The Life and Ministry of Charles Spurgeon

In our day, any contention, even if it is for the sake of Christ, His Church, or His truth, is frowned upon. Most churches are unconcerned with wolves in sheep’s clothing and fail to equip their people to “contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). This spiritual plague grows worse with each passing day.

The modern church has much to learn from the life and ministry of The Prince of Preachers – Charles Haddon Spurgeon. A lover of sinners, a warrior for the faith, and a servant of Christ, Spurgeon faithfully defended God’s truth in a time when “compromise” was fashionable.

Watch the full YouTube Playlist here.

Session 1: A Precocious Heart and Mind: The Childhood of Charles Spurgeon

A brief overview and history of Charles Spurgeon’s childhood. A six-year-old Charles confronts a church member of his grandfather’s church at a local bar; Spurgeon’s grandfather’s funeral; memorizing hymns; Charles’ upbringing by his father’s sister, his Aunt Anne, and more.


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Session 2: Personal Q&A with Phil Johnson

Questions from this session include:

  1. How did you meet your wife? How many kids/grandkids? What do they do? Do they all live near you?
  2. How did the Lord save you? What is your testimony?
  3. What was your post-High School education?
  4. How did you come to meet John MacArthur and end up at Grace Community Church?
  5. What is your ministry at Grace? What is your ministry at Grace to You? Where do you find time to teach and be an elder?
  6. Was Grace to You already a ministry when you arrived at GCC?
  7. Spurgeon was committed to the doctrines of grace (Calvinism). When did you come to those convictions yourself? Was Grace Community Church always known for its commitment to those doctrines? How influential were you in shaping GCC in that area?
  8. Has there been growth and development in that theology since you have been there?
  9. Of all the elders at Grace, you are probably the most well-known outside John MacArthur. How many other elders are there?
  10. Your online presence is quite ubiquitous (Twitter, Facebook, Pyromaniacs Blot, Phil’s Bookmarks, Spurgeon Archive). When John is attacked, you seem to be the one who steps to line to defend him? How do you get tasked with that? Why is that so often the case?
  11. What are your hobbies outside of Grace to You and Grace Community Church?
  12. What do you do to relax? What is your ideal vacation – money no object?
  13. Tell me something true about yourself that most people who only know you from a distance (online) would find surprising.
  14. Do you have any plans to write a book of your own?
  15. What does the retirement plan of John MacArthur and Phil Johnson look like?
  16. How do you get saddled with the most controversial topics at Shepherd’s Conference.
  17. What happened to Too Wretched for Radio?
  18. Were you and Jason Duchow separated at birth?

Recommended Resources:

Session 3: Look and Live: The Conversion of Charles Spurgeon

Spurgeon’s conversion as a teenager. Spurgeon’s recollection of utter depravity prior to his conversion. The influence of his parents and grandparents which ultimately led to his conversion. His critique of Roman Catholicism called The Antichrist and Her Brood written at 15 years of age, and more.


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Session 4: A Marvelous Ministry: The Preaching of Charles Spurgeon, Part 1

More on the conversion of Charles Spurgeon as a teenager. The preaching style of Charles Spurgeon. Spurgeon’s near-photographic memory. Hearing Spurgeon preach word-for-word in crowds as large as 23,000 without amplification, and more.


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Session 5: A Marvelous Ministry: The Preaching of Charles Spurgeon, Part 2

The preaching style of Charles Spurgeon continued. How Spurgeon defended the truth in his preaching. How Spurgeon prepared for his messages. The relationship and contrast of fellow preacher James Wells and Charles Spurgeon, and more.


