Gleanings from Biographies (part four)

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They Worked Heartily unto the Lord and not Man

The men we are looking at all believed in the complete sovereignty of God and yet they were not lackadaisical or lazy about their responsibility to do the work that God had called them to do. These men were not hyper-calvinists but realized, as Edwards said,

God does all, and we do all. God produces all, and we act all… God is the only proper author and fountain; we only are the proper actors. We are, in different respects, wholly passive and wholly active. In the Scriptures the same things are represented as from God and from us. God is said to covert [2 Tim. 2:25], and men are said to convert and turn [Acts 2:38]. God makes us a new heart [Ezek. 36:26], and we are commanded to make us a new heart [Ezek. 18:31]. God circumcises the heart [Deut. 30:6], and we are commanded to circumcise our own hearts [Deut. 10:16] … These things are agreeable to that text, ‘God worketh in you both to will and to do [Phil. 2:13].[1]

These men worked with all the power that God worked within them (Col. 1:29; Phil. 2:12-13; 1 Cor. 12:6; Heb. 13:21; 1 Cor. 12:6; 15:10).

Edwards fully gave himself to God and worked hard[2] yet Edwards “understood that no matter how resolved or determined he might be, he could not glorify God in his own strength.”[3] Edwards said “Neither have I any right to this body, or any of its members- no right to this tongue, these hands, these feet; no right to these senses, these eyes, these ears, this smell, or this taste. I have given myself clear away, and have not retained any thing as my own…” and he said “…I would adhere to the faith and obedience of the gospel, however hazardous and difficult the confession and practice of it may be.”[4]

Spurgeon’s almost unbelievable work ethic is demonstrated by the legacy he left in published writing, very likely more than any other single English author. Not only that but also all his preaching engagements and all the organizations he oversaw as pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle demonstrate Spurgeon’s amazing ability to work heartily unto the Lord. We must also look at the average of five hundred letters he would write each week, which it is estimated could have taken around eight and a half hours. [5] Here is just one example: “Although sick, tired, and very busy, Spurgeon took time to write to a boy—one who he had never met and of whom he had learned through the prayers of his parents.”[6]

Lloyd-Jones work ethic for God’s glory can even be seen in how he often closed his calls: “Well, keep on!” Even late in his life he worked incredibly hard. For example at the age of eighty, “At the appeal of trustees of the seminary” with which Lloyd had got involved he “read a large body of written material and from a hospital bed… dictated a statement… Most men [in his] state of health would have begged to be excused.”[7]

We must learn from these men and work when it is still day, night is coming when no man will work (John 9:4) and we must work because our labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).

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[1] John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Grand: Baker Book House, 1992), 94-95.

[2] For instance, Edwards would commonly spend thirteen hours in his study each day (Murray, Edward, 183).

[3] Lawson, The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards, 51.

[4] Ibid., 55

[5] See Dallimore, Spurgeon: A New Biography, 134. Dr. Donald Whitney gives this estimation.

[6] Dallimore, Spurgeon: A New Biography, 225.

[7] Murray, The Fight of Faith, 721 see also 44, 47-48, 718 and idem, The First Forty Years 341.