Can anyone but Christ live the gospel? Disagreements on the answer to this question can be seen from Open Letters to The Fear of Antinomianism. I wonder if the disagreements lie within what one means when challenging others to “live the gospel.” I don’t know of anyone who uses this phrase to mean that Christians should literally live Christ’s life. Nevertheless, it is interesting that Spurgeon used this phrase on a few occasions. Some (all?) of these occasions are quoted below, bold emphasis mine.
To be prepared for the coming conflict, we have only to preach the gospel, and to live the gospel; and also to take care that we teach the children the Word of the Lord. – Charles H. Spurgeon, “Childhood and Holy Scripture,” in Come Ye Children: A Book for Parents and Teachers on the Christian Training of Children.
Give us your holy living, and with your holy living as the leverage, we will move the world. Under God’s blessing, we will find tongues if we can, but we greatly need the lives of our people to illustrate what our tongues have to say. The gospel is something like an illustrated paper. The preacher’s words are the letterpress, but the pictures are the living men and women who form our churches; and as when people take up such a newspaper, they very often do not read the letterpress, but they always look at the pictures, so in a church, outsiders may not come to hear the preacher, but they always consider, observe, and criticise the lives of the members. If you would be soul-winners, then, dear brethren and sisters, see that you live the gospel. I have no greater joy than this, that my children walk in the truth. Charles H. Spurgeon, “Soul-Winning Explained,” in The Soul-Winner : or How to Lead Sinners to the Saviour.
If you cannot speak the gospel, live the gospel by your cheerfulness; for what is the gospel? Glad tidings of great joy; and you who believe it must show by its effect upon you that it is glad tidings of great joy to you. I do believe that a man of God—under trial and difficulty and affliction, bearing up, and patiently submitting with holy acquiescence, and still rejoicing in God—is a real preacher of the gospel, preaching with an eloquence which is mightier than words can ever be, and which will find its secret and silent way into the hearts of those who might have resisted other arguments. Oh, do, then, listen to the text, for it is a command from God, “Rejoice in the Lord alway!” – Charles H. Spurgeon, Joy, a Duty.
There are two great precepts for the conquest of the world for Christ—the first is preach the Gospel—but the second is live the Gospel and if we do not live the Gospel, we shall not succeed in preaching the Gospel! In fact, those members of our churches who do not live the Gospel, undo through all the week what the preacher of the Gospel endeavors to do on the Lord’s Day! It is a fine thing to preach with your mouth, but the best thing in the world is to preach with your feet and with your hands—in your walk and in your work! And if you are enabled to do this, the people will be able to say very little against the preaching of the Gospel when they see the result of it in those who accept it! God grant that we may be all preachers in some way or another! – Charles H. Spurgeon, The Soul’s Awakening, “Exposition of Matthew 11:1-6.”
Just what did Spurgeon mean by “live the gospel”? I wonder if it was considered helpful or harmful during his time.