Real Salvation and Whole-hearted Service

By R. A. Torrey

Chapter 1



“Where art thou?”—GEN. iii. 9

MY subject to-night is the first question that God ever asked of man. You will find that question in Gen. iii. 9, “Where art thou?” God asked the question of Adam. Adam had sinned, and on the evening of that awful day of the first sin the voice of God in its majesty was heard rolling down the avenues of the Garden of Eden. Adam had often heard God’s voice before, and the voice of God had been the sweetest music to Adam up till this day. Adam knew no greater joy than that of glad communion with his Creator and his Heavenly Father. But now all was different, and as the voice of God was heard rolling through the Garden, Adam was filled with fear, and tried to hide himself. That is the history of every son of Adam from that day till this. When sin enters our hearts and our lives we seek to hide from God. Every sinner is trying to hide from the presence and the all-seeing eye of God. That accounts for a very large share of the scepticism and infidelity and the agnosticism and atheism of our day. It is sinful man trying to hide from a holy God.

Men will give you many reasons why they are sceptics, many reasons why they are infidels and agnostics and atheists, but in the great majority of cases the real reason is this — men hope by the denial of the existence of God to hide themselves from the discomfort of God's acknowledged presence. That accounts also for very much of the neglect of the Bible. People will tell you that they do not read their Bibles because they have so much else to read, that they do not read their Bibles because they are not interested in the Bible, and that it is a dull and stupid book to them; but the real cause of man's neglect of Bible study is this: the Bible brings God near to us as no other book does, and men are uneasy in the conscious presence of God, so they neglect the book that brings God near. This also accounts for much of the absenteeism from the house of God and its services. People will give you many reasons why they do not attend church; they will tell you they cannot dress well enough to attend church, will tell you that they are too busy and too tired to attend church; they will tell you that the services of God's house are dull and uninteresting, but in the great majority of cases the reason why men and women, old and young, habitually absent themselves from the services of God's house is because the house of God brings God near and makes men uncomfortable in sin, and their desire to hide from God, more or less distinct, leads them to stay away from the house of God. But Adam did not succeed in hiding from God. Neither will you succeed. No man ever succeeded in hiding from God. God said to Adam, "Where art thou?" and Adam had to come from his hiding-place and meet God face to face, and make full declaration of all his sin. Sooner or later, no matter how carefully we have hid ourselves from God, sooner or later every man and woman in this building will have to come from their hiding-place and meet the all-holy God face to face, and make full declaration of just where they stand in His presence.

I believe that God is putting the question of the text to every man and woman in this building to-night, to every Christian, and to every one who is not a Christian. " Where art thou? " Where do you stand as regards spiritual and eternal things? Where do you stand as regards God, as regards heaven, as regards righteousness, as regards Christ, as regards eternity? " Where art thou? "

Every wise man in this hall will be glad to face and answer that question. Every truly intelligent man desires to know just where he is. In business every wise business man desires to know just where he stands financially. In our country, at just this time of year, every careful business man takes an inventory of his stock-in-trade, casts up his accounts, finds out precisely what are his credits and precisely what are his debits, how much his assets exceed or fall below his liabilities. He wants to know just where he stands. He may discover as a result of his scrutiny that he does not stand as well as he thought he did. He may find that he is in debt, when he hoped that his capital exceeded his liabilities. If that is true, he wants to know it in order that he may conduct his business accordingly. Many a man has made shipwreck in business through unwillingness to face facts and find out just where he stood.

Years ago I knew in America a very brilliant business man, a man really gifted along certain lines of business enterprise. But his affairs got into a tangled condition. His wise business friends came to him and advised him to go through his books and find out just where he stood. They said to him, " If you are in a bad shape we will help you out." But the man was too proud to take their advice; he was too proud to admit that his business was in a bad way, so he refused to look into it. He shut his teeth, set his face like a flint, and tried to plunge through. But instead of plunging through he plunged into such utter financial ruin that though he was, as I have said, an exceptionally brilliant man in some directions, he made such complete financial shipwreck that he never got on his feet again, and when he died he did not have money enough to pay his funeral expenses, and I had to pay them out of my own pocket, simply because he was not willing to humble his pride and face facts.

It is just so with many of you gentlemen here to-night. You are too proud to face the fact that you are morally and spiritually bankrupt, so you are going to shut your teeth, to set your face like a flint, and plunge through. You will plunge into utter and eternal ruin.

