During August 1939 an Open-Air Mission was held in a certain seaport, which was attended by quite a number of men from naval vessels. Not only did many attend and listen, but some at least were truly converted to God. They heard of the Lord Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again: they believed in Him and received forgiveness in His Name. And not only this, some of them came to the sea-front when off duty and earnestly told the people what the Lord had done for them. The crowds listened as if spell-bound.
When war broke out on September 3rd 1939 these men were all on their ships at their appointed stations, prepared to do their duty. Some of us might be inclined to expect that men such as these would surely be carried safely through the incessant dangers of wartime, as though faith in Christ would act as a kind of charm against mine, torpedo and shell. But such immunity, or any other blessing of a physical and earthly sort, is not the appropriate sequel to genuine faith in Christ. The sequel for these dear fellows as regards their bodies was far otherwise. Seven were said to be on H.M.S. Courageous, and actually engaged in a little Gospel service, when the torpedo struck her, and they went down to a watery grave. Thirteen were on H.M.S. Exmouth, when she was blown up in the North Sea, and they will give their testimony on earth no more.
How extraordinary that such should have been permitted! Yet so it was, as if to remind us that the Christian is not promised immunity from all the troubles and hazards of life as the result of his faith. To what then does faith in Christ lead? Is there an appropriate sequel? And if so, what is it?
As recorded in Acts 16, a jailer in Philippi with an anguished mind asked the question, “What must I do to be saved?” (v. 30). He had just been saved from disaster that threatened him in a twofold way—first, by earthquake; second, by attempted suicide. So the salvation he desired was not physical but spiritual. What was the answer given by the Apostle Paul? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Faith may be strong or it may be weak, but in Christ it must be to be of any avail. You are not worthy. Your works are not worthy. He is worthy. Will you, and do you, trust HIM? If so, the absolutely certain and appropriate sequel to your FAITH IN CHRIST is SALVATION—a spiritual emancipation that will abide to eternity.
This, thank God, our naval heroes had.
The Christian has to suffer. We do not disguise this fact for one moment. These brave fellows suffered the pains of death for a few brief minutes, then all was over. This they suffered for King and country, helping to protect such as ourselves. But they also suffered for Christ, since no sailor can boldly confess Christ as his Lord without having to face trial in many ways. Evidently they were not depressed by it, but they thanked God and took courage. If you, my reader, centred your faith in Christ and boldly confessed Him, you too would suffer and discover that such suffering is no loss. Great would be your reward in heaven, as our Lord Himself said. The appropriate sequel to suffering for Christ in this world is glory with Christ in the next.
But perhaps you do not care at all for these things. You are busy. The state of things in the world is distracting. So much engrosses your attention that you have no time to concern yourself with the soul and its needs. As things are it is very easy to live without God, and practically to forget Him. Are you living like this? Then do not delude yourself into forgetting the result that lies before you. The appropriate and certain sequel to a God-forgetting life is a God-forsaken eternity.
And also there are pleasures that surround you, and are still available even in this time of war. How sweet they are! Yes, while they last, but they do not last for long. Your hours of pleasure are fleeting fast; soon they will be for ever gone, never to return. The pleasures of sin are but for a season, and then the sequel has to be faced—the full penalties of sin, which, if once you incur them, will press upon you for ever.
One thing more we would have you remember: “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). This means that the door of salvation is open to you now. It has been opened to you by the love of God, in virtue of the Saviour’s precious blood, shed on Calvary. Will you enter now? Do not answer, “It will sometime, but not now, ” lest you miss your opportunity. There is a very appropriate sequel to the open door neglected, and it is a very bitter one—the door shut, and you outside it for ever.
Be persuaded to turn at this moment towards God in repentance, and in simple faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:34).
The Gospel Messenger, Vol. 56, No. 661