Real Salvation and Whole-hearted Service

By R. A. Torrey

Chapter 11



"Though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice, with joy unspeakable and full of glory." — i Pet. i. 8.

Christians are the happiest people in the world. According to our text they " rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory," and nobody else does. I am going to tell you this afternoon why Christians are happy.

First of all Christians are happy, real ones, because they know that their sins are all forgiven. Nobody in this world knows that his sins are forgiven except a Christian. If any man or woman who is not a Christian says, " I know my sins are forgiven," they say what is not true; for their sins are not forgiven. But every true Christian knows that his sins are forgiven— all forgiven. You say, " How do they know that? " Because God says so. If you will turn to Acts xiii. 39, you will see that " All that believe are justified from all things." God says so. A woman came to Christ one day who had been a sinner. She washed His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head. Men looked on in scorn, but Jesus turned to her and said, " Woman, thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven," and she went out of that place knowing that her sins were all forgiven. She knew it because Jesus said so. And God says just as distinctly in the verse I have just quoted that every Christian's sins are forgiven, just as Jesus said it to the woman. Christians know their sins are forgiven in a second way — because the Holy Spirit bears witness in their hearts that their sins are forgiven. The apostle Peter one day was preaching in the household of Cornelius, and the apostle Peter said, speaking about Jesus, " To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins " (Acts x. 43); and Cornelius and his whole household believed it, and immediately the Spirit of God came upon them. When you and I believe in Jesus, His Spirit comes into our hearts bearing witness with our spirit that our sins are all forgiven, and that we are children of God. There is no joy on earth like the joy of knowing that! God has forgiven and blotted out every sin you ever committed.

Suppose a person were in prison for some crime, in there for life, and some one should bring him a pardon, don't you think he would be happy? The Governor of the State of Pennsylvania once decided to pardon a man, and he sent Mr. Moody to tell him that he was pardoned. Mr. Moody went to the prison. He was going to preach a sermon, but before he began the sermon he said, " The Governor of the State has handed me a pardon for one of you men." He was not going to tell till he got through the sermon who the man was. But as he looked over the crowd of men he saw there was such suspense and such agony, every one wondering whether it was he, that he said, " This will never do in the world, to keep these men in suspense. I must tell them at once who the man is." So he said, " The man who is pardoned is-------." And oh! the joy that filled that man's heart when he knew that out of that great company of criminals he was the one whom the Governor had pardoned. But, men, it is nothing to know that one is pardoned here on earth to knowing that God has forgiven all your sins and blotted them all out. Oh, the joy that comes into the heart when a man knows that every sin he ever committed is pardoned and blotted out, and that God has absolutely nothing against him. A great king once wrote a song that has lived through the centuries. It was a song of joy. That great king had been a great sinner, and God had forgiven his sin. He had much to make a man happy. He was the greatest king of his day. He had great wealth, he had great armies, he was the greatest general of the time, he had a great palace; but when he came to write his song of joy he did not say, " Happy is the man that has a beautiful palace "; he did not say, " Happy is the man that has great armies "; he did not say, " Happy is the man that is a great general "; he did not say, " Happy is the man that is beloved by his people." He said, " Oh, happy is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered; happy is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile " (Ps. xxxii. 1, 2). Every man here to-day who takes the Lord Jesus as his Saviour will have his sins all forgiven, and will have the joy of knowing that every sin is blotted out.

In the second place, Christians are happy because they are set free from sin's power. Now, everybody that sins is a slave. They are slaves to sin. Years ago, when I was a boy in the Southern States, where Mr. Alexander comes from, there were slaves. The black men were slaves. Some of the masters were kind, and some of the masters were cruel — oh, so very, very cruel — and it makes one's heart ache to think what those poor black men suffered! But, women, there was never a slave-owner in the South that was such a cruel master as Satan, and there was never a bondage so awful as the bondage of sin. Some women are bound by the appetite for strong drink. I presume some of you men have tried to break away from drink time and time again, but you are enslaved by it. Some of you are enslaved by morphine, some by laudanum, some by cocaine, some by a bad temper, some by an ungovernable tongue, some by other things; but every man or woman out of Christ is a slave. But when you come to Jesus Christ He sets you free. He says in John viii. 31 and 32, "If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free "; and He says in verse 36, " If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." The Lord Jesus Christ takes every man and every woman that believes in Him and just sets them free from the power of sin, from the power of strong drink, from the power of laudanum, from the power of bad temper, from the power of impurity, from the power of profanity, from the power of every sin. I was reading this morning the life-story of a very dear friend of mine. I have read it a number of times before, but I read it again this morning. He told how one night, after he had been a slave for years, he knelt down and prayed in a mission, and Jesus Christ met him and set him free. And he said, " From that till this I have never had the least desire for strong drink." When fie went out of that mission that night he knew that, after years of slavery and ruin, he was a free man. He just shouted for joy, " Glory to God! " and he has been shouting ever since. I wish he was here to-day that you might hear him shout. I wish he was here on this platform that you could look into his face. Oh, the joy of being set free from sin after days and weeks or months or, it may be, years of slavery.

