How Readest Thou?
Luke 10:26 — “How readest thou?”
Some time ago a multimillionaire died and left a will disposing of the property that he had once possessed; for it is still true that of all the things in this world that you may own, you can take nothing with you when you leave. Many persons were anxious to know whether they had been remembered in the will, and even the newspapers were asking the question, “How did he dispose of his vast accumulations?” There are not many of us here who are expecting to receive very much if any rich man should die and leave his goods; but there is one thing to encourage us, and that is, we have been remembered in the will of God. The old Bible that you and I revere so much is divided into two parts, the Old Testament and the New, and the word Testament means the last will, and here we have the last revelation of God’s will for us. The Apostle said that a will was no good without the death of the testator. Jesus died to make this will good, and on the ground of the Blood of Jesus, we can claim the fulfillment of everything there is in the Book that concerns our present or eternal welfare. During the time of Graham of Claverhouse in Scotland, when the Covenanters were being persecuted and haled to prison and some of them to death, and when the places where they met were being uncovered and destroyed, a young woman was on the way to a meeting when one of Claverhouse’s men overtook her. He brutally inquired where she was going, and she replied that a friend of hers had died and she was on the way to hear his will read. He wished her hick and said that he hoped so fair a lass was well remembered. She went on her way to the meeting to hear the Word of God expounded, and to know more of the Will that Jesus left on record for her.
If you will read the Word very carefully, you will find that in former days God spake through the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son; and the Apostle says, “To you is the Word of this salvation sent,” and there is nothing in it but what God means for our good. In this Book God is dealing with eternal verities, teaching us of our relation to Him, of a heaven that we may gain or a hell that we may shun, and if we want to know the will of God concerning us, all that we have to do is to search the Word. Here it is recorded, “The entrance of thy Word giveth light.” This book introduces us to God. The study of the Gospels introduces us to a Person. They deal with the personality of Jesus. The Gospels are not a biography of Jesus; we just have a glimpse of Him as a baby, and then for twelve years we know nothing of His history until He comes up to the temple, and then for eighteen years more the Word is quiet, silent, not a word until He begins His ministry. We are introduced to a Person who came to tell us about heaven, about hell. If He were living today and preaching, there are folks who would say He was a “hell-fire preacher,” for it is certain that the most tremendous facts about the future came to us through the Words of Jesus found in the Gospels and Revelation. He came to show us the heart of God. All that we know, or the most we know about heaven, we have from the lips of Jesus. “I go to prepare a place for you … that where I am, there ye may be also.” All that is taught us of heaven in Revelation only confirms the truth, and that from the lips of Jesus came nearly all we know about heaven. It is called the Revelation of John, but he was only the stenographer, who took down the words that Jesus gave him. And I am glad to read and believe all that he says, whether I understand it or not. “Blessed are they that DO His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” I love to read the Book of Revelation. I remember what the old Scotchman said, “”When you read the Book of Revelation, go canny.” When I read, “Blessed is he that readeth the Book” my soul takes fire, and I am glad as I walk up and down this old sin-cursed earth, and see the marks of the serpent all over it — sin and suffering and disease — I am glad there is a land where the inhabitants never say, “I am sick,” and where the people are forgiven their iniquities.
I one day sat by a little cot not three feet long, and on that cot was a little child who was gradually dying. The mother sat there too crushed to shed a single tear. There was no relief along that line. As I saw that mother looking’ down at the little one, I was so glad that Jesus told us of a home where all these things had passed away forever. Oh, I am so glad there is a city where crepe never hangs on the door; where funeral processions never pass along the streets; where families are never separated; where they live in the presence of God; where they not only enjoy eternal health, but have eternal wealth as well. God bless you, beloved, I am glad to tell you that we are drawing nearer the city. Don’t come around and talk about growing old, — we are not growing old, we are growing young. We are drinking from the fountain of youth, what Ponce De Leon looked for in the land of flowers. We have found it in a Holy Land, where the stricken side of the Son of God sent forth water and blood; and, having plunged in the Fountain, we have risen to all the Life of the eternal God. Bless your dear hearts, we have only just begun to live! What man gets down here is only a start in life. When the sun is burned to a cinder, when the stars have grown cold, we will live on, doing the will of God forever and forever.
