On 19 October 1856, as Charles Haddon Spurgeon was preaching at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall for the first time. Someone in the crowd yelled, “Fire!” The ensuing panic and stampede left several dead. Spurgeon was emotionally devastated by the event and it had a sobering influence on his life.
In “C. H. Spurgeon Autobiography: The Early Years, 1834-1859” it is documented by writings of Spurgeon himself that when the yell for “Fire” went up during that tragic moment at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall, Spurgeon tried to proclaim the truth of the matter. But his booming voice could not be heard over the ensuing chaos, and the crowd began to panic. The truth was; suspected thieves and pick pockets had come into the assembly to try and take advantage of the crowded hall.
After reading about this in the above autobiography, my mind reflected on the following biblical passage in 2 Peter.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1 ESV)
As redeemed members of Christ’s church, we need to be on watch for those who would take advantage of a situation or their position in the local church. Although their methods may not be as loud as a thief or pick pocket yelling fire, but as Peter warns in scripture, secretive methods can be just as destructive if not more.
From his vantage point Spurgeon could see the truth that the building was not on fire. In turn we also have a vantage point of the truth. God’s word. The more we read and study God’s word, the more we hone our God given discernment to recognize the falsehoods or the false alarm.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
Be ready Christian. Soli Deo Gloria!