In the third place, Christians are happy because they know that they are children of God. It is a wonderful thing to know that you are a child of God. No one knows it but the Christian, for no one is a child of God but the Christian. You say, " How does the Christian know that he is a child of God? " Because God says so. In John i. 12, He says that, " As many as received Him to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name," and if any man or woman here to-day, young or old, takes the Lord Jesus Christ, the moment you do it you will be a child of God, and know that you are a child of God. Isn't that enough to be happy over? Suppose you knew that you were the son of some great man, or the son of a millionaire, or the son of a king, or the son of an emperor, don't you think you would be happy? But it is nothing to be the son of any king or any emperor to being the son of God, the King of Kings.

One day, years ago, one of your English dukes lay dying. He called his younger brother, the one next to him, to his bedside, and said, " Brother, in a few hours you will be a duke — and I will be a king." He was a Christian; he was a child of a king, and he knew that when he left his dukedom down here he would get a kingdom up there. And, friends, the poorest man or woman there is in this audience this afternoon, young or old, if you will take Jesus Christ, the moment you do you can lift up your head and say, "lama child of a King, I know I am a child of God." Sometimes, as I travel round the world, people will point out a man to me and say, " That man is the son of such and such a great man." Pointing out one to me in Germany they said " That is the son of such and such a king;" in another place they said, " That is the son of such and such a king." What of it? Suppose he is a child of a king; I am a child of God. That is better than to be a child of a king. Now, they suggested that you put silver in the collection to-day. Well, I guess that some of you could not put silver in, but I want to say that if you can't put silver in you are just as welcome as anybody, and if you can't put copper in you are just as welcome as anybody. We read in the Bible that unto the poor the Gospel was preached. I believe in preaching to the rich. They need it as much as anybody, but, thank God, the woman that sits here today and had to walk here because she hadn't money enough to pay a penny to come in the 'bus, the poorest woman there is in this building, or the richest, can become a child of God in a moment by taking Jesus Christ, and I would rather be the poorest woman in the building that is a child of God than the richest woman in the building that is a child of the devil.

Again, Christians are happy because they are delivered from all fear. A true Christian that believes the Bible, and studies it, and remembers it, is not afraid of anything or anybody. Now a great many people that are well off, that are very rich, have all their joy spoiled because they are constantly thinking that some calamity may overtake them. Rich men don't enjoy their riches because they are afraid of losing them, and people that have their friends around them don't enjoy their friends because they are afraid they will die. People that have all the comforts of life don't enjoy them because they fear that some calamity may come and sweep the comforts away. Those with very little, who are perhaps just making a living, don't enjoy it because they fear they may be thrown out of work and not be able to make a living. But the true Christian is delivered from all that fear. There is one verse in the Bible which if you are a child of God, and believe it, and keep it in mind, will take away all anxiety as long as you live. That is Rom. viii. 28, " And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God." Sometimes the devil whispers to me, " Perhaps you will lose everything you have in the world." " Well," I say, " it don't make any difference if I do. If I do, that will be one of the ' all things,' and ' all things work together for good.' "

Sometimes when I am away from my family the devil whispers to me, " Your wife is ill," or " Your son is ill," or " Your daughters are ill, and will die before you ever see them." I don't know how often the devil has come and whispered that. When he does, I just lift up my head, and say, " Well, that cannot be unless it is the will of God, my Father. And if they do die, it is one of the ' all things ' that work together for good." The devil comes sometimes and whispers, " Perhaps you will be taken ill, perhaps you may lose your eyesight, or your hearing, and not be able to preach any more." I just lift up my head, and say, " Well, if I do, it will be one of the ' all things,' and ' all things work together for good to them that love God.' " So, you see, if a person is a real Christian and believes the Bible and bears it in mind, he is not afraid of calamity, neither is he afraid of any man. Oh, so many people are afraid of men, and tormented by the fear of men. A great many of you here to-day would come out as Christians but you are afraid if you do some man or woman might see you, and you are afraid that you will be laughed at, that you will be persecuted in the mill, or the factory, or the shop. But a Christian is not afraid of man. The Christian reads Rom. viii. 31, and says, " If God be for us, who can be against us? " A Christian does not fear the face of any man or woman on earth.

In Chicago once a man came to me and said, " You had better look out, there is a man who says he has it in for you." He told me who the man was — a very desperate man, a man willing to do almost anything. Well, I was not troubled a bit. I did not lie awake a single night; I was not troubled two seconds. I said, " That is all right. I know he is quite powerful, and I have reason to believe he is unprincipled, but I know that I am right with God, that God is on my side, and if God has undertaken to take care of me, that man can't touch me, unless it is God's will." I tell you, friends, a living faith in Jesus Christ takes away for ever all fear of man.

