This Great Salvation
In the second chapter of Hebrews and third verse we have one of the greatest questions that God ever asked man. The question is enough to scare a man to death. It is the unanswerable question, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” Just why the Lord asked man a question he couldn’t answer is a mystery, but still He did it. I suppose that neither our Heavenly Father nor man can answer the question. For if a man neglects the salvation of his soul there is no escape, for we read in Hebrews, ninth chapter, twenty-seventh verse, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Therefore we are all headed toward that great day and we will have to go and stand before the King. It may be possible that we will find out that, through the goodness of our Heavenly Father, He asks us this question in order to wake us up, and to alarm and arouse our dead, slumbering consciences, that we might arise and bestir ourselves, and if possible make the escape from an eternal doom. But as we see there is no escape and we can’t answer the question, thank the Lord there is still hope, for we can talk about the greatness of our salvation.
First, salvation is great because God himself is the Author of it, and everything God does is great. His little things are some of His greatest things. In the days of King Solomon they used the little red ants for their college presidents. And when Solomon met a lazy, trifling, good-for-nothing fellow he sent him off to college, and when he got there he met a red ant, and Solomon said, “Learn wisdom.” Again Solomon said, “The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.” The ant represents works, and the spider represents faith. Solomon said, “The ant layeth up her store in the harvest time, and the spider is in kings’ palaces.”
To show you that the ant had more sense than lots of men, in Jeremiah, eighth chapter, twentieth verse, Jeremiah said, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” So if the ant had sense enough to lay up his store in harvest time, and man fails to do it, then the ant is more sensible than man. And the spider had taken hold with her little hands and had gotten into the palace of the king. The spider, being a representative of faith, takes hold with her hand and spins her web out of that which is invisible. No man can see with his physical eye the material that the spider uses in making her beautiful gown. And so faith is invisible, but by faith we take hold with our hands, and spiderlike, we finally weave us beautiful garments, the most beautiful things the human eye ever beheld, as they are woven by that which is invisible.
Now again the old Book says that our life is like the flying of the shuttle. There are two things about a shuttle. The first is it goes with great speed, but the most beautiful things about it is it pulls the thread as it travels along, and the threads are various colors. When we have trouble the shuttle pulls a black thread, when we have happiness it pulls a beautiful red thread, when we have joy it pulls a white thread, and when we are overflowing with love it pulls a beautiful blue thread. And when the garment has been woven, behold, we have all colors in it, and it takes these colors all mingled together to make the beautiful garment.
If it were all trouble the garment would be only of one color, or if it were all happiness it would be only of one color, but all of these, the different trials and blessings mingled together, will make up the beautiful robe of righteousness that we are to weave with the hand of faith. And we will understand what Solomon meant when he said, “The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.” So we see that God’s least things are some of His greatest things, and they teach us some of the most beautiful lessons as we journey from earth to heaven.
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SALVATION IS GREAT BECAUSE IT IS BOTH A SECRET AND A MYSTERY
In the twenty-fifth Psalm and fourteenth verse we read, “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant.” We next notice in the third chapter of
Ephesians that St. Paul said that salvation is a mystery that hath been hid from the ages, but is now revealed by the Lord Jesus Christ. Now there is something peculiar and strange concerning secrets and a mystery. As strange as it is, they have always had a wonderful fascination to the human family. The average man or woman is loaded down with secrets. Men sit up at night and watch their secrets. Women have worn the soles off their shoes trotting over town looking for a secret Some men have ridden the goat all night in search of a secret, and some women have looked for and trotted after the Eastern Star in the hope that they might hear or find out some secret. We find that salvation is both a secret and a mystery united, and we found that a secret and a mystery are not exactly the same. Yet they are so closely related that you can scarcely tell where one ends and the other begins. I can give you a plain, practical, common-sense illustration:
Along about the first night in the month of April a man goes out into his garden and plants an Irish potato. Nobody saw him plant it there, that was a secret But two weeks later the potato comes up and the secret gets out. Two months later he goes to this potato hill and will scratch out a washpan full of Irish potatoes. This one little potato multiplied itself into one dozen big potatoes. Now there is a mystery connected with the secret. But you say, “How can you apply this to a Christian experience?” Well, we will do this:
We will say that away back under the dispensation of the Father the plan was laid and the potato was planted; and when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, the potato came up, and the secret got out, as secrets generally do; and on the Day of Pentecost, when there were three thousand converted, that was “potato digging” day. There were the secret and the mystery united, and worked out so plain that if a man can get one idea through his “noggin,” he can understand both a secret and a mystery.
