians 3:17], sometimes translated as “example”, has suffered a bit among western-styled folks today who may understand “imitation” as roughly equivalent to “fake”.
    to note: II Thessalonians 3:7 as “example” for how Paul may oft’ be suffering a “translation fix twist”. Consider: “you yourselves are aware for how it is binding to be imitating us…” Not prescriptive; not the same as “you ought to follow our example.”

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