Naaman; or the Sinner and his Mistakes
“And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (2 Kings 5:10).
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
It is my purpose tonight to have a quiet, homely talk with you on the way in which a sinner can obtain salvation; and to point out to you several rocks upon which anxious souls, when they are seeking salvation, often make shipwreck, so that you may be able to avoid them.
Now you know people have a very poor idea of what the Bible really is. Lots of people read these beautiful stories in the Old Testament and think they are only stories, true stories, perhaps, and I dare say pretty stories, but we want to show you tonight that God has
a very deep meaning in them.
In 2 Kings 5—the chapter we have referred to—we have the interesting and instructive story of the cleansing of a leper.
We find many chapters in the Bible devoted to the subject of leprosy. It is throughout the Scriptures a type of SIN. Leprosy cannot be cured by any earthly doctor, and sin cannot be eradicated by education, nor doctored by reformation; nothing but the mighty power of God can cure the desperate disease of sin; and, mark this, it is not only the drunkard with the blotches of drink upon his face who is the sinner; it is not only the painted harlot, who is to be seen under the midnight lamp, who is a sinner; but YOU, my unconverted hearer, are a sinner. Now don’t get rid of that fact. YOU, as you sit upon your seat, are a sinner in God’s sight.
Let us take up this story, which we have here, in detail. The subject of it is Naaman, the Syrian general. Studying the narrative carefully we learn several things about him. He was a courageous soldier, a successful general, an honourable man, a prime favourite with the king, his master, and, in the eyes of his fellow-countrymen, a hero. Further, we can gather from the sacred record that he was of a very amiable disposition, a loving husband, a kind, courteous master: but, in spite of all these characteristics, there is a certain sentence which spoils the whole thing.
“But he was a leper.”
He might be reviewing his troops, sitting astride his Arab steed, he might have his general’s uniform upon him, with his breast decorated with stars and medals and honours conferred upon him by the king and a grateful country, the loud huzzas might rend the sky, but underneath all this fair and glittering exterior and show there was a cruel, loathsome disease at work upon that man, and he knew it. He was a poor doomed leper, dying inch by inch.
Now, dear friend, we are not going to accuse you of being a very great sinner tonight. You may be a very kind husband, or a loving wife, or a dutiful child,—you may be most exemplary in your conduct in business and in the home circle; all this may be perfectly true. But, mark this well, be you
the very fairest of Adam’s race,
it is still true that you are a sinner, and as a sinner you cannot enter God’s presence, unless your sins are cleansed away. You are a spiritual leper.
We were shown through a medical museum in Washington the other day. The guide took us aside and said, “I will show you a wax fac-simile of the hands of a leper, modelled by a celebrated Paris physician.” There in a glass case lay the model of a pair of hands in wax, the exact copy of the poor leper’s loathsome hands. We looked at them with a great deal of interest. Hideous, putrid, loathsome hands, with the running sores of the terrible disease upon the knuckles, with the nails black and dropping off. What a terrible illustration that is of sin! What an awful picture of you! Unfit for God’s presence, rotten to the core!
My unconverted hearer, you don’t like it, but the fact remains, you are a poor, loathsome leper in God’s sight. You don’t believe it; that does not alter the fact. From the crown of your head to the soles of your feet there is not one sound spot about you; there is nothing but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores.
a loathsome, corrupt leper
in God’s sight, and nothing can save him from a lost eternity but the precious blood, which can wash the vilest sinner clean.
A traveller, journeying in an eastern country, was shown a large, roomy cage, in which were confined a few lepers; some of these poor, wretched creatures were in such a condition that their nails were dropping off; their hair falling out, their teeth gone, their eyes sunken,—poor, excoriated lepers. As he looked, he saw a young lady among them, who was well-proportioned and handsome. The flush of health seemingly was on her cheek, and her eyes were bright. The traveller turned round in astonishment and disgust, and said, “Why have you put that handsome young lady among the loathsome lepers?” The reply was made, “Look at her hand!” There was no mistake about it; there was
one tell-tale spot.
She was a poor, doomed leper. So you may not be a flagrant sinner, covered openly with the leprosy of sin, there may be upon you as it were, only ONE tell-tale spot, but the fact remains, you are a spiritual leper, and need cleansing by God before heaven with its joys can be yours. “THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE, for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
If we have sought to tell you the truth, and it has aroused you to a sense of your awful condition, it is because we love your soul. For illustration a man knocks at a doctor’s door. He is shown into the consulting room. Presently the doctor and patient are face to face, and the patient says, “Doctor, a little while ago I began to lose my appetite, I cannot sleep at nights, business seems to press very heavily upon me, and I want you to be kind enough to
tell me the truth,
however terrible it may be.”
