Posts Tagged ‘harry a. ironside’
“That in me ye might have peace” (John 16:33).
HOW long it takes many of us to learn that peace is found in Christ alone. We seek for it everywhere else, but seek in vain, until at last, disappointed, disheartened and distressed in soul, we come to the Lord Jesus, and lo, at His feet our quest is ended!
Peace Better Than Happiness
Peace is far better than happiness. Happiness is primarily that which comes from a good “hap.” “Hap” is an old English word for chance. Tennyson wrote of one “who grasps the skirts of happy chance.” This expresses it exactly. If the “haps” are good, the worldling is happy; if evil “haps” befall him, he is unhappy. But peace is something deeper.
It is the opposite of struggling, of warfare and of soul unrest. It is freedom from strife, or from mental agitation.
It is spiritual content such as the Lord promised to the heavy laden, when He said: “Come unto me. . . . and I will give you rest.”
No Peace to the Wicked
“This message is twice repeated in the book of Isaiah; “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.” In chapters forty to forty-eight of this marvelous book, we have Jehovah’s controversy with idolatry. His people had sought in vain for peace, because they turned from Him, the true and living God, unto the senseless works of their own hands. Jehovah, the covenant-keeping God, stands in contrast to all the idols of the heathen. Therefore, at the end of the forty-eighth chapter, there is this plain statement: “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.” Then in chapters forty-nine to fifty-seven we have the great Messianic section of Isaiah, and we see the true Servant of Jehovah, the anointed Savior, coming in lowly grace to His own, to open prison doors, to unstop deaf ears, to impart strength to feeble knees, and to give new life to those who are dead in trespasses and sins.
But, also, we see Him spurned and rejected by those whom He loved so dearly, and in chapter fifty-seven, we hear the grave pronouncement: “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” How solemn all this is!
– No peace for the man who puts aught else in place of the Lord Jehovah in his heart and life!
– No peace for the self-willed rejecter of God’s blessed Son!
In the New Testament, where we have the entire world brought in guilty before God, the solemn declaration concerning all who turn away from the Word of the Lord is this: “The way of peace have they not known.”
A False Peace
There is also a false peace by which many are deceived. They mistake their ease of mind for peace of heart. Deluded by a false peace and daubing their consciences with the untempered mortar of their own vain imaginings, they cry: “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” These are they who drift down the river of time,
unaware of the awful precipice over which it will sweep them at last into the great sea of eternity, where they will be forever without peace and without hope. Of all such it is written:
“When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them . . . and they shall not escape” (I Thessalonians 5:3).
If you try to awaken such from their deadly sleep and their false security, they are likely to turn on you with indignation. They do not want to be disturbed. Like the slothful man in the book of Proverbs, they cry: “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep.”
Alas, alas! If not awakened soon, they will find out too late the folly of their assumed self-confidence. One day, when walking along Broadway in Oakland, California, I saw ahead of me a man whom I knew was blind, making his way through the crowds with remarkable dexterity. He did not even have a stick, or a dog, to guide him. He had been over the same route so often that he felt sure he needed no help. Suddenly, I saw a cellar-way opened just in front of him. In another moment, he would have stepped down into the yawning mouth of a store basement. I sprang forward, caught him by the shoulder, and told him of his danger.
Do you think he was angry with me for disturbing his false peace? Not at all! He thanked me profusely. But how different it often is with the unsaved man and woman. They go on heedless of their danger and often resent the warnings of God’s servants, until the Spirit of God awakens them to a realization of their true condition and leads them to accept peace through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Two Aspects of Peace
In the fourteenth chapter of John, we learn that our blessed Lord, before He left this earth, said to His disciples: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” Here we have two very distinct aspects of peace. One is that which He left as a settled thing when He went to the Father’s right hand and is the result of His sacrificial work upon the Cross, while the other is that which He imparts from day to day to those believers who live in fellowship with Him.
Sometimes people use expressions that will not always bear the test of Scripture. Let me give an instance of this:
A number of years ago an earnest young Christian and I went to a mission in San Francisco. At the close of the meeting, a kind, motherly woman came to me, and asked: “Are you a Christian, sir?”
I replied immediately, “Yes, I am.”
“Thank GOD,” she said, and then turning to my friend, she asked: “And have you made your peace with God, sir?”
Rather to my astonishment, he answered, “No, madam, I have not.” I knew he was a Christian, and I wondered at his replying in that way. She said to him rather severely, “Well, if you don’t make your peace with God, you will be lost forever.”
With a bright, happy smile on his face, he replied, “Madam, I can never make my peace with God, and I never expect to try; but I am thankful that the Lord Jesus Christ has settled that for me, and through what He did for me I shall be in Heaven for all eternity.” He then put the question to her, “Have you never read that remarkable passage: ‘Having made peace through the blood of his cross’?”
As he went on to explain it to her, the truth gripped my own soul. I saw then, and have realized it ever since, that sinners are saved through the “peace” which He made at the Cross. And so we read in Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This peace is not of our making, and is not of our keeping either. We enjoy the peace He made as we accept by faith the testimony of His Word.
His Peace is Given
But we also read, “My peace I give unto you.” What does the Lord Jesus mean by this? It is another aspect of peace altogether. It is that quiet rest of soul, which was ever His in the midst of the most trying circumstances. He
shares His peace with us. It is of this we read in Philippians 4:6, 7: “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
“The peace of God,” you see, is very different from “peace with God.” The latter has to do with the sin question, the former with the trials of the way. It is the believer’s privilege to bring everything that troubles and distresses his soul to God in prayer; to lay down every burden at the feet of the blessed Lord, and to exchange them all for this wonderful “peace” which is the portion of all who live in communion with Him.
Oh, the peace my Savior gives,
Peace I never knew before;
And the way has brighter grown,
Since I learned to trust Him more.
From Harry Ironside’s book, Charge That to My Account (in the public domain).
He preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection . . . And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:18, 30-31)
Apart from the great fact of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead we would have no gospel to preach. By “resurrection,” we do not mean that our Lord’s spirit continued to live after His body died but that He was actually raised from the dead by the glory of the Father and came forth from the tomb in the very same body that had been impaled on Calvary’s cross. In that body, now glorified, He sits at God’s right hand, and in that same body, He is coming again as the Judge of both living and dead—the saved and lost. This is what is emphasized for us in the seventeenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.
The entire passage, beginning with verse 16, is of tremendous interest, but I have no thought of attempting to explain it all, though I hope you will read it carefully at your leisure, if you are not thoroughly familiar with it, for it is undoubtedly one of the finest examples of a preacher’s eloquence that we have anywhere in the Bible.
Paul appears here at his best, from the human standpoint, but he also speaks as a divinely inspired servant of Christ. Of Apollos, we read elsewhere that he was an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, and it is very evident from this sample sermon that Paul was a man of the same stamp; although on the other hand, he did not particularly cultivate what was simply rhetorical, lest the Cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
But it was quite in keeping with his principle of being” made all things to all men,” that when he stood on Mars’ Hill, the very center of culture of the Greek world, he should meet those philosophers on their own ground.
PROUD, ATTIC PHILOSOPHERS
So far as culture was concerned, he was every whit their equal, combining a thorough acquaintance with their literature, history, and customs, with a deep knowledge of the Word of God to which they were strangers. Thus he gave them that day a new and arresting message such as they had never heard before, and possibly many were destined never to hear again.
Notice some of the circumstances. Paul was waiting in Athens for several of his fellow servants, who had returned to Thessalonica to find out how the newborn Christians there were getting along. As he wandered about the city, his spirit was deeply stirred, for he saw everywhere the evidences of idolatry. They worshipped everything in Athens; in fact an ancient philosopher once said, “In Athens it is easier to find a god than a man.” There were images on every street corner, over every doorway, in every courtyard, found in every store, and every dwelling house. Turn where you would, you were confronted by them.
SIGNS OF PAGAN DARKNESS
Paul, as he walked those streets, knew that the things the Gentiles sacrificed were sacrificed to demons and not to God; he knew he was probably the only man in that city who had a knowledge of the true and living God and of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ; and yet for the time being he saw no opportunity to give his message in a public way.
A Jewish synagogue, however, attracted his attention, and entering it, he claimed his right as a recognized teacher to speak, and there he presented the Gospel, disputing with the adherents of Judaism, and with proselytes who were doubtless weary of the unsatisfactory character of idolatrous rites and ceremonies, and had sought out this place of instruction in the law of Moses.
In the market place also he addressed himself to individuals, and sometimes little groups would gather about him to whom he proclaimed the wondrous story of God’s grace in Christ Jesus to a lost world. Little by little he drew the attention of the people, who were always interested in that which seemed new and strange. So we need not be surprised that at last certain philosophers of the Epicureans and the Stoics became interested in him and his teaching.
