The Gospel Illustrated in a Letter!July 10, 2023
A little boy was in the Christmas play of his church. His only part was to say, "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." He didn't understand his sentence because of two words in it, so after the rehearsal, he asked his mother what "glad tidings" meant. She answered, "It means `good news'". The night of the play, the church was packed with people, and the little boy experienced such stage fright that when his time came, he forgot his line, but his mother's explanation came to him and he shouted out excitedly, "Boy, have I got good news for you and everybody should hear it!"
The gospel is good news for sinners and equally and eternally good news for saints. Good news that believers need to go on announcing, first to themselves and then to unbelievers. Contrary to what many Christian’s have concluded, the gospel doesn’t just ignite the Christian life; it’s the fuel that keeps Christians going every day and in every way. Once God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel but to move them more deeply into it. After all, the only antidote to sin is the gospel—and since Christians remain sinners even after they’re converted, the gospel must be the medicine a Christian takes every day. Since we never leave off sinning, we can never leave the gospel.
The gospel of the kingdom is the announcement of the King’s messengers of a message that is God-authored, Christ-centered, kingdom-based, cross-shaped, and resurrection-empowered. When the message is received and believed it not only converts persons, but changes societies, rewrites laws, and molds nations.
Gospel = Euaggelion – The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: “Euaggelion was commonly used in the Greco-Roman culture as "a technical term for "news of victory."
William Tyndale, Christian martyr in the 1500's said... ''Euaggelion (which we call gospel) is a Greek word, and signifies good, merry, glad, and joyful tidings, that makes a man’s heart glad, and makes him sing, dance, and leap for joy.''
If this is the biblical meaning of gospel, then why do so many professing Christians live as “Bad News Believers? Why do they live gloom-filled instead of gospel filled? Why do they live so uncertain of their acceptance before God, unconvinced of the victory of Christ, undecided about the power of the Good News to make believers eternally happy, beginning right now, and uncommitted in regard to sparing no expense or effort so that everyone can hear the good news?
The main reason is that far too many believers have a truncated view of the gospel, tending to see it only as a door that they walk through to become a Christian. As a consequence, they see the gospel as being only for unbelievers. Once you become a Believer, you don’t need it anymore except to share with people who are still outside the door. What you need to hear instead are the challenges and how-to’s of discipleship for Christian growth. To embrace this view is to forget that Christian growth isn’t steeping out from the gospel, but rather stepping out with, in, and by the gospel.
The gospel story is well illustrated by the book of Philemon. This book is the shortest of all Paul’s letters and is actually a personal note to a spiritual son named Philemon, who is a wealthy citizen of Colossae. This letter is a heart-warming appeal on behalf of a runaway slave whom Paul had led to Christ. The urging of full forgiveness, the exhortation to exercise grace, the willingness to pay the cost for redemption and the goal of reconciliation all portray the marvelous gospel story of Jesus! Let’s unfold the story by first considering that:
I. The Gospel Begets a Family of Brothers Under the Blood!
Scene One of our drama opens in v. 19. Philemon owes Paul a debt. It is his own conversion—a transformation which precedes that of Onesimus. Philemon had heard the gospel from Paul and had received the Holy Spirit through the apostle's word—possibly at Colossae. Thus Paul is Philemon’s spiritual father and brother under the blood of Christ.
As we examine the vocabulary of the epistle, we begin to notice that the drama of the gospel story is supported by the language of relationship. The terms "brother" and "sister" occur five times; "beloved," a term of Christian affection, occurs five times; cf. "fellow worker," "my very own heart." These terms of horizontal relationship are touchingly spread through the apostle's appeal. Onesimus is Paul's "child"; Onesimus, while Philemon's "slave," has become by God's grace, Paul's "brother." Onesimus is a "debtor" to Paul, even as Philemon is a "debtor" to the apostle. "Fellow prisoner," "fellow soldier" of the "old man," the elder statesman of the gospel. This wonderfully personal epistle is full of expression of loving and tender relationship.
