Following Christ: Losing Your Life For His Sake, by Charles H. Spurgeon
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Aneko Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
As someone who has read quite a few books by this author, there is a certain degree of similarity that one finds. The author is passionate, even strident about his interest in personal holiness on the part of believers as well as the fundamental doctrines of Protestantism and this book is no exception. The books are tough-minded and are organized as a series of sermons one after another, which is the case here. The author is dogged in discussing his point, not belaboring the point but not letting go from it either. One can picture the author’s rhetoric as something like a bulldog that has attached its jaw to something that he will not let go from, and in this particular volume that something is the author’s conception of following Christ and the importance of accomplishing that task for every believer. As is often the case, there is a refreshing degree of honesty as well as a steadfast refusal to adopt ragamuffin gospels that seek to make it any less of a challenge than it would be when viewed honestly and directly.
This book is a relatively short one at less than 150 pages, divided into nineteen chapters. The author begins with the necessity of following Christ (1) and then moves on to how to go about doing this (2). There are discussions about the necessity of help from the Holy Spirit (3) and the fact that our faith is in Christ alone (4). There is a discussion of the relationship between good faith and good works (5) and the importance of being faithful with the talents God has already given us (6). The author points to the joy of the Lord’s harvest (7) and the importance of unity in the body working together (8). The author points out that we are only servants (9) and that while with God nothing is impossible (10), we must bear fruit (11) and work only for His glory (12) and not our own. The author indulges his interest in symbolic language like a fire and a hammer (13) as well as the need to be aware of various kinds of foxes (14) while reminding the reader that good things take time (15) even if there is the urgency of starting today (16). The author encourages readers to speak out about their faith (17), appeals to the limitlessness of God’s providence (18), and looks at how our meager loves can be multiplied in Jesus’ hands (19), after which there is a short biography of the author.
This particular volume is easy to recognize as a Christian classic. The author discusses a vitally important aspect of Christian life, namely our duty to follow Christ, and seeks to remove any of the excuses that could be made for not doing this well. There is the reminder that if we are followers of Christ we will be judged on how we have born fruit, but at the same time there is none of the seeking of personal glory that one can find from those who believe they are responsible for the talents they have or the fruit they bear through the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit. The combination of a strong focus on faith as well as on godly works, on the patience one needs to allow godliness to bear fruit in one’s efforts and in the urgency of starting today provides the work with a firm sense of balance among the various complexities of the life of believers. The author demonstrates his passionate commitment to Christ even as he maintains a sense of humility about his own individual role in proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.