by Wylie Fulton
Dear Friend and Fellow-Traveler,
As by God's grace I am enabled to write again, it seems that my heart will address no other theme than the soul's salvation. It is the greatest theme in all the world, the old, old story of Jesus and His love made known to a poor sinner. And we are often made to wonder why people are not saved and seem to care nothing about a personal knowledge of Christ. Of course, the underlying cause is that they have never seen themselves in need of God's grace, never been awakened fully by the Spirit of God. They are still “dead in trespasses and in sins.” But at this time, I would approach and deal with this more definitely from the standpoint of human responsibility.
The FIRST reason that many are not saved is that they will not submit to God's Word. It's too easy to cling to what you know, or what you think, or the opinions of some religious practitioner, but you are not hearing God's Word. The greatest privilege and blessing God ever gives a sinner is to allow him to have the Bible in his hands and a faithful minister of the gospel of grace to instruct him therein. That is also the greatest responsibility. You MUST hear God's Word; you must hear Christ Himself speaking to you out of that Word. “The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the son of God, and they that hear shall live.” (John 5:25). Christ said if you heard Moses, if you believed the writings of the prophets, you would hear Him, for all the prophets wrote of Him. Maybe you have memorized the 10 Commandments and the Creation Story — and it is well that you believe these things — but you have no inward hunger for Christ and the Gospel. You have not yet heard the Word of God telling you of your need of Christ as Lord and Saviour. Solemn is the indictment pronounced by our Lord: “Ye are of your father the devil” (John 8:44), for “he that is of God heareth God's words; ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” (John 8:47).
On the other hand, SECONDLY, it may be that you are a great hearer of the Bible, and you are fundamentally settled on a few points of doctrine, but none of it has become real to your heart. In John 5:39-40 Christ said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” It is possible for a soul to literally delight himself in a working knowledge of the Bible, read it two or three times a day; you may have read it through and know much of its arrangement and history. Then you begin to boast of all the wisdom you have acquired — Note, this is not boasting in the Lord and His revelation of the truth to your heart, but merely boasting in what you have gained. And then you have a certain pleasure, a fuzzy feeling that all is so right with you, when the truth is that you are all wrong. You are yet without spiritual life, confused in your religion as in your sin, and cannot find the way. Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, but what if you don't know Him? You have never come to Him personally, have you? And the only way to approach unto the Holy Son of God is as you are conscious of your sin and undeserving condition, not bringing your attainments expecting Him to commend you for what you are, or what you have done. Cain boasted in what HE had done, and went to Hell. All religious works, Bible knowledge, etc. can become a curse to you. “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6). Do you know that? Don't bring that religious profession, just bring your sin and your guilt and flee away to Christ. That's the only kind of person He will receive. Do you know that? Are you a sinner? Christ DIED for sinners.
“Not the righteous, not the righteous,
Let me seek, by the help of the Holy Spirit, to analyze a THIRD reason that many are not converted. Will you listen, as I press home a sinner's responsibility? You have heard much preaching, but maybe it is true with you — you hear, but you don't hear! Does that make any sense? Listen.
Now no sinner can give himself a “new heart,” and I wouldn't ask him to do that. No sinner is responsible to “get himself born again,” and I won't ask him to do that. A lost sinner cannot open his own understanding or his heart to the Word of God—GOD alone does this—so I do not demand such things of spiritually dead sinners. Nor can any sinner give himself a spiritual mind — “For to be carnally minded is death” (Romans 8:6) — and we are neither asking nor requiring nor “offering” such things to the lost sinner! No sinner is told in the Bible to “accept the offer of Jesus” and get saved, and neither am I pressing such trite propositions upon you or any other person. Follow me closely here, for it may be “over your head.” DEATH cannot produce LIFE. A CORPSE cannot RAISE itself. None of the dead people out yonder in the cemetery can come out of their graves at my beck and call. Listen: The giving of spiritual life, of spiritual understanding, of the new heart, the new will, the new principle IS OF GOD ALONE. But, now, you have physical ears but you may or may not have spiritual ears. When the Bible says, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:9), it is not talking about people who have these ugly cartilage appendages on each side of their heads—no, my Lord is saying to you, “HE THAT HATH SPIRITUAL EARS, LET HIM HEAR THE TRUTH OF GOD!” Many people have physical ears but they hear nothing spiritual (Psalm 135:17). The vast majority of people have two good eyes (physically) but they see not (spiritually); the beauty of Christ and the realities of the spiritual kingdom of grace are HID from them. Read John 12:40. Listen: Do you know the God of the Bible who hides His truth from the wise and prudent and reveals it unto babes (Matthew 11:25)? That's the God I serve and all spiritual life and power and conversion and salvation is ALONE in HIS HANDS! Do you recognize this? If so, my heart rejoices concerning you.
But, while there is much that you cannot do to get saved, at the same moment, I am aware of the fact that you COULD hear the words of the Bible, the words of a sound gospel preacher; you could fall on your knees and try to pray; you could bow your stubborn will, facing the fact that one day you will be FORCED to bow and acknowledge Christ as LORD when you are sent to Hell! So, I am saying, you COULD listen to the truth with such capacity as you now have, and you could read the truth, and you could pray to God to make it real in your heart. Knowing that you will one day appear before God; you will one day die and face the Judgment, you could become alarmed enough to realize your danger and you could be wise enough to start out searching for a way to escape the coming wrath of God. There are two prayers that I can instruct you to pray: Number One: “Lord, show me myself.” Number Two: “Lord, show me Thyself!” You won't pray them with any good effect unless God is in it, of course. But listen as I continue with:
The Story of the Highland Kitchen Maid
Many years ago in the highlands of Scotland lived a great preacher named Hector McPhail. As it was his custom each year to attend the synod of the Scottish Presbyterian church, usually he would ride the four days' journey on his little white horse and would stop off at some of the small inns along the way. This particular year, stopping at an inn and having completed his evening meal, he got out his Bible and requested that all in the house—and especially all the servants—meet him for evening devotions. Finally the master of the house told Mr. McPhail, “We are all here!” The preacher hesitated to begin his exercises, having a peculiar feeling that someone of the household was missing. “Are you sure they are all here gathered?” The manager hesitated—“Well, there is a little scrub maiden back in the kitchen, but surely you don't care to have her in; she is all dressed in work clothing spattered with grease!” “But I shall not begin until she is seated before me,” said the minister. “Then someone fetch the maid!”