THE EPICUREANS AND THE STOICS
These believed that man’s supreme good is found in trying to please himself, that there is no use denying one’s self; make the best of life by getting all the pleasure out of it you can, for you are going to be dead for a long time. We can hear the echo of this in the philosophy of so-called self-expression of our day.
The Stoics took the opposite view of life. They said: we are in the hands of a remorseless fate; we had nothing to say about coming into the world, and there is no telling what will happen when we leave it. Just grit your teeth, don’t show the white feather, make up your mind that “what cannot be cured must be endured.” Stoicism has come down through the ages as the synonym for patient endurance.
Some of these philosophers asked, “What will this babbler say?” To them he seemed to be setting forth new gods. New gods in Athens! They had searched the world to find all of them. They had shrines for the gods of Babylon, Phoenicia, Greece, Egypt, and Rome. They worshipped them all, and yet this man seemed to know something about some new ones, because Paul preached “Jesus and the resurrection.” They thought that Anastasis (resurrection) was yet another god! They had the god of peace, the god of victory, the god of justice, the god of love — all these different deified human attributes; and now they thought, “This man seems to have two new gods, one called Jesus and the other, Resurrection. We would like to hear more about them.” And they took him up to Mars’ Hill, or the Areopagus. This overlooked Athens, and was where the philosophers met for discussion. So they invited Paul to come up there and expound his new doctrines. Led by them, he wended his way to the meeting -place above, and at once began to proclaim the message that he had been yearning to give them for so long.
He took his text from an inscription he had seen on one of their altars, and said, as it were, “I see you are a very religious people. You seem to worship every god known to the Greeks and all other nations, and as I walked about I noticed an altar with an unusual inscription.”
“TO THE UNKNOWN GOD!”
It was evident that these Athenians feared lest they might be neglecting some god whose name had not been communicated to them, and so they set up the altar that had attracted Paul’s attention.
What a splendid text it made! And so Paul said, “Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” In other words, “I am here to tell you who the unknown God is.” How can anyone make known the unknown? God has made Himself known in the person of His blessed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul was there, indeed, to present Jesus and the resurrection, and let me say that no man preaches the Gospel unless he does preach Jesus and the resurrection.
There is no Gospel for guilty sinners apart from Christ, for the Gospel is God’s message about His blessed Son. The Gospel is not good advice to be obeyed; it is good news to be believed. And that good news concerns the Lord Jesus Christ, Who came from the glory that He had with the Father from all eternity down to the sorrow and anguish of the cross of Calvary where He bared His breast that the sword of divine justice might be sheathed in His heart. He took our place and endured what we deserved. But that alone would not be the Gospel; there is something more needed.
Paul preached: JESUS, AND—And what? “And the resurrection.” Wherever the disciples went, they preached that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. The essence of their message was that He “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25).
So Paul preached Jesus and the resurrection, and we today proclaim the same, and we tell you in His Name, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
THE CREATOR AND THE CREATED
Notice how Paul prepared the ground for his message. First of all, they were reminded that the Creator must be greater than that which is created, and Paul directed their attention to the visible universe. It was very evident that the God Who made all things could not be confined in one of their temples. He says, “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing he is Lord of Heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” He is not the God of one nation, but of all nations, and we are really one people, for He “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and bounds of their habitation.” He has put upon men the responsibility to know Him, for He is not far from any one of us.
There is no man anywhere who will dare say in the day of judgment, “I wanted to find God and could not,” for
“Closer is He than breathing, Nearer than hands and feet.” He is so close that if men will feel after Him, will stretch up empty hands towards Him, they will find His great strong hands reaching down to lay hold of them. God will never permit it to be said that any man honestly sought the way of life and failed to find it, that any man really wanted to be saved, and cried to God unheard.
This answers a question that troubles a good many people. I am often asked: WHAT ABOUT THE HEATHEN?
They have never heard the Gospel. What of them? Are they going to be damned because they have never heard? No matter where a heathen man may be today, if he wants to know God and honestly reaches out after Him, God will make Himself responsible to give that man light enough to be saved, for He is not far from any one of us. God has commanded men “that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him.”
This is the only place in the New Testament where we get the word “feel.” I have often urged people to trust the Lord Jesus and have told them how He died for them, bore their sins on the cross, and that if they will believe on Him, He has given His own Word that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And then they say, “Well, I do believe, but I don’t feel any different.” That has nothing to do with it. The word feel is not a Christian word at all. The only place it occurs in the New Testament is here where Paul is speaking of the heathen. But you have an open Bible; you do not need to feel after God. What you need to do is to believe the testimony that He has given, and then you will be saved. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). This is the word of the living GOD given through His servants of old.
“FEEL” AND “FEELING”
I said that the word feel is found only once in the New Testament, but the word feeling is found twice: once in Ephesians 4:19, where it speaks of certain Gentiles, and says, “Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness”; and again in Hebrews 4:15, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” Apart from these three instances we do not find the words feeling or feel used in the New Testament. The moment you believe in the Lord Jesus, the moment you trust in Him you pass out of death into life, out of condemnation into justification before the throne of God.
In John 5:24, Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
THE FIVE DIVISIONS OF JOHN 5:24
1.”HE THAT HEARETH MY WORD.” Face this: be honest with your own heart. Have you heard the Word of the Son of GOD? Have you heard Him speaking to you through this blessed Book?
2.”AND BELIEVETH HIM THAT SENT ME.” Do you in your heart believe that GOD sent the Lord Jesus Christ to be the sinner’s Savior, to die for you on the cross, to rise from the dead for your justification?
3.”HATH EVERLASTING LIFE.” When do you get it? When you die? No, you get it now, from the moment you believe, from the moment you hear the Word of the Son of God, and receive and confess Him as the One whom the Father sent into the world to be the sinner’s Saviour. The trouble today is that people are stumbling over its very simplicity.
I heard of a man who wanted to be saved, and he was told to do penance for sin by putting hard dried peas in his shoes and walking on them so many hours a day. This poor man did this and limped around the streets, trying to make atonement. It would have done him just as much good if he had boiled the peas first.
But people are willing to do all kinds of hard things. They are like Naaman who, when the prophet commanded, “Go and wash in Jordan seven times,” said, “That is too easy a way.” But he had a wise old servant who suggest, “If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it?” Why, of course he would. “How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” If you had to give a great deal of money, say a great many prayers, make long pilgrimages, do vast numbers of charitable deeds in order to get life eternal, how many of you would be willing to do these things? How much more when He saith to thee, “Believe and live!”
4. “SHALL NOT COME INTO CONDEMNATION.” Think of it! Is that not good news? Not a word about purgatory, not a word about confession to a priest, not a word about sacramental observances, not a word about penance; but here and now, the moment you put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, your sins are gone and you will never come into judgment, but you have everlasting life. It is all for you. That is the gospel which Paul preached. And notice the next point:
5. “IS PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE.” It is a settled, complete salvation, giving a new standing before God to the believing sinner. Observe the threefold link with resurrection:
a. Resurrection and Repentance
But what if men do not accept it? Then there is the judgment. He says that God has been very gracious with the heathen: “The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” Repent means to change your mind completely, to have a new attitude. You had an idea that you could save yourself by your good works, but you change your mind and now admit that you cannot do a thing to save yourself, but that Christ must do it all. That is repentance— a change of attitude toward God. Instead of trying to do anything to save yourself, let the Lord Jesus do it all.
God “commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained.” God is going to judge the world in righteousness, but your case can be settled out of court, and settled today, so that you need never think of coming into judgment. But if you reject Christ, some day you must give account before His judgment throne.
b. Resurrection and Assurance
“Whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” The resurrection of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ is the ground of our assurance that we shall live again in our resurrected bodies. He says, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” We are told that “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” This does not mean that all men will be saved, but that the bodies of all men will be raised from the dead. Thus God has given assurance to all men of a life after death in that He raised the body of Christ from the grave. In the second place, He has given assurance unto all men that the sin question is settled in the death of Christ, by raising His body from the dead.
Here is an innocent man who has gone to prison for the crime of another. He knew the other man was guilty, but he knew, too, that in order to prove his own innocence he would have to expose his friend; and so he hears the sentence of the judge, sending him to prison for one year. What must be the feeling of the other man outside? He says, “I have sent that man there; I deserved to go, but he is there in my place.” Perhaps he goes to see him and the man says, “I took your place voluntarily, and I am quite content; you let me endure it.” The other roams the streets and says, “I wonder how long he will be content to remain there; I wonder how long before he tells the whole story.” But by and by a year has passed, and walking down the street one day, he sees the one who went to prison for him. He rushes up and says, “What does this mean?”
“It means,” is the reply, “that you have nothing to fear now. The sentence has been endured.”
