A distinguished person in the East, at great expense, provided a sumptuous feast, and invited many. When the time came for the arrival of the guests, they all absented themselves, and sent excuses. The fact was, they did not wish to go, and, not having the courage to say, “We won’t,” they said, “We cannot.” Whatever may have been their reasons for refusing to speak out their minds and attend the feast, their excuses were extremely silly (Luke 14).
The first said, “I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.” What was the hurry? Could he not have gone at some other time? The second was not a bit better. “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.” What harm could have come to the oxen by giving them a night’s rest? Besides, whether they were value or not for the money he paid for them – they were bought.
But the third excuse was the worst of all. “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.” Why didn’t he go and take his wife with him?
The spiritual application of the story must be evident to all. Jehovah, at an infinite cost, has provided a feast for perishing sinners. He has commanded His servants to go into all the world and proclaim the glad tidings to every creature.
“All things are ready, come!
Come to the supper spread,
Come rich and poor, come old and young,
Come, and be richly fed.”
The invitation is universal. None are excluded. “Whosoever will” may come. Millions have partaken of the feast and are now in the glory; millions more are on the way, and still the cry is heard, “Yet there is room.”
Worldly people have pictured a Christian’s life as gloomy and melancholy. They have imagined that the partaking of the gospel feast fills the heart with sadness, and causes a shadow to rest on the countenance. They seem not to know that the gospel is “good tidings of great joy,” not “tidings of great misery.”
The persons in the parable were invited to a “feast,” not a funeral; and in the parallel passage in Matthew, we are told that it was a “marriage feast.”
Such an excuse has often been given. Reader, is this your excuse? Do you really mean that you have never done any harm? Have you never sinned in thought, word, or deed? Have you never cherished an impure, unkind, or wicked thought? Have you never spoken a hasty word, told a lie, or attempted to mislead anyone? Have you loved God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind? Have you loved your neighbour as you have loved yourself? “Oh, no,” you reply; “no one has done so.”
Never mind others just now. You admit that you have sinned. If you were found guilty of breaking the laws of this country, who would believe that he had done no harm? Reader, there is no use in concealing the fact, you have not been what you ought to have been; you have not done what you should have done – in other words, you are a sinner, and the Word of God declares, “The soul that sinneth it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4); “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) Take your place as lost and ruined in God’s sight, and give up all attempts to excuse or cover up your sins.
It is all very well to say that you will “turn over a new leaf.” But let me ask, What about the past black leaves of guilt? The schoolboy, after spilling the ink on the page of his book, turns over a new leaf, resolving that in the future he will be more careful; but “turning over a new leaf” does not remove the blotted one, and soon the teacher’s eye detects the blots and punishes him for his carelessness.
It may be, dear reader, at one time you were addicted to drinking or swearing or other bad habits; but of late you have “turned over a new leaf,” and are becoming what the world calls a “reformed” person. This is right and proper, but don’t forget that future good conduct can never blot out past disobedience. A merchant finds that he is in difficulties. He takes his cashbook and begins a “new leaf”, forgetting that there is a “carried over” and a “brought forward” column. New figures on the “new leaf” won’t pay the old debts. Every page of our life account is headed with a “brought forward.”
Reader, “turning over a new leaf” won’t do for you. You must become a “new creature” in Christ Jesus.
Satan goes about with his bundle of lies, giving one to one person, and another to another. To one he says, “God is too merciful to punish sinners”; and if this is not believed he tries another, “If He does punish the sinner in hell, the punishment won’t be eternal.”
It is blessed truth that “God is merciful”; but He is also holy and just, and never can be merciful at the expense of His justice. All His attributes are equally balanced and cannot conflict with each other. He who is long-suffering and slow to anger “Will by no means clear the guilty.” The prisoner who is being taken to jail by the officers of justice has learned that the judge would not allow the lawbreaker to go unpunished.