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THE COST OF THIS GREAT SALVATION
Another reason why salvation is the greatest thing in the world is because it cost more than anything else in the world. It is the only thing that ever cost much. But salvation cost God His Son, and Jesus Christ every drop of His blood, and thirty-three years’ absence from His home, and it cost heaven its brightest Jewel. The beautiful city of God was without the Christ for thirty-three years. We can’t imagine what heaven would be without Jesus, and yet the home of God had no Son in it for thirty-three long years.
During that time the Son of God walked the Judean hills and worked at the carpenter’s trade to make His bread. He preached on the streets of the cities and slept on the mountainside at night. He did all this for a lost, perishing, doomed, hopeless world. Bless His name! He was in search of fallen humanity. Man had fallen and had lost his holy estate and the Son of God was in search of him, and thank God, He found him, and the beautiful story of the shepherd in search of his sheep is nothing more nor less than the Son of God looking for me.
Don’t let us forget that the devil had the human family on the auctioneer’s block and was bidding us off and buying us in for the express purpose of damning us forever. Thank God, Jesus appeared on the scene just in time to put in the highest bid and purchase a diamond in the rough, and bring home the lost sheep. It has been said that He bought man with the gold of His blood and the silver of His tears; therefore the redemption of man is the costliest thing in the world.
We have often heard people say that everything costs, that they had paid a hundred dollars for their cow. But God has said long ago that the gold is His and the cattle are His; therefore the cow really cost them nothing, for they paid for God’s cow with God’s money. But it is different when it comes to the price of your soul. For Jesus tasted death that we might taste of life; He became the Son of Man that we might become the sons and daughters of the Almighty. Jesus left heaven and came into this world that He might open up a way by which we could get out of this world and go into heaven. He put on humanity that we might put on divinity. When He bore the Roman scourge it was for you and for me. He had looked down from the throne and had seen men under the lash, but Jesus had never been whipped until He came to redeem us. He went under the lash and endured it in order that a way might be opened up by which man could get out of the life of sin and bondage into a life of freedom and happiness. Jesus had seen the human family without a home, but He was never without a home until He came to redeem us and then we hear those beautiful words, but, oh, so sad! “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”
Dear reader, isn’t that strange talk for a person to use when He himself had built the world that He was walking on? and yet it was true. For we read His own words that He had created all things, and by Him all things were created, and that He upholdeth all things by the right hand of His power, and yet He took the place of a pauper. When He was born into the world it was so arranged that He should be born in a wagon yard or a livery stable, that He was to work at the carpenter’s trade, and pay His own taxes. He literally traveled through this world as a lonely Wanderer; and when He hung on the Cross, He was even refused a drink of water, and instead of a cup of cool, refreshing, sparkling water, He received a cup of gall. Yet this was the King of the world. The first crown He ever wore as a King was the crown of thorns.
While the world was trying to disgrace Him and heap shame and contempt on Him, their very attitude toward Jesus and His attitude toward them have won for Him a name that is above every other name. And today there is not an infidel club in the world but has to put on its billheads, when it announces its services, the birth of Jesus. I say, shame on an infidel club that denies Jesus Christ and yet can’t hold an infidel meeting and get out its announcements but what it puts on every billhead the birth of the Son of God. Every note that is given in a bank and every deed to a tract of land and every mortgage that a man gives on his ranch or a team of mules would be worthless without the birth of Jesus Christ on it.
