The Blessed Hope!
By Evangelist Robert L. Sumner
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
“Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
“Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
“These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”
– Titus 2:11-15
Kindly notice that the Apostle Paul, talking about the second coming, said we are to “speak,” “exhort,” and “rebuke” with “all authority.” One gets the idea we certainly are not to be silent on this subject. Yet when we started our ministry preachers were talking about His return all the time; now almost no one does unless he is a “prophecy specialist.” Would you say the majority of today’s preachers are disobedient to God and His Word?
Put it down and put it down big: Jesus Christ IS coming back again!He WILL return!
Listen to what He said to His disciples late in His earthly ministry, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And 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” (John 14:1-3).
And after His ministry on earth was completed, when He finished commissioning them to take the gospel as witnesses into all the world, starting where they were, He said goodbye to those disciples on the Mount of Olives and was suddenly caught up in the sky and disappeared behind the clouds. The Word explains, “And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
What sweet assurance the angels gave the disciples: He will come again just the way you have seen Him go! This Bible truth is a comfort to sorrowing saints, a monument of hope for believers in the midst of a man-made civilization hastening to its doom. Jesus is coming! For centuries now the thought that “Jesus is coming” has inspired downhearted, discouraged saints to continue to “fight the good fight” and “endure hardness as a good soldier” of the Master.
Let’s take a look at this good news left by the ascended Christ that we are to speak, exhort and rebuke with all authority.
First of all, we are to be
I. Looking for the Blessed Hope:
Never mind whether anyone else or everyone else is looking for His appearing. The question is, are you?
A Promise: Christ is Coming!
The idea of looking in our text means “to expect,” that is, to await with confidence and patience. It is the same as Hebrews 9:28, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Note carefully, for those who look, He shall appear. No doubt about it. In His first coming it was to settle the sin question for us; in His second coming it will be to receive us unto Himself.
Can we place our confidence, our patience in the Word of God?
Of course we can. His word has been tried, tested and proven.
Moses did in leading the Israelites out of the land of Egypt. God gave Him instructions as to how to get out and then what to do when they were free men marching toward the Promised Land. Everything He said worked.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did in refusing to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image. The fiery furnace was heated so hot it burned alive the soldiers who got close enough to throw the three saints into it, but they still refused to stoop to idolatry in order to save their own necks.
The trio told the wicked ruler, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:17, 18). In short, their God could easily deliver them, but if He chose not to do so, they still wouldn’t obey. They refused to bow, they refused to bend, and they didn’t burn!
And after it happened, the astonished king said, “Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Vss. 24, 25). They tried His word … and proved it true!
Daniel did in defying the decree of King Darius not to pray. His enemies got the monarch to sign a decree forbidding any citizen of the land to “ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee,” under penalty of being “cast into the den of lions” (Daniel 6:7). Apparently His Royal Highness, who enjoyed having his ego massaged, forgot that his #1 president, Daniel, was a faithful subject of the King of Kings. Anyway, he signed the edict.
Daniel, of course, went right on as usual; “he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” (6:10).
What happened? Did God send “Airforce One Chariot” to pick up Daniel and whisk him to Glory like He did Elijah? No, He allowed the prophet to be tossed to the lions.
But He also gave them all lockjaw and when Darius ordered Daniel taken from the pit the next morning, there wasn’t a single bite – not even a scratch mark – on him. He found, as Moses and the three Hebrew children before him, he could trust – await with confidence and patience – the promises of God.
Joseph did, too, in the mistreatment he received from his elder brothers. During all those years when he was cast into a pit, sold into slavery, thrown into prison for crimes he didn’t commit, being forgotten by those he had helped and their promise to help him, he kept his faith in God and His eyes on His promises.
Did it pay? He ended up the Number Two Man in Egypt, able to save his brothers that had sought his death.
My friends, God keeps His Word! It has been tested, tried and proved. “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him” (Psalm 18:30). “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).
Don’t ever doubt it for even a moment. Jesus is coming back, just as He said.
There is an old story that I told a few times early in my ministry. I tried to find it to use here, but couldn’t locate it anywhere. Usually when I tell an illustration I have the details before me to make sure I get it straight. I’ll try to tell this one, but admitting that it is based on my imperfect memory.
A young couple were in love and planned to marry. He was a fisherman who made his living on the sea and was forced to be gone for long periods of time. On one occasion, when it was time for his return, he didn’t come. After some weeks everyone in the little village accepted the fact that he had been lost at sea, something not highly unusual in those days − except his sweetheart, that is.
Every night about sunset she would go down to the docks and squint her eyes, looking out on the horizon in hopes of catching sight of her lover’s familiar ship. It never came.
After time something happened to her sight; whether her eyes were destroyed by disease or accident, I do not recall. Nonetheless, she continued her nightly trips to the docks, now to listen instead of gaze. The town people called her “the Blind Watcher.”
One night a ship sailed into the harbor and there was a happy reunion. It seems a storm had wrecked his vessel on an island and it had taken him months to repair it and make it seaworthy again. But her patient, believing watching had paid off, paying her big dividends for the one she loved.
Those who are looking for the rapture of the church have long been the subject of the sneers and jeers of unbelievers. We are the blind watchers of the 21st century. But one of these days the skies will be split as lightning coming out of the east and flashing to the west; the Son of God will appear. It is a promise! It is a promise of God!
But His return is not only a promise, it is also
A Warning: Christ is Coming!