God’s pardoning mercy flows only through one channel, and that is the atonement of Christ; and all who refuse to accept of life through His death must forever “dwell with the devouring fire”. “The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Ps. 9:17); “he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
Have you done the best you could? Have you not, again and again, done what you ought not to have done, and omitted to do what you should have done? “I don’t pretend to be perfect.” Assuredly not, but remember that this admission removes every possible hope of your being saved by your doings. One sin is sufficient to condemn you, and you know that you have committed thousands. What is the use of such suppositions as, “If a man does the best he can,” when God has declared that none have ever done so? “All we, like sheep, have gone astray” (Isa. 53:6); “They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Ps. 14:3). Unsaved reader, the “best” that you can do is to admit that you are ruined, helpless, and undone. If, from this day until the day of your death, you did not commit a single sin, you could not be saved; for sinners are not saved by what they do, but by virtue of what Christ has done for them. “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:5).
When sinners are shown that salvation is all of grace, and “not of works,” it is not an uncommon thing to hear such say, “You don’t believe in good works.” This is a great mistake. What the Word of God shows us is, that an unconverted man cannot do a good work, as a “good work” must spring from a good motive, and that must be love to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The moment a person is saved, that very moment everything he does ought to be done to the glory of God. No sooner do we read of the Jailor’s conversion (Acts 16) than we see him proving his faith by his works. “He took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes.” Next we find him seeking to obey the Lord in baptism. He wished to show his love by obedience to Him who had said, “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me” (John 14:21).
Reader, without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6), and so long as you are unsaved, you are utterly unfit to do a single “good work.” Believe in God’s wondrous love to you, and you won’t be able to keep from working for Him in return for what He has done for you.
Do you mean that it is difficult to become a Christian? If so, you are completely mistaken. “But I have again and again tried to become one and have failed.” You have not taken God’s way, dear reader, or you would now be rejoicing in the knowledge of sins forgiven. Cease trying to be saved by your efforts: Christ has finished the mighty work, and justice is satisfied. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
“I meant that it was difficult to live the life of a Christian.” Granted at once. Let me, however, ask, whether it is easier to serve Satan or Christ? Which is the best master? Who gives the best wages? In himself the Christian is weak and helpless; but He who saved has promised to keep him and has declared, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” It is far easier to serve the Lord Jesus than Satan.
In serving Satan, you have to turn your back on your best Friend, despise or neglect His great salvation, resist His Holy Spirit, trample under your feet the Son of His love, and rush headlong to eternal ruin. Why, then perish forever, seeing you can be saved now?
You are not asked to “give up” anything until you are saved. Salvation, it is true, includes deliverance from the thralldom and dominion of sin, as well as from its penalty, and you can’t have one part without the other. It must be all or none.
God does not, however, say to the sinner, “Give up the pleasures and amusements of the World, And I will bestow on you pardon and peace.” His way is, “Receive Christ now into your heart, and you will be saved from the power as well as the doom of sin.”
A lady, in conversation with a Christian at the close of a gospel meeting, said, “God won’t save me now,” Why?” “I have made up my mind to go to a ball on Tuesday evening, and He won’t save me until I am willing to give up my going to it.” She was shown that “now” was God’s time, and that He was beseeching her to accept of a free and present pardon – as she was and where she was. The word was blessed to her soul, and need I add that she was not at the ball, as she had received something better.
Now, as you read these lines, “receive” Christ by simple faith, and you will gladly “give up” whatever displeases Him (John 1:12).
“I Don’t Wish To Be Gloomy.”
Numbers imagine that a Christian is one who goes through life hanging his head, heaving sighs, drawing a long face, and looking very sanctimonious. This is one of the biggest. and we fear one of the most widely believed lies Satan ever coined.
Real, lasting happiness is the portion of every believer. “Gloomy!” What is there in the gospel calculated to make one gloomy? Does it make a man “gloomy” to know that all his sins are forgiven? Will it make one “gloomy” to be assured that he will spend eternity with the Lord Jesus in glory? Will the condemned criminal who has been pardoned by his sovereign feel sad?”
‘Tis Jesus only that can give
Sweetest pleasures while we live;
‘Tis Jesus only can supply
Solid comfort should we die.”