The doctor examines him, and tests him, and at last says, with a grave face, “I have examined you and find that you have been the subject of a deadly disease for the last twelve years, and nothing can cure you.” The man says, with a look of despair in his eyes, “Thank you, doctor, for telling me the truth. I only knew I was ill the last few months, and to think the disease has been working in my system all these years!”
So, friends, the disease is working in your system, and you may not know it. It is carrying you to the portals of eternity, it is hurrying you on as fast as time can carry you, on to eternity; but, oh! where will you spend that eternity? So our words need to be plain and pointed on a subject of such profound importance, the more so as there is no case so bad as to be beyond the healing virtues of the precious blood.
A great many persons are not aware of this terrible disease of sin, but sometimes we do come across people who have been aroused to the fact that they are sinners, and they come to us and say, often with tears running down their faces, “Preacher, I am afraid I am too bad to be saved.” Thank God, there never could be a case too bad for the Great Physician. His words are:—“Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” Another says, “I feel the burden of my sins, but I am too black a sinner to come to Christ.” It is our deepest joy to tell such that “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth from ALL SIN,” and to cry out at the top of our voice, “There never was a case too bad for the Saviour, too dark and desperate for Him to cure.” This very night
He can save you
as you sit upon your seat in this hall.
Naaman knew he was a leper, and somebody else knew it. In one of his campaigns he had taken captive a little maid, and she waited upon his wife. This little maid turned to her mistress one day, as her heart went out in commiseration at the condition of her kind master, and said to her: “Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.” The little maid’s message was carried to Naaman’s ear, and thence it was conveyed to the ears of the king, and the king determined to send his honoured and beloved servant down to the land of Samaria in order to get cured. Naaman was alive to the fact of his awful condition, and was anxious to get cured, so off he starts on his long journey to Samaria. YOU are a spiritual leper. May God in His great mercy give you to know it deep down in your heart, and may you, too, be anxious to be cured this very night.
However, Naaman made
four great mistakes
before he got the blessing, and these are the four rocks of which we spoke at the beginning, and against which we are going to warn you. First of all he got a letter written by the king himself. Armed with this, he went to the king of Israel, and here he made his first mistake—he went to
the wrong person.
He went to the king instead of the prophet—to the one who swayed earthly power instead of one with spiritual power—the servant of Jehovah. Many an anxious soul makes a similar mistake. Many a man goes to the wrong person today.
Riding by train between the towns of Worcester and Malvern, in England, a short time ago, I saw a woman in widow’s weeds sitting in the compartment. Her eyes were closed, her lips were moving as if in silent prayer, and underneath her crape veil her fingers moved—she was counting her beads. When she had finished, I leaned forward to her, and said, “Would you kindly let me look at your beads?” She at once put them into my hands, and explained how to begin, with a sort of introductory prayer at the beginning of the circlet and then go around and around the beads with the “Hail Marys” as long as you please.
I said to her, “When you read your Bible do you ever learn of any poor sinner being repulsed by Jesus when on earth?”
She answered, “No.”
I went on, “Does it not tell you that every poor sinner who came to the blessed Son of God was received, and that none was repulsed?”
She replied, “It is so, I never read of a case in which one was turned away.”
I further enquired, “Did you ever read in the four gospels of one who went to the Virgin Mary? She was a blessed woman, chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus, most blessed amongst women, but she is not my Saviour, and
she never died for me.
“Is there any incident in which a sinner was sent to the Virgin Mary, rather than to her blessed Son?”
She said, “Not one.”
“Is there not a verse in the Bible which says, ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever’?”
“Yes,” was the reply.
I went on, “If it be true that the blessed Son of God never repulsed a sinner when upon earth, and that He is ‘the same yesterday, and today, and for ever,’ is His affection changed towards sinners, is His love for sinners diminished now He is in the glory? More than that, is there not a verse in the Bible which says, there is ‘ONE MEDIATOR between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.’”
She replied, “Yes, that is true.”
I said, “That being the case, why don’t you go DIRECT to Jesus?” She was making Naaman’s mistake—going to the wrong person.
My friends, we are not here to throw stones at pope, or priest, or preacher; we are here to unfold the truth of God’s Word, and to tell you that you will not get blessing to your souls unless you go yourselves to the feet of the Saviour, and trust Him. You will never receive salvation until you go to the right person.