Up to this point the story of the Savior’s return has been one of exciting joy and blessed happiness. But it is only fair to warn you that for those not ready for His return it will precede a time of doom, damnation and destruction. Consider a few verses, some about His rapture and some about His revelation, but the time between the two phases is so short you can think of them almost as one.
Listen to the parable Jesus told about His coming in the tale of the ten virgins. Five were ready and five were unprepared. Here is what He said about the latter:“And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:10-13). The door was shut and when God shuts a door, no man can open it.
Listen to what the Apostle Paul had to say about those who are not ready at His coming: “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day” (II Thessalonians 1:7-10).
Even Jude, the little one-chapter book near the end of the Bible, talked about it: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Vss.14, 15). Note how Jude spoke of judgment in connection with His coming.
For those who have not trusted Christ, the day of grace will be over. Hope will be gone forever and there will be no possibility of their entering the land that is fairer than day.
But wait; there is a warning to the saved as well. It is a warning that time is short for witnessing to friends and loved ones. Yes, time is short indeed. We should do everything in our power to win our friends and loved ones at once!
A Command: To LOOK for It!
Matthew 24:42 commands, “Watch therefore: fore ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”
Matthew 25:13 commands, “Watch ye therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
Mark 13:35-37 commands, “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”
We have added boldface emphasis to the above verses to call attention to the fact that the commands are not to believe Christ is coming again, which is important, but to note that the children of God are to watch for His coming!
How about you? Are you looking and watching? There are several views of the rapture today – pre-trib, post-trib, mid-trib, and even post-wrath – but we think most of the saints, at least in practice, subscribe to the post-nap theory. He will come sometime after they wake up from sleeping.
Like the ten virgins in the story Jesus told who were waiting for the bridegroom to come for his bride – five of whom were ready (had oil in their lamps) and five who were not (had no oil in their lamps) – they all slumbered and slept.
Like Peter, James and John in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before Jesus was crucified, when He begged them to “watch and pray” while He went a little deeper to pray alone – and each time He returned they were all asleep. He lamented, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” (Matthew 20:40). And the final time He came back and they were again asleep, He said, “Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners” (Vs. 45).
Actually, if you are in full fellowship with the Father, faithfully read your Bible, take time for regular intercession, and witness to the lost, you cannot sleep; you must watch!
Jesus said, in Luke 21:28, when certain things come to pass, “… then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” And remember Hebrews 9:28, mentioned earlier, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
But we are not only to be personally looking for the blessed hope, we should be
II. Longing for the Blessed Hope:
Looking does not necessarily include longing. Certain expectation does not necessarily imply joyous anticipation!
For example, consider what the writer of Hebrews said of the unsaved sinner:“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Vss. 26, 27, emphasis added). I have talked with many an individual who knew he was going to Hell, but he was certainly not happy about the thought.
Solomon had the same reflection. He wrote in Proverbs 11:23, “The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.” Just as righteous folks want good, the wicked expect to receive wrath from God because of their sin and rebellion, but they are far from thrillingly anticipating it.
Actually, not even all professing Christians would be happy to see the Lord return. Harry Ironside tells of preaching on the rapture at a German church inStockton during the time when he was living in Northern California. Suddenly he was conscious of a lady storming out of the service. It was in the old days when ladies of that ethnic wore considerable undergarments that swished when they walked.
He thought little about it until the service was over and he went to the rear of the auditorium and found her “swishing” in the narthex. The moment he walked in and she spotted him she swished up and demanded, “How dare you, sir? How dare you?”
Since he didn’t know what he was daring he inquired, “How dare I what?”
“How dare you preach like that?”
Still in the dark he responded, “How dare I preach like what?”
She heatedly responded, “Asking Christ to come back soon! I don’t want Him to come soon. It would spoil all my plans for the immediate future.”
And the gentle Harry kindly responded, “My dear lady, when our Lord Jesus Christ determines to return He will do so whether it interrupts your plans or not.” And so He will.
But I wonder, really, who today is longing for His return? Sometimes I think the only ones are the sickly and the elderly who would gladly welcome the rapture as a substitute for death. Am I correct? Few can sing from their hearts with H. L. Turner and James McGranahan,
“O Lord Jesus, how long, how long
Ere we shout the glad song –
Christ returneth! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Amen, Hallelujah! Amen.”
Looking, Longing as Sweetheart
For Long Departed Lover
This troubled, war-torn world is full of such longings. As a kid fresh out of seminary I was called to my first church during the middle of World War II. It was a tiny, struggling work and I was the first “full-time” pastor (if you could consider my salary and still call me full time). It had been launched by a noble and godly man who came down from Chicago, where he was a student at the Moody Bible Institute. He had gathered together some saints longing for biblical teaching, first in a home and then in a real church building God miraculously provided.
There were some gems in that group and among them was a family of girls by the name of Lewis. The youngest was taking piano lessons and our congregational singing was limited to tunes she had mastered thus far in her program. A new one was always a thrill. The Lewis girls were very active in all phases of the work, but one was no longer a Lewis – she had married a young flyboy by the name of Rich.
Catherine Rich headed up one of the Sunday school departments, as I now recall, and she was a level-headed, sensible girl until the day she got a letter from husband Bob, a bomber pilot in the European Theater. It revealed he had completed a certain number of missions over Germany and was due for a furlough back in the States, although he wasn’t certain about when he would arrive.
As I joked about it later, she wasn’t fit for shooting after that. It was all she could think, all she could talk about, the new center and circumference of her life. She would walk up beaming and say, “Did I tell you Bob is coming home?”
“Yes, you mentioned that!”