Every man wants to know where he stands physically, he wants to know what is the condition of his lungs, of his heart, of his stomach, of his nerves. He may be worse off than he thinks he is; he may think his heart is sound when his heart is defective. But if that be the case, he wants to know it, because if he knows that his heart is defective, he will not subject it to the strain that he otherwise would. Many a man lies to-day in a premature grave who might be doing good work on earth; he was not willing to find out what his real condition was, and act accordingly.

Every man at sea wishes to know just where his vessel is, its exact latitude, and its exact longitude. I remember once in crossing the Atlantic Ocean some years ago, we had been sailing for days beneath clouds and through fogs. We had been unable to take an observation by the sun, and had been sailing by dead reckoning. One night I happened to be on deck, and suddenly there was a rift in the clouds just where the north star appeared through the rift. Word was sent below to the commanding officer... The captain of the vessel hurried on deck, and I remember how he fairly laid across the compass, and how carefully he took an observation by the north star, that we might know exactly where we were. We are all sailing to-night across a perilous sea, toward an eternal port, and every truly intelligent man and woman in this vast audience will desire to know just where they are, their exact spiritual longitude and their exact spiritual latitude.

How shall we consider this great question?

First of all, we should consider it seriously. It is not a question to trifle with. It is a singular fact that men and women who are intelligent and sensible about everything else, who would not think of trifling with the great financial questions of the day, or with great social problems, when they come to this great question of eternity, will treat it as a joke. I remember one night in an American city a little bootblack on the street was blacking my boots, and I put to this bootblack as he worked over my boots the question, " My boy, are you saved? " and the boy treated it as a joke. I was not surprised; that is all you would expect of a poor, illiterate, uneducated bootblack on the street. But, men and women, it is not what you would expect of thinking men and thinking women, that when you come to these great eternal problems of God, eternity, salvation, heaven and hell, that they should be treated as a joke. But alas! they are treated as a joke by some men and women. Any man or woman who trifles with questions like these plays the part of a fool. I don't care what your culture is, what your social position is, what your reputation is for scholarship — I don't hesitate to affirm to-night that unless you have faced, or will face, to-night, this great question of your spiritual condition, with the profoundest earnestness and seriousness, you are playing the part of a fool.

We should consider this question honestly. There are many people in our day who are trying to deceive themselves, trying to deceive others, and trying to deceive God, many men who in their inmost hearts know that they are wrong, but are trying to persuade themselves that they are right, and trying to persuade others that they are right, and trying to persuade God that they are right.

Men and women, you cannot deceive God. It will do you no good to deceive anybody else, and it is consummate folly to deceive yourself. The biggest fool on earth is the man who fools himself. Be honest. If you are lost, own it up; if you are on the road to perdition, acknowledge it; if you are not a Christian, say so. If you are an enemy of God, face the facts. If you are a child of the devil, admit it. Be honest, honest with yourself, honest with your fellow-men, honest with God.

In the third place, we should consider the question thoroughly. There are many people who are honest enough, and serious enough as far as they go, but they don't go to the bottom of things. They are superficial. They give these tremendous questions a few moments' thought, and then their weak minds weary, and they say, " I guess I am all right; I will take my chance." You can't afford to guess on questions like these; we must have, not probability, but absolute certainty. It will not satisfy me to hope I am saved; I must know that I am saved; it will not satisfy me to hope I am a child of God; I must know that I am a child of God. It will not satisfy me to hope that I am bound for heaven; I must know that I am bound for heaven. Do not lay these questions down until you have gone to the bottom of them, • and know for an absolute certainty just where you stand.

In the fourth place, you should consider these questions prayerfully. God tells us in His Word, and we know it from experience, that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer. xxvii. 9). There is nothing that the human heart is so deceitful about as about our moral and spiritual condition. Every man and woman by nature is very sharp-sighted to the faults of others, and very blind to their own faults. What we need is to face this question in prayer. You will never know where you stand until God shows you. Not till we pray at least the substance of David's prayer, " Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me," and God sheds the light of His Holy Spirit into our hearts, and shows us ourselves as He sees us, will we ever know ourselves as we really are.

The great Scotch poet Burns, I think, never said a wiser thing than when he wrote:

" O wad some power the giftie gie us,

      To see oursel's as ithers see us!

It wad frae monie a blunder free us,

     And foolish notion."

But, friends, there is something better than to see ourselves as others see us; that is, to see ourselves as God sees us. Oh! let us not leave Bingley Hall to-night until we see ourselves in the light of God's presence, as God sees us, and that will only be in answer to definite and earnest prayer.

