Sword & Trowel: From Nehemiah to Spurgeon to Calvary Grace

When the exiles returned from Babylon they rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem. Nehemiah tells us that, “each laboured on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other.” (4.17). They didn’t have the luxury of focusing entirely upon the building work, since they were in a hostile environment. But they couldn’t simply focus on fighting all of the time; they had to build.

This became a picture which Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) used to describe Christians in the church. Christians are always fighting the fight of faith (1 Tim 6.12), resisting the world, the flesh and the devil (1 John 2.15-16), but are also making disciples (Matthew 28.18-20), building each other up in love (1 Thess 5.11) and being built up as a spiritual house (1 Peter 2.5). For the Christian, there is always battlingand building. That is why Spurgeon called his popular magazine, The Sword and The Trowel. The sword was for defending and the trowel for building the wall. These were the two things in the hands of Nehemiah’s people, and figuratively in the hands of the Christian today.

At Calvary Grace we are also committed to this good battling and building. Like all true disciples, we are battling to hold fast to God’s Word, and battling to overcome lack of faith and lack of prayer. As we battle we see that, ‘the glory of the LORD is our rear guard’ (Isaiah 58.8). We battle with the full armour of God (Eph 6.11-17). But especially we battle by prayer, praying in a persevering way, for each other at Calvary Grace and all believers, and praying for those who herald God’s Word (vv. 18-19)

In prayer, as we battle, we also build. We must look to the Lord to provide the means, channels, tools and pipelines through which we can continue a God-honouring ministry. For example, we must pray that God will provide us wisdom and resources for the possible purchase of a building.

The benefits of our own facility are more than merely keeping the snow off our heads during the sermon! There are a few ways that owning our own facility is an important opportunity. We can:

  • freely develop new ministries to the community, the lost in Calgary, such as evangelistic children’s programs, or English as Second Language bible studies.
  • host a theological training centre for equipping future pastors.
  • assist future generations at the church by freeing them to direct their resources to missional outreach, not facility purchase.
  • praise the glory of God at the prospect of him supplying “exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Eph 3.20) in Calgary’s depressed oil economy. What a witness that would be!

It is as the old Latin phrase puts it, ora et labora, Prayer and Work.

Will you begin praying and working and working by praying for God to supply us with the resources he wishes for us to have to glorify him in Calgary?

Will you take up the sword and the trowel?