And it was the same the next time you met her. That is the kind of looking and longing the child of God should have about the news in our Lord’s love letter (it is called the Bible) that He is going to return. Catherine and Bob were already married, but when our Lord returns there is going to be a big wedding and the Church will become His Bride. Shouldn’t the report of His coming excite us?
Not only did Bob return to Catherine (after I had left the church and entered evangelism), but the war soon ended and he was discharged. They went to the Moody Bible Institute and he eventually, after graduation, was put in charge of that institution’s flight school in Tennessee, training missionary pilots for service around the world.
Christ is our Lover, our beloved Bridegroom. When He comes we will beeternally wedded to Him. If you let your mind think of the longing and anticipation of a wedding of a young girl whose lover has been long absent, you will have an idea of what the Christian’s longing for Christ’s coming should be.
Looking, Longing as Traveler
To Arrive Home
This world is not our home. We are strangers, pilgrims down here. First Peter 2:11, 12 express it, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
I have been an evangelist most of my ministry – well over a half-century – laboring away from family. Usually I was gone from four to six weeks at a time (we didn’t conduct mini-revivals in those days), and when the last service of the last crusade sounded a benediction, I was beside myself trying to get home. If I had an automobile with me I would set out immediately and drive until I arrived (one time from Maine to Texas, straight through, stopping only for gas and snacks).
Trains couldn’t roll over the rails fast enough and planes couldn’t split the skies quickly enough to get me home to wife and children. The best I was able to do, when I was with Dr. John R. Rice and The Sword of the Lord in Wheaton, aChicago suburb, was an American Airlines flight out of Detroit. If I could make that one, I would leave Detroit at 12:30 a.m. and arrive at Midway Airport inChicago (there was no O’Hare International at that time) at 12:15 a.m., fifteen minutes before I left Detroit! (I was able to do that because Detroit was on Eastern Time and Chicago on Central!)
But I did like to get home quickly. So do servicemen and women on furlough (especially from overseas). So do students on breaks like Thanksgiving and Christmas. In fact, it is the excitement everyone who loves family feels about going home. If we don’t long to be home, it is a sign of lack of love.
The same is true spiritually. We aren’t Home yet. The reason we are away is that there is work to be done and we are trying to finish it. Like any good laborer we want our work done well and in a way that will please our Boss, but, oh, how anxious we are to have it finished and head Home.
The Apostle Paul was that way. Listen to him in Philippians 1:21-26, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.”
Was Paul anxious to get Home? You’d better believe it! Sin, sorrow, suffering, pain, tears, anguish, disease, trials, testing, heartaches, disappointments, imprisonments and failures would be – and will be for us – gone forever! To put it in the words of the favorite song of my late friend, Dr. Lee Roberson,
“Some glorious morning,
Sorrow will cease,
Some glorious morning,
All will be peace;
Heartaches all ended,
Schooldays all done,
Heaven will open –
Jesus will come.”
Looking, Longing as a Sinner
To See His Savior
The famous ex-ballplayer evangelist Billy Sunday put it like this: when I get to Heaven I will rush right by Moses, Daniel, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, John, Wesley, Moody and all the rest. I’ll say, “Where is Jesus? I want to see him that saved me that dark and stormy night in Chicago.” All Christians feel that way, surely.
As Carrie Breck and Grant Tullar expressed it,
“Only faintly now I see Him,
With the darkling veil between
But a blessed day is coming,
When His glory shall be seen.
“Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face, in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by.”
Walter B. Knight said in one area of Africa the nationals never referred to their dead as departed, but always as having arrived! Ah, that is it! And so it will be when Christ comes for His own.
But consider one final thought about this blessed hope of the Christian,
III. Living for the Blessed Hope:
Note the setting for this beautiful gem of the blessed hope, the verse just prior and the verse just following our text (2:13). The one before says, “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Vs. 12). And the one following it says, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Vs. 14).
Does that leave any doubt? Those looking for His coming should deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, living instead lives that are sober, righteous and godly in the present world. And the blessed hope is for people He has purified unto Himself, “a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
The Apostle John said the same in I John 3:2, 3: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
What does the blessed hope do for the man or woman who has it imbedded in his heart? It purifies him or her, even as the Lord Jesus Christ is pure. That is quite a statement, isn’t it?
You see, purification is the natural, logical, inevitable result when preceded by ‘looking’ and ‘longing’ for Jesus to return. The inimitable Vance Havner expressed it, “If we profess the Blessed Hope we should practice the Blessed Holiness!”
In the old days of small, one-room schoolhouses, the district superintendent came to one such school and gave an inspiring talk. In closing he said, “I’m coming back to visit your school again one of these days and when I come I’ll give a gift to the pupil who has the neatest desk.”
One little girl who had the reputation among her peers of being what would be called in the Peanuts comic strip, “Pigpen,” announced she was going to win the prize. When everyone got through laughing, one of the girls with a reputation for neatness chided her, “You’d be the last one to win. Your desk is always a mess.”
That was true and all knew it, including the girl making the boast, but she explained, “I’m going to clean it thoroughly each Friday before going home and on Monday when a new week starts, I’ll have the cleanest desk.”
“But what if he comes on Friday afternoon, after you’ve been messing in it all week?”
That was a telling point and after thinking a moment she responded, “I’ll clean it good before I go home every afternoon so it will be spotless at the start of everyday.”
Again the other girl came back, “But what if he comes late in the afternoon and you’ve been messing around with it all day?”