I met one morning in an American city the pastor of a church of which I had formerly been pastor. As we met he said to me, " Brother Torrey, I had an awful experience this morning." I said, " What was it, Brother Norris? " He said, " You know Mrs.," mentioning a member of the church of which he was now pastor, and of which I was formerly pastor. He said, " You know she is dying. She sent for me to come and see her this morning. I hurried to her home. The moment I opened the door and entered the room she cried from her bed, ' Oh, Brother Norris, I have been a professing Christian for forty years. I am now dying, and have just found out in my dying hour that I was never saved at all.' " The horror of it! to be a professing Christian for forty years, and never find out till your life's at an end that you have never really been a Christian at all. Better find it out then than in eternity, but better find it out in the dawn of your professed Christian experience, better find it out to-night.

I do not doubt that in this great crowd there is many a man and woman who has been a professing Christian for years who was never saved. After we had left Liverpool I read in a paper, edited by a clergyman in that city, a letter complaining about our meetings. In this letter, addressed to the public press, the writer said, " These men produced the impression that some of our Church members are not saved." Well, that is the impression we tried to produce, for that is the truth of God. In the Church of England, and in the Nonconformist bodies, you will find many men and women who are unsaved.

Once more we should consider this question Scripturally, according to the Book. God has given to you and me only one safe chart and compass to guide us on our voyage through life toward eternity. That chart and compass is the Bible — the book I hold in my hand. If you steer your course according to this book, you steer safely; if you steer your course according to your own feelings, according to the speculation of the petty philosopher or the theologian, according to anything but the clear declaration of the only book of God, you steer your course to shipwreck. Any hope that is not founded on the clear, unmistakable teaching of God's Word is absolutely worthless. Any hope founded on that book is a sure hope; any hope that is not built upon that book is not worth anything.

In one of my pastorates a young married couple had entrusted to them by the Heavenly Father for a brief period a sweet little child. Then God in His infinite wisdom, and wisdom in this case which was not altogether inscrutable, took from these parents that little child home to Himself. Their hearts were deeply touched, and in the hour of their sorrow I went to call upon them, and taking advantage of their tenderness of heart pointed them to that Saviour with whom their child was safely at home. And they professed to accept that Saviour. After some days and weeks had passed, and the first keenness of the sorrow had gone, they began to drift back into the world again, and I called upon them to speak with them. Only the wife was at home. I began by talking about the little child, and how safe and happy it was in the arms of Jesus, to all of which of course she gladly assented. Then I turned it a little bit and said to her, " Do you expect to see your child again?" "Oh," she said, " certainly; I have not a doubt that I will see my child again." I said, " Why do you expect to see your child again? " She said, " Because the child is with Jesus, and I expect when I die I shall go to be with Him too." I said, " Do you think you are saved? " " Oh, yes," she said, " I think I am saved." I said, " Why do you think you are saved? " " Because I feel so," she said. I said, " Do you think you have eternal life? " " Oh, yes," she said, " I think I have eternal life." I said, " Why do you think you have eternal life? " " Because," she said, " I feel so." I said, " Is that your only ground of hope? " She said, " That is all." I said, " Your hope is not worth anything." That seemed cruel, didn't it? but it was kind. I said, " Your hope is not worth anything. Can you put your finger upon anything in the sure Word of God that proves you have everlasting life? " "No," she said, " I cannot." " Well, then," I said, " your hope is absolutely worthless." Then she turned on me, which she had a perfect right to do. It is quite right to talk back to preachers — I believe in it — and she began to talk back, and she said, " Do you expect to go to heaven when you die? " I said, " Yes, I know I shall." She said, " When you die, you expect to be with Christ?" "Yes," I said, " I know I shall." She said, " Do you think you have everlasting life?" "Yes," I said, "I know I have." She said, " Can you put your finger on anything in the Word of God that proves you have eternal life?" I said, " Yes, thank God, John iii. 36: ' He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.' Now," I said, " I know I believe on the Son of God, and on the sure ground of God's Word I know I have everlasting life."

Can you put your finger upon anything in the Word of God that proves you are saved? If you can't, I advise you to stay to the after-meeting and find out if you are saved; if not, be saved to-night. And if you are saved, find out something in God's Word that proves it.