Notice that the first three verses of the letter to Philemon include the names of five persons: Paul, Timothy, Philemon, Apphia, Archippus. Then drop down the page to the last three verses (vv. 23-25) and observe how they conclude with the names of five persons: Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke. Now observe also that the pattern of verses 1-3 is five names plus the phrase "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ." This is precisely mirrored in verses 23-25: five names plus the phrase "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ." The greeting or salutation of the epistle ends with the Lord Jesus Christ. The closing or conclusion of the epistle ends with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul would have Philemon to reflect on God’s Big Family and not just his personal one; on the desire of God to be ever-enlarging His Family and not just in preserving an individual one.
Christians are saved by themselves (individually – not in mass) as to their sin problem. They are then being saved from themselves (from independence to interdependence) by being placed in the Community of Faith called the Church. Community participation isn’t optional but mandatory for deliverance from selfishness and for displaying the beauty of Christ’s Body and demonstrating Christ’s power over devils, disease, and death.
Father God has only one plan and it’s a Family Plan. He intends to populate heaven and earth with sons just like His Son. Life in the Household of God requires that we cultivate fellowship, practice forgiveness, and persist in faithfulness.
It is said of Jesus in Mark 3:14-15, that “… He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons” Withness, Togetherness, Community, Fellowship – these words express the very reason for God saving us. God’s desire is for a Huge Family of hot-hearted, passionate sons who delight in Him and in each other, not a Labor Force of Field Hands who work for Him.
What is this withness or togetherness -- this thing called Community? Community is what the gospel of God announced received and believed produces: A unified people who possess a common way, embrace a common truth and celebrate a common life.
Community, or Fellowship, is translated by our English New Testaments as communion, association, fellowship, sharing, partakers, common, contribution, communicate, and partnership. Although no one English word can catch the full meaning of the Greek, the New English Bible comes close as it translates all of the above by the expression “sharing in the common life.”
The Gospel Begets a Family of Brothers Under the Blood! In this family there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond or free, but brothers and sisters sharing a common Lord, a common life, a common love, a common lot, and a common load! In this Family the issue is grace not race; sin not the color of one’s skin, the miracle of the new birth and not the measures of the natural birth!
THE FAMILY OF GOD CHORUS: I’m so glad I'm a part of the family of God; I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by the blood; Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod, For I’m part of the family, the family of God. You will notice we say brother and sister ‘round here -- It’s because we’re a family and these folks are so dear. When one has a heartache we all share the tears. And rejoice in each victory in this family so dear. From the door of an orphanage to the house of the king, No longer an outcast, a new song I sing. From rags unto riches, from the weak to the strong, I’m not worthy to be here, but praise God I belong.
II. The Gospel Brings Freedom to Slaves on the Run!
A. A Runaway Fugitive from His Rightful Master -- Scene Two of our drama is in the prison at Rome where the Apostle Paul is bound in chains for the sake of the gospel. Around him are gathered those named in vv. 23-24 plus Onesimus, Philemon's slave. Onesimus had run away—perhaps after stealing something. He made his way to Rome as a fugitive under Roman law. In the superintending providence of God, Onesimus somehow wound up in Paul’s presence. There he also heard the gospel from the apostle and received the Holy Spirit through the apostle's word. Having heard of Philemon's love and faith, Paul sends Onesimus back to his master. Onesimus himself undoubtedly carries the letter asking Philemon to receive him as "more than a slave, yea a beloved brother." The final scenes are left to our imagination. Onesimus arrives at the home of Philemon with Paul's letter. Philemon reads the letter and responds, we trust, affirmatively. Paul then visits Philemon to follow up his letter (an event which may never have occurred).
We see marvelous and obvious gospel truth illustrated in Onesimus. All of us as sinners have rebelled against our Master and robbed Him of glory, refused His grace and run in our own ways. Like Israel of old, we commit two grievous sins – we forsake God, the fountain of living waters and then hew out for ourselves broken cisterns that can hold no water! Countless millions live in the world and are like Onesimus -- fugitives from their rightful Master. They are in a desperate predicament!
B. A Restless Fear of Just Condemnation -- The fugitive slaves may have had many fun days, but they never enjoyed a safe one. They knew neither security nor peace, for they were always on alert for the FUGITIVARII, a group whose business was to recover runaway slaves. The fugitives always had the threat of arrest hanging over their lives.