The only one who has a right to be happy is the Christian – He and he alone being delivered from the bondage of sin, death, and judgment.
Well might the Psalmist say, “Happy is that people whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 144:15); “In Thy presence is fulness of joy: at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:11).
And is this your excuse for not accepting the invitation to the gospel feast? If so, it is a very poor one. You know some who say that they are Christians, but their conduct proves that they are hypocrites. Though members of churches and chapels, they do things which you and others, who make no such profession, would not stoop to, and you are inclined to say of all who profess to be Christians, “Nice lot!” They are a pack of hypocrites.”
But surely this would be very unfair reasoning. Hypocrites are persons who profess to be what they are not. Those whom you refer to profess to be, but are not, Christians. Are we to conclude, because of this, that all who profess are hypocrites? This would be as foolish as to say that all clerks are thieves, because two were convicted of stealing.
The fact that some pretend to be Christians proves that the reality must be good, as men don’t counterfeit that which is worthless. Suppose, however, that real Christians are inconsistent, will that justify you in not being one? Peter surely could not have been justified in deserting the Lord because Judas was a hypocrite.
“I really don’t know what to do. There are so many opinions that I am quite perplexed to know what to believe.” If this is your thought, let me strongly impress upon you the importance of being guided entirely by the sure Word of God. There is only one way of salvation, and it is very clearly stated in the Book.
A dying lady was anxious about her soul. She had asked many persons their views of salvation, and had received different replies. One told her to “pray,” another to “work,” and so on. A Christian worker visited her, and she earnestly asked, “What are your “views” of salvation?” “I have no views,” was the reply. The lady was amazed. “You seem astonished,” said the visitor;” but supposing I had, what good would they do you, seeing they would be but the views of a fellow mortal? I can, however, give you something better. I can give you God’s views.” The result of the conversation was, the lady shortly afterwards found peace to her soul by learning that the question, “What must I do to be saved?” was answered thus: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
This is what many of the “mock charity school” say; but let us see if it is true. A man, feeling unwell, went to the cupboard, took by mistake a bottle of poison, drank some of the contents, and died in great agony soon afterwards. Did his sincerity of belief save his life?
The guard of the passenger train sincerely believed that the line was clear. “All right, forward,” he cried, and then, blowing his whistle, the train was off. Yet he was mistaken, and the result was a dreadful collision, and numbers of souls were suddenly ushered into Eternity.
A man’s salvation or damnation depends on his belief. If he believes the lie of Satan he will eternally perish; but if he believes the truth of God he will be eternally saved.
The Scriptures are very plain on this point. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12). Sincerity of belief in that way ends in everlasting destruction. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (John 3:36); “All that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). But “He that believeth not shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
Reader, if you are not yet saved, even now you are a condemned sinner, hurrying to an eternity of darkness and despair, with the wrath of the Almighty resting upon you. He that believeth not is condemned already” (John 3:18).
It matters not what you are – high or low, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, religious or immoral -unless you are “born again,” unless you become a new creature in Christ Jesus, you cannot see the kingdom of God. “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).
If, however, you have been led to see your guilt and danger, and are asking the question, “Is there salvation for me?” I can assure you, on the authority of Him Who cannot lie, that you may be saved as you read these lines; for He has said, “Come; for all things are now ready” (Luke 14:17); “Now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2); “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth” (Isa. 45:22).
“God loved the world of sinners lost
And ruined by the fall;
Salvation full at highest cost
He offers free to all.”
The Philippian jailor knew that he was lost, else he would not have asked what he had to do to be saved (Acts 16:30, 31). Have you ever really seen yourself to be a lost sinner? Do you say, “Of course we are all sinners”? That is very true; but some are sinners saved by grace journeying to heaven, while others are lost, hastening as fast as time can carry them to unending misery.
Reader, are you saved or lost? Face the question fairly. Were you called to meet God at this moment, are you prepared? “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look on iniquity” (Hab. 1:13). “Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne” (Ps. 97:2). If unsaved, unconverted, unforgiven, listen to the Word of Jehovah: “The soul that sinneth it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4); “The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Ps. 9:17).
