When Andrew found Christ, immediately he sought his brother, and, as the Scriptures say, “brought him to Jesus.” From this simple statement we draw several reflections.
The first is that the best thing we can do for any man is to bring him to Jesus.
Some lead others into lodges, into fraternities, and into certain social circles, and feel in so doing that they have conferred immeasurable favors upon the recipient. Entrance is obtained into great educational institutions, and positions secured in the army and navy; but what are these benefits to be compared for a moment with having been brought to Jesus? One is a temporal benefit that will disappear in a few months or years, but the other lasts forever, and gathers in blessedness as the ages roll on. To be brought to Jesus means the change from the slavery of sin to the service of God; it means happiness, holiness, usefulness, blessedness, heaven, and eternal life. The very thought of what is accomplished is enough to turn men into ardent, faithful, devoted soul savers.
A second reflection is that the best thing a man can do for himself is to bring people to Jesus.
We are said to have three natures, which in the language of the people, we call the body, mind and soul. The development of the physical nature without regard to the other two produces a giant such as God drowned in the Flood. The development of the intellectual nature alone will produce a devil, and this devil may be in hell or on earth. The development of the spiritual according to God’s Word and plan brings forth the saint.
Remembering as we do that it is the spirit and not the body which is made in God’s image, we are filled with a great horror to see men spending all their time and energy in the enlargement and perfecting of the physical and intellectual, and completely ignoring that nature within them which bears the image of God. The gradual covering up and disappearance of the last, while the other is all that is seen of the man, constitutes a fact and visible phenomenon most shocking and fearful to behold. It stands to reason that the greater physical and intellectual giant a man becomes at the cost of the spiritual or divine side in him, the more dreadful is he to look at, and the more harm and injury he will work in the world.
God has so ordered it that the soul, after conversion, becomes its truest, highest and best self by working to save other souls. It may be in a broad or narrow sphere, in the pulpit or at the home, it still remains the same to lead others to Christ is to bless and develop our own souls.
When we remember what varied and constant calls on us are made in such a life; what demands on patience, self-control, pity, love and self-sacrifice; what ripening of meekness, gentleness and long suffering; what an outgo there is of all the powers of the spirit, we should not and cannot be astonished at the result, and see as never before not only the privilege, but the actual necessity of being in the active service of God.
A mere glance at the faces of those who live for the physical, intellectual or spiritual would be sufficient to convince any unprejudiced mind concerning the truth we have just laid down.
God says, “He that winneth souls is wise.” The blessed effect on the man himself proves the wisdom. But this is not all; the benefit reaches into the other world–“He shall shine as the stars forever.”
A third reflection is that a soul, to be saved, has to be brought to Jesus.
Here is seen the fact of the spiritual helplessness of man. If left alone the sinner would perish in his sins. If the nation should in like manner be neglected it would continue to sink steadily downward. Because of this fact is seen the missionary movement to foreign countries, while individual sinners are sought out for a like reason. It is the only way to save them. They must be brought to the Lord. So Nathan comes to the backslidden David; Ananias waits on the convicted Saul; Paul arouses the slumbering conscience of Felix; and Andrew goes after his brother.
Sometimes it takes a long while to accomplish this, and sometimes it requires a number of individuals to do it. The Scripture states with significance that “four men” carried and laid another at the feet of Jesus.
It is idle to expect salvation in any other way. The dead and sinful soul must be brought in contact with the living and holy Christ.
Some seem to be satisfied in bringing a sinner to the preacher, or into the church. This is not enough. He must, as the Greeks said, “see Jesus” in order to be saved.
A fourth reflection is that the verse quoted, “he brought him to Jesus,” shows the spirit in which we are to engage in the work of saving souls
The passage says Andrew “brought” his brother. In a word, men cannot be forced into salvation. The thumbscrew and body rack are confessed failures in the attempt to twist men into certain theological and spiritual shapes.
Neither can people be argued, lectured or scolded into the kingdom of heaven. This process simply develops the mule side of poor, fallen human nature. The soul cannot be ordered into right lives and deeper experiences such efforts end in failure. Parents commanding their children to do right, while they themselves are wrong, is a spectacle after this fashion. Preachers holding up deeper religious experiences to their flocks while they themselves are not in the blessing, is another instance of the ordering method and its unfailing result–failure.