One thing more before I close, and that is a few suggestions that will help you in considering this question, " Where art thou? " First of all, Are you saved, or are you lost? You are one or the other. Unless you have been definitely saved by a definite acceptance of a definite Jesus, Jesus Christ, you are definitely lost. Just two classes — lost sinners and saved sinners. To which class do you belong?

Second, Are you on the road to heaven or the road to hell? You are on one or the other. There are only two roads, as we see by the Scripture Lesson which I read to-night. The Lord Jesus tells us that there are two, and only two — the broad road that leadeth to destruction, and the narrow road that leadeth to life everlasting. Which road are you on? Are you on the road that leads up to God and heaven and glory, or are you on the road that leads down to Satan and sin and shame and hell?

Some years ago one of your English sailors came into a Mission in New York city, and as he passed out of the Mission not very much affected, a worker at the door put a little card into his hand. On this card were printed these words, " If I should die to-night I would go to " The place was left blank, and underneath was written, " Please fill up and sign your name." The sailor, without even reading the card, put it in his pocket and went down to the steamer, went to his bunk and put that card in the edge of his bunk. In the journey over he was thrown from the rigging and broke his leg. They took him down to his berth, and as he lay there day after day that card stared him in the face. He looked at it one day — " If I should die to-night I would go to " " Well," he said, " if I filled that out honestly I would have to write, hell. If I should die to-night I would go to hell. But," he said, " I won't fill it up that way," and lying there in his berth he took Jesus Christ and filled the card—" If I should die to-night I would go to heaven." He came on to England, went back to New York, walked into the Mission and handed in the card with his name signed to it.

Suppose you had such a card to fill up — " If I should die to-night I would go to " What would it be?

Again, Are you a child of God or a child of the devil? We live in a day in which many superficial thinkers are telling us that all men are the children of God. That is not the teaching of the Bible, and it is not the teaching of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ says distinctly in John viii. 44, talking to certain Jews, " Ye are of your father the devil." And we are told in 1 John iii. 10, " In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil." And we are told distinctly in John i. 12, " As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God." Children of God, or children of the devil. Every one of us here to-night is either one or the other. Which are you?

When I was speaking more than a year ago in the city of Ballarat in Australia there sat a long line of educated Chinamen in the meeting listening to the sermon. I was preaching on the same text as to-night. I came to the point I have come to now, and I said to myself, " I guess I will leave that out; that may offend somebody without doing any good." But somehow or other God would not let me leave it out, so I put it in, and declared the whole counsel of God. The next night when I gave out the invitation, among the others who came to the front was almost the entire line of educated Chinamen, and when they got up to give their testimony, one of them said this, " The reason why I came to-night and took Christ was this, I was here last night and heard Dr. Torrey say that everyone was a child of God or a child of the devil. I knew I was not a child of God, and therefore I knew I must be a child of the devil. I made up my mind I would be a child of the devil no longer, and therefore I have come forward to-night to take Jesus Christ." I hope some of you Englishmen will have as much sense as that educated Chinaman.

Again, if you are a professing Christian, what kind of a Christian are you? Are you a mere formal Christian, or are you a real Christian? You know there are two kinds. Are you one of these men or women who call themselves Christians, who go to the house of God on the Sabbath, go to the Communion on the Sabbath, perhaps teach a Bible class or a Sunday School class on the Sabbath, but the rest of the week they are running around after the theatre, and the card-party and the dance, and all the frivolity and foolishness of the world — one of these Christians who are trying to hold on to Jesus Christ with the one hand and to the world with tihe other? Or are you a real Christian who has renounced the world with your whole heart and given yourself to Jesus Christ with all your heart, a Christian who can sing and mean it, " I surrender all "? "Where art thou?" What kind of a Christian are you?

Once more, Are you for Christ, or are you against Him? You know you are either one or the other, for He says so. We read in Matt. xii. 30, in the words of Jesus Himself, " He that is not with Me, is against Me." Everyone here to-night is either with Jesus whole-heartedly, confessedly, openly, or else you are against Jesus. Which are you? For Christ or against Him?