The first girl looked stunned and defeated. Then, suddenly, she brightened and exclaimed, “I know what I’ll do. I’ll keep it neat all the time so it will be clean no matter when he comes.”
That is the idea around the second coming. We don’t know when He will return so we need to keep our lives pure all of the time, day and night!
What will that involve?
It Will Include Separation!
That is summed up in II Corinthians 6:1-7:1, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
This, it almost goes without saying, involves separation from worldly things.
It also involves separation from worldly people! After all, swine make poor companions for sheep. We have nothing in common with them apart from our witness.
It Will Include Evangelization!
The blessed hope of our Lord’s second coming is one of the strongest motivations, one of the most urgent incentives for reaching the lost of anything in Scripture. He will return just as soon as the last member making up His Body is added to His Church. If we are really looking, longing and living for His return,how we will work to hasten it!
Not only so, purification demands evangelization since not winning souls is wicked, sinful, rebellious disobedience to the Bible’s plain commandments to go into all the world and make disciples in all nations.
Why should we be looking for the Blessed Hope? To look for His coming is tolong for His coming and to long for His coming is to live for His coming. My dear friends – he traveled with me for a time as soloist and song leader in my crusades, R. O. & Angie Stone – wrote a beautiful song he sang often in our meetings. It went like this:
“Looking today for His glorious appearing,
When He comes from His home on high;
Living to see the Great King in His Glory,
Longing to see Him that day in the sky.
“Oh, what a meeting with loved ones
Where we’re meeting to part no more;
There with my Savior, the King of
Dwelling with Him on eternity’s shore.
“I’ve been looking today for Him,
Even if it seems dark and dim,
And I long to see His precious face,
The One who saved me by His grace.
I’m looking, longing, living, for Him.”
by J. Wilbur Chapman (1859-1917)
“….the precious blood of Christ.” Peter 1:19
I am preaching tonight on what I believe to be the most important subject in the Bible. Of course, anything that has to do with Jesus Christ is of vast importance. My text is found in the First Epistle of Peter 1:19— “The precious blood of Christ.”
The Apostle Peter, as we all know, was a fisherman in his earlier days. It is wonderful that he became the leader and writer that he was, and, strange to say, the word that he uses many times is this word — precious. He speaks of precious promises. He says of Jesus: “Unto you, therefore, which believe, He is precious.” It is just about the last word that you would expect a fisherman to use. He was probably an uncultured man and a stranger to the schools. Before he began to follow Jesus, he had the habit of profanity. There was an occasion when, in an unguarded moment, his old habit took hold upon him and with an oath he said: “I know not the man.” All this goes to show that if one accepts Jesus Christ as a Saviour and yields himself wholly to him, the Master will take complete possession of him and fashion him all over again. The power of old habits will be broken and the influence of evil associations will be overcome. When once Jesus comes into our lives, we are literally a new creation.
The word of the text is the word of an artist. It is the word of a man who feels power in his soul. When the Apostle Peter caught a vision of Jesus Christ, his soul was on fire, and he used this word: The precious blood of Christ! All too little is said in these days about the blood of Christ. Some of us seem to avoid the subject as much as possible. The other evening I spoke about the personality and influence of Satan. If there is one truth more than another that Satan would oppose, it is the truth of this text. If there is one subject that he would like to turn our minds away from, it is the blood of Jesus Christ. He tells us that we can be saved by reformation, by good deeds. He tells us that we can be saved by doing our best. But all the way through the New Testament we find that the only way to God is a blood-marked way. The precious blood of Christ! I suggest that you take a little camel’s hair brush some time, and a bottle of red ink, and go through the New Testament, marking with red every passage that has to do with sacrifice, with the death of Christ. Every passage that speaks of salvation as the result of the shedding of blood. Well, you will mark a great many passages. You will redden everything that deals with pardon and peace, and forgiveness, and joy, and salvation, and the very music of heaven itself. Then when you have marked these verses red, take a little pair of scissors and clip out every red verse. Then you will begin to understand how large a place the blood occupies in the salvation of man. The apostle knew this, and because he knew it, he said: The precious blood of Christ!
If you go through the Old Testament, you will find that the way to get back to God is the way of sacrifice. There it was the blood of bulls and goats, but these were not sufficient. When sin was too great, and human nature too weak, then Jesus Christ came in the flesh. He lived and loved, and suffered and died, and His heart broke. From pierced hands and feet and broken heart His blood poured forth, and because of this sacrifice, the Apostle Peter writes: The precious blood of Christ. In the Old Testament there are many figures that are used to make it plain. For example, when judgment was hanging over the homes in Israel, and the first born was about to be slain in Egypt, then the lamb without spot was sacrificed, the blood was collected in a basin, a bunch of hyssop was dipped in the blood, and the blood was sprinkled on the doorposts, and the word that came to the people was: “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Remember the lamb was to be without blemish. Jesus met this condition. The lamb was to be slain. Jesus died that we might live.