Have you been to Jesus yet?
Long years ago there was a famine in Egypt, and the whole land rang with three words, as the granary doors were thrown wide open, within which the golden grain was stored, “GO TO JOSEPH.” Since Jesus has died on the cross; since He uttered that shout of victory, “It is finished”; since He has ascended into glory, the very universe of God rings with these three words—“GO TO JESUS.”
A gentleman was one day crossing London Bridge. A blind man, who was reading the Bible in raised letters, had lost his place, and was stumbling along, trying to regain it. He was repeating over and over again these words, “There is none other name, there is none other name, there is none other name.” At last he regained his place, and the whole of that lovely verse rang out,—“There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” The verse was used to the gentleman’s conversion. And what name is that? Need we reply? ’Tis Jesus. Jesus! JESUS!! JESUS!!! See to it that you go to the right Person.
The preacher is something like a guide-post. When you go to a place where the roads fork, and you are not sure which is the right one, you look for the guide-post. Presently you see a finger pointing a certain way, and you read, “This way to So-and-So.” You go on your way quite certain which is the right road. What does the post do for you? It points out the right road. It doesn’t take you along the road does it? No, you have to go yourself. Suppose you stopped
and embraced the post,
and spent the remainder of your days clinging to the guide-post, and admiring the plainness of its directions, would you ever get to your destination? Never! A great many people sit under a preacher, we put emphasis on the word under, but never go to the preacher’s Christ; they hang upon his words, they think him eloquent, admire his prayers, and rest satisfied with religion, but they never get to Christ.
John the Baptist—the forerunner of Christ—was a very good guide-post. Looking upon Jesus as He walked, he exclaimed in deepest worship, “Behold the Lamb of God!” and the two disciples, who heard him, left John and followed Jesus. He pointed them the road, and they went to the Saviour. They left the Baptist to follow his Master. John, the Baptist, was the right kind of guide-post. Many of the guide-posts of today don’t point the right way; on many of them the sign is well nigh obliterated, and many of them point to the way of good works, baptism, sacrament-taking, alms-giving, the way of Christian-endeavouring, and that sort of thing. Is that the way to Christ? Oh! no; John, the Baptist, said,
“Behold the Lamb of God!”
and the two disciples turned and followed that heavenly Stranger, the Son of God, the Saviour of sinners. John, the Baptist, said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” He was a very brilliant star on the dark night of Judaism’s sky just before the break of day, but when the sun burst upon the scene, the star paled, and was lost sight of, and Jesus—the Light of the World—filled the vision of those who had eyes to see His moral beauty. Like another Scripture, where Moses and Elias were caught away, “they saw no man, save JESUS ONLY.”
Let us proceed with our narrative. Naaman finds out his mistake, and leaves the kingly palace, and goes down to the prophet’s humble cottage. Elisha had sent a message to the king, “Let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.”
Watch that chariot as it goes from the palace of the king down to the cottage of the prophet—it travels but slowly, and the wheels leave a deep impression in the sandy soil. Why so? We look into it, and see ten talents of silver, six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. Why all this wealth? Naaman has made his second great mistake. To the Eastern mind the golden key was well-nigh omnipotent; it could fit into the rudest and rustiest lock, and turn it.
Money was everything to an Oriental mind; and so Naaman made his second great mistake, he tried
the wrong power—
the power of the golden key. He thought of buying the blessing. I believe this is the very biggest doctor’s fee upon record. That would be worth in America, today, not less than $750,000. Is his money received? Nay; God will not sell His blessings.
Anxious sinner, are you making this very mistake? When you want to be saved you begin to spoil yourself right off. The Scriptures tell you to come just as you are, in all your rags, sin, and pollution, without turning over a new leaf. Yet, when you become anxious about your soul’s salvation, you begin to go in for good works, turning over new leaves, going to church and chapel, doing the best you can, giving your money freely to religious causes, thinking God is going to bless you for it. You make a profound mistake; if ever you get salvation it will be through the gospel—
God’s power unto salvation.
You won’t merit it, you will get it freely, “without money and without price,” on the ground of pure, sovereign grace.
