A dear little girl came to me in one of my meetings and said, "I want to be a Christian." Taking her aside, I read from God's Word this verse, among others, "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God" (John 1:12a). Having read this verse, I asked the little girl, "Do you believe this verse?" She said, "I believe it!" Then I asked her, "Will you receive Jesus as your Saviour?" Said she, "I will receive Jesus as my Saviour!" Then I asked her, "Are you saved?" "Yes, I am one of God's children! I know it because of two things: This (pointing to her Bible) tells me I am, and this (pointing to her heart) tells me I am, too!"
—Rev. Roy Gustafsen
A pastor asked a dying man, "Brother, of what persuasion are you?"
The man replied, "I am of Paul's persuasion."
"You don't understand me. Of what persuasion are you?"
"I understood you. I am of Paul's persuasion."
The preacher shaking his head said, "Brother, I'm afraid I do not understand you. You said you are of Paul's persuasion. What do you mean? There is a Methodist persuasion, and a Baptist persuasion, and an Episcopalian persuasion, and a Lutheran persuasion, and a Christian persuasion, and a Nazarene persuasion, but what is Paul's persuasion? What is the persuasion of Paul?"
The man, smiling, quoted, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (II Tim. 1:12).
—Dr. Hyman Appelman
"On Christ salvation rests secure,
The Rock of Ages must endure;
Nor can that faith be overthrown
Which rests upon the 'Living Stone.'
"No other hope shall intervene,
To Him we look, on Him we lean;
Other foundation we disown,
And build on Christ, the 'Living Stone.'
"In Him it is ordained to raise
A temple to Jehovah's praise,
Composed of all the saints who own
No Saviour but the 'Living Stone.'"
Said Goethe, "If you have any certainties, let us have them. We have doubts enough of our own!"
A young man was home from the theological school to visit his grandmother. To have a bit of fun at her expense, he said, "Grandmother, you know the Bible that you say you believe was written in Hebrew and Greek. It had to be translated by great scholars into our language. How do you know those who translated it got it right?" "Ah," she answered, "never mind the great men. I have translated a few of the promises myself!"
(From his last will and testament) "I, William Shakespeare, of Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of Warrick, gentleman in perfect health and memory, God be praised, do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is to say, first, I commend my soul into the hands of God, my Creator, hoping and assuredly believing, through the only merits of Jesus Christ, my Saviour, to be made partaker of life everlasting, and my body to the earth whereof it is made."
An aged lady left Buffalo by boat for Cleveland, Ohio, to visit a daughter. A terrible storm arose, and the passengers, fearing death, gathered for prayer. But the aged lady seemed quite unconcerned. She sat praising the Lord. Some of the passengers, after the storm subsided, became curious to know the reason for the old lady's calmness. They gathered around her and asked her the secret. "Well, children," she replied, "It is like this. I had two daughters. One died and went home to Heaven; the other moved to Cleveland. When the storm arose, I wondered which daughter I might visit first, the one in Cleveland or the one in Heaven, and I was quite unconcerned as to which."
Dr. S. D. Gordon tells of an old Christian woman whose age began to tell on her memory. She had once known much of the Bible by heart. Eventually only one precious bit stayed with her. "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." By and by part of that slipped its hold, and she would quietly repeat, "That which I have committed unto him." At last, as she hovered on the borderline between this and the spirit world, her loved ones noticed her lips moving. They bent down to see if she needed anything. She was repeating over and over again to herself the one word of the text, "Him, Him, Him." She had lost the whole Bible, but one word. But she had the whole Bible in that one word.
—American Holiness Journal
Some years ago the world's longest bridge was completed at San Francisco at a cost of seventy-seven million dollars. During the construction of the first part of the bridge no safety devices were used and twenty-three men fell to their death in the waters far below. In the construction of the second part it was decided to install the greatest safety net in the world, even though the cost amounted to $100,000. It saved the lives of at least ten men who fell to it without injury. In addition to that the work went on from 15 to 25 percent faster with the men relieved from the fear of falling. The knowledge that they were safe left the men free to devote their energies to the particular tasks in hand.
