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"Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near." Isa. 55:6.
I have learned that when anyone becomes in earnest about his soul's salvation and he begins to seek God, it does not take long for an anxious sinner to meet an anxious Saviour. "Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13). Those who seek for Him with all their hearts, find Christ.
I am tired and sick of half-heartedness. I don't like a half-hearted man. I don't care for anyone to love me halfheartedly. And the Lord won't have it. If we are going to seek for Him and find Him, we must do it with all our hearts.
I believe the reason why so few find Christ is that they do not search for Him with all their hearts; they are not terribly in earnest about their souls' salvation.
Everything God has done proves that He is in earnest about the salvation of men's souls. He has proved it by giving His only Son to die for us. The Son of God was in earnest when He died. What is Calvary but a proof of that? And the Lord wants us to be in earnest when it comes to this great question of the soul's salvation. I never saw men seeking Him with all their hearts but they soon found Him.
It was quite refreshing one night to find in the inquiry room a young man who thought he was not worth saving, he was so vile and wicked. There was hope for him because he was so desperately in earnest about his soul. He thought he was worthless. He had a sight of himself in God's looking glass and had a very poor opinion of himself.
One can always tell when a man is a great way from God for he is always talking about himself, and how good he is. But the moment he sees God by the eye of faith, he is down on his knees, and, like Job, he cries, "Behold, I am vile." All his goodness flees away.
The Lord Is Near Us Now
When men earnestly seek the Lord and are in earnest about their salvation, they will soon find Christ. You do not need to go up to the heights to bring Him down, or down to the depths to bring Him up, or go off to some distant city to find Him. This day He is near to every one of us.
I once heard someone in the inquiry room telling a young person to go home and seek Christ in his closet. I would not dare tell anyone to do that. He might be dead before he got home.
If I read my Bible correctly, the man who preaches the Gospel will not tell me to seek Christ tomorrow or an hour hence, but now. He is near to every one of us this minute to save.
If the world would just come to God for salvation and be in earnest about it, all would find the Son of God right at the door of their hearts.
More Precious Than Precious Jewels
Suppose I should say I have lost a very valuable diamond here worth $100,000. I had it in my pocket when I came into the hall, and when I had done preaching, it was not in my pocket but in the hall somewhere.
Suppose I should say that anyone who finds it could have it.
How earnest you would all become! You would not get very much of my sermon for thinking of the diamond. I do not believe the police could get you out of this hall. The idea of finding a diamond worth $100,000! If I could only find it, it would lift me out of poverty at once, and I would be independent for the rest of my days! Oh, how soon everybody would become terribly in earnest!
I would to God I could get men to seek for Christ in the same way. I have something worth more than a diamond to offer you. Is not salvation eternal life worth more than all the diamonds in the world?
Hellfire Necessitates a Holy Fire
People seem to forget that there is no door out of Hell. If they enter there, they must remain there age after age. Millions on millions of years will roll on, but there is no door, no escape out of Hell.
May God wake you up and make you anxious about your soul. People talk about our being earnest and fanatical about our being on fire. Would to God the church were on fire! This world would soon shake to its foundation. May God wake up a slumbering church!
What we want you to do is not to shout "amen" and clap your hands. The deepest and quietest waters very often run swiftest. We want you to go right to work; there will be a chance for you to shout by and by. Go and speak to your neighbor and tell him of Christ and Heaven. You need not go far before you will find someone passing down to the darkness of eternal death. Haste to his rescue!
What we want to see is people really wishing to become Christians, those who are in dead earnest about it. The idea of hearing one say in answer to the question, "Do you want to become a Christian?" "Well, I would not mind"!
My friend, you will never get into the kingdom of God until you change your language. Men should be crying from the depths of their hearts, "I want to be saved!"
On the day of Pentecost the cry was, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" These people were in earnest, and three thousand found Christ when they sought with all their hearts.
When men seek Christ as they do wealth, they will soon find Him. To be sure, the world will raise a cry that they are excited. Let cotton go up ten or fifteen percent before tomorrow morning, and you will see how quickly the merchants will get excited! And the papers won't cry it down either. They say it is healthy excitement; commerce is getting on.
But when you begin to get excited about your soul and are in earnest, then they raise the cry, "Oh, they are getting excited; most unhealthy state of things." Yet they don't talk nor write about men hastening down to death by the thousands.