So our blessed Lord bore on the Tree the sentence for us, and now we who were once guilty sinners are free. ” Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more.” The resurrection is the proof that the sin question has been settled, that God is satisfied. “He hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
c. Resurrection and Reckoning
In the third place, we have assurance in the resurrection of Jesus Christ that some day all men are going to give account to Him. This will be when He sits upon the great white throne. Think of giving account of your sins to Him after all He has done to save you from them!
Notice the threefold response from Paul’s message had that day. “When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter . . . . Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed.” I wonder if there are not people manifesting these three different attitudes toward the message today!
THREE RESPONSES TO THE GOSPEL
Some mock, some ridicule, some say, “Oh, we cannot believe this message about Jesus and the resurrection; we cannot accept it. We do not see how He could die for sinners and rise again, and how men can be saved through believing on Him.” God pity you if you are turning this message down. Some day He will turn you down, for He says in His Word, “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh” (Proverbs 1:24- 26). God grant that you may not at last be exposed to such a doom. Do not turn it down, do not go away with a cold, careless sneer and say, “It is nothing to me.”
The second class said, “We will hear thee again of this matter.” They are the procrastinators. You may not be mocking; possibly you would not sneer at the Gospel message; you fully intend to be saved some day, but you are saying, “I will hear you again; I am not ready to close with Christ today. There is so much to occupy my heart and mind these days; some other time. Let me alone for the present. Sometime I will give attention to these things.”
Remember the old saying, “Procrastination is the thief of time.” There is a Spanish proverb which says, “The road of by and by leads to the town of never.” How many have taken that road, have said, “By and by, some other day,” and have gone on and on, until at last they have reached the other world, hopelessly lost, and that forever!
The third class, ” Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed.” What a blessed testimony! God has recorded the names of two of them, one man and one woman, Dionysius and Damaris, who accepted the message proclaimed that day.
Men have an idea that what sinners need is more culture, more refinement; but if polite culture could have saved the world, Greece would have been saved long ago. But Greece went all to pieces in spite of its culture. It was the gospel of the grace of God that saved the ancient world from ruin. And it is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that saves men today. I bring before you these two examples, Dionysius and Damaris, and I beg you to follow them as they followed Christ; believe the message, and go on rejoicing in Him, who was raised from the dead, never to die again. Hear what He says in Revelation 1:18—”I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.”
The article above will soon be a Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract.
My Conversion to God by Harry A. Ironside (Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.)
From a very early age, God began to speak to me through His Word. I doubt if I could go back to the first time when, to my recollection, I felt something of the reality of eternal things.
My father was taken from me, ere his features were impressed upon my infant mind. But I never have heard him spoken of other than as a man of God. He was known in Toronto (my birthplace) to many as “The Eternity Man.” His Bible, marked in many places, was a precious legacy to me; and from it, I learned to recite my first verse of Scripture at the age of four. I distinctly recall learning the blessed words of Luke 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” That I was lost and that Christ Jesus came from heaven to save me were the first divine truths impressed on my young heart.
My widowed mother was, it seems to me, one of a thousand. I remember yet how I would be thrilled as she knelt with me as a child and prayed, “Father, keep my boy from ever desiring anything greater than to live for Thee. Save him early, and make him a devoted street-preacher as his father was. Make him willing to suffer for Jesus’ sake, to gladly endure persecution and rejection by the world that cast out Thy Son, and keep him from what would dishonor Thee.” The words were not always the same, but I have heard the sentiment times without number.
To our home there often came servants of Christ—plain, godly men, who seemed to me to carry with them the atmosphere of eternity. Yet in a very real sense, they were the bane of my boyhood. Their searching, “Henry, lad, are you born again yet?” or the equally impressive, “Are you certain that your soul is saved?” often brought me to a standstill; but I knew not how to reply.
California had become my home ere I was clear as to being a child of God. In Los Angeles, I first began to learn the love of the world and was impatient of restraint. Yet I had almost continual concern as to the great matter of my salvation.
I was but twelve years old when I began a Sunday-school and set up to try to help the boys and girls of the neighborhood to a knowledge of the Book I had read ten times through, but which had still left me without assurance of salvation.
To Timothy, Paul wrote, “From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). It was this latter that I lacked. I had, it seemed to me, always believed, yet I dared not say I was saved. I know now that I had always believed about Jesus. I had not really believed in Him as my personal Savior. Between the two, there is all the difference that there is between being saved and lost, between an eternity in heaven and endless ages in the lake of fire.
As I have said, I was not without considerable anxiety as to my soul; and though I longed to break into the world, and was indeed guilty of much that was vile and wicked, I ever felt a restraining hand upon me, keeping me from many things that I would otherwise have gone into; and a certain religiousness became, I suppose, characteristic. But religion is not salvation.
I was nearly fourteen years old when, upon returning one day from school, I learned that a servant of Christ from Canada, well known to me, had arrived for meetings. I knew, ere I saw him, how he would greet me; for I remembered him well and his searching questions, when I was younger. Therefore I was not surprised but embarrassed nevertheless when he exclaimed, “Well, Harry, lad, I am glad to see you. And are you born again yet?”
The blood mantled my face; I hung my head and could find no words to reply. An uncle present said, “You know, Mr. M—, he preaches himself now a bit and conducts a Sunday-school!”
“Indeed!” was the answer. “Will you get your Bible, Harry?”
I was glad to get out of the room and so went at once for my Bible and returned after remaining out as long as seemed decent, hoping thereby to recover myself. Upon my reentering the room, he said kindly, but seriously, “Will you turn to Romans 3:19 and read it aloud?”
Slowly I read, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” I felt the application and was at a loss for words. The evangelist went on to tell me that he too had been once a religious sinner till God stopped his mouth and then gave him a sight of Christ. He pressed on me the importance of getting to the same place before I tried to teach others.
The words had their effect. From that time till I was sure I was saved, I refrained from talking of these things, and I gave up my Sunday-school work. But now Satan, who was seeking my soul’s destruction, suggested to me, “If lost and unfit to speak of religious things to others, why not enjoy all the world has to offer, so far as you are able to avail yourself of it?”
I listened only too eagerly to his words, and for the next six months or thereabouts no one was more anxious for folly than I, though always with a smarting conscience.
At last, on a Thursday evening in February 1890, God spoke to me in tremendous power while out at a party with a lot of other young people, mostly older than myself, intent only on an evening’s amusement. I remember now that I had withdrawn from the parlor for a few moments to obtain a cooling drink in the next room. Standing alone by a refreshment table, there came home to my inmost soul, in startling clearness, some verses of Scripture I had learned months before. They are found in the first chapter of Proverbs, beginning with verse 24 and going on to verse 32. Here wisdom is represented as laughing at the calamity of the one who refused to heed instruction, and mocking when his fear cometh. Every word seemed to burn its way into my heart. I saw as never before my dreadful guilt in having so long refused to trust Christ for myself and in having preferred my own willful way to that of Him who had died for me.
I went back to the parlor and tried to join with the rest in their empty follies. But all seemed utterly hollow, and the tinsel was gone. The light of eternity was shining into the room, and I wondered how any could laugh with God’s judgment hanging over us like a Damocles’ sword suspended by a hair. We seemed like people sporting with closed eyes on the edge of a precipice, and I the most careless of all, till grace had made me see.
That night, when all was over, I hurried home and crept upstairs to my room. There, after lighting a lamp, I took my Bible, and with it before me, fell upon my knees.
I had an undefined feeling that I had better pray. But the thought came, “What shall I pray for?” Clearly and distinctly came back the answer, “For what God has been offering me for years. Why not then receive it, and thank Him?”
My dear mother had often said, “The place to begin with God is at Romans 3 or John 3.” To both these Scriptures, I turned and read them carefully. Clearly, I saw I was a helpless sinner, but that for me Christ had died and that salvation was offered freely to all who trusted in Him. Reading John 3:16 the second time, I said, “That will do. “O God, I thank Thee that Thou hast loved me, and given Thy Son for me. I trust Him now as my Savior, and I rest on Thy Word, which tells me I have everlasting life.”
Then I expected to feel a thrill of joy. It did not come. I wondered if I could be mistaken. I expected a sudden rush of love for Christ. It did not come either. I feared I could not be really saved with so little emotion.
I read the words again. There could be no mistake. God loved the world of which I formed a part. God gave His Son to save all believers. I believed in Him as my Savior. Therefore, I must have everlasting life. Again, I thanked Him and rose from my knees to begin the walk of faith. God could not lie. I knew I must be saved.
From Holiness, the False and the True by H. A. Ironside (originally published in 1912; now in the public domain).
