Yesterday I posted my 2022 reading plan, which consisted of sermons by and books about Charles Spurgeon and reading two volumes about the Puritans, from whom Spurgeon gleaned much. If you follow me on social media, you may wonder why I am so obsessed with Spurgeon or if I idolize the guy. I am quite fond of Spurgeon because of how he lived his life, but I am under no impression that my life or ministry will ever reach such heights. I read Spurgeon for Instruction and encouragement, but the Bible will always be my rule and standard for life.
So why look up to Spurgeon? Why not just look to Jesus? Of course, we look to Jesus and strive to be holy as God is holy. However, a flesh and blood example like Spurgeon and all the men and women of Scripture provides real-life examples of overcoming sin, temptation, the world, flesh, and the devil.
The Apostle Paul regularly encouraged Christians to follow his example:
1 corinthians 4:16-17 ESV ” I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.”
1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
Philippians 3:17 ESV “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”
1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 ESV “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”
2 Thessalonians 3:7, 9 ESV “For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.”
Hebrews 13:7 ESV “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
That last verse is why I look up to men like Charles Spurgeon and John Wesley, who lived long ago. We have the records of their lives; we can see what they got right and where they missed it. However, we run a risk with our own faith when our role models are unproven young guys who hit on cultural trends but have not proven themselves to be solid or consistent so early on in ministry. I would not encourage anyone to look up to me in the way I look up to Charles Spurgeon or John Macarthur until I have proven myself through decades of faithfulness.
As you can see in his letters, the Apostle Paul was a flawed man, yet he still encouraged people to follow his example. David, a man after God’s own heart, committed adultery and murder, yet he repented and never went that direction again. David sinned because he was at home instead of at the battle where he belonged; that is a lesson to be where God has purposed us to be.
Let the admonition of Paul encourage you to find a faithful Christian of the past to read and study and imitate their way of life and learn from their mistakes. Hebrews eleven, the great hall of faith, is an example of men and women who sinned, repented and served God with all their hearts. Find a man or woman from church history and make a deep study of their lives and follow their example. Immerse yourself in Scripture and learn the ways of God and endeavor every day to walk closer to Jesus. We will never be sinless in this life, but we can sin less every day if we are dedicated to the Lord.