There is the poor drunkard look at him! Hear the piercing cry going up to Heaven? Yet the church of God slumbers and sleeps. Here and there is an inquirer, yet they go into the inquiry room as if they were half asleep. When will men seek for Christ as they seek for wealth, or as they seek for honor?
As I have said, if life is in danger, how terribly in earnest people become. That is right; there is no doubt about that. But why should not they be as much in earnest about their souls' salvation? Why should not every man and woman wake up and seek the Lord with all their hearts? Then, the Lord says, you shall find Him.
Seek Christ Earnestly
There is a story told of a vessel that was wrecked and was going down at sea. There were not enough lifeboats to take all on board. When the vessel went down, some of the lifeboats were near the vessel. A man swam from the wreck to one of the boats, but they had no room to take him on. When they refused, he seized hold of the boat with his right hand, but they took a sword and cut off his fingers. When he had lost the fingers of his right hand, the man was so earnest to save his life that he seized the boat with his left hand. They cut off the fingers of that hand too. Then the man swam up and seized the boat with his teeth. Now they had compassion on him and relented. They could not cut off his head, so they took him in, and the man's life was saved. Why? Because he was in earnest.
Why not seek your soul's salvation as that man sought to save his life?
Will there ever be a better time?
Will there ever be a better time for the old man whose locks are growing gray, whose eyes are growing dim, and who is hastening to the grave? Is not this the very best time for him? "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found."
There is a man in the middle of life. Is this not the best time for him to seek the kingdom of God? Will he ever have a better opportunity? Will Christ ever be more willing to save than now? He says, "Come; for all things are now ready" not "going to be," but "are now ready."
There is a young man. My friend, is it not the best time for you to seek the kingdom of God? Seek the Lord; you can find Him now. Can you say that you will find Him tomorrow? Young man, you know not what tomorrow may bring forth. Do you know that every time the clock ticks, a soul passes away? Is not this the best time for you to seek the kingdom of God? My boy, the Lord wants you. Seek first the kingdom of God, and seek Him while He may be found.
Multitudes Can Be Saved!
About thirty years ago a great revival swept over this land. A great many men stood and shook their heads; they could not believe it was a healthy state of things. The church was not in its normal state! The church from Maine to Minnesota and on to California was astir.
As you passed over this great republic, over its Western prairies and mountains, and through its valleys, as you went on by train, passing through its cities and villages, you could see the churches lit up. Men were flocking into the kingdom of God by hundreds.
In a year and a half or two years, more than half a million souls were brought in. Men said it was false excitement, wildfire, and it would pass away. But, my friend, it was grace preceding judgment.
Little did we know that our nation was soon to be baptized in blood, and that we would soon hear the tramp of a million men, that hundreds and thousands of our young men the flower of our nation would soon be lying in a soldier's grave. But, my friend, it was God calling His people in. He was preparing our nation for a terrible struggle.
Supposing you could win the world; what would you do with it? Would it be worth as much as Christ? Let everything else be laid aside, and make up your mind that you will not rest until you have sought and found the Lord Jesus. I never knew anyone to make up his mind to seek Him but that he soon found Him.
At Dublin a young man found Christ. He went home and lived so godly and so Christlike a life that two of his brothers could not understand what had wrought the change in him.
They left Dublin and followed us to Sheffield, and there found Christ. They were in earnest.
But, thanks be to God, Christ can be found now. I firmly believe every reader can find Christ now, if you will seek for Him with all your heart. He says, "Call upon me."
Christ Turns No One Away
Did you ever hear of anyone calling upon Christ with the whole heart, that Christ didn't answer? Look at that thief on the cross! It may have been that he had a praying mother, and that his mother taught him the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. He had heard Christ pray that wonderful prayer, "Father, forgive them." And as he was hanging on the cross, that text of Scripture came to his mind: "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near."
The truth came flashing into his soul. He said, ïHe is near me now. I will call on Him. Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.' No sooner had he called than the Lord said, "To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." That was his seeking opportunity, his day.
This Is Your Opportunity Now
My friend, this is your day now. I believe that every man has his day. You have it just now; why not call upon Him just now? Say, as the poor thief did, "Lord, remember me." That was his golden opportunity, and the Lord heard and answered and saved him.
Did not Bartimaeus call on Him while He was near? Christ was passing by Jericho for the last time, and Bartimaeus cried out, "Thou son of David, have mercy on me." And did not the Lord hear his prayer and give him sight?