Regeneration: “Ye Must Be Born Again.” by Harry A. Ironside is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Regeneration: “Ye Must Be Born Again,” click here
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving diverse lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3: 3-7)
In this passage, we see what we once were, before we were converted. Verse 3 describes the lives we then lived. Verse 4 tells of the marvelous way in which God our Savior has intervened. He has revealed Himself to us in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have been justified and made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Verse 5 tells us of the work that takes place within every converted soul. Altogether apart from human effort, God has saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.
It is the word “regeneration” upon which I want you to fix your attention. This word is found only twice in our English Bible, and the word is never found anywhere else but in these two instances—here and in Matthew 19, verse 28, where we read:
Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
The word “regeneration” means a second birth or a new creation. In Matthew, the Lord was speaking of the earth’s new birth, when the present distressing circumstances will pass away and new conditions will prevail, at the coming of the Son of man to reign in righteousness over all this lower creation. That will be the time when men shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruninghooks, and the nations shall learn war no more. Then every man will dwell in peace under his own vine and fig tree. It will be the time when Messiah will be King over all the earth, and rule the nations with the inflexible iron rod of righteousness. That will indeed be earth’s regeneration, a new creation, a new condition of things for this poor world.
But in the epistle to Titus, the only other place where we have the word “regeneration” in the Bible, the reference is to the work that takes place in an individual when he is born again through believing the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Look again at verse 3, where the apostle speaks of our past condition, we who are now regenerate. In those days we were deluded by the devil. Our hearts were filled with unholy desires. We gave ourselves to many things that were displeasing to God and hurtful to ourselves. “We were sometimes foolish,” says the apostle. In spite of the fact that we are now regenerate, we are sometimes foolish still. How easily we give way to temptations! How readily we allow ourselves to come under the power of worldly things! But characteristically, the days of our folly ended when we came to Christ. Before that, we were indeed foolish. We were wickedly disobedient, following our own natural, fleshly desires, living unabashed in our sinful ways, dishonoring God’s holy name. Many of the evil things to which we gave ourselves obtained power over us because of Satan’s deception. He, the arch deceiver, had taken us captive at his will. In those days of our deception, when we thought of the Christian life, it seemed to us anything but desirable. We imagined that Christians must necessarily live very gloomy, unhappy lives, and that the only people who thoroughly enjoyed life were those who lived for the world and its follies.
But now all this is changed. We have been brought to know Christ. This is true of many of you. You heard the voice of God calling you to repentance; you turned to Him, confessing your sin; you trusted the Lord Jesus Christ; you believed the Gospel, and you have now become His children through “the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
Born of Water
In the account of our Lord’s interview with Nicodemus, as related in the third chapter of John, we are told how he startled the Jewish doctor of the law by declaring that he must be born again, born of water and of the Spirit. Do not make the mistake of supposing that “born of water” means baptismal regeneration. There is no such thing taught in the Word of God. Water, throughout all of John’s writings particularly, and also in many other parts of the Bible, is the recognized symbol of the Word of God, and this passage in Titus makes it perfectly clear. The new birth is by the Word and the Spirit. This is the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.
In John 4, we find the Lord speaking to a poor, sinful woman at the well of Sychar. She was outside the pale of respectability. He knew all about her, about all her failures, but His heart went out to her, and He desired to make of that woman a new creature. He did not talk to her in the same way as He did to Nicodemus. He spoke to her of the unsatisfactory character of all that this world has to offer, and in contrast with that He presented the preciousness of eternal life, and He told her that eternal life would be hers when she received the water that He would give. You remember His words:
Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13)
Now, whatever water means here, it means exactly the same in chapter 3, for here we are told that eternal life is received when we drink of the water that Jesus gives, and in John 3 we are said to be born of water and of the Spirit. To be born again and to receive eternal life are really one and the same thing. When we were born naturally, we received natural life; when we were born from above, we received spiritual or eternal life.
The Water of Life
The figure that Jesus used is not a new one. That is why Nicodemus should have understood better than he did. In Psalm 119, verse 9, David says, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.” Jeremiah chided the people of Israel in the name of the Lord, saying, “They have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Ezekiel tells how God will sprinkle clean water upon those who turn to Him, cleaning them from all their idolatry and their filthiness, and He will take away their stony hearts and give them hearts of flesh. This is what He does when people are born again.
Farther on in this Gospel, the Lord Jesus says, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink” (John 7:37). He offers the living waters to all who will receive it. In the book of the Revelation we read, “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17). The water of life is the glorious Gospel message that comes down from the throne of God and flows out into the deserts of this world, bringing life and healing wherever it goes. In the book of Proverbs we read, “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country” (Proverbs 25:25). That is exactly what the Gospel is. The very word means good news, the good news that Christ Jesus came down from Heaven to save all poor sinners who will put their trust in Him. This is the living water. Receive it, take it into your heart, and you will be born of water and of the Spirit.
And with this agree the words of the apostle James. He says in James, chapter one and verse 18, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” How are we begotten? By the Word, the Word of truth. Then the apostle Peter tells us the same thing. He says:
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you. (1 Peter 1:23-25)
There it is. James says we are begotten of the Word; Peter says we are born again by the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever. And so, believing the Word, we receive the living Word. It is the Word that the Spirit of God uses in order to produce the new life.
The Water Cleanses
When we are born again, we are cleansed from our old sins, so the thought of washing is also connected with the Word. Think again of the passage I quoted from the one hundred and nineteenth Psalm: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.” As we walk in obedience to the Word of God, we are kept clean and free from the defiling things of this world. This, too, is what Ezekiel emphasized in chapter 36, verses 25 to 27:
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
This should all have been clear to Nicodemus, but he failed to understand it. Then in Ephesians, chapter five and verses 25-26, we read:
Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.
So it is by the Word that we are born again and by the Word we are washed. The old things that were once so dishonoring to God are washed out of our lives when we trust in Christ. We should never again be characterized by our former habits and behavior.
Do not forget that new birth is something more than just accepting certain doctrines. It is receiving Christ and believing the Gospel, as a result of which we are created anew in Christ Jesus, and we receive eternal life with all its new and godlike desires. God expects of you who have trusted Christ something different from what was found in your lives in the old days before you were saved. Old habits should disappear, and they will if you let the Spirit of God have His way in your life. Do not be discouraged because you find you do not become perfect immediately. No Christian is perfect, but we are all going on to perfection. Those of us who have been converted many years have to say with Paul:
Not as thou I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
When you are converted, the Holy Spirit of God begins His work of renewal, and it goes on all through life—the renewing of the mind. The Spirit of God uses the Word, as we meditate upon it, so that our hearts’ desires are changed, and more and more we come to understand His will. As we walk in obedience to that will, we grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We may see from this how important it is that we daily study the Word of God and spend time before Him in prayer, looking to Him to open up His truth and apply it to our own hearts and consciences. If we are consistent and persistent in thus seeking to know the mind of the Lord, our lives will be transformed as the Holy Spirit works in and through us, giving the Word as we need it for our food, and using it too as water for the cleansing of our ways.
Before the blessed Lord went home to Heaven, He promised that the Holy Spirit would come to carry on the work that He had begun, and when He took His place at the right hand of the Father, as Peter says, “He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear” (Acts 2:33). He was referring to the Holy Spirit, who was acting in such mighty power on the day of Pentecost. He is the blessed Comforter who has now come to indwell each believer, and as we yield ourselves to His guidance, we are enabled to live lives of victory and to enjoy fellowship with our Father in Heaven.
Do not be content, dear convert, in days to come, just to look back and say, “So many years ago on such and such an occasion I was born again.” Do not be forever thinking of that happy day when Jesus washed your sins away. It is all right to sing that beautiful hymn. I love to sing it, too, but I do not want to have to look back to all my happy days. Every day ought to be a happy day, and will be if we go on in fellowship with God. “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” As you let the Spirit of God have His way in your life you will be conscious of the renewing of the Holy Ghost changing your affections and desires, fixing your mind and heart on things above.
In the darkness, blindly groping,
Cursed by sin, I wandered long,
Christ-rejecting, vainly hoping
Peace to find in paths of wrong;
Till, while hastening to destruction,
Seeking that which is but dross,
Passing by I saw on Calvary
Jesus dying on the Cross.
I will love Thee, Savior.
Drawing near in awe-struck wonder,
Scenes most fearful met my eye;
Lightning flashing, rolling thunder,
Scoffs and groans of agony;
Lifted high ‘twixt earth and Heaven,
As a Lamb for sinners slain,
I beheld One, marred and wounded,
Crowned with thorns and racked with pain.
While I gazed He cried in anguish,
“Why, oh God, dost Thou forsake?
Why must I in sorrow languish?
Why the cup of Judgment take?”
Quick my heart gave back the answer,
For my sins His blood He gave—
He His life could not deliver
If my soul from wrath He’d save.
Broken-hearted, yet triumphant,
Fast His life-blood ebbed away,
As He cried! “My work is finished!