And all of this makes me shout, bless God, when I think that Jesus Christ with all the derision that is heaped on Him is the most popular Being that ever was in this world, and to think that this wonderful Saviour is mine!
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SALVATION IS GREAT BECAUSE IT OFFERS A REMEDY FOR SIN
Salvation is the only thing that is known to man that offers a remedy for sin. Man has tried many inventions; he has worked overtime to think out some plan that would put him on his feet and deliver him from an internal bondage and struggle that he has carried all of his life, but they have all failed. He has tried civil law and civic righteousness, education and charitable institutions, and so far all remedies that man has ever invented have utterly failed. Some men for a remedy have denied that there was any sin; others have denied the existence of eternal punishment, hoping by so doing to find a remedy. Others have sneered at the devil and sworn until they were black in the face that he was not in existence; others have declared that we have a universal salvation, that all men will be saved, both good and bad.
Other men in their bewilderment and sad predicament have decided that only a special few, that they term the elect, will be saved; and they imagine that the elect will be saved, it matters not how mean they are, and that all the rest of the human family was long ago predestined to damnation and will be eternally lost, it matters not how good they are. But after all, this is no remedy for the curse of sin. So we see that all human inventions and man-made remedies are teetotal failures. We remember that King David said that his enemies had made them gods of their own; he said they had eyes and didn’t see and had ears and didn’t hear; he said they had throats and could not speak through them, and he said the sinners of his day were as bad off as the gods they had made. The reader will see that the man-made gods were only man’s remedy to get rid of sin, and yet all have failed.
In our day we have a wonderful hurrah going on about the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Some preachers have even quit the pulpit and given up preaching Christ, and are going up and down the land lecturing on the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. Then others have decided that the only God there is, is the God that is in man, that man himself is a divine being and that he is able to handle the situation. But they have all gone down in defeat, and will go down, for there is but one remedy in all the wide, wide world and that is the salvation offered to man through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, which is the only remedy for sin.
Salvation means deliverance from sin, and salvation is a double gift and a double blessing, because sin is a double tragedy and God provided a double remedy. In the fifty-first psalm, King David said, “Blot out my transgressions,” and in the second verse he said, “Cleanse me from my sin,” and we find that God provided a double remedy for this double disease, that is, pardon for the guilty, and cleansing for the believer. And in order to provide a double remedy, necessarily the atonement had to be doubled, for we find in Romans, fifth chapter, eighth verse, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Here the reader will see the atonement reaching down to the sinner.
But in the next place we see the atonement reaching down to the church, for in Ephesians, fifth chapter, twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth verses, we read, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Here the reader will see the atonement reaching the church, and while the sinner needs pardon, the church needs cleansing, and thank God, we have the remedy for both through the shed blood of the crucified Son of God, which is the only remedy for sin in the whole world. Bless God, we have the remedy! We have got the goods, and in spite of an unbelieving church and a wicked world, we are delivering the goods just the same. Bless God!
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SALVATION IS GREAT BECAUSE OF THE EXTENT OF IT
When we think of the extent of salvation our minds well-nigh reel and stagger, for we must evidently think of the depth to which man has fallen and then to the heights of glory to which God intends to lift him. First we must see the new birth, and the idea of being born of the Spirit carries with it a wonderful mystery. How is it that one moment a man can be a guilty sinner and far out in a world of sin, and the next moment a truly regenerated believer and far up in the world of righteousness, and yet that takes place when a man is born of the Spirit! For St. Paul tells us in Colossians first chapter, thirteenth verse, that the meaning of the new birth is to be delivered from the power of darkness and to be translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.”
So there we see first that salvation means deliverance from the powers of darkness, and second, a translation out of the dark world into the Kingdom of light. For in John, eighth chapter, twelfth verse, Christ said, “I am the light of the world. he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” And the idea of the new birth is really something new in the world; while it looks to us like it is old because we have heard of it all of our lives, yet the new birth was never heard of in the world until Jesus was born.