If you know that you are lost, there is One both able and willing to save you. His mission to this world was to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Take the lost sinner’s place, and claim that lost sinner’s Saviour and salvation will be yours.
God is holy and just; and though merciful and gracious, “will by no means clear the guilty” (Exod. 34:7). In His Word He has said, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). How then can anyone be saved for “all have sinned,” and all deserve to die the second death?
The Scripture has declared, “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). Sin must be atoned for Must all eternally perish? Is there no possibility of escape?
A voice is heard from the throne of God: “Deliver him from going down to the pit” (Job 33:24). Justice asks, “On what ground?” “I have found a ransom.” What was the ransom provided by Jehovah for the redemption of sinners?
“Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all.” (I Tim. 2:6). The ransom price has been paid and accepted. Justice is satisfied, not with what you have done, but with what Christ has done for you. On the ground of His finished work, God invites and beseeches you to accept a free, full and present salvation.
“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come… without money and without price” (Isa. 55:1).
It is a wonder that any remain unsaved when God has shown so clearly and fully, in His Word, how salvation is to be obtained.
Numbers, instead of being guided by what God’s Word says, go by what Mr. So-and-So thinks; thus they are ignorant of the gospel of God’s matchless grace.
If you wish to be saved, hear what God says to you in the following Scriptures:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “All that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). “Whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). “He that believeth on Him is not condemned” (John 3:18). The first-born in the blood-sprinkled house in Egypt was preserved from the destroying Angel because Jehovah had said, “When I see the blood I will pass over you” (Exod. 12:13). Salvation can only be had by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Salvation without money, salvation without price,
Salvation without labour, believing doth suffice;
Salvation now this moment, then why, oh, why delay?
You may not see tomorrow; now is salvation’s day.”
Many are stumbled at the simplicity of the gospel. When it is presented to them in all its Fulness and freeness, they declare that believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is “Far too easy” a way.
Thank God, it is an “easy” way of being saved. Well might the poet Cowper sing:
“Oh, how unlike the complex works of man, Heaven’s easy, artless, unencumbered plan.”
Though an “easy” way, it is not “too easy,” since it is obtained through believing in one by whom the difficult work has all been done – the Lord Jesus.
It was not “easy” for Him to be mocked and insulted by men. It was not “easy” for Him to be scourged, spat upon, and crucified. It was not “easy” in the moment of His humiliation and agony to be forsaken by God. It
was not “easy” for Him to be “wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities” (Isa.53:5).
Though an easy way, it is God’s only way of saving sinners, and if the reader is not saved in that way, he will never be saved at all. “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:5).
Depend on it, if this is what you say or think, you are completely mistaken. No one has “always believed on Jesus.” You may have believed a great deal about the Lord Jesus, but you have never really believed on Him. You have never received His glorious gospel, or you would be saved. What about the Lord Jesus do you believe? “I believe that He died on Calvary for sinners.” Believing that won’t do you any good. Do you believe that He bled and suffered and died on account of your sins?
If you did you would see that there was no reason why you should be afraid of meeting God. If you did you would know from the Word that you had eternal life and would not come in to judgment on account of your sins. No one can
believe on the Lord Jesus Christ without being saved, for He has declared: “Whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43); “All the believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:38, 39); “He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life” (John 6:47). So you see, if you really believe on the Lord Jesus, God says you are saved.
If you are not already saved, you don’t believe in Jesus in any way. Scripture does not recognize two ways of believing – a “right” and a “wrong” one. Men may speak about a “living faith” and a “dead faith,” a”saving faith” and an “intellectual faith,” but Scripture speaks of believing what God says. Faith in man and faith in God are the same exercises of mind; the difference is not in the faith, but in the person on whom the faith terminates. Those who are lost perish through believing the devil’s lie, and those who are saved are delivered through believing God’s truth. “The devils believe and tremble,” because they are doomed to eternal despair; and the saints believe, and rejoice with joy unspeakable, because they are to spend Eternity in happiest fellowship with the Lord Jesus.