How true is this in the lives of all who have run away from God’s authority! They suffer the burden of guilt, and harsh punishment hangs over their lives (Romans 5:18a; 2 Thessalonians 1:8, 9). Those who live without God’s rule directing them will find only a gnawing guilt, an emptiness of spirit, and a purposelessness of existence! They are renegades, fugitives who are vainly trying to escape the just condemnation of their rebellion. The penalty for such is awful. This is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. (John 3:19). Who can feel comfortable under such a penalty?
C. A Ready Advocate to Plead His Cause with His Master -- There were provisions for the runaway slave to escape severe punishment. There was a possibility that the slave could be restored. However, it all depended upon his having someone with the means of serving as his advocate, sponsor or attorney.
Paul pleads in verses 17-18 – “So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me; if he has wronged you, charge that to my account!” How awesome is that and how much does this remind you of the gospel, where our Lord Jesus Christ, seems to say to His Father in Heaven, “?These former runaway, rebellious sinners been brought into relationship with me. Receive them, therefore, as myself.” This is just what God does in the case of repenting and believing sinners; he receives them as Christ because He sees them in Christ and Christ in them.
If he has wronged you or owes you anything -- put that on my account! What an advocate! How generously is this ministry of imputation by a poor prisoner at Rome demonstrated toward a runaway slave, and how gloriously, in this, he is like our Master, who stands as Surety for us!
Gospel news declares that there is a provision for rebellious men who have been on the run from their rightful Owner, and have run out of running room. Rebels against God’s government and refusers of His grace, the runaway slaves of God have only one hope – an Advocate to plead their cause with the Master. Good news -- we have access to such an Advocate, who will plead our case before the Almighty Master (1 Timothy 2:5).
Look at Onesimus! How unlikely he appears to become a convert. This man had been dishonest, and he was daring withal, for after taking his master’s property he was bold enough to make a long journey from Colosse to reach Rome. But everlasting love means to convert the man, and converted he shall be. He may have heard Paul preach at Colosse and Athens, but yet he had not been impressed. At Rome, Paul was not preaching in St. Peter’s: it was in no such noble building. But it was probably down there at the back of the Palatine hill, where the praetorian guard have their lodgings, and where there was a prison called the Praetorium. In a bare room in the barrack prison Paul sat with a soldier chained to his hand, preaching to all who were admitted to hear him, and there it was that the grace of God reached the heart of this wild young man; and, oh, what a change it made in him immediately! Now you see him repenting of his sin, grieved to think he has wronged a good man, vexed to see the depravity of his heart as well as the error of his life. He weeps; Paul preaches to him Christ crucified, and the glance of joy is in his eye: and from that heavy heart a load is taken. New thoughts light up that dark mind; the very face is changed, and the entire man renewed, for the grace of God can turn the lion to a lamb, the raven to a dove.
Just as Paul did for Onesimus, Jesus is willing to do for sinful man. Paul put himself in the place of Onesimus (v. 18). Paul constrained Philemon by love to accept the penitent slave (v. 17). Paul forsook personal rights and acted with humility (vv. 8, 9). In Paul we find a beautiful illustration of what Jesus has done for us! (Cf. Philippians 2:5-10; Romans 5:6-9.)
II. The Gospel Bestows Forgiveness So That Its Recipients Become Forgivers!
Philemon 1:19-20, “I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it--to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.”
Paul had been the means of Philemon’s conversion, so he was immeasurably in debt to the apostle; but Paul only gently reminds him of the fact as a reason why he should deal kindly with Onesimus for his sake. “You have refreshed others, then, surely, you will not let me be without refreshment now. You have been very kind to all sorts of saints; then you cannot be unkind to the man who is your own spiritual father.?”
Forgiveness is free, but it is never cheap! The nature of forgiveness is a release from debt by the payment of a price. Sins are not just forgiven and forgotten. The legal debt to the law of God must be paid. The Bible teaches that Almighty God has determined that sin shall be paid for or punished in one of two places. Either forever in Hell, in the sinner, or in Christ, on the Cross.