Now the sinner’s debt I pay!”
As the Roman’s spear-point pierced Him
From His side a crimson stream
Issued forth to heal the nations—
Plunging in, I was made clean.
My sins were laid on Jesus,
When He died on Calvary.
To order copies of Regeneration: “Ye Must Be Born Again,” click here
This article by Harry A. Ironside is an excerpt from his book, Great Words of the Gospel. Dr. Ironside’s writings are in the public domain and may be used freely. Lighthouse Trails offers two of his articles in Booklet Tract form, and they may be purchased at a low cost from our webstore.
Letter to the Editor: There is No Doubt That Moody Has Gone Contemplative – This Year’s Radio Programs Proves It.
LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails first brought up the issue of Moody Bible Institute (and Moody Radio) heading in the contemplative direction over eight years ago (see links below). At one point, Moody issued a statement titled “Moody Responds to Lighthouse Trails,” denying our claims. That statement remained on their website for over 5 years. We noticed recently that the statement has now been removed. But even though Moody has denied that they are going contemplative, we have watched in dismay as they have continued to do so. This past week, we were notified by two different Lighthouse Trails readers that Moody’s radio program Midday Connection has brought on as a radio guest James Bryan Smith 9 times this year to do a series on contemplative spirituality. Smith is a founding member of Richard Foster’s contemplative-pioneering organization Renovare and a minister of the United Methodist Church. He is also the author of a number of works promoting and/or teaching Spiritual Formation and contemplative spirituality. You can read one article we wrote about him here.
The book by Smith that is discussed below that is being used by Moody in a series is titled The Good and Beautiful God. This is the first in a series by Smith called The Apprentice Series. There is also The Good and Beautiful Life and The Good and Beautiful Community. The Good and Beautiful God teaches the contemplative practice called lectio divina and espouses the teachings of Richard Foster and Dallas Willard.
It appears that Moody is pulling out all the stops when it comes to contemplative spirituality. And we know what that means—an eventual distancing from the biblical Gospel. Drs. Harry A. Ironside (early 1900s) and Dwight L. Moody (1800s – founder of Moody Bible Insititute and Moody Publishers (also going contemplative), were both preachers at Moody Church. Can you imagine their shock and horror if they were here today to witness this apostasy at one of the most historically trusted Christian organizations?
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
There is no doubt that Moody has gone contemplative. They have been studying a book by James Bryan Smith for the past 9 broadcasts. Before that they had Jessica Handy. (As you can see BOTH attended Fuller Seminary). Thank you for your ministry. Keep shedding the light and preaching the gospel. I just wish others would listen and heed the alarm. [Below are notes that the Lighthouse Trails reader sent on Moody’s radio program, Midday Connection.]
It’s the conclusion of our series talking about THE GOOD AND BEAUTIFUL GOD, and on this Midday Connection, James Bryan Smith joins us to help wrap up our look at the false narratives we believe over against the Jesus narrative. We’ll look at how hurry sickness affects us even in the care of our own soul.
James Bryan Smith
James Bryan Smith (M.Div., Yale University Divinity School, D.Min., Fuller Seminary) is a theology professor at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, and a writer and speaker in the area of Christian spiritual formation. He also serves as the director of the Apprentice Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation at Friends University. For more information, please visit his website.
God With Us, Part 3
December 16, 2014
Do we really believe that God is with us? Do we live our lives with an increasing awareness of God’s presence? On this Midday Connection, Jessica Handy joins us to talk about when joy and gratitude are present; they are keys to cultivating that God-awareness. God With Us, Part 3
Featured Guest: Jessica Handy
Host: Lori Neff
Jessica Handy is the Chicago Area Director of the Immanuel Prayer Training Program as well as the Administrator for Alive and Well, Inc. under the leadership of Jerry and Margaret Webb.
I found this out about Jessica Handy:
Jessie is an ordained Anglican pastor, having taught high school, served in Young Life, coordinated intentional community, initiated prayer ministries, and trained small group leaders. She has a Masters Degree in Teaching from Wheaton College as well as a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary.
Jessie discovered inner healing prayer in 2005 through a seminary class with Dr. Charles Kraft, where she saw firsthand the impact of forgiveness on her own life and relationships. She went on to study Theophostic and Immanuel Prayer with Margaret Webb and has been training others since 2008. Her greatest joy is helping people learn to experience the presence of God.
“Immanuel helps people learn to hear God for themselves and become more aware of His presence in the daily moments of life,” she says. “It generates deep and lasting healing in the context of prayer, community, and the overarching focus of maturity in Christ.”
As one who cares deeply about unity and maturity in the church, intergenerational relationships, and transformed lives, she has been encouraged and amazed by the impact of Immanuel in all of these areas. Her lifelong experience in education and the church has prepared her to equip believers for service and mission. She is delighted to serve in a ministry where so many of her passions coincide.
Here is the website she refers to: http://www.alivewell.org/prayerteam/
God bless you. CS
Lighthouse Trails Research Links on Moody Coverage:
2013 – Embracing Contemplative Shows Ill Effects at Moody Bible Institute in Ecumenical “Road to Rome” Event
By Dr. Harry Ironside
In the eighth chapter of the Epistle of the Romans, reading from verse 18, we have the words:
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (18-23)
Then if you will also turn to Philippians, chapter 1, verses 20 and 21:
“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
The Christian has a wonderful expectation. Our Lord Jesus Christ, while He was here on earth, had a great deal to say about His second coming. I have never been able to understand why some persons who profess to be Christians (and I would not dare doubt in some instances but they are really such) seem to have no interest whatsoever in the truth of the return of our blessed Savior. I have often heard people say, “I am not interested in the second coming of Christ. The only thing that concerns me is to be ready when He comes.”
Of course, it is very important that we should be ready when He comes, but to say, “The only thing that concerns me is to be ready for that event,” seems to me to be the quintessence of selfishness. Am I only concerned about my personal readiness? Do I not have a deep, warm expectation in my soul, looking forward to that glorious day when the Saviour shall return? Am I not longing to see Him?
He has said that He is coming back, and He told us to watch and to wait for His coming, to be like men that wait for their Lord when He will return from the wedding. And surely, if we have learned to love Him, if we know Him as the One who died for us and washed away our sins in His precious blood, we certainly ought to be looking eagerly for His return.
EXPECTATION IS NOT FEAR
Some people think of the second coming of the Lord as though it were a dreadful event, an event from which we might well shrink, because they confound the second coming of Christ for His people with the day of judgment for a godless world; but these are two very distinct events. When He said, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also,” He was not referring to the final day of judgment. He was speaking of the time when He will come back and raise the dead and change the living, those of His own redeemed people, and take them up to be with Him in the Father’s house. Surely, there is nothing to dread about that. It is no fearful portent, the thought of the Lord’s coming.
On one occasion, I was asked in a certain Canadian city to give an address to the ministerial union on the second coming of the Lord Jesus, and so I went down with a heart and mind full of the subject, and found nearly seventy of the city’s preachers gathered together. It was my privilege to talk to them for about forty minutes on what I believe the Word of God teaches concerning this great expectation of the Church. When I had finished, the moderator of the meeting, who was a Presbyterian minister, rose and said, “My friends, I want to give my personal testimony concerning this subject. I was a minister for a great many years before I ever took the time to study what the Bible has to say about the second coming of the Lord, but some years back I became deeply interested, and I searched the Scriptures for all references to the subject. You know, as that truth opened up to me, I got a new Bible. It just seemed as though my Bible was entirely different. So many things were plain that had been dark before.” Then he said, “Now I would like to have you tell us how this subject appeals to you.”
There happened to be present a very venerable old gentleman, an Anglican clergyman, who had received a great many honors because of his scholarship and ability. He had written a great many books, and I had read all of them, so I was quite interested when he was pointed out to me. The moderator knew he was in the audience that day, and because he seemed in a certain sense to be a dean of them all, he turned to him and said, “Doctor, wouldn’t you like to speak to us on the subject?” The dear old gentleman stood up and in that fine, cultured way that is so characteristic of Anglican clergyman, said something like this:
“Well, my dear brother, I am really sorry that you referred to me at all, because I never like to take issue was a visiting speaker. I would far rather have just said to our brother at the close, ‘Thank you,’ and left it at that; but since you put me on the spot, it is necessary for me to express myself, and I regret to have to say that I do not find myself at all in agreement with the speaker who has addressed us today. Of course, I think there is something in the Bible about the second coming of the Lord, but just what it is I do not know and I do not think anyone else does. I have listened carefully to what he has presented and I have been thinking that if his presentation of the subject is the correct one, it must be an awful thing to believe, as he says he believes that Christ may come back at any moment. Why, if one believed that, it would unnerve him completely. Suppose I were out making pastoral calls and the awful thought came to me that Christ might come today! I would not be able to continue my work but would want to get back to my study and read the prayer book and try to get ready for that awful event.”