I allow no one to go beyond me in paying tribute to the earthly ministry of the Master, to the marvelous words He spoke, and the great deeds He did. But I wish to say that I think I can prove that there is nothing said in the New Testament about our being saved by His life. I know there is one expression in the Epistle to the Romans which might seem to teach this: “Saved by his life.” But literally, this means — Kept safe in his life. The message of the Apostle Paul here was not to the unsaved, but to the saved. He is telling us that when once we have accepted Jesus Christ as the Saviour, then we have him as our environment, as our protector. His arms are underneath us and round about us. His wings are above us and we are kept safe in His life. But God’s Word teaches clearly that I am saved not because he lives, but because he died. One of the greatest preachers in England said the other day something like this— “Some men have a way of saying in these days very much about the works of men and very little about the death of Jesus Christ.” But if I should lose out of my thinking the death of Christ and the shedding of His blood and all that it means, then I should have a wrong conception of God and His righteousness and justice. Also I should know that there was no chance for me to be saved, for if God could look upon sin and pass it over without an atonement, without something to blot it out, I think I should lose my great conception of God. I should also lose my joy as a saved sinner. But when I realize that He may be just, and the justifier of them that believe, when I know that He may hate sin while He loves the sinner, when I know that His own Son bore in His body our sins upon the tree — then I can sing and shout for joy, for I know that I am lifted from despair into hope, from darkness into light, from bondage into freedom. The Apostle Peter knew this, so we hear him say — the precious blood of Christ. How plain it all is, prefigured in the Old Testament, perfectly illustrated in the New. Listen while I give you some passages of Scripture.
Jesus Christ died, and in dying he paid the penalty for my sins. His death was therefore, penal. Galatians 3:13: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” You remember the story of Father Damien. I recall when he started away from our country to the Hawaiian Islands to become a leper and to die as a leper for the sake of the lepers whom he served. Yet this is a poor illustration of Jesus Christ. He came into this world and suffered in my stead. He bore the shame of the cross. He was made a curse for me. As by faith I lift my eyes to Him and take Him as my Saviour, I take His place in the love and favor of God.
Listen again. It was a voluntary death. John 10:18: “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.” I wish that I could help you to see what my salvation and yours cost. He turned away from the joy of heaven to the shame of earth. He turned away from the vast throngs saying — Holy, Holy, Holy, to this world where they veiled his face and smote him. He turned away from the immediate presence of the Father and came down into this world where men spat in His face and heaped shame upon Him, and even placed the cross upon His tired shoulders. They did even more than this. They put Him on the cross and drove nails through His hands and feet. They lifted Him up between heaven and earth, as if He were unfit for earth and as if they would hold Him back from Heaven. He came down to earth to meet all this and He did it willingly. He was ready to suffer, ready to die for you and me. Tonight, all you need to do to have the bondage of sin taken away and to have sin cast behind God’s back, is just to take Him as your personal Saviour, and with His help to turn away from sin.
It was a substitutionary death. In these times men seem to shrink from this thought. I have no harsh word for any man who cannot accept my theological position. I have no harsh word for the man who cannot at first accept a substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. But let me explain the meaning. It means that He takes my place and offers up Himself for me. I only know that I find this throughout the Word of God, and it takes hold of my soul and grips me. II Corinthians 5:21: “For He hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin.” There are some things in this world that are so dreadful that we cannot think of them without growing sick. We cannot speak of them without suffering. So it is when we think of sin in connection with Jesus. Yet we are told that He was made sin for us. When men come to my room and tell me that they are drunken and lecherous, that they have secret sins and passions that bind them, I can only go so far with them. These things I have not experienced, except through my sympathy. Yet while my Saviour did not sin, He was made sin for us. When the man who was a drunkard comes to Him, or the lecherous man, or the dishonest man or the woman who is weak, my blessed Redeemer knows all about their trouble, and knowing their trouble and staggering beneath the weight of the world’s woe, He hurries to the cross and dies. St. Peter knew this when he said — The precious blood of Christ!
Hear me, too, when I give you this text from the Old Testament. Leviticus 17:11: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” What does this mean? It means that when Jesus Christ came into this world and lived and loved and suffered; when His heart broke on Calvary’s cross and the blood poured from His veins, He was laying down His life for you and for me. Of course, if I should lay down my life for you, it might avail in a certain way, but the value of the life determines the value of the blood. Do you not see this? I stand here tonight preaching and I know that there are some rich people here who are nevertheless very weak. There are some who are high in social life, but they have gone astray. Some are poor, too, and they have turned away from God. But no matter who you are, my Saviour is groaning upon Calvary and shedding His blood. He is able to save you all. The Apostle Peter knew this, and he said — The precious blood of Christ. I am hurrying to the close of my message but I want you to know the hope that is in the blood of Christ. Do not resist Him, my friends. Do not reject His precious blood.
My friend, Dr. Geo. F. Pentecost was determined to climb Pike’s Peak alone. His friends said to him, “You cannot do it without a guide who knows the way.” But Dr. Pentecost said, “I know that I can climb it alone.” So he started off. They told him that at a certain curve in the mountain there was a hut, open to any traveler, if by any chance he should miss his way going up. He was getting along very well, when suddenly a snowstorm overtook him. Without warning the blinding snow covered him and he began to drift. He staggered and fell, and then there came to him the warnings of his friends. He had practically given himself up to die, when he realized, as he lay upon the ground, that his hands were touching some dry twigs. It came to him that if he could start a fire he might still escape. He felt in his pocket for matches and found one. But the wind was blowing a perfect gale. I heard Dr. Pentecost say that he took that single match and, shielding it in his hands from the snow, started to strike it, but he was afraid and he put it back into his pocket again. Finally, in his desperation, he got up close under the shadow of a rock and struck the match, shielding the little flame as best he could, and touching it to the dry twigs. The fire was started and his life was saved. There was just that one little thing between him and death. What a blessing that he did not treat it carelessly. Tonight I am standing here to say that there is just one thing, between you and judgment, and that one thing is the precious blood of Christ. I beg you not to treat it carelessly.