Paul did not say to the Jailor, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ with the right kind of believing and thou shalt be saved.” If he had, the poor ignorant heathen would not have understood him. He simply said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Do the same, oh, reader, and you shall be saved Don’t think about your believing, but about Christ, the object of faith.
Such a question is often asked by anxious, as well as careless, sinners. Sometimes it is put in this form – “Does it not say in the Bible that we are to work out our salvation? How, then, can you reconcile that with the statement that we have only to believe in order to be saved?”
When you ask, “Does it not say we are to work out our salvation?” whom do you mean? Do you mean every person – saved and unsaved? If so, you have only to look at the Epistle and see to whom it is addressed. Phil 1:1 – “To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.” They were already saved. They did not hope to be, they knew they were saved. “My beloved,” says Paul,…”work out your own salvation” (Phil. 2:12, 13). They were already in possession of it. “Your own” implies possession. They were to “work out” what God had wrought in. This passage certainly has no reference to the unsaved. The unsaved are “dead in trespasses and sins,” and therefore cannot work out their salvation. Besides. Scripture is very explicit – “By grace are ye saved,… not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8, 9).
Scripture nowhere states that salvation is to be had by prayer; it speaks of sinners being saved only in one way – through simple faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Did the Lord Jesus tell Nicodemus to “pray, and be saved?” No. “Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish” (John 3:14, 15). Did Paul, in answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” reply, “Pray earnestly for forgiveness, and you will get it”? No; he said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). You do not need to pray to God for salvation; He is at this moment beseeching you to take it (II Cor. 5:20). If you expect to be saved by prayer you will be deceived, as it cannot take you a step nearer to heaven. How can you dare to ask God for salvation so long as you are guilty of the awful sin of making Him a liar (I John 5:10, 11)? Instead of continuing to pray for salvation, even now as you read these lines, stretch out the empty hand of faith and take it as a gift from the pierced hand of the Lord Jesus. “The gift of God is eternal life” (Rom. 6:23). ‘Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).
A Christian in the east of England used to say it took him forty-two years to learn three things- (1) That he could do nothing to save himself; (2) that God did not require him to do anything; and (3) that Christ did it all.
If you learn these three lessons you will never talk about your doings. “Your part” is to admit that you are a helpless, hell-deserving sinner, unable to do anything to save yourself. “Your part” is to cease thinking of being saved by anything you can do or feel. “Your part” is to believe that Jesus did everything that was necessary – that He finished the work of atonement and paid the ransom price with His precious blood. Whenever you cease trying to be saved by your doings, and believe on the Lord Jesus, who did it all and paid it all, you become a son of God, an heir of glory, and joint-heir with Jesus Christ. “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:5).
“It is finished, yes, indeed,
Finished every jot;
Sinner, this is all you need.
Tell me, is it not?”
If God is satisfied with the “finished” work of Christ, you ought to be satisfied with that which satisfied Him.
Some who say this really suppose that they are too wicked to be forgiven; but in many cases it is only said in mock humility, as an excuse for continuance in sin. There can be no doubt but that you are a great sinner, and far worse than you imagine, “You have no idea how wicked I am.” I don’t know, and what is more, I don’t wish to know; but one thing I am certain of, HE knows all about you. Since you were an unconscious babe on your mother’s breast, He has watched over you and loved you with more than a parent’s Jove. In spite of your sin and folly, He stands with outstretched arms ready to welcome you. The Prodigal Son was received by his father in rags and wretchedness, misery and poverty, and God is willing to save you now. Take the lost sinner’s place and claim the lost sinner’s Saviour. “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). Though a “great sinner,” you are not beyond the reach of His pardoning mercy, and now you may receive the full and free forgiveness of all your sins, by believing on Him who died for you (John 6:47). “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).
Paul’s reply to the most important of all questions was very explicit: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” He did not say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will have a good chance of being saved”; but “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.