When He introduced the subject to the great and learned Nicodemus, it was the most astonishing thing that ever entered the head of that wonderful Jewish teacher. I don’t wonder that the doctor scratched his head and said, “How can these things be?” He had thought much of sin, but he didn’t know how to get out of it. How new it was when Jesus said, “Nicodemus, the way to get out of sin is to be born out of it”! Nicodemus had thought that changing climates and changing localities and changing your surroundings and your environments was probably a good remedy, but all the changes he had made had had no effect in the world on his moral condition, and he never heard of a remedy until he met Jesus. Thank God, some of the rest of us have heard of that remedy, have accepted it, and have shouted ourselves hoarse over the fact that, bless God, we have got it now.
So Jesus is the Author of the new birth. And it was something new under heaven. But it is just as new today as it was then, and our nation is now drifting to the place where many are rejecting the new birth because it is unexplainable by the theological teachers of our universities.
Beloved, when it comes to an explanation of the new birth the president of a university has no advantage over the wash-woman. And for all this I say, “Glory to God!” That wonderful question of Nicodemus, “How can these things be?” is still ringing down over the hills of Judea, but it has reached down over the plains of earth, it has crossed the mighty deep. Beloved, an explanation of the new birth is not found under a plug hat, nor under the lapel of a double-breasted broadcloth coat. Thank God, it can be fully understood in the bosom of an uneducated man. One of the greatest mysteries connected with the salvation of a man’s soul is seen in the fact that the unlearned knows as much about it as the cultured and brilliant.
I remember one morning when my heart was leaping for joy and bubbling over with the perfect love of God, a college president seemed to be insulted and with a look of defiance on his face he said to me, “Sir, you are just a gosling and have not shed off your down yet, and how dare you stand up and profess to be made perfect in love?” I said, “Doctor, I have been saved for twelve years, and if the Son of God can’t make a man perfect in love in twelve years, I defy you to prove that He can do it in twelve thousand.” The doctor failed to make good, and I kept the blessing, thank God.
But here is another little point that I don’t want to forget while we are talking about the new birth. When Jesus said, “Ye must be born again,” He absolutely left you without a choice. He didn’t say you could take it or let it alone and get to heaven. He said, “Ye must,” and, beloved, if “ye must,” then “ye must.” And then He added this clause, “Without it ye cannot see the kingdom of God.” And when the learned turn up their noses and sneer, God never modifies it nor rounds off the corners, and has never taken it back from that hour till this. It stands out there in letters of fire, and reaches down to the gates of hell and up to the beautiful walls of the city above, and will stand out for ever and ever and ever — “Ye must be born again, or ye cannot see the kingdom of God.”
I used to sing in the Salvation Army:
“How well I remember in sorrow’s dark night How the lamp of His love shed its beautiful light! More grace He has given, and burdens removed, And over and over His goodness I’ve proved. And shall I turn back into the world? Oh, no, not I, not I. And shall I turn back into the world? Oh, no, not I.”
Many a dark, drizzly night I have stood on the street corner and sung that song and beat the drum and called the wanderers to Jesus. I have seen them kneel on the cold, muddy streets and in less than a minute I have seen them born of the Spirit and translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of light. I have seen the tears plow a furrow down through their dirty faces. Thank God! Amen!
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SALVATION IS GREAT BECAUSE OF THE FULLNESS OF THE BLESSING
Dear reader, we want you to see that a wonderful experience is promised to the sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father in the seventeenth and eighteenth verses of the fifth chapter of Ephesians. Now listen to these wonderful words of the inspired apostle: “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Here we have a direct command from the inspired apostle to be filled. It doesn’t mean half full, or three-quarters, but to be full. And we must remember, and we do remember, and then we don’t propose to forget, that the most beautiful life in the world is a
Spirit-filled life. No life is so beautiful as the Spirit-filled life. No life is so useful as the Spirit-filled life.