To be assured that neither things present nor things to come can separate me from Christ's love sets me gloriously free to serve with glad alacrity.
Some one told Martin Luther, when he was going out on one of his hard tasks, that the Pope was after him. He replied: "If it is a matter between Martin Luther and the Pope, it is all up with Martin Luther; but if it is a matter between the Pope and God, it's all up with the Pope."
William James Taylor, alias Bill Hennessy, alias Ed Lynch, alias Tom O' Brien, learned that he couldn't hide from God. At the age of three, behind his father's saloon he acquired a taste for liquor by dipping his baby fingers into the dregs of glasses and bottles. Small wonder that by twelve he was a drunken street urchin. After two years in a reform school he lived aimlessly until a second arrest placed him in an industrial institution. Gambling, drugs, and drink provided a livelihood and made him a constant fugitive from the law that kept him constantly on the move, whenever he wasn't serving sentence. The night he arrived in Chicago, he hurried into the Pacific Garden Mission to avoid what he thought were suspicious glances of a policeman. He returned a second night. Again he heard the testimonies of what God had done for such as he. He knelt at the altar and repeated, "God be merciful to me, a sinner, and save me now for Jesus' sake." "I cannot tell all Jesus Christ has done for me. But one thing I can do, and that is tell others about Him. And there's a lot of things I don't know. But there's one thing I do know. That is that God ain't any picker of persons."
—Carl F. H. Henry The Pacific Garden Mission
The Rev. R. I. Williams telephoned his sermon topic to the Norfolk Ledger Dispatch.
"The Lord is my Shepherd," he said.
"Is that all?" he was asked.
He replied, "That's enough."
And the church page carried Mr. William's sermon topic as: "The Lord is my Shepherd—that's enough."
The minister rather liked the idea. He used the expanded version as his sermon title that Sunday at Fairmount Park Methodist Church.
Someone asked Luther, "Do you feel that you have been forgiven?"
He answered, "No! but I'm as sure as there's a God in heaven.
"For feelings come and feelings go, and feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God, nought else is worth believing.
Though all my heart should feel condemned for want of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart whose word cannot be broken.
I'll trust in God's unchanging Word till soul and body sever;
For though all things shall pass away His Word shall stand forever."
In a Gospel meeting a penitent woman was seeking salvation. The evangelist quoted to her anxious soul the assurance of Isaiah 53:6, and led her to simply take God at His Word, and to depend upon Christ for the remission of sin. She went home rejoicing, but the next morning came downstairs with tears in her eyes. Her little boy, who had been with her in the meeting the night before, asked, "Mamma, what is troubling you?" "Oh," was the answer, "last night I felt that I was saved. But now it seems like a dream. I fear I am deceived." "Mamma," said the little lad, "get your Bible and turn to Isaiah 53:6." She did so, and read, "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." "Mamma, is the verse still there?" "Yes, my son." "Then your sins were laid on Jesus," said the wise lad. The mother saw the truth. She took God's Word without regard to her feelings, and then God's peace came to stay.
—"Faith," James H. McConkey
In ancient Rome a guard felt sorry for a Christian prisoner, who was soon to die because of his faith in Christ. He secretly allowed his daughter to visit him. After she was gone the guard stared at his prisoner. "Why do you gaze at me?" he asked. "Because you do not seem worried," was the answer. "You are to die tomorrow. Tonight you saw your daughter for the last time." "Oh, but you are wrong," exclaimed the prisoner. "I shall see her again. My daughter is a Christian, too. She will soon follow me. Christians never see one another for the last time. They meet in heaven, there to live forever. Now do you understand why I am happy and why I am ready to die for my Christian faith?"
A traveler in Switzerland, uncertain of his way, asked a small lad by the wayside where Kandersteg was, and received, so he remarks, the most significant answer ever given him. "I do not know, sir," said the boy, "where Kandersteg is, but there is the road to it." There are a great many things I cannot tell about the life to come, but I know where lies the road. As I know Christ, the hope of glory, I have the certain assurance of immortality.