Numbers declare it is “great presumption” in anyone to “go to the length ” of saying he knows that he is saved. They affirm that no one can be certain,” and that all we can do is to have a “humble hope.” How different this is from the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles Paul says, “We are always confident” (II Cor. 5:6). The Apostle John says, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His Name’s sake” (I John 2:12). “We know that we have passed from death unto life” (I John 3:14). Every sinner who believes on the Lord Jesus is bound to believe that he is saved. It would indeed be “great presumption” in anyone to doubt the Word of the living God. “He that believeth not God hath made Him a liar” (I John 5:10, 11), and he who believes on Jesus has the divine promise, thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31).
The same hour of the night that the Jailor asked, “What must I do to be saved?” he witnessed his conversion and baptism; and it is likewise added, he “rejoiced, believing in God, with all his house.” In one short hour, the whole household believed, were saved, and baptized. It is of no use people saying that, “No one can be saved at once,” for Scripture clearly shows that those mentioned in the New Testament, whenever they believed, were saved. Some have supposed that conversion is a gradual process, requiring much time and earnest prayer. How long does it take one to ‘believe” what his father says? A moment. Another figure is employed – “Looking.” “Look unto Me, and be ye saved” (Isa. 45:22). How long did it take a bitten Israelite to be cured? The one moment he was dying, the next, by simply looking at the brazen serpent, he was completely healed (Num. 21:9; John 3:14-15).
The very moment you “believe” in, or “look” to Jesus as the One who bled and suffered for you, you are saved.
“There is life in a look at the Crucified One,
There is life at this moment for thee.
Then look, sinner, look unto Him and be saved-
Unto Him who was nailed to the tree.”
What do you mean? “I am not sorry enough for my sins.”
And if you were very sorry, would God be more willing to save you than He is now? “I think so.” Then you are completely mistaken.
“But does it not say, unless we repent we shall perish?”
Yes; but what do you think is the scriptural signification of “repentance”? If you say “sorrow for sin” you are wrong. It does not mean sorrow for sin: it means a change of mind (Matt. 21:29). This change will doubtless produce sorrow; but sorrow and repentance are two very different things (Heb. 12:17. margin. and II Cor. 7:9). When God calls on you to “repent, and believe the gospel.” He wishes you to lay aside your wrong thoughts, and believe the glad tidings that He proclaims to you. Formerly you may have imagined that you were required to feel very sorry before being saved. Change your mind. You may have supposed you must first “feel” some great change in order to know you were saved. Change your mind. First, believe in God’s great love to you, as revealed in His gospel, and you will know that you have eternal life (John 5:24).
A lady became anxious about her soul. She prayed and laboured earnestly to “love God,” in order to obtain the forgiveness of her sins. Instead, however, of doing so, her heart seemed to get harder.
Meetings were being held in the district, and one evening the preacher said: “Some imagine that God requires them to love Him in order to be saved. They begin to examine their hearts, and they cannot find there one particle of love to Him. “If,” said he, “we were not to be saved till we loved Him, we would never be saved at all; but the blessed truth is, He loves us.” “Herein is love, not that we love God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:10). The moment she saw that God had so loved her as to give Jesus as a propitiation for her sins, peace and joy filled her heart, and she could not help loving Him who had done so much for her. “He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love” (I John 4:8). Have you been trying to love God in order to be saved? If so, give it up. It is true you ought to love Him, but so long as you are unsaved you will not do so. Meditate on His love to you, and you will be able to say, “We love Him, because He first loved us” (I John 4:19).
Numbers, when awakened to see their danger, get occupied with their feelings toward God, instead of with His feelings toward them. They never seem to consider this question- “Whether does my salvation depend on how I feel toward God, or on how He feels toward me?” Again and again, we hear the remark, “I don’t feel anxious enough,” or “I don’t feel sorry enough.” Such have read or heard of some who were in great darkness of soul, and they imagine that they must go through a similar experience. They are very unlike the woman who, when asked how she got through the “slough of despond” (mentioned in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress), replied, “I did not go that road at all; I went straight to the Cross.”
