No one could doubt the change in John's life; and many wondered how such a thing could have been accomplished. But they did not realize that with God all things are possible. How well it was for John that he discovered before it was too late that he was a sinner, lost in God's sight, and that it was necessary for him to forsake all of his evil ways and habits if he would be freed from the binding chain of Satan! Each sinful habit formed a link in the chain, and its strength could be measured only by what it took to release him from its binding power.
John was sorry to see the meetings close; and as he bade the sweet-faced women farewell, he was loath to see them go, because of their Christian influence. But life to him was no longer what it had been in the past. With the poet, he had found that
|Life is real! life is earnest.
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest
Was not spoken of the soul.|
He procured a Bible and studied it diligently. He soon found that it was a wonderful book, for what troubled him in one part was explained in another. One day while reading in the tenth chapter of Mark, he found to his surprise that, instead of his being a man, he was only a child, a mere babe, in God's sight. John had expected to be changed and to be different in every way, but he did not know that, in order to realize his desire to be a |man after God's own heart,| he must commence at the beginning and be as a little child again. But he was willing; for he saw how his past life had been completely wasted, and he was glad to begin anew.
In the second chapter of I Peter, John found much encouragement, also in I Cor.13:11, where he read: |When I was a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.| Again he was determined to become a man, and to develop as quickly as possible. From that time on he availed himself of every opportunity to do good to all mankind, and this was no hardship. His great whole-hearted nature made him love to do good and to be a help to all who were in need.
At other times John read the conversation between Christ and Nicodemus, and the account of how Jesus thanked his heavenly Father for hiding His truths from the wise and prudent and for revealing them to babes. John was not long in perceiving the mystery concerning the new birth, for he had gained the experience; and he thanked God that it had been revealed to him.
Once while studying the Word of God, John discovered that the twelfth chapter of I Corinthians teaches that Christian people on the earth represent Christ's spiritual body. As the natural body possesses many members -- hands, feet, eyes, ears, nose, etc. -- each having its own special work, just so the spiritual body of which He (Christ) is the head has many members to carry on the Lord's work on the earth. And, as in the human body, each member has its own work to do; similarly, in the spiritual body, each member has his own work to perform. Some preach, some teach, some perform miracles, some (perhaps all) pray for the sick, and some do various other things, each as he is directed; but all work in harmony. The members are all assigned their work and places in the body by the directions of the heavenly Father.
From reading the second chapter of Acts, John found that soon after Christ ascended to heaven God sent His Holy Spirit to the earth to superintend the work of the members of His Son's spiritual body, or saved people, and that this same Holy Spirit is still guiding and helping them. He also read in I John 2:15 -- |Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.|
By reading further in the apostle John's epistle, John discovered that there are many false spirits in the world that are trying to deceive God's people and that it is often necessary to try the spirits to know which is right. He saw that the test is love. If anyone loves God and His Son, Jesus, more than anything else in the world, and feels as much interest in his neighbor's welfare as in his own, that one can be sure that he is God's own child. And Paul's letter to the Ephesians tells of an armor that God has prepared for His people to wear that will enable them to overcome all false spirits.
A Sunday-school was soon started in the neighborhood and John was chosen to be the teacher of the infant class. At first he tried to plead his inability, but no one would listen to his excuses. He was glad afterward; for he learned to love the little ones very dearly. While he was meeting with the children Sunday after Sunday, he often thought of many of the hard places through which he had passed when he was a child and remembered that it was because he had not been warned that he had, one step at a time, gone down until he was in misery and on the verge of despair. So John sought to throw light on each one of these dangerous places and to point out the dangers so clearly that the children could plainly see and understand the wrong for themselves before they were beguiled and then bound by Satan's chain of evil habits. In this way he helped the children to escape many a snare by which they might otherwise have been caught unawares.
As the weeks sped by into months and John continued to unfold to the tender questioning minds the hidden mysteries of the Bible, the adult class became interested; and it was not long until they decided that they needed him for their class more than the children did for theirs. While he was teaching the advanced Bible class, his own understanding of spiritual things was greatly broadened and strengthened, and he became one on whom the entire congregation could lean and in whom they could confide.
On one occasion when the lesson was in the epistle of James, John found by reading the fifth chapter of that book that Jesus is just as able and ready to heal those who are sick as He was to relieve sufferers in days gone by and that any who are afflicted may pray expecting to be healed. He quickly applied the Scripture to himself, and began to pray thus:
|Lord, thou seest how I am afflicted because of the sinful habits that I formed in my childhood. Thou hast now taken from me the desire for these things, but the suffering in my back and lungs is so intense. Lord Jesus, heal me! Make me well, and I will work for Thee all the days of my life!|
God answered that prayer and made him strong and well; then he could say with the Psalmist, |Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases.| Oh, the goodness of the Lord to John! He felt that he never could cease praising Him.
The sad and lonely past, the days of his vain struggles to become the man that his earthly father had desired him to be, could never be compared to these days of happiness, the days when his desires to attain to true manhood were being realized. His heart was lonely no longer. He had a Friend who was dearer than a mother could have been. And he felt that it is a wonderful privilege to be a member in Christ's body, the church.