A lot happened in the world and particularly in America in 1885. Louis Pasteur and Emile Roux successfully tested their rabies vaccine, American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) was founded, the U.S. Salvation army was founded, Mark Twain published a little book entitled The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the Washington Monument was completed and dedicated, Assiniboine and Cree warriors won their greatest battle against the Canadian military at the battle of Cut Knife, Niagara Falls became a park, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor, a drink called Dr. Pepper was registered with the U.S. Patent office, the first automobile was patented, The Georgia Institute of Technology was established in Atlanta, GA, Ulysses S. Grant, Union General and former President died in July of that year.
On July 26, 1885 the most famous Baptist preacher in the world and perhaps the greatest Baptist preacher in church history and arguably one of the greatest in all of church history, Charles Hadden Spurgeon preached on John 3:16:
“I WAS very greatly surprised the other day, in looking over the list of texts from which I have preached, to find that I have no record of ever having spoken from this verse. This is all the more singular, because I can truly say that it might be put in the forefront of all my volumes of discourses as the sole topic of my life’s ministry. It has been my one and only business to set forth the love of God to men in Christ Jesus. I heard lately of an aged minister of whom it was said, “Whatever his text, he never failed to set forth God as love, and Christ as the atonement for sin.” I wish that much the same may be said of me. My heart’s desire has been to sound forth as with a trumpet the good news that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.””
What a purpose for a life of ministry and what a purpose for a body of believers! – To set forth the love of God to men in Christ Jesus.
23 days after Charles Spurgeon preached that sermon:
On August 18, 1885, a small group of Christians, being called of God out of nature’s darkness into the marvelous light of His blessed Word, having been regenerated and given to the Lord; baptized by immersion upon a profession of faith in Christ Jesus; believing it to be the duty of Christians to let their light shine before men, organized the Meansville Baptist Church. – Never Ending Faith, p.3
By God’s grace and for His glory, I have the privilege of serving that body today in 2014. I pray our purpose will continue to be that of Spurgeon’s as we look to our founders’ obvious reliance upon the Person and character of God, the centrality of the Bible as the word of God, the centrality and clarity of the gospel and the importance of the local church as so evidenced in their charter statement above and articles of faith here.