Don’t think of your anxiety, or want of anxiety, but ask yourself- “Is God willing to save me now?” Again and again, in His Word, He declares that His desire is that you should not perish, but be eternally saved (Ezek. 33:11; I Tim. 2:4-6). Cease occupying your mind with your feelings. Think of His wondrous love to you, as manifested in the gift of His only begotten and well-beloved Son. On the ground of what He did and suffered, you can be saved even now. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
This is what many a one says. In fact, it is a very common difficulty with those who are exercised about their soul’s salvation.
“I have often tried to be a Christian, but have failed. Sometimes I thought I was one, but soon the happy feelings were gone, and I was just as bad as ever; so there is no use in my professing.” You need not be troubled about your “holding on.” What you are now required to do is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and the moment you do so you obtain eternal life (John 3:36), and the assurance that you will never perish (John 10:28). Then as to how you will “get on” after you are saved, the same Christ who “saves from wrath to begin with, saves from sin to go on with, and will keep you safe to glory to end with.” His name shall be called Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21); and He “is able to keep you from falling” (Jude 24), and has promised never to leave, nor to forsake those who put their trust in Him. The moment you believe on Jesus you are His; and He has pledged His word to guide, guard, and keep you, and to give you strength and grace to live and work for Him. “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, fear not” (Isa. 41:13).
Presumption to do what? “Presumption in anyone to say that he knows he is saved.”
But if God declares you may be sure, and tells you how you may be sure, would you call it “presumption” to believe Him? “Assuredly not, . . Then listen to Him: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (I John 5:13).
Instead of it being “presumption” to believe what God says, to doubt Him is to be guilty of the greatest sin a man can commit. “But I cannot say that I am saved.” Then you do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? “Oh, yes, Idol” You must surely be mistaken; for the Scripture states that “He that believeth on Him hath everlasting life” (John 3:36); and if you are not saved, you cannot possibly believe on Jesus.
“I believe on Jesus, but I cannot say I am saved.”
Then you are making God a liar; for He again and again asserts that everyone who believes on Jesus has eternal life (John 6:47). But “He that believeth not God hath made Him a liar, because he believeth not the record God gave of His Son” (I John 5:10, 11).
Of course not, how could you, so long as your mind is occupied with your feelings toward God, instead of with His feelings toward you. If you continue to look into your cold, wretched heart, you will become more and more miserable. By dwelling on its coldness or hardness, your want of love or want of sorrow, faith or feelings, you must be unhappy.
Peace is not to be derived from looking within: it is only to be found in looking unto Jesus by thinking of what He has done and suffered for us, and not by anything that we have done or suffered for Him.
“Look to Jesus, weary one, look and live:
Look at what the Lord has done, look and live!
Though unworthy, vile, unclean, lock and live:
Look away from self and sin, look and live.”
So long as you do not believe on Jesus you cannot have that love to Him you ought. You must first believe in His love and death for you; and the moment you know that the mighty work has been finished, that justice has been satisfied, peace will fill your heart, and love will flow out and over to Him who loved you, and gave Himself for you. (Isa. 42:21; Rom. 5:1).
A Scottish shepherd, in a state of great anxiety of soul, asked a preacher if he could tell him what was meant by “coming to Christ.” “I have been hearing,” said he, “a most earnest discourse; we have been urged and intreated to ‘Come to Christ’; and I felt as if I had been sitting on nettles all the time, for he never told us HOW to come to Him. Can you tell me?”
“Can you fly to Him?” “No, I cannot do that.” “Can you walk on your feet to Christ?” “No.” The preacher then told him that Christ, though in heaven, was beside him on earth, loving him with a deep, strong, and tender love, eagerly anxious to save him. He was shown that with his mind and heart, and not with his body, he was to go to Jesus – in other words, he was to believe on Him who died that he might live. “Is that it? Is it so simple? I see it now,” he said and went on rejoicing.
“I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.”
Has the reader come to Jesus yet? If not, come to Him now. Believe in His love and death for you, and you will know, on the authority of Him who cannot lie, that you are saved, and have eternal life.
What do you mean? “I see that Christ has borne my punishment, and that God is perfectly satisfied with what He has done; but, somehow or other, I cannot realize that I have everlasting life.”