—Herald and Presbyter
"A sailor in Gloucester, Mass., had been wounded in a wreck and was brought ashore. The fever was great, and he was dying. His comrades gathered around him in a little fishing house, and the physician said: 'He won't live long.' The sailor was out of his mind until near the close. But within a few minutes of his death he looked around, and calling one comrade after another, bade them goodby, and then sank off to sleep. Finally as it was time for the medicine again, one of the sailors rousing him, said, 'Mate, how are you now?' He looked up to the face of his friend and said, 'My anchor holds!' These were his last words. And when they called upon a friend of mine to take charge of the funeral service, how powerful was the impression made upon his hearers when he quoted the dying words: 'My anchor holds!'"
In a British army discussion period on the religions of the world, men began to voice their opinions concerning Jesus. To one He was "a good enough man"; to another, "an impossible idealist"; to another, "a revolutionary"; and to another, "a fanatic."
At last a lad got to his feet and, with flushed face and stammering tongue, said: "Excuse me, but you're all wrong. He is more than that." Then he paused, and a wit who knew the lad interposed with: "He's got inside information!"
"So I have!" flashed back the young Christian. "You see, I know Him!"
The men did not laugh. They recognized the fact that the lad had got hold of something beyond their surface appraisals.
—War Cry, Essex
Some years ago at the great Keswick Convention in England, a brother said to the Rev. George Silwood, "Is it not blessed to be safe in the arms of Jesus?" "Yes," said Brother Silwood, "but I am safer than that." "Why," said his friend in astonishment, "how could you be safer than in the arms of Jesus?" "Why, I am as safe as an arm of Jesus," said the preacher; nor did he overemphasize this great and glorious fact, "for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones."
—Rev. P. W. Philpott
An extract from a letter written by a minister to a brother minister whose faith was failing through illness: "Are you not making the mistake of examining your faith rather than the promises upon which that faith should rest? If you were traveling a new public highway and should approach a bridge of whose strength you were not satisfied, would you stop to examine your faith in that bridge, or dismount and examine the structure itself? Common sense would tell you to examine the bridge, and then, when satisfied of its strength, you would cross over with confidence. So now I beg you, dear brother, look away to the promises that were made by God whom you have served so long, and trust Him though He slay you. Remember the bridge."
"Saved, Alone!" This was the cablegram which Horatio Gates Spafford, author of the hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul," received. It meant that his four children had gone down to a watery grave in mid-Atlantic, and that his wife only had been rescued. In his deep sorrow he was wondrously sustained by the God of all grace. Out of his sorrowing heart, he gave to the world the great hymn of assurance:
"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows, like sea-billows, roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul!"
—W. B. K.
A Scottish minister was instructing a small boy in the home of one of his parishioners, and he was having him read the Twenty-third Psalm. "The Lord is my shepherd," began the little boy; but he was interrupted by the old minister. "Nae, nae," he said, "ye dinna read it richt." Again the little boy began, slowly and earnestly, "The—Lord—is—my—shepherd." But again he was stopped. "Nae, ye dinna read it richt yet," the old minister said, shaking his head, "Now watch me"—and holding up his left hand he placed the forefinger of his right hand on the thumb of the left and said, "The"—then to the next finger, "Lord"—and to the next, "is"—and then grasping firmly the fourth finger, he said, "You TAKE HOLD on the fourth one and say, 'My.'" "Oh," exclaimed the little boy, "it's 'The Lord is MY shepherd!'" Not long afterward the little boy followed the sheep out to pasture one morning, and later the broken little body was found at the foot of a steep cliff, over which he had evidently fallen by accident. The life was gone, but the grief-stricken parents saw one thing that cheered their hearts, for the little right hand, though cold in death, was clasped firmly upon the fourth finger of his left, and they knew that their little laddie was safe in the arms of HIS Shepherd.
From a radio program broadcast —Rev. Hilmore Cedarholm
There was once an English doctor whose dog always accompanied him when he made the round of visits to his patients. One night when he was called to see a dying man, the dog followed him into the house. The doctor went into the sick room, closing the door behind him, leaving the dog in the hall outside. The sick man, realizing that death was very near and being unprepared to die, said to the doctor, "Doctor, how can we know what lies beyond death?"