Now, Naaman arrives at the door of the prophet. His servant knocks at the door, the prophet’s servant answers it, and the message is given, doubtless in words something like these:—“Go in and tell your master the great general, Naaman, has come, that valiant soldier. He has brought with him ten talents of silver, six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. My noble master has brought a letter from the King of Syria, and desires to be recovered of his leprosy.” It would be no wonder if the servant should feel flattered in receiving such a very great patient as that. It would be like a humble doctor being waited upon by the President of the United States, or the Queen of England. No wonder if he were flattered. However, he goes in to the prophet, and delivers the message. Was the prophet flattered? No; for he is God’s servant.
How does he respond to the message? He sends out this simple answer, “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.” It is given to Naaman. The servant re-enters the little cottage, closes the door, and the interview is over. The Syrian general had travelled hundreds of miles, and came prepared to pay down a vast sum of money as the price of his cleaning, and now he simply gets the message, “Go and wash in Jordan seven times,” without ceremony or palaver. The door is closed, and the interview over. He is left boiling with rage, exclaiming hotly in his pride, “Behold, I thought he will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.” He makes his third mistake—he thinks of
the wrong plan.
He imagined God Almighty was going to make a fuss over the poor leper because he happened to be a general. God won’t do it. And if YOU want to be saved, it must be in the same way as the dying thief, like Mary Magdalene, out of whom were cast seven devils, like blaspheming, persecuting Saul of Tarsus; there is
no royal road to salvation,
there is only one path to it. ’Tis the blood-stained way of Calvary. If you receive salvation it must be in God’s way.
What is the plain, simple message sent to Naaman? “Go and wash in Jordan . . . and thou shalt be clean.” And what is the message as plain and simple to you? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” You may have been trying to get salvation for a great number of years. The preacher may have often dinned into your ears the simple way of salvation, and it is too much for your pride to stand. People when they come to gospel preachings ought to leave three things at home; their money, God doesn’t want it. I think the chink of dimes and nickels upon the collection plates in gospel meetings is enough to make God Almighty smite the collector dead. God doesn’t want your money. Next leave your brains behind, they will not help you in this matter. Naaman said, “Behold I THOUGHT.” His brain was busy, and it only interposed his thoughts before God’s, and in the end, if persevered in, would have cheated him of the blessing. It is
not mighty intellect, but simple faith
that God wants. Lastly, leave your pride at home. The way to salvation, while blessedly simple, is humbling to the pride of man. It makes nothing of him, and everything of God and His grace—everything of the atoning work of Jesus. Naaman’s pride hindered him. Oh! sinner, come empty-handed, take the low place of nothingness before God, and accept this full salvation at His gracious hands. Learn the wonderful story of God’s love in giving Jesus to die for your sins—the story of the atonement.
Some people, something like Naaman, say, “When I am converted I am going to be converted under a very eloquent preacher;” others, “I am going to have a very wonderful dream, I shall have a most wonderful experience, all my doubts and fears will go, and my soul will be filled with light, and joy, and peace, and happiness.” Don’t be deceived. Don’t come with
your pre-conceived thoughts
to God. He won’t make a fuss of you. Faith is simple, and takes God at His word.
If you come here with some plan by which you are going to get salvation, dismiss it by simply listening to what God says—“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Believe and be saved. How simple!
Now Naaman makes his fourth and last mistake—he thinks of
the wrong place.
He exclaims derisively: “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.” His thoughts and his pride travel back to his native land. In imagination he feasts his eyes upon those broad, stately streams, Abana and Pharpar, which flowed from Lebanon’s mountains through the fertile plains of Syria and Damascus, Abana flowing right through the proud city of Damascus, its pride and delight. He indignantly demands: “May I not wash in them, and be clean?” He does not even condescend to call the Jordan a river.
He compares his own rivers with all the waters of Israel. Like the sinner, he thought of the wrong place.
What shall the rivers be illustrative of? Let them be types of religion and morality. There are untold thousands scrubbing themselves with
the flesh-brush of a Christless religion
from the time they were baptized, or old enough to be religious, and will go on till the time they take extreme unction. Yet, by so doing, they cannot get rid of one blot of the leprosy of sin. Religion cannot save the soul. We have a heavy indictment to make against religion. Religion crucified the Lord of Glory. Religion lit the faggots which have sent the martyrs in a chariot of fire to their homes in glory. Religion professed, without the reality possessed, damns more than all the drink saloons in America.
But, you say, “Is not there such a thing as pure religion and undefiled?” Yes; we sincerely wish there were more of it in this world. In the words of Scripture a man is exhorted to practise it, “to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” A spurious, bastard religion and the world go hand in hand. True religion keeps itself unspotted from the world. The devotees of mere religion, with the one hand, endeavour to take the pierced hand of the Lord Jesus Christ, and, with the other, the hand of the world, stained red with the murder of the Son of God. It is impossible, it cannot be done, it must be
Christ or the world,
one thing or the other. Don’t be satisfied with a mere Christless religion—empty forms and unmeaning ritual, but see to it that you have Christ.
