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The Man of One Subject

The Church today is pulled in countless directions—each with an emphasis to make something the great focus, to use the latest methods, or to emphasize a certain nuance in their message. In the following article, taken from a portion of Charles Spurgeon's sermon “The Man of One Subject,” Spurgeon declares that there is one great focus in Christianity—Jesus Christ Himself. Any other message, emphasis, or focus pales in comparison and must be secondary to the centrality of Jesus Christ. In short, Charles Spurgeon declares that we all, like Paul, must become men and women of one subject.

“For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified”
– 1 Corinthians 2:2 –

Paul was a very determined man and whatever he undertook he carried out with all his heart. Once let him say, “I determined,” and you might be sure of a vigorous course of action! “This one thing I do” was always his motto. The unity of his soul and its mighty resoluteness were the main features of his character. He had once been a great opposer of Christ and His Cross and had shown his opposition by furious persecutions. It was not so very much to be wondered at that when he became a disciple of this same Jesus whom he had persecuted, he should become a very ardent one and bring all his faculties to bear upon the preaching of Christ crucified. …

Instead of knowing a great many things which might have led up to the main subject, he would not know anything in Corinth save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Paul might have said, “I had better beat about the bush and educate the people up to a certain point before I come to my main point. To lay bare my ultimate intent at the first might be to spread the net in the sight of the birds and frighten them away. I will be cautious and reticent and will take them with guile, enticing them on in pursuit of the truths of God.” But Paul did not do that! Looking at the matter all round as a prudent man should, he comes to this resolve, that he will know nothing among them save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

I would to God that the “culture” we hear of in these days, and all this boasted “modern thought” would come to the same conclusion! This most renowned and scholarly divine, after reading, marking, learning and inwardly digesting everything as few men could do, yet came to this as to the issue of it all: “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” May God grant that the critical skill of our contemporaries and their laborious consideration may land them on the same shore by the blessing of the Holy Spirit! …

[Paul] began with His blessed Person and distinctly described Him [Jesus] as he had been taught by the Holy Spirit! And as to His crucifixion, he put it in the front and made it the main point. He did not say, “Well, we will leave the matter of His death for a time,” or, “We will consider it under the aspect of a martyrdom by which He completed His testimony.” No! Paul gloried in the crucified Redeemer, the dead and buried Christ, the sin-bearing Christ, the Christ made a curse for us, as it is written, “Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree.” This was the subject to which he confined himself at Corinth—beyond this he would not stir an inch. He does not merely determine to keep his preaching to that point, but he resolves not even to know any other subject! He would keep his mind fast closed among them to any thought but Jesus Christ and Him crucified!

Very unwise this must have seemed. Call in a council of worldly wise men and they will condemn such a rash course, for, in the first place, such preaching would drive away all the Jews. Holding, as the Jews did, the Old Testament Scriptures and receiving, therefore, a great deal of teaching about the Messiah and holding very firmly to the unity of the Godhead, the Jews had gone a long way towards the light—and if Paul had kept back the objectionable points a little while, might he not have drawn them a little further, and so by degrees have landed them at the Cross? …

The apostle yielded to no such policy! He would not win either Jew or Gentile by keeping back the Truth of God, for he knew that such converts are worthless. If the man who is near the kingdom will be driven right away from the Gospel by hearing the unvarnished Truth, that is no guide as to Paul’s duty. He knows that the Gospel must be a “savor of death unto death” to some as well as of “life unto life” unto others and, therefore, whichever may occur he must deliver his own soul. Consequences are not for Paul, but for the Lord! It is ours to speak the Truth boldly and in every case we shall be a sweet savor unto God. But to compromise, in the hope of making converts, is to do evil that good may come—and this is never to be thought of for an instant!

Another would say, “But, Paul, if you do this, you cause opposition. Do you not know that Christ crucified is a byword and a reproach to all thinking men? Why, at Corinth there are a number of philosophers and, I tell you, it will create unbounded ridicule if you so much as open your mouth about the Crucified One and His Resurrection. Do not you remember on Mars’ Hill how they mocked you when you spoke upon that theme? Do not provoke their contempt! Argue with their Gnosticism and show them that you, too, are a philosopher! Be all things to all men. Be learned among the learned and rhetorical among the orators. By these means you will make many friends and, by degrees, your conciliatory conduct will bring them to accept the Gospel.”

The apostle shakes his head, puts down his foot and with firm voice utters his decision, “I have determined,” he says; “I have already made up my mind. Your counsels and advice are lost upon me. I have determined to know nothing among the Corinthians — however learned the Gentile portion of them may be, or however fond of rhetoric — save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” He stands to that. It is further worthy of note that the apostle had resolved that his subject should so engross the attention of his hearers that he would not even speak it with excellency of speech or garnish it with man’s wisdom! …

And I ask you now, my brethren, one thing more. Is not Christ and Him crucified the thing to live on and the thing to die on? Worldlings can live upon their flimsies. They can delight themselves under their Jonah’s gourds while they last. But when a man is depressed in spirit and tortured in body, where does he look? If he is a Christian, where does he fly? Where, indeed, but to Jesus crucified? How often have I been glad to creep into the temple and stand in the poor publican’s shoes and say, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” looking only to that Mercy Seat which Jesus sprinkled with His precious blood? This will do to die with! I do not believe we shall die seeking consolation from our peculiar church organizations. Nor shall we die grasping with a dying clutch either ordinance or doctrine by itself. Our soul must live and die on Jesus crucified!

Notice all the saints, when they die, whether they do not get back to Calvary’s great Sacrifice. They believed a great many things. Some of them had many crotchets and whims and oddities, but the main point comes uppermost in death. “Jesus died for me, Jesus died for me” — they all come to that! Well, where they get at last, do you not think it would be well to go at first? And if that is the bottom of it all and it certainly is, would it not be as well for us to keep to that? While some are glorying in this and some in that, some have this form of worship and some that, let us say, “God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me and I unto the world.”

Brethren, I commend to you more and more the bringing of the Cross of Christ into prominence, because it is this which will weld us more and more closely to one another and will keep us in blessed unity. …

Personally I might know a host of things—I specially might, for everybody tries to teach me something! I get advice by the wagonload—one pulls this ear and one pulls that. Well, I might know a great deal, but I find I should have to leave some of you behind if I went off to these things—and I love you too well for that. I am determined to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. If any man will keep to that, I will say, “Give me your hand, my brother! Jesus washed it with His blood as He did mine. Come, brother, let us look up together at the same Cross. What do you make of it?”

There are tears in your eyes and in mine, but yet there is a flush of joy upon both our faces because of the dear love that nailed Jesus there. “What shall we do in the sight of this Cross?” My brother says, “I will go and win souls,” and I say, “So will I.” He says, “I have one way of speaking,” and I reply, “I have another, for our gifts differ, but we will never clash, for we are serving one Lord and one Master and we will not be divided, either in this world or in that which is to come.” Let Apollos say what he likes, or Paul or Peter—we will learn from them all and be very glad to do so—but still, from the Cross we will not move, but stand fast there, for Jesus is the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega. Amen.


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