The doctor, taken off guard by the unexpected question, yet being a Christian man and desiring to help the patient paused for a moment to think how best to answer. Just then there was a noise at the door. The little dog was sniffing at the crack and scratching on the closed panels. This gave the doctor an idea.
He said, "My little dog is outside. He followed me into the house, and I left him behind when I came into this room. He doesn't know what's here; he has never been into the house and certainly never into this room; but he wants to come in because he knows I am here and he loves and trusts me. We may not know a great deal about what lies beyond the door of death; but if we love God and trust Him, knowing He is there, we need have no fear of going where He is."
—Dr. Bob Jones, Jr.
"See, Father," said a small boy who was walking with his father by the river, "they are knocking the props away from under the bridge. What are they doing that for? Won't the bridge fall?" "They are knocking them away,'' said the father, "that the timbers may rest more firmly upon the stone piers which are now finished." God often takes away our earthly things that we may rest more firmly on Him.
—Choice Gleanings Calendar
I know not what the future hath
Of marvel or surprise, Assured alone that life and death
His mercy underlies.
And if my heart and flesh are weak To bear an untried pain,
The bruised reed He will not break, But strengthen and sustain.
And so, beside the Silent Sea,
I wait the muffled oar; No harm from Him can come to me
On ocean or on shore.
I know not where His islands lift Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift Beyond His love and care.
—John G. Whittier
A friend questioned one of God's servants of the other years: "Mr. Mackenzie, you are a man to be envied: you know nothing of doubts and fears; you always enjoy the full assurance of hope." The old man replied at once: "Yes, yes, I understand you. Many a man speaks of my strong faith that does not know all it has to struggle with. But I shall tell you what my faith is. I am the emptiest, vilest, poorest sinner I know on the face of this earth. I feel myself to be so. But I read in His own Word that He heareth the cry of the poor, and I believe Him, and I cry unto Him, and He always hears me, and that is all the faith or assurance I have got."
—Sunday School Times
At a certain church a boy of ten years of age was examined for membership. After he had spoken of his sense of guilt, came the question, "What did you do when you felt yourself so great a sinner?" and the eyes of the boy brightened as he answered, "I just went to Jesus and told Him how sinful I was, and how sorry I was, and asked Him to forgive me." "And do you hope at times that Jesus heard you and forgave your sins?" "I don't only hope so, sir, I know He did." The oldest of them raised his glasses and peered into the face of the little candidate, and said, "You say you 'know' that Jesus forgave your sin?" "Yes, sir," was the prompt answer. "You mean, my son, that you hope Jesus has pardoned your sins." "I hope he has, and I know it, too," said the boy, with a bright smile on his manly face. "How do you know it, my son?" Every eye was intent on the little respondent. "He said he would," said the boy, with a look of astonishment, as if amazed that anyone should doubt it.
When winter reigns, and flowers are dead,
And song birds with their songs have fled;
When trees are etched on leaden skies,
And poverty in anguish cries,
And funeral trains go o'er the snow,
O God, how good it is to know—
That Thou remainest!
When man his courage would reveal,
When he would build his towers of steel
And granite blocks to pierce the sky,
And would the hand of time defy;
While here is strength, yet he doth know
That these as well some day must go;
For ruins fill the ancient world,
And to the depth man's pride is hurled
But Thou remainest!
Why should I grieve and be afraid
When in the grave my hopes are laid?
Well do I know that death must be
Unless my Lord shall come for me;
Therefore, build I my life on Thee,
Foundation of eternity—
For Thou remainest!
—Rev. J. G. W. Kirschner
They had been talking with Dr. W. H. Griffith-Thomas night after night, endeavoring to win him, then a young doctor, for Christ. Nothing they said seemed to cut through the mental fog that blocked the way to a clear understanding of salvation. Finally realizing that the young man's difficulty was his own inability to "feel" saved, Mr. Poole took a coin, and handing it to Dr. Griffith-Thomas asked him to put it in his vest-pocket.
"Do you feel you've got it?" Mr. Poole asked.
"No," replied the young doctor, "I know I have."
"So," Mr. Poole rejoined, "we know we have Christ when we accept Him and believe His Word, without feeling it."
