Apr 22 10

The Baptist and the Bankers


“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

In September 1885, the great English Baptist pastor, Charles Spurgeon, preached a message on the text of Matthew 6:33. The venue for his message is quite interesting because the occasion was a monthly meeting of the London Banks’ Prayer Union. Spurgeon was asked to give a speech to this group, and in reading his opening remarks the reader is struck by his humor. He laments that his weakness is that he cannot give a speech without turning it into a sermon. In itself, this is not so remarkable because Spurgeon was the most prolific preacher of the last two thousand years. His sermons are a staple with any conservative Bible believing preacher and he is quoted by many liberals albeit without understanding the man and the importance of his theology. The sermon form is quite understandable but the venue for his address surely escapes most of us today.

I cannot even entertain for a moment the thought that a conservative, Bible believing Baptist preacher would be asked to speak at a meeting of bankers. Further, I cannot imagine that the CEO’s of JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank and others would ever get together to hold a prayer meeting! Such is the difference 125 years of history makes.

The title of Spurgeon’s sermon was “First Things First.” I do not know the true spiritual condition of the bankers present on that day, but Spurgeon must have had some insight when he began his message thusly: “Possibly I address myself to some who have hitherto lived at hap-hazard; and if so, I invite them to a more hopeful method of living. To have a great many aims and objects is much the same thing as having no aim at all; for if a man shoots at many things he will hit none, or none worth the hitting. It is a grand thing to know what we are living for, and to live for a worthy object with the undivided energy of our being. Shall we, when the end comes, have made a success of life? Has our object been a right one, and has it been wisely pursued? Are the results of our conduct such as we shall wish them to have been when the conflict of this mortal life is over? These questions deserve consideration at once.”

From this statement, Spurgeon launched into his sermon showing that the most important pursuit of life is God’s kingdom and His righteousness. Spurgeon’s sermon is flavored with brilliant commentary, such as: “Hypocrites swallow religion in lumps, inviting all to admire the quantity; but sincere seekers after righteousness quietly dissolve their godliness in their lives and sweeten all their common relationships therewith. The real saint flavours his ordinary life with grace, so that his wife, and his children, his servants and his neighbors, are the better for it. Mr. Rowland Hill used to say that a man was not a true Christian if his dog and his cat were not the better off for it. That witness is true. A man’s religion ought to be to him what perfume is to a rose, or light to the sun: it should be the necessary outcome of his existence. If his life is not fragrant with truth, and bright with love, the question arises whether he knows the religion of our Lord Jesus.”

How blessed it would be if our Baptist pulpits were graced with such eloquence, and that we would once again have Spurgeon’s opportunity to preach in such places. There was no fear to speak truth straight from scripture no matter who was in attendance. Spurgeon called men to holiness, to live the religion they professed. Bankers need to heed the message, but how much more is this message needed for members of Berean Baptist Church! Christ not only expects this from us, He demands it!

Pastor V. Mark Smith