Then, what about the stream called morality. Many a proud infidel, who would not go to church, rests satisfied in a strict morality. For instance; Colonel Robert Ingersol sneers at the Bible, and talks about the mistakes of Moses. He denies that Christian virtues are Christian virtues. He claims Christian virtues in the name of infidelity, and preaches a gospel of morality, proclaiming on the house-tops that a man ought to be strictly moral, upright, kind, and philanthropic—that he ought to do the best he can to help mankind, and, that being the case, he will lead a happy life, and die an easy death. What will a moral life do for the sinner? It may bear the fruits of respectability in this life, but it cannot atone for sin. It can do absolutely nothing for the guilty sinner, when he stands before the bar of the Judge of all the earth. Morality, be it ever of such a profound and exalted nature, cannot, any more than religion, remove one blot of the leprosy of sin.
Naaman went away in his rage with his leprosy, and you may leave this room vexed with my plain talking, but, mark you, with your sins clinging to you, and you yourself bound straight for the pit of hell. Naaman’s servants, however, gathered round him. They are very affectionate in their entreaties, and use the most splendid logic to convict that poor leper of his crass folly. They say, “My father, if the prophet had bid thee do
some great thing,
wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, ‘Wash, and be clean?’” There was the point that wounded his pride. If the prophet had bid him do SOME GREAT THING; how gladly would the enfeebled leper have attempted even impossibilities. For instance, to borrow an illustration, if he had said, “On that height there lies entrenched a band of our enemies. For a number of years we have tried to dispossess them of that mountain. General Naaman, take a few of your picked men, scale those heights, and deliver us from the presence of our foes.” See how his eyes flash with pride, how his hand quickly grasps the jewelled hilt of his sword, and hear him triumphantly call for volunteers. Now, see him going up that mountain with pointed sword,
the leader of that forlorn hope,
determined to succeed or die in the rash attempt. If the prophet had asked him all that, and more, he would have gladly attempted it. With what beautiful logic the servants say, “How much rather then, when he saith to thee, ‘Wash, and be clean.’”
Now, my friend, how do YOU think you are going to be saved? You reply, “If I do the best I can, if I pray, give my money liberally to the poor and the church, do all that I possibly can do towards my salvation, I shall surely attain it.” We would gladly borrow the logic of these Syrian servants, and reason with you thus:—“How much rather then, when God says to you, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved?’” Like Naaman, you want to do some great thing, that will suit your pride of heart. However, Naaman listens to the sound advice of his servants. Wise man! He goes DOWN to the river, Jordan, flings off his general’s mantle, lays aside his decorations and medals, and steps out, revealing his true condition, a poor, naked, loathsome, vile leper. He wades into Jordan’s waters, and methinks if the doctors of his own country had stood on the banks, how they would have laughed in derision at him, and said, “Has our brave general lost his senses altogether, to have left his own country, and,
at the bidding of a strange prophet,
dip himself seven times in a muddy stream like this?”
It is something like this when we preach the simple gospel. We say, “Believe and be saved,” and a man in the back seat says, “The idea! It is too simple for a man of my mind. Besides, it is too cheap.” Too cheap!! It cost the Lord Jesus His blessed stainless life; it cost Him His life’s blood; the forsaking of the face of God; all the punishment due to sin; more than words can tell or thought can think. Nay, call it not cheap. Salvation costs us nothing, but it was gained at an infinite cost.
However, Naaman dips himself seven times, and when he came up the seventh time he was cleansed, his flesh came again like that of a little child. How did he get the blessing? By “the obedience of faith.” Oh! sinner, in like manner, if you will simply trust in the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, you will be saved from the leprosy of sin, you will be clean every whit.
Seven times—what does that mean? Seven is a number which indicates perfection in Scripture. It means, in type, that the leper went down with all his moral being. It was
no mere perfunctory performance,
no lifeless, listless obedience to the prophet’s command, he obeyed with all his heart; in short, it was “the obedience of faith.” In like manner, if YOU want salvation, you must with all your soul acknowledge that you are a poor, undone sinner, without a single hope in yourself, and take Christ as your own personal Saviour; and, in receiving Him, you will receive all—salvation, pardon, cleansing, justification, the indwelling of the Spirit, eternal life.