Christ on the cross, paid the debt for our sins by his death and then bore our sins away in such a manner as to take them into the tomb and leave them there as He rose again on the third day. The most glorious thought in the world is "that my sins, not in part but the whole were nailed to the cross and I bear the no more, praise the Lord it is well with my soul!"
Col 2:13, "And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions," Heb 10:17 "AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE." The Judge of the universe has paid our legal debt ?? Roms 8:3, 34,; pronounced us legally dead ?? Roms 7:4,6, and pronounced our case lawfully discharged. Sin does not condemn us, the curse does not condemn us, the Devil can only attempt to condemn us by his wild accusations, and above all God does not condemn us. Because sin's debt has been legally paid, condemnation cannot be made.
The Characteristics of Being Forgiven Will be Shown by Our Attitude in Forgiving Others – MT 18:28?35. Forgiveness isn't tolerance. It isn't pretending that the offense never occurred. It isn't forgetting. It isn't a feeling I develop. It isn't turning the other cheek. It isn't laughing off a wrong done. It isn't the absence of anger at sin. It isn't feeling good about what was bad. Forgiveness isn't the absence of serious consequence for sin. Forgiveness isn't an apology. This is the world's substitute for true Biblical repentance. Forgiveness is a promise made. It is a choice of the will. It requires that you absorb all the cost for the offense against you. have you ever found yourself thinking or saying, "Someone is going to pay for this!" If you are a Christian you were absolutely correct ?? and you, the one sinned against, are the one who is going to pay! Granting forgiveness means that you pay! It means that you are willing to absorb the loss. Forgiveness is a full pardon and an act of love. Forgiveness is based upon God's having forgiven you.
Forgiving the offender does not merit forgiveness for you, but demonstrates that you have been forgiven of God. Matt 6:12, "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.(One little boy was heard praying,: Forgive us our debts as we forgive those who are dead against us") (14) For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (15) "But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."Mark 11:25, "And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions."
IV. The Gospel Brings Favor So That We Have Acceptance and Advocacy!
Philemon 1:17-18, “So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.”
Notice verse 17 of our text, “So if you consider me your partner, receive him as myself, or as you would receive me.” In other words, Paul said, “I’m not asking you to receive him on his own account, because he doesn’t deserve it, but rather receive him on account of me. Receive him as if you were receiving me!”
"Paul's term 'partner' must not be weakened to mean merely an intimate friend or companion. It suggests the fellowship or partnership of those who have common interests, common feelings, and common work. It is a spiritual fellowship and has a double aspect, Godward as well as brotherward. It is the partnership of mutual Christian faith and life. It is upon Philemon's acceptance of this fellowship that Paul bases his appeal. The form of the conditional sentence assumes the reality of that fact.
Philemon's refusal of Paul's request would be inconsistent with his acknowledgment of this partnership."
Note the added emphasis on the word each time he uses it.
1. “Receive him” (v. 12)
2. “Receive him forever” (v. 15)
3. “Receive him as myself” (v. 17)
“Put (or charge) that on mine account” (v. 18). Put is from the Greek word “ellogeo” which means to reckon in, set to one’s account, lay to one’s charge, to impute. This is the foundation word for the Biblical doctrine of “imputation”.
That is exactly what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross. It is as though He was saying to His Heavenly Father, “Whatever wrongs mankind has committed, whatever things he has stolen, whatever debts (sin debts) he has incurred, I will stand good for them all. I will pay the price in full!” And that’s exactly what Jesus did for us. Isaiah the prophet had this in mind when he wrote, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted....But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isa. 53:4-5)
In Galatians 3:13, we read: "Christ has redeemed us once and for all from the curse of the law...." God's love in the Gospel clears the record, because the Bible teaches that Almighty God has determined that sin shall be punished in one of two places. Either forever in Hell, in the sinner; or in Christ, on the Cross.