It was a good thing Zacchaeus called or rather the Lord called him; but when the Lord called, he came.
May the Lord call you, and may you respond: "Lord, here am I; You have called, and I come." Do you believe the Lord will call a poor sinner and then cast him out? No! His Word stands forever: "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37).
I was glad when that man I told you of said he felt as if he were too bad. Men are pretty near the kingdom of God when they do not see anything good in themselves.
At the Fulton Street prayer meeting a man came in, and this was his story. He had a mother who prayed for him he was a wild, reckless prodigal. Some time after his mother's death he began to be troubled. He thought he ought to get into new company and leave his old companions, so he said he would go and join a secret society.
He thought he would join the Odd Fellows. They made inquiry about him, and when they found he was a drunken sailor, they blackballed him. They would not have him.
He went to the Freemasons. He had nobody to recommend him. When they inquired and found there was no good in his character, they blackballed him. They didn't want him.
One day someone handed him a little notice in the street about the prayer meeting. He went. He heard that Christ had come to save sinners. He believed Him; he took Him at His word; and, in reporting the matter, he said he "came to Christ without a character, and Christ hadn't blackballed him."
My friend, that is Christ's way. Are you without a character, with nobody to say a good word for you? I bring you good news. Call on the Son of God, and He will hear you.
Let us be in earnest about the salvation of our children and friends. Warn that young lady. Yes, Mother, speak to that daughter. Father, speak to that child. Wife, speak to your unconverted husband. Husband, speak to your unconverted wife. Do not let anyone say, "Nobody cares for my soul." I never saw parents burdened for their children but that the children soon became anxious to be saved.
What Are You Going to Do?
Before I close, I want to ask you once more: What are you going to do? If the Lord is near, won't you call upon Him? Don't let some scoffer keep you out of the kingdom of God. There may be a scornful look upon his face. Perhaps he makes light of what I say. Don't mind him. Don't look to him, but look right up to God and ask Him to save you.
Every true friend, if you could get his advice, would tell you to be saved now.
Ask your minister, "Had I better seek the kingdom of God now?" What will he tell you? "By all means, don't put it off another minute."
Ask your godly, praying mother, "Is it best to seek the kingdom of God now?" Will she say, "Put it off one week, or a month"? There is not a Christian mother in this land who would say that. I doubt if there is even an unconverted mother whose advice would be to put off becoming a Christian.
Ask that praying sister of yours, that praying brother, any friend you have, whether it is not the very best thing you can do. And then cry to Heaven and ask Him who is sitting at the right hand of God, and who loves you more than your father or your mother or anyone on earth who loves you so much that He gave Himself for you ask Him what He will have you do, and hear His voice from the throne, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God."
And then shout down to the infernal regions, and ask those down there. What will they say? ïSend someone to my father's house, for I have five brethren, that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place.'
Heaven, earth and Hell unite in this one thing: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God." Don't put it off. Call upon Him while He is near. And if you call upon Him in earnest, He will hear that call.
You May Call Too Late
I have no doubt that those who would not pray when the ark was being built, prayed when the Flood came; but their prayer was not answered.
I have no doubt that when Lot went out of Sodom, Sodom cried to God; but it was too late, and God's judgment swept them from the earth.
My friend, it is not too late now, but it may be at twelve o'clock tonight. I cannot find any place in the Bible where it says you may call tomorrow. I am not justified in saying that. "Behold, NOW is the accepted time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation."
Those men of Jerusalem, what a golden opportunity they had with Christ in their midst! We see the Son of God weeping over Jerusalem, His heart bursting with grief for the city as He cried, 'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Thou that stonest the prophets, how often would I have gathered thee as a hen gathereth her brood, but ye would not.'
He could look down forty years and see Titus coming with his army and besieging that city. They called upon God then, but it was too late, and eleven hundred thousand people perished.
Now Is the Time to Be Saved
Now is a time of mercy. It may be I am talking to someone whose days of grace may be few, to someone who may be snatched away very soon, who may never hear another gospel sermon, who may be hearing the last call. My friend, be wise! Make up your mind that you will seek the kingdom of God now. "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
Christ is inviting you to come: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Oh, may we all find rest in Christ now! Do not let anything divert your mind, but make up your mind this hour that you will settle this great question of eternity.