Your mistake is, you are taken up with the realizing of your mind instead of with the realities of God’s salvation. Suppose for some crime you were sentenced to a term of imprisonment, with the option of paying a large penalty. A friend pays the amount in full, and brings you a receipt; would you then be afraid of going to jail? “No.” Why not? Because of your “realizing” or “graspings”? “No.” Why would you not be afraid? “Because the ransom had been paid.” Would you not require to “realize” or “grasp,” or “lay hold” of the money in your mind? “Certainly not.”
God in His Word tells you that Christ has given Himself a ransom for you” (1 Tim. 2:6), and on the ground of what He has done you may be saved. Do not think of your “realizing,” but believe in the reality of His death for you, and you will then know that you are saved, and all your sins forgiven.
Martin Luther, in one of his conflicts with the devil, was asked by the arch-enemy if he felt his sins forgiven. “No,” said the great Reformer, “I don’t feel the they are forgiven but I know they are, because God says so in His Word.” Paul did not say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt feel saved;” but, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” No one can feel that his sins are forgiven. Ask that man whose debt was paid by his brother, “Do you feel that your debt is paid?” “No,” is the reply, “I don’t feel that it is paid; I know from this receipt that it is paid, and I feel happy because I know it is paid.” So with you, dear reader. You must first believe in God’s love to you as revealed at the Cross of Calvary, and then you will feel happy, because you will know that you are saved.
A happy old Christian, on hearing persons speaking of their feelings, used to say – “Feelings! Feelings! Don’t bother yourself about your feelings. I just stick to the old truth that Christ died for me, and He is my surety right on to Eternity, and I’ll stick to that like a limpet to the rock.”
“Be my feelings what they will, Jesus is my Saviour still.”
“Such were the words uttered by a young convert on the night he found peace. Reader, can you truthfully adopt his language? “I wish I could.” Then there is nothing to hinder you from doing so now. Jesus has died on Calvary. He has “suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust,” and Jehovah has declared that those who believe on Him have eternal life (John 5:24; 6:47). If, therefore, you really believe on Him who bore the wrath and curse for you, you have God’s Word for it that you are saved.
“I don’t feel I am saved.” Neither do I, but thank God, I know it, simply because He says so in His Word, and I am confident He always speaks the truth. Salvation is not through our feelings, but through faith in what Jesus did for us (Rom. 1:16). Jesus felt the weight of sin when He exclaimed, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). Now, as you read these lines, believe on Him who bore sin’s penalty, and with the young man you will be able to say, “God says I am saved, and it must be true.”
Allow me to ask you, in closing, are you saved?
“I intend to be, but there is no great hurry.” What! “No great hurry,” and the messenger of death at your very door! The manslayer, fleeing into the city of refuge, with the avenger of blood on his track, did not think so. When asked why you despised His pardon, and neglected His great salvation, what answer will you give? Don’t, oh, don’t allow Satan to lull you to sleep in the cradle of a false security! Time is short and Eternity is at hand. Will you, can you, dare you, one moment longer remain unsaved? “Now” is God’s time. “Tomorrow may be too late. The dark thundercloud of God’s wrath is hanging over your head, and if you remain in your present position the voice from heaven may sound forth, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.” Delay not another moment. Don’t be perplexed about the future. He who saved poor sinners has promised to “keep” them; and the moment you receive Christ into your heart by faith, He will grant you power to overcome sin, self, and Satan, and give you strength to live for Him who died for you.
You Need to Be “Born Again.” Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).
Reformation is Not Regeneration. Turning over new leaves won’t destroy the old ones. Future good conduct does not blot out past disobedience.
God is Willing to Save You now. “Now is the accepted time” (II Cor. 6:2). “Come now (Isa. 1:18).
Salvation is a Free Gift. It cannot, therefore, be earned or bought by good works, prayers, or religious observances.
“The Wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life” (Rom. 6:23, Revised Version). “Not of works lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8).
Justification by Faith Alone. This is clearly taught in Scripture. “Being justified by faith” (Rom. 5:1). “If by grace, then it is no more of works” (Rom. 11:6). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house” (Acts 16:31).