Delivered and Delivering

Every reader of the New Testament, if enlightened by the Holy Spirit, will easily understand that if we have been delivered from the power of sin and the snares of the world ourselves, we should now seek to be the means of the deliverance of others. No argument should be needed to convince us of the truth of this.

From the beginning the devil has maligned the character of God. The Bible, it is true, is an open book in the land, but, nevertheless, there are multitudes still hoodwinked by his lies and travesties of the truth. They are kept in darkness, they know not the love of God. They do not understand that His heart is full of gracious feelings towards them, they do not believe that He is offering a wonderful salvation to meet their deepest need — they are held in bondage, blind to all that is real and true and eternal.

It is our high and holy privilege, as well as our great responsibility, to show forth the praises of God and to make known His true character, so that the eyes of men may be opened, and that they may be turned from the devil's lies to the glorious truth of the gospel of the grace of God. We appeal in this paper especially to young men who have professed the name of Christ. Where do you stand with regard to this matter?

You are interested, we doubt not, in a general way in the spreading abroad of the fame of Christ and in the emancipation of souls from the power of darkness, but how far is it your happy lot to be used of God yourself in the deliverance and refreshment of others? Do you know what it is to visit a weary and tried saint, and by some simple ministry of Christ to chase away the gloom and bring fervent words of thanksgiving to the lips of the tried one or has it been your happy lot to sit down by the side of an anxious and repentant sinner, and by the help and grace of God to lead such a one to the feet of the Saviour? If so, you know what it is to have the music of heaven vibrating through every chord of your heart, and the whole of your spiritual being filled with joy unspeakable. But if you have not as yet tasted the blessedness of being thus used of God, why not? There is a cause: may God give you to discover it. Do not say: "We are not all called to preach," for that is not our point here. We have the wondrous promise from the lips of the blessed Lord that out of the one who drinks of Him shall flow rivers of living water (John 7:38). This is as much for you as for the most gifted evangelist — it is for "ANY MAN." Oh that we might be greatly stirred up to desire to be found in this happy condition!

We believe the one great essential to all true devotedness and service is to yield ourselves to the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 8:5, Paul could write of some who "FIRST GAVE THEIR OWN SELVES TO THE LORD." It is not first work, or first pray, or first learn. No, you may know all about the doctrine of deliverance and yet be a poor slave to your own selfishness, and utterly useless to others. Nor is it great knowledge that is the lack, for it is painfully evident, on every hand, that knowledge even of the things of God puffs up and can go on hand in hand with little power and great barrenness. We thank God for all the light He has graciously given to us, but we shall be altogether unprofited if we do not FIRST give ourselves to the Lord. "YIELD YOURSELVES UNTO GOD" (Rom. 6:13) stands, as it were, at the very threshold of the chapters which enlighten us as to the way of deliverance.

And, surely, herein lie the failure and the weakness — we have been afraid of such words as yield, surrender, consecrate. Not so much, we fear, because we might possibly make a wrong use of them, but because we have been afraid to take the great step which the words involved. But can there be any true Christian experience or power apart from this step? We trow not.

Yes, if we really surrender ourselves to the Lord it will mean, in all probability, some sacrifice, some idol long cherished by our selfish hearts will have to be thrown down — and more than all, it will mean the giving up of self — and this is the greatest of all tests. We are often ready to give our time, our money, our ability, but are we prepared now to do as did the Macedonian saints, "FIRST GIVE OUR OWN SELVES TO THE LORD"? Oh! let us not shirk this matter, but let us bring our dearest treasures, ourselves, with all our hopes and aspirations and ambitions, to the cross of Calvary; let us contemplate the measureless sorrow of the One who hung upon that cross, and then say with Paul of old: "He loved ME, and gave Himself for ME" (Gal. 2:20). Let us shut ourselves up more often with the One whose love is too vast to comprehend, and we shall soon begin to discover how great is the recompense if we give up anything for Him. How often have we sung —

"Just as I am, — Thy love I own
Has broken every barrier down;
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come!"

May we say this not in word only. May our hearts go with it in deed and in truth.

But there is another side to this matter. You belong to the Lord Jesus, you are His by right of purchase, and the price He has paid is His own precious blood. You BELONG TO HIM ABSOLUTELY, EVERYWHERE, AND FOR EVER. This is an indisputable fact, and while it must make you feel, on the one hand, your solemn responsibility, yet on the other, it will bring vividly to your mind the quenchless, all-conquering love of the Son of God which led Him to brave the storm of judgment, to endure even the cross of Calvary for your sake.