A few minutes passed and the circle was joined by a very unkempt and most unlearned bit of a child. Then Mr. McPhail conducted his Bible reading, his exhortations and prayer. As the company dispersed, the aged minister sought out and spoke to the little maiden. He found that she was in a state of complete ignorance of her condition and of God's Word. “How is it with your soul?” he asked. “I have no notion of that which you speak,” said she; “what is a soul?” “Do you ever think of meeting God in eternity?” was another question, to which she replied, “No, I never think of a God; I know nothing of a God, or of that other thing you mention.” “You mean that you don't know WHO created you and WHO will judge you and WHERE you will go when this life is done?” “No, sir, I am sorry that I don't.” After trying to fill in her total lack of information about her condition and about the need to be reconciled with God, Mr. McPhail thought of a way to encourage her interest. Said he, “You know, do you not? I am going to Edinburgh to attend the annual session of the Kirk of Scotland. Within a fortnight (2 weeks) I plan to return to my home and will be riding along this road; it will be my plan to stop here for a night's rest, at which time I look forward to seeing you again. I would like you to make me a promise, and I will make you a promise. When I return I'll bring you a nice garment from the city. All I ask of you is that you will learn and pray one short prayer.” The requirement seemed simple and the reward most enviable.
“Oh, I will, sir! That indeed I will!” said the poor child.
“I want you to pray this little prayer: ‘LORD SHOW ME MYSELF!' If you will faithfully do this, I will remember to bring you the little piece of fabric.”
The evening's rest was enjoyed, and then the next morning we follow our minister as he resumes the journey to the great Metropolis. While there he participated in the annual sessions of the Church of Scotland. In the busy activities in Edinburgh, did he forget the young maiden back in the Highlands? Oh, no. The trifling little gift was duly purchased and packed with his luggage as he mounted the white horse for the trip home. Again, we see the faithful servant of the Lord as he arrives at the door of the Highland Inn. Soon his horse was cared for and he joined the company for dinner, then to the parlor for a time of devotions. All the inmates of the house were soon assembled as the good Presbyterian took up the Bible to read. He paused and surveyed his little congregation. “Where is the kitchen maid?” “Oh, dear sir,” said the host. “She is back on her cot beneath the stairway, and a pitiful case is she! For since you left us, she has hardly been able to do anything. Something is fearfully plaguing her mind, for she can do almost nothing but cry and pray.” “Well, my man, take me to her!” the minister urged.
Finding the poor child in her little quarters beneath the stairs, Mr. McPhail extended his arms with the little gift. “But, dear sir,” cried the child, “I could never take your present, such a dear gift it has been to me!” “But, did you pray that little prayer?” “Ah, yes, I prayed and prayed, ‘Lord, show me myself!'” “Then you have earned your little garment!” “But, sir, you do not understand! God has fearfully and wonderfully answered that prayer. I see myself a wretch undone, so that I can hardly move myself from this couch. My food means nothing to me, and it is most impossible for me to get through the day's toils. I see myself sinking down to Hell. The wrath of God seems poised to strike me at any moment, and I know not how to escape!” “Well, thank God,” said the faithful Mr. McPhail. “The Spirit of God has touched your heart as a Spirit of bondage and condemnation. And now I must teach you another short and most expressive prayer. You should present it before the Lord with all the urgency of your poor heart: “Lord, show me Thyself.” And as HE has been pleased to reveal to you your sinfulness and your need of mercy, He will in time be pleased to further work with you and reveal Himself as your merciful Saviour!”
What but God's grace could take a mere waif off the hearth, a girl who two weeks earlier barely knew that she had a soul, and bring her into that most earnest state of heart-searching and self-condemnation, of mourning over sin and repenting before God? And we are glad that years later the girl had become a fine woman, married to a God-fearing man and with several children, when she was in the region of Scotland where Mr. Hector McPhail was minister — she sought out the house and reported to him how that the Lord had also answered the second prayer and revealed Himself as her Lord and Saviour! This time, it was her happy privilege to present a lap-cover to the dear old man, a garment that was woven by her own loving hands. She said, “Dear sir, I shall perhaps never see your face more, but I have thousands of times thanked God for the interest you took in a poor unfortunate lassie, teaching me the two expressive petitions which God abundantly has answered! May God bless you, sir, and crown your last days with His great blessing and may the joy of the Lord ever be your portion!”
What a blessing this little story has been to me, showing that SALVATION IS OF THE LORD, by the work of His Spirit and not by means of soul-winners or any human agency. ALL phases of a believer's salvation are by God's grace alone, so much so that you cannot either hasten or delay His Spirit's work in the heart. But what a privilege you have to learn to pray these two little prayers: “LORD, SHOW ME MYSELF!” and “LORD, SHOW ME THYSELF!” In God's answer to these petitions is His eternal salvation of a poor sinner like you! Happy am I to report that He heard me when I prayed in like manner.
“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 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.” (Isaiah 55:6-7). “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13). Amen.
Wylie Fulton is a Christian author and webmaster. You can visit his website at: http://fountainsofgrace.blogspot.com.
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