“When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.”
I am glad that we are headed that way, and we must give God all the glory. He came to show us God. He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Now, that is true. The text says, “How readest thou?” This word has a personal relation to us, — whosoever. That takes in every son and daughter of Adam. If we had our names in, there might have been some folks who bear the same name that we do, but whosoever means you, and me. “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That means you. “Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” That means, all the things that you need to pray about, you shall have an answer.
Jesus came a long way to show us God. Now, someone says, “Look here, preacher, don’t you believe in the omnipresence of God?” To be sure I do, but I still insist upon it that Jesus came a long way to show us God. Tell me, can you. brother, the distance from the pure and holy God, the infinite One, to the man who was born in sin and conceived in iniquity, the man who transgressed the law of God, the man who by his own transgressions had widened the distance between him and God? The tallest archangel at the throne of God could never measure, but Jesus traveled the whole distance, and put Himself alongside our humanity, and took our nature on Himself. “The Word was made flesh,” says the Apostle,” (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.” “In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” God will send a man a long way to help an honest inquirer. God may send you a long way to get the blessing, and He may send someone who knows Him a long way to help you. I see a Holiness evangelist in the midst of a great meeting. They are having a wonderful time, and there is great joy because of the work that God hath wrought. Then God said to that evangelist, “Philip, get out of here. I want you somewhere else.” Philip never said, “Why, Lord, I am having a great time there, and it will not do to leave these people now.” Nothing of the kind. “I want you down at Gaza, a desert way. Go now.” And Philip says, “All right, Lord.” I do not know that he even took time to say good-bye, or to thank the folks who had entertained him. When he got there, he stood by the roadside and saw a man coming along in a chariot. He stepped up alongside of him and said, ‘Understandest thou what thou readest?” And the man replied, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” And right here God’s man, whom He had sent a long way to help, got up in the chariot, and preached Jesus to him till he had the victory.
I see another man way off there. He is fasting and praying and giving of his substance to God’s cause; bringing up his children in the fear of the Lord, and wanting to know more about God. God sent an angel to him with a message like this, “You send over to Joppa to the house of one Simon a tanner, and there you will find Simon, whose surname is Peter, and he will tell you words whereby thou and thy house shall be saved.” In the meantime God was getting the evangelist ready. He was hungry, and waited about two hours after dinner time, for his meal, . and he fell into a trance, and saw a sheet let down from heaven filled with all manner of fourfooted Beasts. God said to him, “Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.” He said, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And God said, “What I have cleansed that call not thou common or unclean.” Just then, when God had got this man ready, there was a knock heard at the door, and the question, “Is there a man here named Simon Peter? There is a man Cornelius calling for him. He saw an angel who told him to send over here and you would come.” And because of the vision Peter goes with them. God sent him a two days’ journey to help an honest inquirer. If you are here, an honest inquirer, then we are here to help you to God; for this is His meeting. Jesus asks this question in the text: “How readest thou?” Here is a lawyer who asks, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus referred him to the law and said, “How readest thou?” “I read in this wise, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.'” And Jesus said, “This do, and thou shalt live.” What is Jesus teaching him? “Put God first.” Put God first in your life — in your social life, in your married life, in your politics. I take up my Bible and read in the very first verse, “In the beginning God.” I take up the ten commandments and read, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” I turn to the Lord’s Prayer, and read, “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.” God first. And, my brother, you will never hear from heaven as you may do; you will never be what God wants you to be; you will never witness for Him as He wants you to do, until you put God first. Are you doing it? “How readest thou?”
