Michael Reeves book Spurgeon on the Christian Life: Alive in Christ focuses on the heart of Spurgeon’s ministry in general and his private devotion to Christ in particular. Reeves calls to the reader to follow Spurgeon’s example— “Look to Christ.” Isaiah 45:22 says it perfectly, “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” While other books rightly champion Spurgeon’s ministry Reeves provides a wonderful contribution to the field by urging the reader to see the centrality of Christ in all of life. In Reeve’s words, “Spurgeon was unreservedly Christ-centered and Christ-shaped in his theology” (16). While this is not a comprehensive work on Spurgeon’s theology nor a full biography, Spurgeon’s embodied theology wonderfully emerges. I hope, alongside Reeves’, that “Spurgeon’s sermons and writing might be more widely read” (17).
I would highly recommend this book to students, pastors, and friends for at least four reasons.
First, Reeves work introduces us to the “Prince of Preachers.” The reader will get a glimpse into the life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. From his humor and love for botany, to his preaching style, the man was full of life. Spurgeon was unique in his personality, and he provides an excellent example of a joyful life in Christ.
Second, Reeves writes with Christ-centered clarity, which makes the book incredibly encouraging. Exploring topics such as Christ and the Bible, Puritanism, Calvinism, and Christ and preaching, Reeves shows that Spurgeon’s life is not about his own fame and glory, rather it is about Christ’s.
Third, Reeves reminds us of the importance of God’s grace, the cross, and the new birth. On the day of Spurgeon’s conversion there were only twelve to fifteen people present. Reeves wrote, “The preacher fixed his eyes on Spurgeon and spoke to him directly: “Young man, you look very miserable.” Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live” (86). The minister was preaching straight to Spurgeon’s heart.
Later Spurgeon wrote, “I saw at once the way of salvation.” He continued, “Look! what a charming word it seemed to me! Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him” (86).
The centrality of Christ in this amazing testimony kept me reading late at night and brought me to tears on more than one occasion. Reeves captures the greatness of Christ on display in Spurgeon’s life and it was stunning. Who can get over the way God works in a human heart?
Fourth, Reeves includes helpful insights into the new life of a Christian. He explores topics such as the Holy Spirit and prayer, pilgrimage, suffering and depression, and final glory. Spurgeon’s new life in Christ didn’t mean he didn’t face hardships. He experienced real sickness, loss, health, success, and different tragedies. But he had hope. For forty-two years, from conversion to death, Spurgeon looked to Christ through it all. And “having found new life in Christ himself, he dedicated his days to entreating all others: “Look to Christ”” (16).
I would highly recommend this well-researched and winsomely written book, and would encourage you to join us in “Looking to Christ.”
Spurgeon on the Christian Life: Alive in Christ. By Michael Reeves. Wheaton, IL Crossway, 2018, 194pp., $14.57 paper.
*I received a review copy from Crossway.