Time was that officers in time of battle were expected to be in the rear, and from that point sent forward their directions This, however, was found at last not to be best. Men want a leader. They need to be “brought” on to victory; and so we find today in the military world the officer in front waving his sword and crying to the men to come on. May we do likewise in spiritual things. May we not be content with loud calls to others to go forward, but lead the way. May we bring men to Jesus.
A fifth reflection takes the form of a question, How can we bring men to Jesus?
The reply to this alone would fill a volume. It is simply marvellous the different methods God has blessed in bringing men to salvation.
It has been done by a letter.
Men, by thousands, will testify at the Last Day to the power of a tender, Spirit baptized letter written to them by friend or loved one. None but the recipient knows the peculiar force of these loving, warning, entreating sentences in ink. How they sink in, how they disturb, how they are recalled in the day, and in the night how they play about on the walls of the mind, another strange handwriting of God! The writer is not there to be abused and found fault with–only the writing. Different from the writer, the writing changes not. It sticks to the text, repeats the same warning, has the same solemn up and down strokes, and becomes all the more effective from its unchangeableness. Sometimes the letter is not received or read until after the death of the writer. We have known of such cases. It would be a good idea for dying Christians to write such letters and have them to be opened and read by the unconverted loved one after they are themselves in the grave. It would be indeed an appeal hard to withstand.
Again some are brought to Jesus by a tract or book.
A tract laid on a doorstep by a gypsy led to the conversion of the famous Richard Baxter. A tract given to an unconverted farmer on the cars in St. Louis led, several months afterward, to his conversion, a revival in his town and the building of a church. A band of native Christians were found in a remote province in India. They were eight in number. They had been led to God by a tract left in their midst by a missionary who was not allowed to preach to them. In his diary was found the record, “Not permitted to preach in this town, I have left a tract. God bless it.” and God did.
Then others are brought to Jesus by a word.
In a recent camp-meeting a man appeared on the scene who evidently was under deep conviction, and it took the form of a violent, angry opposition. On the fifth day he surrendered and was gloriously saved, and then it came out that four years before he had been harpooned with a single word uttered by an evangelist. All those four years he had been writhing, twisting, fretting, worrying, scolding, fighting and trying to get rid of that word. But it was like an arrow that had gone so deep it could not be pulled out. It was like a nail that had been bradded. It was a spike driven through and clinched on the other side. He could not move from the word and the word would not leave him. It was a perpetual memory sore and heart pang. It went out with him in the morning, and came home with him in the evening, and stood by his bedside at night. It seemed to lie on the pillow by his side. It looked at him as he dressed in the morning. It made an unfailing dish at every meal. No matter what other articles of food he h ad, this word always constituted a dish in itself. He would take it up, cut and carve it, try to trim it thin, bolt it down, or fling it away–but lo! at that next meal there it would be again, and if anything larger than ever. When he walked out it became a shadow that remained with him, now on this side and now on that, now in the rear, now in front, but always with him. There was no use in running, it kept up with him. In brief he was haunted by a word of God, spoken by a man of God. The Scripture was fulfilled which speaks of the spoken truth being like a nail driven in a sure place. May God grant us the ability to speak just such words.
Still others are led to Jesus by an act. A father one night while sitting before the fire whittled a cross out of a small chip of wood, and holding it up before his little boy told him the old, old story. The boy grew to manhood, but he said he never forgot that pictorial sermon, and that it paved the way to his salvation.
Others still are influenced by what may be called the spirit of a man.
The patient attitude of a preacher once in a post office, as he gave way repeatedly to others, affected the writer, who was then an unconverted youth, even more powerfully than any words could have done. Truly we little dream how many eyes are upon us, studying us, and how our conduct, bearing and general spirit are impressing people all around more or less favorably in regard to our holy religion.
Still again, souls are brought to Jesus by the life itself. A gentleman once said in a testimony meeting that he had tried hard to be a skeptic, but one thing stood in his way and effectually barred him out of unbelief, a sinful life and final destruction. He said he could not climb over it. Then after a pause added that the barrier was the consistent life of his old father.
This daily life of the faithful Christian is the cord which is steadily being woven around friends and loved ones of the family, and sooner or later it will be found strong enough for God to pull with and draw them into salvation and the skies. Some of us may be dead, but the drawing will not be less vigorous, nor the cord-like influence less powerful when we are sleeping in the tomb.
This, after all, is the greatest proof and evidence of Christianity we have on earth–the redeemed lives of men and women. May we all be able to turn that gentle, but all powerful argument upon friend and foe, the family, the Church and the world, and see them flocking home to God.