Well, you know it was a little difficult for me. I was much younger than he, and I did not want to be discourteous, but I said to him, “Doctor, I hope that you do not mean us to infer that one could have been a member of the great church to which you belong and have taken all the ecclesiastical and academical honors that you have and yet never have been washed from his sins in the precious blood of Christ! For Doctor, if you have been saved through what the Lord Jesus did when He was here the first time, whether you realize it or not, you will be ready when He comes the second time.” Because it is not our understanding of the doctrines of the Lord’s return that makes us ready to meet Him or our growth in holiness but the fact that Another has, in the blessed will of God, shed His blood and died for us, cleansing us from all sin.
THE FOCUS OF OUR EXPECTATION
To me the expectation of the Lord’s imminent return is one of the most precious hopes that I have, ‘According to my earnest expectation and my hope.’ He was looking for the coming of the Savior, and he said, “I do not want to be ashamed. I want to be found, while I am watching for him, laboring always for His glory, endeavoring to bring others to Him, and seeking to manifest Christ in my daily life so that I can always say, ‘For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.'”
This poor world needs the coming Savior. Suppose our Lord had come ten years ago. Then the world would never have known the dire conflict that is prevailing at the present time. Why do we see the nations engaged in bloody conflict one with the other? It is because when the Prince of Peace came here to dwell amongst men in lowly grace, He was not recognized. He was rejected. He came to bring peace but men said, “We will not have this man to reign over us”; and so, according to Hosea He said, “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.” He has gone back to the Father’s right hand and is there preparing a place for His redeemed. Some day He is coming again, and His coming is going to mean the rapture of His Church and our presentation before the Father in fullness of joy.
This is one aspect of it, but the other aspect is this: He is coming back to this poor world and He is going to reign in righteousness for a thousand wonderful years, and then will be fulfilled the prophecy, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3). Oh, how the world needs Christ, who is that “blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords!”
THE EXPECTATION OF ALL CREATION
That is what the apostle is referring to, especially in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, when he says that “the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” And we know by the context of this passage that this expectation is shared by the entire creation, for creation’s blessing will come with that manifestation. And when will the sons of God be manifested? The sons of God are already in the world at this time, but their manifestation has not come yet. They are in the world but the world knows them not, even as it knew Him not; but we read that when He is manifested, then shall we be manifested. When He reigns, then we will appear with Him in glory! That will be the time when earth’s blessing will come, when creation will be liberated from the bondage of the curse.
Look at John’s Gospel, chapter 14, the passage we all love and the portion which I think fits in so well at every Christian funeral. I do not know that I have ever been called upon to say a few words at the burial of a saint of God but that I have felt I must read these words: “Ye believe in God, believe also in me.” That is, Christ is saying in effect, “I am going away from you, so you won’t be able to see Me; but you believe in God the Father, though you cannot see Him. Now I want you to believe in Me, God the Son, when you cannot see Me.” And so He has gone back to the Father. We cannot see Him, but we love Him, and we love to serve Him; and we wait for His return.
“In my Father’s house are many mansions,” many resting places, many abodes. It is the same word as the one translated ” abode” a little farther down in the chapter: “We will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (verse 23). So He says, “In my Father’s house are many abodes, many places of rest.” Many of God’s dear children know very little of rest here, but they will rest there in the presence of God and His Son when they put on their resurrection bodies.
“If it were not so, I would have told you.” There are so many things that the saint of God longs for that perhaps are not based upon positive Scripture, but He says, “If this were not a fact, if this hope, this expectation were not based on truth, I would have told you. I would not want you to be deluded; I would not want you to be deceived.” When we look forward to resting in His presence, when we think of Heaven as the Father’s house, it is not just a lovely dream, it is not mere imagination. It is a blessed, precious truth vouched for by our Lord Jesus Himself. He came from the Father and went to the Cross for our redemption. He has gone back to the Father to prepare a place for us.
THE EXPECTATION OF GOING HOME
I love to think of Heaven as a home. Some of us have not known very much of a home here on earth. It is said of the one who wrote that most beautiful of all songs about home, that he was a wanderer all his life. I refer, of course, to John Howard Payne who wrote, “Home, Sweet Home.” Some of us have not enjoyed much of the comforts of home down here on earth, but oh, what a home He is preparing for us up yonder!
At death, the believer goes home, but that is not the final thing, that is not the fullness of our expectation, for the Lord Jesus says, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Dear Christian, do get hold of this truth in the early days of your Christian life. The Lord Jesus says, “I will come again.” How can anybody say he doesn’t believe in the second coming of Christ in view of a promise like that? It is amazing how people twist those words to try to make them say anything but what they really say.
FALSE VIEWS OF OUR EXPECTATION
Some people tell us that He simply meant that He was coming to individual souls when they were converted, to dwell in their hearts. That is not what He is talking about. He says, ‘I am going “to receive [them] unto myself, that where I am there [they] may be also.” There are other folk who think that when the Lord said those words He was referring to the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, that the Holy Spirit, being Jesus’ other self, came down to make good this promise. But I think that when people talk like that, they forget that the great bulk of the promises of the second coming in the New Testament were given after the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. It was after the Holy Spirit fulfilled the Lord’s words and came as the Comforter that He moved the hearts of saints to cry, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus,” and to look on with eager, glad expectation to His personal return.
Then some people say, “Well, it just means that He is coming in the hour of death. When the believer comes down to death, the Lord will be there to take him home to Heaven.” And yet, if it is just as true now as it was before the Cross that angels transport ransomed souls to Heaven, it is a very different thing from the personal coming of Christ. The beggar Lazarus died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom, and I suppose that angels take the saints now into the presence of the Lord. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). But Jesus speaks of a personal coming. That is not death; it is the destruction of death for the believer.
There are some people who confound the Lord’s return with the judgment day of all of the unsaved. There is nothing about that judgment here. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” There is no hint of a judgment of the lost there. It is the returning bridegroom coming for His bride and taking her with Him into the Father’s house to share the rest and the glory of the blessed place. The manner of it is described for us in the fourth chapter of the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, a passage with which we are all familiar, unless it be those to whom these things are new and strange. Beginning with verse 13, we read:
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (or precede them) them which are asleep. For the Lord himself (Notice how distinctly personal that is!) shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (vss. 13-16).
See the contrast between the Lord’s coming and death. Death is not the Savior’s return, but when the Savior returns, death is destroyed for the believer.
“The dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (v. 16-17).
THE TWO GROUPS OF BELIEVERS
You see, there will be the two classes of believers who will have part in the glorious event of the Lord’s return. There will be those who are asleep, that is the saints who have died. The bodies of many of them have gone back to the dust from which they came, but they will be raised and those bodies tenanted again by the glorified soul and spirit of the believers. But then there is another group—the believers actually living in this world when Christ returns.
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (v. 17).
Would it not be a wonderful thing if we Christians who are living today should be among that number! If, before death claims our bodies, the Savior should return and we would be caught up together with the resurrected saints in clouds to meet the Lord in the air! Of course, these bodies of ours will have to undergo a great change in order that that may be, but in Philippians 3 we read of that change:
“For our conversation [or citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body” (3:20-21), or literally, “transform the body of our humiliation.” This body, you see, is called the body of our humiliation. You know how often you are humiliated in your body, don’t you? It is such a drag on the spirit at times. Well, when the Savior comes, He will change the body of our humiliation “that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (vv. 20-21).
We read of this more particularly in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 15, beginning with verse 51. There the apostle says:
“Behold, I shew you a mystery [I tell you a secret, something nobody knew anything of until is was revealed]; We shall not all sleep [that is, we shall not all die], but we shall all be changed [whether living or dead, we shall all be changed], In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump (the trump that ends this dispensation of grace): for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption (that is, the dead, the corrupted bodies of the dead will be raised in incorruption), and this mortal (that is, the living) must put on immortality” (vss. 51-53).
Those who are now living in mortal bodies will suddenly be given immortal bodies when Jesus comes back again, and in those bodies will live forever.
“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (vs. 54). No wonder the apostle can exult in triumph:
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (vs. 55). He says:
“The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (vss. 56-57).
THIS IS OUR HOPE!
This, then, is our expectation; this is our hope! And the Lord would have us living day by day in view of the possible fulfillment of the promise of His coming again. When you get up in the morning, cultivate the attitude of soul that leads you to say, “Christ may come today; and if He were to come today, I want Him to find me walking in obedience to His holy Word.” And when you go to sleep at night say, “Christ Jesus may come tonight, and I can rest in perfect peace, knowing that when He comes I shall be caught up to meet Him.”