Oh, seek grace to yield to Him that which is His perfect right — even yourself; then as a vessel meet for His service He will be able to lay hold of you and use you as He will.

Now let us obey the command of our Lord and Master, and lift up our eyes upon the fields. Are they not even now ready for the sickle? Oh! think of the multitudes in this land and others without the knowledge of God, and passing onward and downward to destruction! They are sinners, ungodly, rebellious, but such were some of us, and for them the Saviour died as well as for us. Can we think of them without being moved to compassion? Is God indifferent to the destiny of His creatures? Nay! He willeth not the death of any. In olden days He rebuked His servant Jonah for his hardness of heart when the blessing of men was concerned, and in that rebuke we read how truly "gracious" and "merciful" and of "great kindness" is He.

In due time He gave His only begotten Son that men might not perish. Today He is sending far and wide the precious gospel, and lengthening out the day of grace, that sinners might even at the closing of the day turn and repent. We have it also from the lips of Jesus, that, in the presence of the angels, God rejoices over one repentant sinner. Yea, truly the blessing of men is very near to the heart of our God. Nor can we have a single doubt as to His feelings in this matter. If then we are near to him, His compassion will fill our hearts, and we shall seek by life and lip to win them from the ways of death to Jesus Christ our Lord.

There is such a thing as living evangelical lives as well as delivering evangelical addresses, lives in which the power of the gospel is seen, because subject to Christ, and through which the music of the gospel is heard, because walking in the Spirit. It was our privilege the other day to meet a dear Christian in the railway train. He told us that twenty-one years previous he was, without exception, the worst sinner in Stockton-on-Tees — a drunken, blaspheming sceptic; but God laid His hand upon him in a Salvation Army meeting, and he turned to the Lord Jesus Christ. He was a mechanic, and in the shop where he worked were six other infidels. They first scoffed, and often afterwards tried to draw him into argument. But his one reply was: "I will not argue with you, for you can beat me at that; but you know what I was, and you see what I am now. If you want to argue, argue with the power that saved and keeps me." That power was the power of the grace of God. They saw it, and their mouths were closed; and ere long he had the joy of grasping the hand of each of his fellow-workmen as fellow-Christians! This man illustrates what we mean by being evangelical in our lives. May we be greatly exercised in this matter, at the same time not indifferent as to the proclamation of the Lord. How greatly labourers are needed, men with devoted hearts and fervent souls, prepared to make sacrifices and to suffer hardships for the Lord's sake and the gospel's! It is God's way to take up those who are faithful in their own circle and thrust them out into a wider field. The Lord alone can thrust out labourers — this is His prerogative; ours it is to earnestly desire to be taken up by Him (1 Cor. 12:31).

You may speak of your weakness, and the more you feel it the better, but remember God takes the weak things to confound the mighty. The jawbone of an ass was a weak and useless thing in itself, but wielded by the strong hand of Samson it laid a thousand Philistines in the dust. It is the Lord's grace, the power of God, the work of the Spirit; and these may be manifested in us, and through us, if we are yielded to the Lord.

The other day we read a story which interested us greatly. A young lad of fifteen was visiting his mother in the city of Boston, U.S.A. At the time God was working greatly in the gospel in that city. Many souls were blessed, and amongst them this young lad. Presently the day came for him to return to his work on the farm in the country. He was sad at the thought of leaving the meetings, but knew that the Saviour whom he had found could keep him even if he stood alone; and so he sought grace to be true to Him.

The day after his return he was chopping wood on the wood-pile, and round him gathered his companions. He at once related to them what he had found in Boston. They were interested, and some of them said they would like to be saved. He asked them to come round to the shed when work was over; and twelve came. "Now," he said, "the preacher in Boston always sang first, so we will sing hymns." That finished, he said, "The next thing is to pray," and he began to pour out his heart in pleadings for the salvation of his companions. His tears were mingled with his prayers, and not his only, for his companions began to weep and pray with him. This continued many nights, and the blessing spread until no less than three hundred souls in that district had turned to Christ! Oh! it is not eloquent preaching, fine points, and great correctness in words, but simplicity and devotedness, a heart yielded to Christ, and a preparedness to be used of Him!

This year may be our last on earth. Long before its close the shout of the Lord may have called us from our service and failure into the joy of His home. Oh, with this before us and the cross behind us, with His love about us and over us and in us, may we be for Himself and Himself alone. May we know His increasing love, His blessed likeness be shining through us, His service our joy, and be ever ready to say to Him, our Lord, our Saviour, our Master, "Here am I, send me."