But someone is saying, — You don’t know my sins. You don’t know my habits. If I should start this evening, my old habits would come back at my heels like hounds scenting blood. True, I don’t know your habits, but I do know my Saviour.
Do you remember the story in Scottish history, when they were seeking to take Bruce the King? They heard that he was in his palace and they started after him. The King heard that they were coming, and escaped with his trusted few. They made their way through the fields and into the forests, and when they thought that they had escaped, in the distance Bruce heard the baying of bloodhounds. They were his own bloodhounds. He gave himself up for lost, but in the distance, he heard the babbling sound of a little mountain stream. With his faithful followers he went into the stream and by going up the stream some distance and across to the other side, they covered their trail. When the hounds came to the stream, so history tells us, they lost the trail and Bruce was saved. But I know a story a thousand times better than this. Yes, I do. I ask you to give your hearts to Christ and then start, and the moment you start, all the old habits of your life are after you again; the old passions and lusts and desires. You have only half started when you sink back and say — It is hopeless. But wait a moment. You can cover your trail. Mr. Alexander and I landed one night four hours late, on the Fiji Islands. We were to have held services there. The service had to be cancelled. Nevertheless, we decided to stop, for we wanted to say at least that we had been in the Fiji Islands. While we were there, we heard in the distance what sounded like a cannon. We were told that it was calling the people to the House of God. A man stood with a mallet by a hollow log of a special kind of wood, and the sound could be heard for miles. We climbed up the hill and found a multitude of people with black skins and strange hair waiting for us. They sang two songs, in which Mr. Alexander led them. One was the “Glory Song,” and the other was the song which belongs to our subject this evening. We did not know the words, but we knew the music. We have heard this song in every land under the sun. We have heard people sing it with tears rolling down their cheeks. We have heard it sung while multitudes pressed up to the altar and sobbed their way into the Kingdom of God. This is the song they were singing in the Fiji Islands—
“There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins.”
Can you not see it? Plunge in! Plunge in! Tonight! To-night! Nobody is too sinful!
Nobody is too sinful. Nobody is too far away. The precious blood of Christ can cleanse and save unto the uttermost. Nothing less than his blood can do this. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
I can say no more. With all my heart I wish that I might. I can only add this. I love Him. I love Him. He is to me as real as you are. I love Him. I want you to love Him. I want you to take Him. I know that there are people who want to say this evening — “Pray for me.” Lift up your hand to express this desire of your heart.
J. WILBUR CHAPMAN
John Wilbur Chapman was born in Richmond, Indiana, on June 17, 1859 to Christian parents who raised him in preparation for the ministry. He publicly professed Christ at seventeen and entered college and then the seminary. He pastored several Presbyterian churches before entering evangelism in 1893. He preached with D. L. Moody, acting as an “advance man” for him in his crusades. When he later began his own evangelistic meetings, he hired a young man named billy Sunday as his own advance man. From 1904-1909 Chapman began to develop and promote a new method of urban evangelism. His idea was to hold several meetings throughout a city simultaneously, thereby reaching more people and stirring more hearts to enter into Christian service. He began in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and included cities in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Philippines, Ireland, Scotland and India in his world-wide itinerary. What became known as “mass evangelism” came from his techniques. His sermons were put in book form and even still can be found today. We was a writer of hymns, the three most popular being, “One Day,” “Tis Jesus,” and “One Great Day.” Chapman was a theological conservative who believed in the imminent return of Christ and the inerrancy of Scripture. He once advocated that his denomination recall all foreign missionaries from the field who did not hold to inerrancy. He possessed a deep and musical voice in the pulpit and a good sense of humor. His sermons were well illustrated and fully applied, and serve as excellent models for today’s preacher. “I cannot ever recall any hesitation as to being a minister,” he said. “It just had to be.”
Talmage’s Mother Prayed all Night
The Gift of a Praying Mother
Dr. T De Witt Talmage
When David Talmage, the father of the famous preacher, T. DeWitt Talmage, was an eighteen-year-old boy still living at home with his brother Jacob and his sister, one night the three of them were going to a party.
Their mother, who was an invalid, just before they left, called them to her bedside and said, You are going out to a festive party; but I want you to know that I shall be on my knees praying for you until you return.
They went, and on their return passed their mother’s door at two o’clock, catching a glimpse of her still kneeling by her bed.
Early the next morning, Mother Talmage wakened her husband and asked him to get up and see what was the matter, for she heard someone weeping.
Going hastily down to the living room Father Talmage found his daughter on her knees weeping, but when he undertook to speak to her, she said, Go to the barn, father, for David is in worse need of you than I am. I shall be all right.
Going to the barn the old gentleman found David weeping his heart out from the mighty conviction that had seized him. However, when Mr. Talmage had prayed a short time with him, David said, Go to Jacob, he needs you more than I do now, I presume. He’s in the wagon shed.
So it turned out that the Lord saved all three of the Talmage children that morning, in answer to the determined and definite praying of their mother.
David had a sweetheart living down the lane, and rising from his knees, he went right down to her home and told her the wonderful news about himself and his brother and sister being saved, urging her to give her heart to God.
In the prayer there they had together she, too, was added to the host of the redeemed. The news reaching the church produced a tremendous sensation, and a gracious and widespread revival followed!
This sweetheart of David’s later became the mother of T. DeWitt Talmage. Some years afterwards she made a solemn covenant with four other women to meet with them every Wednesday afternoon and pray for their children, until every child in the five homes was saved.
The covenant was kept until every child in the five families was converted.