By Harry A. Ironside
Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:38-39)
Justification! It is a big word, and very often people miss its true meaning. What is it to be justified? It is to be cleared of all blame, to be freed from every charge. It is the sentence of the court in favor of the prisoner. The prisoner stands there, charged with certain things; the evidence is all heart, and the jury brings in a verdict of “Not guilty.” The man is justified.
Notice a most remarkable thing in these two verses. We have two things here, which God does for the believing sinner that no man could do for anyone else. You could not both forgive a man and justify him at the same time. If you forgive him, he cannot be justified. He must be guilty, and therefore there is something to forgive. On the other hand, if you justify him, then you do not need to forgive him. Suppose, for instance, one had been charged with a certain crime, and after everything had been heard, the jury says, “Not guilty,” and the judge pronounces him free. As that man comes out of the courtroom, a friend says to him, “It was kind of the judge to forgive you, wasn’t it?”
The man replies, “He did not forgive me; I did not require his forgiveness. I was justified; I was proven not guilty and did not need to be forgiven.”
OUR RIGHTEOUS GOD IS INCAPABLE OF ERROR
Of course, human judges may sometimes make a mistake. You have heard the story of the man who was arrested, charged with stealing a gold watch and chain. After all the evidence of the complaining witness had been heard, the judge looked down at the prison and announced, “The sentence of this court is acquittal.”
The man leaned forward and said, “What was that you said, judge?”
“I said, the sentence of the court is acquittal.”
The man looked puzzled and said to the judge, “Judge, I just don’t understand what that means.”
“Well,” the judge explained, “I mean you are acquitted.”
“Well, judge, does that mean I gotta give the watch back?”
You see, the man was guilty, and the judge himself had been deceived.
But God will never be deceived. Nobody can ever put anything over on Him. He knows every sin that you and I have ever been guilty of — sins in thought, sins in word, and sins in deed; and then in addition to all of these, sins of omission. Failure to do the things that we know we ought to do is just as truly sin as to commit overt acts of evil. And God knows all about it, and “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” “There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”
But God undertakes both to forgive the sin and to justify the sinner; to clear him of every charge, when he puts his trust in His blessed Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. You could not do that for anyone, but God can and He does it because the Lord Jesus Christ in infinite grace condescended to take our place, to bear the judgment that our sins deserved, so that when we come to God confessing our sins, over against all that sin and over against all that wickedness stands the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. And on the basis of that, God says, “I forgive this man, and accept him before My presence as though he had never sinned at all. I count him as righteous, and justify him fully and completely.” That is the meaning of justification.
JUSTIFICATION OFFERS A NEW STANDING
You who have just recently come to trust the Savior, I wonder if you have entered into that. I wonder if you realize that the moment you trusted the Savior, that instant God gave you a new standing before Him. You stand before Him now as if you had never sinned at all. You say, “Well, I can’t forget my sins. They come up before me when I lie down at night; they come before me when I kneel to pray; and they are before me even in the daytime. There are so many things that I wish had never happened, and I sometimes wonder, since they come crowding in upon my mind as they do, whether they are really forgiven.”
Let me assure you, if you have really trusted Christ, they are not only forgiven, but forgotten. God says, “Your sins and iniquities will I remember no more,” and if God has forgotten them, then you and I may well say, “I too will seek to forget, and say with Paul, ‘Forgetting those things which are behind, . . . I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’.”
God Himself is the author of our justification. We read in the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 8, and really in one sense I am beginning at the wrong end; I am beginning where God leaves off here in the Epistle to the Romans, but I am beginning where I think you and I as sinners need to begin. In Romans 8, we read that it is God Himself who justifies. Take verse 33:
Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
We are justified by God, the source of it. It is He who has taken up this question, who has gone into it fully and completely, and He says, “Now I am satisfied to acknowledge as righteous the man who trusts My blessed Son.”
A TRULY WICKED AND VILE SINNER
Some years ago a friend of mine was preaching in a certain place, and somebody came to him one day and said, “Could you come and see a woman who is very sick? We are afraid she is dying. She is troubled about her soul and doesn’t seem to understand the way.” Of course he gladly went, as any of us would under such circumstances. As he entered the room and sat down beside the bed, the woman said, “Tell me what is necessary in order that my soul may be saved and my sins forgiven.” He told her the old, old story, the story of the Cross. He told her how God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. He told her how, hanging on that cross in those awful hours of darkness, our blessed Lord Jesus as the substitute for sinners, drank the cup of wrath that we deserved, and made full satisfaction for iniquity; and now God can justify everyone that believes in Him, whom He raised from the dead.
When he finished, she said, “Oh yes, I know, I understand all that, but I don’t see how I can know that my sins are forgiven.” So again, very patiently, he went over the same story, but tried to present it in a little different light. He told her that the Lord Jesus was the one great sacrifice for sin, that He offered Himself for our sins; that He was made sin for us, He who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. And when he finished, she said, “Yes, I understand that, but is that all that is required?”
The evangelist sprang from his seat. He was a very fiery man by nature, and sometimes the fire came out even after he became a Christian. He said in a tone that shook the room, “You wicked woman!”
And she, lying there so sick, was almost terrified, and said to him, “Oh, sir, why do you talk to me like that?”
“You wicked woman, you vile woman! You ask me what is necessary in order that you may be saved. I tell you how God has bankrupted Heaven to save your guilty soul. I tell you how He has sent His own blessed Son to give His life for you. I tell you how He was forsaken of God upon that Tree, and you have the insolence to look up into the very face of God and say, ‘Is that all?’ What more would you want? It is all that God Himself could do.”
She burst into tears and exclaimed, “Oh, sir, I understand. I did not realize what I was saying. Oh, I thank God for what He has done. It is enough! If it is enough for God, it surely is enough for me!”
EVEN THE WICKED MAY BE JUSTIFIED
Oh, that is it! The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself.” He loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
God sent Him. God saw you and me in our deep, deep need, and He sent Him to die for us, and now it is God that justifies the ungodly. God justifies the godly, the good, the pure, the true, and the noble! No, God justifies poor, lost, guilty sinners when they “believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:24-25). It is our faith in the Word of God and the work of Christ that is counted for righteousness. Read Romans 4:5, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” The basis of it all is given in Romans 5:9, where we read, beginning with verse 8: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
We who believe are now justified. It is not that we may, as some people put it, have a good hope of salvation, that we may hope that we shall be justified at last, that we may hope that in the day of judgment everything will be all right; but we are now justified—every believer in Christ.
Oh, so many of our hymns were written by people who hadn’t full assurance of salvation, and they express so often the desire that they may be cleansed and justified. How many real believers sing, “Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow!” And yet everyone who has truly trusted the Lord Jesus Christ is already washed, made white by the blood of the Lord Jesus, justified by God.
WHAT IS THE BASIS FOR JUSTIFICATION?
His blood! It is because of what He did. It is because of the blood He shed — the shedding of His precious blood; it is the giving up of His life. It is His life for ours; His holy, spotless life over against our sinful, wicked lives. The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me.
Somebody might say, “Well, I just do not understand what you mean. You talk about being justified by blood. In what sense could one be justified or cleansed by blood?” Let me give you an illustration. Out in the state of Washington, at the time of the first World War, four or five convicts in some way or another got over the wall of the penitentiary and escaped. After several weeks they were all captured, except one who was never located, at least not until the circumstances which I am going to mention.
He was able to get away, and eventually under an assumed name he joined the army. After a period of training, he was sent across to France. One day, however, some other soldiers were added to the number, and one of them looked at this man and said, “I remember him. I knew him back in the state of Washington years ago. That’s so-and-so. He is not going by his right name. I remember when he was condemned to the penitentiary for burglary.”
He went to the officer in charge and told him what he knew about the man. The officer in turn wrote to the War department and asked, “What am I to do with this man? He is an escaped convict.” Washington sent word back to arrest him and return him to America as a prisoner. But in the meantime something had happened which made that impossible.
THE VALUE OF A MAN’S BLOOD
One night a number of men were wanted for a very, very dangerous duty, and the Captain said, “I am not going to ask any man to do the thing that I am going to tell you about, but I hope that some of you will volunteer. I want some men to crawl out in the dark across No Man’s Land and find out what the foe is planning to do. It is a very dangerous undertaking—you may not get back—so I am not going to appoint anyone, but will ask for volunteers.”
Four men stepped right out, and among them was this convict. Under cover of darkness, they crawled out over No Man’s Land. There were shells falling all around them, but three of them got through safely. The fourth man, the convict, apparently had got clear through to the enemy and secured the information and was coming back, when a shell fell and burst so near him that he was killed. They brought his mangled body in and when the officer received the word from Washington to return that man a prisoner to this country, the officer wrote back, “He has washed out his crimes in his own blood.” He had given himself, he had given his life, and the giving of his life had washed out his crime against the government, though of course this did not touch the question of his sin against God.