The phrase "Christ has redeemed us" confirms that our salvation is not based on Divine amnesty but upon the principle of redemption by imputation, which means to deliver by paying the required price. Our salvation, which has opened a way for us to come confidently before God as He sits upon a throne of grace, does not rest upon the ruins of His throne of righteousness. Sinners are not saved by suspension of the death penalty, nor by because of the sympathy of God. We have gotten a misconception of the enormity of the problem that redemption posed as to the necessity for upholding the integrity of God's righteous rule throughout His universe. God could not just simply say, "Now, now, I am going to be sympathetic toward you sinners. Never mind that I declared that the wages of sin is death. I am going to forgive you all of your sins." To have done so would have made God a liar, as well as undermining the foundation for moral government in this universe. No, God's throne of grace does not rest upon the ruin of the righteousness of God. It is made a throne of grace because the Lord Jesus Christ freely and fully took upon Himself the liability of His people's sins and on the Cross exhausted the penalty once and for all. As the Bondsman, the Surety, of His Bride, He paid in His person their sin debt.
God the Judge offers a legal settlement of your case that will clear your criminal record, confirm your full citizenship in Heaven with a valid passport that will open the gates of Glory. You can walk free from the condemnation of a criminal record. Justification cancels our legal liability and confers a legal status. The Judge who paid our debt then places the perfect righteousness of Christ to our account so that we stand righteous, complete, and forever secure, in Christ, before the throne. When God justifies a repentant sinner, the legal action is a finished, complete, perfect, instantaneous and non?repeatable act.
Grace reveals that God the Judge has set forth Christ to appease the wrath of His broken and outraged law. Christ has freely and vicariously taken the repentant, believing sinner's place. He has suffered and died in their place. He has done exactly what the Infinitely Wise, Holy, Sovereign Judge of this universe decreed would be necessary for our record to be cleared, for us to be justified, declared righteous in His sight. The Spotless Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, has bared His bosom to the sword of Divine justice, enduring its fury. He was taken from that smoking altar of the cross outside the city walls of Jerusalem to the Garden tomb, where three days later, He blasted a cross?shaped hole through the backside of the grave, entered into the presence of God with His own blood, and sat down in the place of supreme authority, forever triumphant and where He ever lives to make intercession for those that believe savingly on Him.
It is the greatest of "good news" when we learn that a Righteous God and a ruined sinner can meet on a blood?sprinkled platform called the Cross of Christ in such a manner that the sinner's criminal record is settled forever, and in such a way that glorifies Holy God, magnifies His love, satisfies His law, and justifies the sinner! We are all convicts and criminals. But love has made a way where law can be honored and satisfied because Christ for sinners died!
"Nothing to pay; yes, nothing to pay! Jesus has cleared the debt away. Bought it out with His bleeding hand; free and forgiven and loved we stand."
V. The Gospel Bears Fruit by Transforming Uselessness into Usefulness!
a. Produces a supernatural birth for House-hold of Faith Relationships
b. Produces a spiritual father for Personal Discipleship
c. Produces a surrendered heart for Obedience to Lordship
d. Produces a sonship mindset for Kingdom Partnership
e. Produces a stead-fast faith for Gospel Stewardship
Philemon 1:11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) Onesimus, whose name means “Profitable” or “useful” had become unprofitable. But the gospel had reached him and renewed him to usefulness.
Look at the difference between the man who robbed, and the man who now comes back to be profitable to his master. What wonders the grace of God has done! What wonders the grace of God can do! Many plans are employed in the world for the reformation of the wicked and the reclaiming of the fallen, and to every one of these, as far as they are rightly concerned, we wish good success; for whatever things are lovely and pure, and of good report, we wish them God speed. But mark this word—the true reforming of the drunkard lies in giving him a new heart; the true reclaiming of the harlot is to be found in a renewed nature. She must be washed in the Savior’s blood, or she will never be clean. The lowest strata of society will never be brought into the light of virtue, sobriety, and purity, except by Jesus Christ and his Gospel; and we must stick to that. Let all others do what they like, but God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Just how useful did Onesimus become for the kingdom of God? This Phrygian by birth and a slave to Philemon, having been led to Christ by Paul, then a prisoner for the faith at Rome, was sent back to his master, with the beautiful letter we know as the Epistle to Philemon, asking for the liberty of Onesimus, that he might become one of his own assistants.