Written by T. DeWitt Talmage
Unusual Search for Jesus
I published this testimony by Ron Zywotko back in 2009. Today I spoke to Ron who is confined to a nursing home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he is being treated for a serious leg condition making it impossible for him to walk. He had retire from his circuit riding evangelism. The last time he was in my home he told me that would be his last visit. He had planned to work on until he returned to his apartment in Murfreesboro. His affliction brought his retirement early. He is a unique man who was dedicated and devoted to personal evangelism. I have visited with him. He gets people interested in becoming a Christian. I publish his testimony again because I wanted you to read this unusual salvation story and I wanted to ask you to pray for his healing. He is one of God’s choice servants.
A story of personal evangelism told to this editor by Ron Zywotko.
I was in Seattle preparing for my next meeting when I received a call from the pastor. He confirmed my engagement and told me of a man who was leaving soon for his second tour of duty in Iraq. He said the man had surrendered his life to serve God as an evangelist. Now, when have you heard of anyone doing that. I have, as I am sure you have, known of men to surrender to be a missionary, or a pastor, but almost never (in my case never) to be an evangelist. Praise the Lord!
The pastor asked if I would take this young man out with me to do personal evangelism in the public places of Seattle. He wanted him to gather some first-hand experience from a man who has been doing this kind of work for the last 27 years. I assured him I would be happy to do this and we arranged a time to meet.
As is my custom, I arrived at the church early—about two hours early. It was unseasonably hot for Seattle and I remained outside in my car and prayed. I normally don’t spend a solid hour in prayer—especially in my car on a day like that one was, but I felt keenly I must have God’s power. I wanted this young man to have a blessed experience. So I prayed and I prayed some more.
When the time arrived for us to meet we were together and exchanged greetings. The pastor left and off we went to see about winning some poor lost souls to Christ.
When I tell you that we had a rough time of it, I am not joking. One person after the other rejected my approach. No one, it seemed, had the slightest interest in hearing anything about Jesus. We went into several public stores, a coffee shop, a market, a restaurant. The fish were not biting–they were snapping! Get out of here! Leave us alone! Nothing doing!
After a good long while, even I was discouraged. Remember, this is my line of work. Outside evangelism is my ministry. I am supposed to be gifted at this work. I am supposed to demonstrate that I have God’s power for this work. Nothing! People shouted—yes, shouted, profanities. I was ordered out of places. Angry people made hand gestures at us representing their attitude toward us and the Lord.
I was greatly disappointed because I had hoped to show this young man how to engage people in public places and prayerfully win them to Christ. That didn’t happen. I felt badly for me, and I felt awful for him. I don’t think I have ever had an afternoon with so many painful rejections as that one.
I paused for a moment and walked over to a pole where I leaned my body against it and started praying. I remember telling the Lord my concerns and even fussed at Him a little. I wondered out loud to Him what good did that hour of prayer do? I felt like a complete failure.
I opened my eyes and the first thing I noticed was a young woman coming toward me from across a parking lot. She walked almost straight to me. I moved out to speak with her and asked her if she could possibly help me. I have used this approach a number of times to start a conversation. I asked, “Lady, I am not from here. I am from Tennessee. I wonder if you could give us some directions?” She was an Asian lady and she very kindly responded, “I will help you if I can. Where do you wish to go.?” I asked, “Could you give me directions to Heaven? I want to know how to get to Heaven.”
I thought the young lady would cry. She had a most pained expression form on her face, her countenance fell and she was obviously saddened at that question. She was not offended in the slightest.
She replied, “Mister, you have asked the wrong person. You see I am from India. My parents are steeped in their own religion over there, I left India to come to America where I hoped I would find this salvation that I know so little about. I visited one church and one religious group after another, but to no avail. I have been here for seven years and no one, it seems, knows the answer. I am very, very sorry that I can’t help you. I, too, want to know how to get to Heaven.”
I smiled and then told her that I could assist her. I explained that I was out here on the streets looking for people who wanted to know about Jesus. I asked, “Would you permit me to tell you how you can become a Christian?”
“Oh, yes. Please tell me.” And I did and right there on the sidewalk in Seattle I shared the Gospel with this Asian lady and she bowed her head asking Jesus to come into her heart and save her soul. I am happy to report Jesus, indeed, saved her on the spot. She was so happy. I asked if she had any word for us. This is what she said.
“I arrived in America some seven years ago. I have been searching for Jesus. I didn’t know how to search for Him. I didn’t know the right questions. I visited many of your churches and religious meetings and talked with numbers of people. It seems no one really knew the answer, at least no one that I was able to speak earnestly with. Then, today, just a few minutes ago, I was over at that Pizza place—she turned and pointed to it. I had ordered my pizza and the waiter said we are rushed it will take about 30 minutes. You can take a seat, or you can walk around the mall while your order is being prepared. I took a seat at a table and was there about a minute when I had the strange impression to get up and walk over here. I was compelled to come to where you were standing. I didn’t know why. So that is what I was doing when you spoke to me.”
“Now I know why, but over at the Pizza place I didn’t know. God was ordering me to come to you and get my prayers answered.” She didn’t know it, but God was answering my prayers, too.
She gave us her name, her address, her phone number and her email address. She was so happy to be a Christian. We, too, were happy. The young man rejoiced with me and asked, “Does this kind of thing happen often with you.” I laughed and said, “Sure, all the time.” Then I told him the truth. This is the first time in 27 years it has been this way.