In my first pastorate, year after year, for a series of years, there came an outpouring of God's spirit. In the second or third of these gracious outpourings of His Spirit a great many of the leading business men of the place were converted. It was a small place, but one of the leading business men would not take a stand. He was one of the most exemplary men in the community. Most amiable, attractive upright, a constant attendant at church, a member of my Bible class, and a member of my choir, but he was one of those men who wanted to please both sides. He was identified with friends in business, in the Masonic lodge, and elsewhere, who were not outand-out Christians, and he was afraid that he would estrange them if he came out and out honestly for Christ. So the weeks passed by. One Sabbath morning in the Bible school, after the Sabbath morning service, he was passing out of my Bible class on the choir platform and passed by the superintendent of the Sunday School, who was an intimate friend. They had been in the Civil War together. As he passed by this intimate friend he turned to him and said, "George?" "Well, what is it, Porter?" said the other, calling him by his first name. He said, " George, when are you going to take a stand? " He said, " Ring the bell." Promptly the superintendent stepped up to the bell and rang it, and the congregation going out of the building turned round in surprise, wondering what was going to happen. George stepped to the front of the platform. It was a community where everybody knew everybody else by their first name, and everybody was all curiosity, and he said, " Friends, I have heard it said time and time again during these meetings that a man must either be for Jesus Christ or against Him. I want you all to know that from this time on, Em " — his wife — " and I are for Christ" He decided for the whole family, and he did, in fact, for when they stood before the platform to receive the right hand of fellowship into the church, he stood there, and his wife, and his father-in-law, and his brother-in-law, and his sister-in-law — every member of the family that was not already in the fold.

Men and women, there are many of you here to-night whose sympathies for years have been with the Church of Jesus Christ, but you have never been men enough or women enough to take an open stand. Take it to-night. Say, " As for me and my house, we are for Christ." Where art thou? Put the question to yourself. Where art thou?

There is one thing that makes it exceedingly important why you should face this question, and that is the fact that where you are to-night will in all likelihood determine where you shall spend eternity.

A story is told of Dr. Forbes Winslow, the elder, of London, the eminent pathologist in diseases of the mind. A young French nobleman came to London bringing letters of introduction from leading Frenchmen, including one from Napoleon III., at that time Emperor, introducing him to Dr. Forbes Winslow, and soliciting Forbes Winslow's best offices for the young man. He presented his letters, and Dr. Winslow said, " What is your trouble? " He said, " Dr. Winslow, I cannot sleep; I have not had a good night's sleep for two years, and unless something is done for me I shall go insane." Dr. Winslow said, "Why can't you sleep?" "Well," said the young man, "I can't tell you." Dr. Winslow said, " Have you lost any money? " " No," he said, " I have lost no money." " Have you lost friends? " " No, I have lost no friends recently." " Have you suffered in honour or reputation? " " Not that I know of." " Well then," said the doctor, " why can't you sleep? " The young man said, "I would rather not tell you." "Well," said Dr. Winslow, " if you don't tell me I can't help you." " Well," he said, " if I must tell you, I will. I am an infidel. My father was an infidel before me, and yet in spite of the fact that I am an infidel and my father was an infidel, every night when I lie down to sleep I am confronted with the question, ' Eternity, and where shall I spend it? ' All night that question rings in my ears, ' Eternity, and where shall I spend it? ' If I succeed in getting off to slumber my dreams are worse than my waking hours, and I start from my sleep again." Dr. Winslow said, " I can't do anything for you." " What! " said the young Frenchman," " have I come all the way over here from Paris for you to treat me, and do you dash my hopes to the ground? Do you mean to tell me that my case is hopeless? " Dr. Winslow repeated, " I can do nothing for you, but I can tell tell you a Physician who can," and he walked across his study, took up his Bible from the centre of the table, opened it at Isa. liii. 5 and 6, and began to read: " 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. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." And then, looking at the Frenchman, he said, " That is the only Physician in the world that can help you." There was a curl of scorn upon the Frenchman's lip. He said, " Dr. Winslow, do you mean to tell me that you, an eminent scientist, believe in that worn-out superstition of the Bible and Christianity? " " Yes," said Dr. Winslow, " I believe in the Bible, I believe in Jesus Christ, and believing in the Bible and believing in Jesus Christ has saved me from what you are to-day." The young fellow stopped and thought, then he said, " Dr. Winslow, if I am an honest man I ought at least to be willing to consider it, ought I not?" " Yes, sir." "Well," he said, " will you explain it to me." And the eminent physician became a physician of souls, sat down with his open Bible, and for several consecutive days showed the young Frenchman the way of life. He saw Christ as his divine, atoning Saviour, put his trust in Him, and went back to Paris in rest of mind to sleep at night. He had solved the great question of eternity and where he should spend it, for he would spend it with Christ in Glory.

Men and women, eternity, and where will thou spend it? Where you will spend eternity very likely will depend upon where you are to-night. Let us pray.