Recommended Resources:

Session 6: Q&A

Questions from this session include:

  1. For someone wanting to read a biography of Charles Spurgeon, what would you recommend?
  2. Can you recommend your three best books on Spurgeon?
  3. So many prominent Christian leaders end their lives surrounded by scandal. Either sexual compromise or doctrinal compromise. Many have fallen even within our own lifetime. You work with a man who has been faithful and uncompromising through more than 50 years of pastoral ministry. Q: Was Spurgeon or his ministry ever accused of sexual or financial impropriety? What kinds of accusations, if any, were raised against Spurgeon? Q: How has John MacArthur protected himself against similar temptations and or failure?
  4. Spurgeon’s productivity is legendary. Describe a typical week for Charles Spurgeon. What motivates a person to that kind of service? The ministry of Grace to You has been similarly productive. It could be argued that there hasn’t been a greater force for the propagation of Biblical teaching in the history of the church. What motivates you and John MacArthur and your colleagues to this level of productivity for the kingdom?
  5. Obviously, Phil Johnson and Charles Spurgeon would not agree on every point and nuance of theology. If Spurgeon were alive today and you could sit down to persuade him to change his mind on the biggest issue where you would disagree, what would that issue be? How would you present your argument?
  6. If you could live in the 1800s and serve alongside Spurgeon as you have for John MacArthur, what counsel would you give him that would: – improve his preaching? – improve his effectiveness? – prolong his life? – protect him?

From the Audience: Bonus Questions:

  1. What are the historical roots of egalitarianism in the church? Does this connect back to a particular ancient heresy or heretical group, or is it a modern invention?
  2. What is the woke movement in evangelicalism, and what does it have to do with the gospel?
  3. Recently GCC has been in the headlines because you are gathering to worship in defiance of state restrictions. This seems to have brought about a bit of nuance in GCC stance on civil disobedience. I heard Mike Riccardi reference some of the teachings of the reformers on the doctrine of the lesser magistrate and defying tyrants. Did the view among some of the elders change over this issue?

Recommended Resources:

Session 7: Greatheart at War: The Controversies of Charles Spurgeon

The drift of the Baptist Union, the Downgrade Controversy, and other controversies which ultimately caused Spurgeon’s bad health and eventually claimed his life. A fundamentalist who stood firm on biblical principles and never waivered.


Recommended Resources:

Session 8: Steadfast & Immovable: The Enduring Legacy of Spurgeon’s Influence

Charles Spurgeon’s steadfast stand against other ministers following the drift of that day’s culture and relevance. Staying true to Scripture. The ministry contrast between Charles Spurgeon and Joseph Parker and more.


Recommended Resources:

Session 9: Spurgeon & Cigars; Grace Church Update; Q&A

A brief discussion on Charles Spurgeon and his love for cigars. Also a brief Q&A at the end of this session on Spurgeon’s cigars and Grace Community Church. For further reading, read Spurgeon’s Love of Fine Cigars.


Recommended Resources:

Phil Johnson

Phil Johnson

Executive Director, Grace to You

Phil Johnson was born June 11, 1953, in Oklahoma City, OK. He spent his formative years in Wichita, KS, and then Tulsa, OK. He graduated from Nathan Hale High School in Tulsa in 1971. That same year he was led by the grace of God to trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. (If you want to read Phil’s own account of his conversion, click here.)

Today, he is the Executive Director and radio host for Grace to You, a Christian media ministry featuring the preaching and writings of John MacArthur. Phil has been closely associated with John MacArthur since 1981 and edits most of MacArthur’s major books. Phil also pastors an adult fellowship group called GraceLife at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA. And he can be heard almost weekly on a podcast with Todd Friel titled “Too Wretched for Radio.”

Phil studied at Southeastern Oklahoma State University for one year, then transferred to Moody Bible Institute, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in theology (class of 1975). He was an assistant pastor in St. Petersburg, Florida, and an editor for Moody Press before moving to Southern California to take his current position in 1983.

Theologically, Phil is a committed Calvinist—with a decidedly Baptistic bent. (That explains his love for Charles Spurgeon). Phil is also an inveterate reader and bibliophile. He has a beautiful wife (Darlene), three grown sons, three fantastic daughters-in-law, and seven adorable grandchildren.

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