He left for his tour of duty armed with a remarkable answer to prayer and a testimony I am sure he will repeat many times in his ministry. I know I will. Winning souls is a work we are commanded to do, but we must never forget the salvation part is entirely God’s work. He does His work in mysterious ways and he uses all kinds of people to do it. Here was a case where He brought the workers and the sinner together under unusual circumstances. To God be the glory!
Editor’s Note: I have known Ron Zywotko since 1972. We worked together in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He has been a frequent guest in my home. He is an unusual human being. To say he is unorthodox would be a gross understatement. He may very well be America’s last circuit riding preacher. He goes from church to church to church each week. Usually preaches in 150 congregations each year and will have from 50 to 200 people saved in his personal visitations. I don’t know of another soul that has the discipline or drive to do this kind of work week after week. He rarely stays in a motel taking rest in church prophet chambers or private homes. Most of his worldly goods are stored in his car. I am glad to report this story here with complete confidence it is true.
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By Ron English
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10
1. There is no reason to fear because “I am with thee.”
2. Christians be not dismayed. (Dictionary: Dismay: sudden or complete loss of courage; utter disheartenment.) In other words, don’t abandon your God given courage–don’t let worldly trials and temptations dishearten you to the point of utter discouragement
3. Why? Because God says, “I am thy God.”
4. He says, “I will strengthen you.”
5. He says, ” I will help you.”
6. He adds emphasis and says, “I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness.”
At some point in the past, you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior. You believed in Him. You trusted in Him. Perhaps you thought then that you were now living in a state of perfection and victory and there would be nothing but good things coming your way. But you have found it otherwise. You may have experienced trials and troubles, unlike anything you had known before. That is why God put the words into Isaiah’s mouth and moved his pen to write this encouragement, ” Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee;” Latch onto these comforting words and believe them. Say them over in your spirit until they dwell there with confidence and fill your heart with His peace. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” II Timothy 3:12. “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” Job 5:7 We are not yet in Heaven. We will face troubles and conflicts. These things are common to man and especially so are they with Christians. God has promised to “Help you.” Haven’t you found that to be true? Has there been a single day when you have felt God has abandoned you? He upholds you every day with His right hand–His right hand of His righteousness.” No matter the darkness of your days, no matter the severity of your pain, no matter the temptations that the devil shoots at you, you have God on your side. A friend of mine wrote me the other day and said, “I have read the last chapter of the Bible and know everything turns out fine for the child of God.” And he is very right with that statement. You now have the Spirit of Christ living in you. He gives you fresh mercies each day. He has left you a Bible filled with His promises and filled with paths leading you in His righteousness. You are not facing all of this on your own. “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?: Romans 8:31
If you are facing fears today–shake them off. Confess them to God and expect His strength to support you. If you are in severe pain know that God can help you deal with it. Lean on Him. If you are discouraged confess that to God and ask Him to uphold you as He has promised. He will. If you have a loved one near death make sure they know the Lord and then let God take the next watch and rest in His peace. Christians don’t die they move to their heavenly Home. Trust God about this. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” John 14:1. There is good reason for some to fear–those who are lost and are afraid to die in that condition. You need not go on in this fear and troubled heart. Turn at once to Jesus Christ and call upon His blessed Name. He will save you completely–for now and for eternity. He will reserve a Place for you in Heaven and there you will dwell in His House forever. Pray a prayer like this one and believe it in your heart. Lord Jesus Christ I know that I am a lost sinner and deserve hell. Please save me now. I call upon your Name and accept your clear promise for salvation. Thank you Lord for saving my soul and help me Lord to live for you. Amen. If you prayed that prayer please write to me and I will send you additional Scriptures to help you get started right in your new found faith. If there is a Bible believing church near you go and visit their pastor and tell him about your decision to be saved and your desire to live for the Lord. You can reach me via email by writing to Ron English–Email: email@example.com I will be delighted to hear from you and will certainly pray for you and your family.
Have a wonderful day and expect good things from God. He never fails.
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10
Editor’s Note: Are you hurting? Has death robbed you of a loved one? Has cancer caused you to retreat to your bed? Are you in a state of depression? Then this word from Charles Spurgeon is for you.
Behold, how independent of outward circumstances the Holy Ghost can make the Christian! What a bright light may shine within us when it is all dark without! How firm, how happy, how calm, how peaceful we may be, when the world shakes to and fro, and the pillars of the earth are removed! Even death itself, with all its terrible influences, has no power to suspend the music of a Christian’s heart, but rather makes that music become more sweet, more clear, more heavenly, till the last kind act which death can do is to let the earthly strain melt into the heavenly chorus, the temporal joy into the eternal bliss! Let us have confidence, then, in the blessed Spirit’s power to comfort us. Dear reader, are you looking forward to poverty? Fear not; the divine Spirit can give you, in your want, a greater plenty than the rich have in their abundance. You know not what joys may be stored up for you in the cottage around which grace will plant the roses of content. Are you conscious of a growing failure of your bodily powers? Do you expect to suffer long nights of languishing and days of pain? O be not sad! That bed may become a throne to you. You little know how every pang that shoots through your body may be a refining fire to consume your dross-a beam of glory to light up the secret parts of your soul. Are the eyes growing dim? Jesus will be your light. Do the ears fail you? Jesus’ name will be your soul’s best music, and His person your dear delight. Socrates used to say, “Philosophers can be happy without music;” and Christians can be happier than philosophers when all outward causes of rejoicing are withdrawn. In Thee, my God, my heart shall triumph, come what may of ills without! By thy power, O blessed Spirit, my heart shall be exceeding glad, though all things should fail me here below. –Charles H. Spurgeon