“Except the Lord endow us with power from on high, our labor must be in vain, and our hopes must end in disappointment” --Charles Spurgeon
The above quote comes on the heels of Spurgeon’s humorous comment that, “I shall not attempt to teach a tiger the virtues of vegetarianism; but I shall as hopefully attempt that task as I would try to convince an unregenerate man of the truths revealed by God concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment to come”. Spurgeon, an eloquent and highly gifted minister of the gospel, understood that apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in converting souls, his ministry and labor would be in vain. He understood that our task of ministry (and here I am not speaking only of vocational ministry) is indeed impossible without being endowed with power from on high.
Spurgeon deeply believed with the Scriptures that “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God”. Therefore, Spurgeon knew that his hope was not in “convincing” an unregenerate man of the truths revealed by God but a complete reliance upon the work of the Spirit. The only way that men will come to knowledge of truth is if God puts his Spirit within them (Ezekiel 36:27). To really understand total human depravity is to understand that apart from the work of the Spirit of God no man will come to Christ.
It saddens me when believers balk at the notion of total depravity--the doctrine that sin has affected the totality of our humanness. This doctrine affirms with Paul that without Christ “you were dead in your trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). When we forget the doctrine of total depravity a happy confidence in the sovereign power of God is replaced with an idolatrous clinging to methods, programs, purpose statements, fads, and human ingenuity to
spread the gospel grow churches. Unfortunately, church growth experts are not the only ones with amnesia in this area.
Those that are more theologically astute (or at least consider themselves as such) can be guilty of clinging to correct doctrine, beliefs, and "biblical practices" in the belief that such things will inevitably bring about spiritual growth. Yet, Spurgeon's quote must also sound the bell in this area, "Except the Lord endow us with power from on high, our labor must be in vain, and our hopes must end in disappointment”.
Instead of clinging to our human ingenuity let us cast ourselves wholly upon the mercy of God. Instead of clinching our hands around "correct doctrine" let us buckle our knees in prayer. If we really understand the state of fallen man and the power of the redeeming grace of the Lord then we will plead with God Almighty to send His Spirit upon us in our witness, and upon the lost and dying we are witnessing to. Our only hope is power from on high: please join in prayer with me that God might, by His grace and for His glory, send an outpouring of His Spirit upon His Bride and the broken world we live in.
Now if this truth will only go so deep in my heart that it causes action in the moments I'm caught off-guard.