JUSTIFICATION IS FREELY GIVEN
The Lord Jesus Christ was absolutely without offense. He was the holy Son of God, but He looked upon us poor sinners in our deep need and He took our place in judgment. He went to the Cross and He bore what our sins deserved. He poured out His life in the shedding of His precious blood, and when we receive Him, we can say that He has washed out our sins in His precious blood. He had no sins of His own for which to die. He was there for our sins.
Oh, why was He there as the Bearer of sin,
If on Jesus thy guilt was not laid?
Oh, why from His side flowed the sin-cleansing blood,
If His dying thy debt has not paid?
He took your place. Have you trusted Him? Do you believe God’s sure promise? If you have, you are justified by His blood.
“Well,” you say, “on what principle does God thus justify? The Epistle to the Romans, chapter 3 and verse 24, tells us:
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
God justifies men by grace, not because of merit. You and I had no merit. Everything was against us. Demerit was ours, and no merit did we have to plead. But now God says in grace, “I am ready to take up that man and save him, if he will but receive and confess My Son as his Lord.” It is so hard for people to understand this. Men always seem to get the idea that they must do something in order to merit God’s favor. It would not be grace if it were merited. Grace is unmerited favor, and it is favor to those who have merited the very opposite. That is grace.
GRACE TO THE UNDESERVING
Suppose, just to use a very hackneyed illustration, that my sons were still school boys and there is a rowdy, a regular bully in the neighborhood, and he falls upon one or the other of them and knocks him down and steals his books and his lunch basket, and then when I go out to talk to him, this bully turns on me and strikes me and stones my house, breaking my best plate-glass window. I have every reason to be thoroughly provoked with him. I would have a perfect right, you know, to go to the police and have him arrested and charged with assault and battery, and one thing or another. But suppose instead of that I wait, and on some cold winter day, I happen to see that young rowdy, and, as I am watching, I see him fall in the snow, and I run out after him. I learn that he has had no one to care for him. He is an orphan, and has no father or mother to look after him, and I find he staggered and fell because of lack of food, he was so weak. When he sees me coming, he staggers to his feet and tries to run away. But he cannot get away because I have hold of his arm. He looks up at me and pleads, “I’ll never do it again, if you will let me go.”
But I say, “You won’t get away.” I bring him into my own home, warm him up, feed him, and give him a suit of clothes belonging to one of my sons. I take care of him and show him every kindness. He can’t understand it, but his heart is won. This is grace. He merited the very opposite, did he not?
Grace is favor shown to the undeserving. If people deserved it, it would not be favor; and so you cannot deserve God’s salvation. Often when I say to somebody, “I hope you are on your way to Heaven,” I receive the reply, “Well, I am doing my best to get there.” It is not a question of doing your best. It is a question of receiving the grace of God as manifested in Christ Jesus.
HOW GOOD DOES A MAN HAVE TO BE TO GET TO HEAVEN?
I was very much struck by an incident, which I heard our friend Dr. Chafer relate. He was riding in a train going down from Kansas City to Dallas, and they were getting near to Fort Worth when he realized that he had not spoken a word to the porter about his soul. He always tries to be conscientious about speaking to those who serve him and wait upon him in restaurants, hotels, and trains. So he went to look for the porter and found him just finishing up the last of the shoes he had to shine. He sat down there beside him and said, “May I ask you a question?”
“Yes sir,” replied the porter, “what’s your question?”
So Dr. Chafer asked him, “How good does a man have to be to get to Heaven?”
“Well, I can’t tell you just how good a man has to be, but I know he has to be mighty good,” he replied.
“Well, do you ever expect to get to Heaven?”
“I don’t know. I’ve just about given up tryin’. I’ve tried and tried for a long time but it don’t seem to do no good, and I’m afraid I’ll never make it.”
Then Dr. Chafer asked the porter, “Where do you check in? at Kansas City or Forth Worth?”
“I have to check in at the Pullman office at Fort Worth half hour after the train pulls in.”
“Oh, I see,” said Dr. Chafer. “This train is due at Fort Worth at eight o’clock, and you should check in by eight -thirty. Well, we’re late now; we’ll never make it to Fort Worth by eight o’clock. Aren’t you afraid that you are going to be pretty late this morning? Don’t you think that you’d better get off at the next stop and start running for Fort Worth?”
The porter looked at him and said, “Why sir, what you talkin’ about? You trying t’ make a fool out of me? I never could make Fort Worth running for it as quick as I can make it by staying right on this train. I just trust the man who runs the train to get me there.”
And Dr. Chafer said, “My dear fellow, that is exactly how I am going to Heaven. ‘It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.’ and I am trusting the One who runs the Gospel train, the Lord Jesus Christ, and He is going to get me there. I never could get there through any goodness of my own.”
The porter looked at him in amazement and said, “Tell me a little more about this. I never heard anything like this before.” Dr. Chafer explained the way of salvation to him, and then left a little booklet and a Gospel with him.
About six months later Dr. Chafer was again riding from Kansas City to Dallas, and again the thought came to him that he must speak to the porter. When he found him, he asked him the same question: “How good does a man have to be to get to Heaven?”
The porter looked at him and grinned, “You’re not going to catch me twice on that. You’re the man that asked me that question about six months ago. Well, I looked up all those Scriptures you showed to me and I’ll tell you, sir, I just found there wasn’t anything I could ever do to get to Heaven, no matter how good I tried to be, so I am trusting Him who love me and died for me, and I’m telling others about Him, and I know my soul is saved.” Well, that’s it—”Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
BUT HOW DO YOU MAKE IT YOUR OWN?
In what way is salvation applied to you individually? We read in Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Justified by faith!
Faith is believing God and asking no questions. It is taking God at His word. God says, “I am satisfied with the work which My Son has done. Because of that work, I raised Him from the dead and now offer to justify any poor sinner who comes to Me in My Son’s name and trusts in Him.” If you have come, you have a right to say: “Being justified by faith, I have peace with God [everything settled between me and God] through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Have you said it? If not, say it now. “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach” (Romans 10:8).
The resurrection of Christ, you know, is the declaration, the seal of it all. In the previous verses, at the end of the fourth chapter of Romans, we read, beginning with verse 22: “And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.” That is, when Abraham believed God, it [his faith] was imputed to him for righteousness. And then we read:
Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:23-25)
That is justification by His resurrection. Why? Because His resurrection tells of God’s satisfaction in the work that His Son has done. When He hung upon that Cross He was bearing our sins, He was taking our place, dying there in the sinner’s stead. Now, if He had never come out of that tomb, it would show that redemption was never accomplished. If that tomb remained sealed and the body of Jesus remained in it, then it would show that it was all a farce, and I would not dare to trust Him as my Savior at all. But see, it is the third day, and His resurrection is the divine declaration that all who believe on Him and rely on Him are justified from all things.
ISN’T THERE ANOTHER SIDE OF ALL THIS?
But I know that some of you have been saying in your hearts, or thinking subconsciously at least, “Yes, but there is another side to it. Doesn’t the Bible say somewhere that faith without works is dead?” Yes, it does, for we read, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”
“Well,” someone asks, “does not that contradict what you have been telling us?”
Not at all. You need to see exactly what it is that various writers of the Epistles are dwelling on. The apostle Paul, and practically all of our references have been from his writings, is telling how poor sinners may be justified before God. But now we turn over to the Epistle of James to find out how we who have professed to believe in Christ may be justified before men.
Suppose I say to my companions in the world, “I have just come to Christ, and I am justified from all things.” They have a right to look at me, at my life, to see for themselves whether there is any change in my life. You see, in order to be justified before them, in order to be justified before men, I have to manifest by my good works the fact that I have received a new and a divine nature. Let me read it to you.
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? (James 2:14)
That is, what kind of faith? a faith that has no works? Where there is real faith in Christ one’s work will be different. His life will never again be what it used to be. Everything will be changed.
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (James 2:15-17)
REAL FAITH IS MANIFESTED BY YOUR WORKS
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (Jam. 2:18)
I cannot show my faith without works, but I can show my faith by my works. If I put my faith in Christ and have trusted Him as my Savior, I have been justified before God, justified freely, justified for nothing, justified without cost, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Now as I live for the One who has justified me, as I devote my redeemed life to the glory of the One who has saved me, my confession is justified before men. Men who get to know me will say, “That man is real; that man is genuine; he lives what he professes.” Do they say that of you? Does your life testify to the reality of the faith that you profess? If you have trusted Christ, you are complete in Him, you are justified freely by His grace. Now by a life devoted to His interests you are to prove to those around you the reality of that faith of which you speak.
(This article is taken from Dr. Ironside’s book Great Words of the Gospel, chapter 4 – in the public domain.)