Dr. Griffith-Thomas testified later, "When I awoke the next morning my soul was overflowing with joy, and since then I have never doubted that it was on that Saturday night I was 'born again'—converted to God."
It is a long time since Herodotus described the little folk of distant Central Africa, but the Gospel has at last reached them. Miss Bell of the Africa Inland Mission describes one to whom she had often preached, asking him if he had at last received the words of God. "Yes, we have," he answered. "Every night we meet for prayer. We sing, 'Jesus Loves Me' and 'What Can Wash Away My Sins?' and then call on God to protect us in the night." Miss Bell then inquired if he were sure that, on death, he would go to Heaven. The Pygmy stood at attention, hand at salute, and said, "When I die I will go to God's village. I will salute, and say, 'Greetings, God. I am come to my house in Your village.' And when He asks me what permission I have to enter, I will tell Him that His Son Jesus Christ died for me and washed my heart clean in His blood. Then He will tell me, 'Enter; your house is waiting for you.'" Miss Bell's comment: "He was perfectly sure about his salvation—and so am I!"
—Sunday School Times
A Negro, carrying a bag of potatoes on his back, was asked by a skeptic:
"How do you know you are saved?"
The Negro took a few steps and then dropped the bag. Then he said:
"How do I know I have dropped the bag? I have not looked around."
"No," replied the man. You can tell by the lessening of the weight."
"Yes," went on the Negro, "that is how I know I am saved. I have lost the guilty feeling of sin and sorrow, and have found peace and satisfaction in my Lord and Saviour."
—The Elim Evangel
"I go to my everlasting rest. My sun has risen, shone, and is setting—nay, it is about to rise and shine forever. I have not lived in vain. And though I could live to preach Christ a thousand years, I die to be with Him, which is far better."
—Sunday School Times
When Martin Luther was in the throes of the Reformation and the Pope was trying to bring him back to the Catholic church, he sent a cardinal to deal with Luther and buy him with gold.
The cardinal wrote to the Pope, "The fool does not love gold." The cardinal, when he could not convince Luther, said to him, "What do you think the Pope cares for the opinions of a German boer? The Pope's little finger is stronger than all Germany. Do you expect your princes to take up arms to defend you—you, a wretched worm like you? I tell you no. And where will you be then?"
Luther's reply was simple. "Where I am now. In the hands of Almighty God."
Spurgeon used to tell the story of an illiterate old woman who was a humble follower of the Lamb. A skeptical neighbor loved to poke fun at her, especially at the assurance she displayed regarding her own salvation. "How do you know that?" he asked. "God tells me so a hundred times," she answered, and then she quoted one promise after another, especially from John's first Letter, the Epistle of Christian assurance, where the phrase, "We know," is used fourteen times in five short chapters. The question was then shot at her, "Suppose God doesn't keep His word?" Quickly she answered: "His loss would be greater than mine. I would lose my soul. He would lose His honor." She was right. Oh, we have a great God, a wonderful God! He cannot deny Himself.
Some years ago I had a boys' club mostly made up of newsboys; they were mostly tough little fellows, but so loyal to each other. One ten-year-old accepted Christ as his Saviour, and turned out to be a splendid Christian; he witnessed everywhere. One of his customers said to him, "Peter, maybe you only think you are saved." "Oh, no, sir," replied Peter; "I don't 'only think'; I'm absolutely certain. Jesus said He wouldn't cast anybody out who came to Him, and I came to Him, and I'm saved for keeps. Jesus couldn't make a mistake."
On the morning of Lincoln's death, a crowd of fifty thousand people gathered before the Exchange Building in New York. Feeling ran high, natural enough in the circumstances, and there was danger of its finding expression in violence. Then a well-built man in officer's uniform stepped to the front of the balcony, and in a voice that rang like a trumpet call, cried: "Fellow citizens! Clouds and darkness are round about Him. His pavilion is dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies. Justice and judgment are the establishment of His throne. Mercy and truth go before His face. Fellow citizens! God reigns! And the Government at Washington still lives!" Instantly the tumult was stilled, as the people grasped the import of those sublime words. The speaker was General James A. Garfield, himself to become a martyr-president sixteen years later.