To return to our narrative. Naaman comes up from the seventh dip perfectly cleansed. A mighty miracle has been wrought. The loathsome leper is, as it were, created anew. The flush of health once more appears upon his face, the light returns to his eye, and hope once more makes his heart light and his step buoyant. He returns to the door of the prophet’s cottage. He alters his tune. Gratefully he exclaims, “Behold, now I KNOW that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.” Now he says,
“Behold I know.”
Just a little previously he had proudly and wrathfully said, “Behold, I THOUGHT.” His brain was busy—his mind active. Now he has gone through the experience of cleansing, he gratefully exclaims, “Behold, now I KNOW.” ’Tis not the utterance of the head but of the heart—eighteen inches lower down. Assurance is his—he knows.
People nowadays ask, “Can anybody know that they saved?” Naaman knew he was cured; and, just as he knew he was cured, we know we are saved. He had the assurance of the blessing, and, if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you will have the assurance of salvation.
I was talking the other day with an old gentleman, who was born the very self-same day as the famous Mr. Gladstone. Sitting beside him, and speaking to him about his soul, I said, “Do you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ?”
He replied unhesitatingly, “Yes; I trust in the Lord Jesus.”
“Are you saved, then?” I further enquired.
“No, I would not like to be so presumptuous as that, I would not like to be so bold as to say that.”
I replied, “I know that I am saved, and thousands know it, simply through faith in Christ.” I pressed home again the question, “Do you really and truly believe on the Lord Jesus Christ?”
“Yes,” was the ready reply.
“Well, what does the verse say?” I argued, repeating it in his ear, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved.” “You are
cutting the verse in two.
What God says He means, and He means what He says. If the first half of the verse—‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ’—be true of you, then the latter half—‘Thou shalt be saved’—is equally true of you. It says, ‘Thou shalt BE saved,’ not ‘Thou shalt FEEL saved.’” People are so slow to take God simply at His word.
Some years ago in England we gave what we called a “gospel tea.” A man and his wife, who used to come pretty regularly to the meetings, on the night of the tea did not turn up, and I went to see what was the matter.
“Are you not coming to the tea?” I enquired. They replied, “Well, we should like to come, but we should like to pay.”
“That is your trouble, is it?” I said. “We invited you freely, and want you to come without paying; it is
like the gospel—
They said, “Won’t you let us pay sixpence each?”
I said, “No.”
“We would really like to come, but we don’t like to come without paying. Would you let us pay threepence each?” they argued.
I said, “No.” The affair was something like a Dutch auction. The auctioneer begins at a high figure, and gradually comes down lower and lower, and the first bidder gets the article. Yet it was sad. Pride stood in their way. It showed how legality blinded them, and the freeness of grace was little understood. Would you believe it, that man’s pride was so great, and yet his desire to be present was so strong, that he haggled, “Won’t you let us pay a penny each?”
I said decidedly, “No, not even a penny. If we allowed you to pay a single farthing it would spoil the character of the tea.”
At last they swallowed their pride, and came without paying. And so, sinner, if you were allowed to contribute to your salvation one iota, it would spoil it all. It is “without money and without price.” Oh! take this free salvation. The offer of it travels down from glory, from
the very heart of the blessed God,
and greets the ear of the very vilest of the vile.
In conclusion, I caution you against this poor leper’s four mistakes. Let me repeat them. He went to the wrong person; see to it that you do not make that mistake, but in the Lord Jesus Christ—the only Saviour of sinners—find salvation, pardon, and cleansing.
Nor like Naaman, try the wrong power. Think not the money of good works and ordinances pass current with God, who offers salvation “without money and without price”—freely, all of grace from first to last—“not of works, lest any man should boast.” The gospel is
“the POWER of God unto salvation,
to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1:16).
And see to it that you cherish no wrong plan, but submit to God’s plan—“BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Lastly, think not of the wrong place. No penitents’ form, or as you call it in America, “the mourners’ bench,” no building however sacred, no ordinance however divine, carries with it saving value—the streams of Religion and Morality form not the place of blessing. Like the harlot of Luke 7, flee away to the feet of Jesus, that is the place of blessing—get into His blessed presence—trust Him and Him alone, the One who finished the work to God’s eternal satisfaction and glory. Then you will be able to go out of this building saved, cleansed, pardoned, forgiven, and able to exclaim with joyful assurance, “Behold, now I KNOW that my soul is saved for all eternity.” May God grant it for His name’s sake. Amen.