Tradition has it that Philemon pardoned him and set him at liberty, and Onesimus returned to his spiritual father, as Paul had requested; thereafter he faithfully served the Apostle. We know that Paul made him, with Tychicus, the bearer of his Epistle to the Colossians. (Col. 4:7?9)
Later, as Jerome and other Church Fathers testify, he became an ardent preacher of the Gospel and a bishop. It is he who succeeded Timothy as bishop of Ephesus. He was cruelly tortured in Rome, for eighteen days, by a governor of that city, infuriated by his preaching on the merit of celibacy. His legs and thighs were broken with bludgeons, and he was then stoned to death. His martyrdom occurred under Domitian in the year 95.
Paul’s little letter to Philemon is such a clear portrayal of the gospel in human terms. All of us were God’s Onesimus, useless as for as the Father and His Family were concerned. We were slaves to sin, chained to evil, and continually on the run from God. But the Lord Jesus came into our human, helpless, hopeless dilemma and paid the price for our sins on the cross so that God’s justice was satisfied once and for all. All that is left for us is to accept the work of Christ on our behalf. To say it another way, either you can pay for your sins by spending eternity in hell or you can trust completely in the fact that Jesus has already paid the debt on your behalf.
Here is a wonderful word for Christians to remember. When the devil rises us to accuse us, remind him that you have and Advocate with the Father -- Jesus -- who says, “Put that on my account.” When the world points out our faults, Jesus says, “Put that on my account.” When our friends point out our many failures and our enemies gloat over our mistakes, and when our own conscience condemns us, when in short we feel like the biggest sinners in the world, Jesus stands before the Father, raises his pierced hands and declares, “Put that on my account.”
In putting it this way we can see how the gospel touches every situation of life. We were once slaves but through Jesus Christ we have been set free.
Charles Spurgeon tells his congregation of an incident in his ministry: “Some three years ago I was talking with an aged minister, and he began fumbling about in his waistcoat pocket, but he was a long while before he found what he wanted. At last he brought out a letter that was well nigh worn to pieces, and he said, “God Almighty bless you! God Almighty bless you!” And I said, “Friend, what is it?” He said, “I had a son. I thought he would be the stay of my old age, but he disgraced himself, and he went away from me, and I could not tell where he went, only he said he was going to America. He took a ticket to sail for America from the London Docks, but he did not go on the particular day that he expected.” This aged minister asked me to read the letter, and I read it, and it was like this—“Father, I am here in America. I have found a situation, and God has prospered me. I write to ask your forgiveness for the thousand wrongs that I have done you, and the grief I have caused you, for, blessed be God, I have found the Savior. I have joined the church of God here, and hope to spend my life in God’s service. It happened thus: I did not sail for America the day I expected. I went down to the Tabernacle to see what it was like, and God met with me. Mr. Spurgeon said, ‘Perhaps there is a runaway son here. The Lord call him by his grace. And he did.” “Now,” said he, as he folded up the letter and put it in his pocket, “that son of mine is dead, and he is in heaven, and I love you, and I shall do so as long as I live, because you were the means of bringing him to Christ.”
Spurgeon then asked the vast congregation: “Is there a similar character here now? I feel persuaded there is—somebody of the same sort; and in the name of God I charge him to take the warning that I give him from this pulpit. I dare you to go out of this place as you came in. Oh, young man the Lord in mercy gives you another opportunity of turning from the error of your ways, and I pray you now here—as you now are—lift your eye to heaven, and say, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” and he will be so. Then go home to your father and tell him what the grace of God has done for you, and wonder at the love which brought you here to bring you to Christ.
Dear friend, if there is nothing mysterious about it, yet here we are. We are where the Gospel is preached, and that brings responsibility upon us. If a man is lost, it is better for him to be lost without hearing the Gospel, than to be lost as some of you will be if you perish under the sound of a clear, earnest enunciation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How long halt some of you between two opinions? “Have I been so long time with you,” says Christ, “and yet hast thou not known me?” All this teaching and preaching and invitation, and yet do you not turn? O God, do thou the sinner turn, Convince him of his lost estate. Let him linger no longer, lest he linger till he lament his fatal choice too late. God bless you, for Christ’s sake.”