First, you may know that you are saved from sin. Some time ago a preacher came into the church where I was preaching and I saw him sitting in the congregation. Out of courtesy I asked him to come up and take a seat with me, and make the opening prayer. He prayed, and all the time he was praying I was revolting against his prayer, for I did not believe it. The one subject of his prayer was this, “O Lord, save people from hell.” I do not believe that Jesus came to save folks from hell. Bible salvation is not a mere fire escape, — Jesus came to save people from sin. “Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins.” “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” It is sin that sends people to hell — not Adam’s sin — your own sin, that which you did most deliberately commit. The only thing in all the world that you need to fear is your own act where you are outside the will of God.
Jesus came to save people from sin in this life. Here and now you may know your sins forgiven. The Christ of God, hallelujah! The Christ of God which bringeth salvation, hallelujah! The Christ of God which bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men, unto all men, black and white and yellow — China and India and Japan — hath appeared teaching. Teaching what? Teaching us that denying all ungodliness we are to live soberly, righteously, godly. After you die? No, sir, in this present world, looking for the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us, that He might purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Saved from sin in this life. Are you? You may know it. Do you?
How readest thou? If I have any ambition I get it out of this life, the life that is hid with Christ in God. I have the Book to prove to me that it is the privilege of every child of God to live saved from all sin down here now. I would not have the angel Gabriel to come and tell me that I am saved. I have heard from headquarters. The Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am a child of God. Do not go by impressions, nor by your feelings. Do you know you are saved? When the wind is the coldest, when the devil is howling, when there is misunderstanding, when friends forget you and do things you cannot understand, then do you still know that you are saved? That is worth more than all the rest. How readest thou? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” How readest thou? Is this So? Do you know it? “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Is this so? Do you know it? “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him. return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” The plaster is wider than the wound. “Where sin did abound, grace shall much more abound.” Is that so? Do you know it? But I have been a professor so long, for so many years. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” But the King will say, “I never knew you.” How readest thou? Have you received the Holy Ghost? Are you a temple of the Holy Ghost? Are you called to be a saint? Do you recognize your high calling?
What is a saint? What is a sanctified person? A person who is set apart, who is separate, holy, through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus. Bible for that? “Ye shall receive power, the Holy Ghost coming upon you.” “Ye shall have power, above all the power of the evil one. Ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, and unto your own home town, right where you live.” How readest thou? “The Father and I will come and take up our abode with you, and we will be in you.” Oh, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I never get up and say, “I am having such a hard time.” He saves to the uttermost all them that come unto Him. I am proving in my own experience that His Word is true. There are times when plus one, plus one, is one, to them who know the secret; and there is a time when every child of God knows that he knows, and that is when he trusts God, takes Him at His Word, and lives his faith.
You are remembered in the will. Amanda Smith once said, “I will have all there is in the will or break it.” So may you. You are, if you are a child of God, living every day on the riches of His grace, and you are a living proof that He saves to the uttermost.
Are you ready for His appearing? Would sudden death be sudden glory? I remember many years ago when E. I. D. Pepper, and John Thomson were in a meeting in the Centenary M. E. Church in Philadelphia, that they would put as a test, “Would sudden death be sudden glory?” Some folks did not like it, and I heard them discuss it; but it is intensely Scriptural. I call your attention to the time when dear old Dr. Godbey was told by the doctor that he was near the end, and he shouted, “In thirty minutes I shall see Jesus!” Was that too much? “This same Jesus, which is taken from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” “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.” Are you ready for His coming, living for that day, that hour? “For in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.” It is not a question of what is going on around you; it is a question of what is going on inside of you. Are you ready now? Seeing that He is coming back again, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord. Are you practicing the Word? Have your wife and children confidence in you? Do you shout when the grocer and the landlord are around? “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” “If any man is willing to do my will, he shall know the doctrine,” prove in his own experience that my Word is spirit and life. Beloved, are you doing all the ò will of God as it is made known to you by the Word and the Spirit? “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” This is a sanctified life. Are you singing today?
“Not a cloud doth arise to darken my skies,
Nor to hide for one moment my Lord from my eyes.”