In fact, the hope of your own soul and the hope of your family and the hope of your church of which you are a member, and the hope of the world in which you live, is only seen in this wonderful Spirit-filled life. No man is a success for God or himself who is not completely filled, led, and controlled by the Holy Ghost. Without the Holy Ghost we would be failures. Without Him we would be helpless; indeed, without Him we would be hopeless. But, thank God, with Him difficulties are saddle horses, surrounding circumstances are stepladders, and impossibilities are springboards to leap off and land right in the middle of a glorious victory.
“When the Holy Ghost comes,” Christ said, “He will take the things of Mine and show them to you.” More than that, He said, “When He is come, He will bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. He even went so far as to say, “For I will give you a mouth and a wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist” (Luke 21:15). This refers, of course, to the incoming of the blessed Holy Ghost, which is to do two things for you. First, He is to cleanse the temple, and second, He is to fill it. Then we might add a third clause and say that He is to rule it. For the Holy Ghost is today the Executive of the Godhead in this world. And the men of the church that stubbornly reject Him have closed every avenue of victory and have shut the door of hope and success in their own faces.
There is no institution in the world that is deader and more lifeless and hopeless than a church without the Holy Ghost. We can take the nominal church and we will see at a glance that they never had better buildings, their pews were never better made, their carpets are the best, their organs cannot be improved on, they have a beautiful ritual, and, bless your heart, they know it. They can sing a verse and the pastor and the official board, their choir leader and all the congregation can say, “AH-MEN,” and draw it out as long as your arm, and stand up so precisely it looks like if they were to smile it would break their faces all to pieces, and they would ruin their religious service; and yet as beautiful as those things are, they are no more signs of life and juice and unction and glory, not a bit more, than if there were no such things in existence. The machinery is good, but there is no oil on it.
We might ask, “What is the matter with this wonderful institution?” No thinking man has to study for a minute to get the answer. They have just rejected the Holy Ghost, and they are running their institution without God. In many places we fear that He has taken His everlasting flight and He may never return. It is true that a church of this description will add members to its enrollment. They will send out cards beautifully printed; the very type itself is well set, the cards are gilt-edged. Some will sign them up and drop them in the collection basket; others will come in by hitting the trail. Many others will come in on Decision Day. And we are not abusing those methods; we are only stating that they can gather in members by those methods, but, beloved, does that look to you like an old-fashioned revival of heartfelt, Holy Ghost religion?
Sad to say that many of the people that come by those methods never go back to see how the institution is progressing. At a glance you can see they have no interest there because they have received nothing. But you let the pastor preach a series of sermons on the awfulness of sin, the horrors of hell, the glory of heaven, and eternal life until conviction seizes the hearts of men. They will weep their way to a place of prayer, become really born again, and come into the church of Jesus Christ by the gateway of the new birth. Then her altars will be the most sacred place to them of any place in the world, and you can hardly keep them away from church.
Then later on let the pastor preach a series of sermons on the Spirit-filled life, the power of the incoming of the Holy Ghost, the burning, surging glory of the sanctified experience, the beauty of perfect love, and such glorious themes, until his entire church becomes so hungry for the fullness of the blessing that they will weep their way to a place of prayer, consecrate all, look up through their tears with simple faith, and receive the Holy Ghost. Beloved, you will have a church that will march through this old world, and the devil will weep as the angels rejoice while the saints shout for joy. This church will be composed of a company of sky-openers and fire-pullers, sin-killers, devil-drivers, trench-diggers, water-haulers; and it takes all of the above to make a true soldier, and the Spirit-filled life will make you a soldier of the Cross.
Bless God for the privilege of preaching this great salvation and seeing multiplied thousands pull till the skies open and dig till they strike water, and today they are feasting on the fat of the land, for they are living in the land of Canaan. You remember the beautiful song that we sing, that
‘Tis good to live in Canaan, Where grapes of Eschol grow, ‘Tis good to live in Canaan Where milk and honey flow.
We will now act like the church where they all say, “AH-MEN.” For, glory to Jesus, the word “Amen” means; “Yes, Lord, and I’ll pay my part.”