It takes away the fear of death. I know so many people whose lives are just shadowed and darkened by the fear of death. Right in the midst of health and strength they say, " Oh, if I should be taken with consumption, if I should get heart-disease, if I should have diphtheria, if I should take small-pox, or have some other terrible disease;" but a Christian is not afraid of death. Death has lost all its terrors for the Christian. A Christian knows that what men call death is for him simply to depart and be with Christ.

I went over one evening in Chicago to see a young lady who had sung in my choir — a very beautiful, attractive girl — whose life had been full of promise, but who had been suddenly cut down by rapid consumption. She had probably only a few days to live. As it turned out, she did not have a day to live. I was told that she would like to see me, and I went over to see her. I went into the room where the young girl, cut down in the very blossom of young womanhood, was lying upon her dying bed. I sat down by her dying bed, and her face shone like an angel's. I said, " Humanly speaking, there is no hope for your recovery." She said, " I know; I don't care to recover. I would have been glad to have recovered to serve Christ if it had been His will, but since He has decided I can't recover, and must very soon leave this world, I wanted to see you and tell you that I don't fear death. I am looking forward to what men call death with great joy and with great anticipation." I went to my church to preach, and when I got up into the pulpit they brought me a note. That dying girl had asked for paper, and she wrote a note and sent it over to the choir of the church, telling them how happy she was as she lay face to face with death and eternity. Oh, I tell you friends, it is a joyful thing to have no fear of death.

Then, a Christian is delivered from fear of eternity. Now, to people out of Christ eternity is a dreadful thing to think about, but for people in Christ eternity is about the sweetest thing there is to think about. There is one word that fills the heart of the Christian with joy, but fills the heart of the unsaved with terror. That word is eternity. Oh, I love that word eternity, where all sorrow is over for ever, all separation, all sickness, all death, where all is eternal sunshine. How I love that word eternity. But some of you don't love it. I have received letters since I have been here from people who say they wish that I would not talk so much about eternity. I heard of one man who did not want to come to the meetings because I talked so much of eternity. But Christians like to have me talk of eternity. You write out a card with these words, " Where will you spend eternity? " Hand it to a man who is not a Christian, and it will make him mad; hand it to a Christian, and it will make him glad. He will answer, " Why, I will spend eternity with Christ in glory."

That leads me to the next reason why Christians are happy. It is because they know that they will live for ever. Oh, it is a wonderful thing to know that you will never die, that throughout the endless ages of God you will live on and on and on. As we read in I John ii. 17, "And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." And we read in John iii. 36, " He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." Before I was a Christian I did not like to look into the future, but how I love to look into the future now! Very often I sit in my room and say, " I wonder how many years I will have to preach? " Well, I can't have very many at the outside, probably about twenty, possibly twenty-five, barely possibly thirty years. That is not very much, and then, what? Eternity! That is better than preaching. It is a great joy to preach, but oh, to be able to stand and look down through the coming ages and see them roll on, age upon age, age upon age, and age upon age, and know that you are going to live for all eternity in happiness and joy ever increasing! I don't wonder that Christians are happy. I don't wonder that they have " joy unspeakable and full of glory."

Two other reasons why Christians are happy. The next one is because they know that they are heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. They know that they have an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, laid up in store in heaven for them. When one rides down your beautiful English country roads and looks out on the beautiful mansions and manor houses, and sees the lakes, and the forests, and the park, and the gardens, one says, " It must be very pleasant to live in there." Well, I suppose it is, but how long will they live there? The father of the family will probably live ten years, twenty perhaps, the children will live forty or fifty, possibly sixty. Soon gone, soon gone. But, friends, every man, woman, and child in this audience this afternoon who takes Jesus will have an inheritance that will last for ever, an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. Every earthly inheritance soon fails — even the richest man on earth won't keep his property very long. But the poorest man or woman here to-day, young or old, who will take Jesus Christ will get an inheritance that will last for ever.

One day a poor English girl was riding along in a third-class carriage, very plainly dressed, looking out of the window. They passed by beautiful farms, beautiful trees, beautiful mansions, and every little while a person who sat near the poor girl heard her say, " That belongs to my Father." They would come to a farm, and she would say, " That belongs to my Father "; then to a beautiful mansion-house, "That belongs to my Father too "; then they would pass a lordly castle, and she would say, "That belongs to my Father." Finally, the man who was listening turned to her and said, " Well, miss, you must have a rich Father, for you have been saying for miles as we passed along, ' That belongs to my Father.' Your Father must own a great deal of property. He must be a very rich man." She said, " He is — I am a child of God." She was very rich.

Men and women, listen. Some of you are having a pretty hard time down in this world. I suppose you have to work long hours for small pay. Your homes are not very comfortable. Well, I want to tell you, you won't have to live in them very long; and if you will take Christ, you are going to such a mansion as this earth never saw, to such an inheritance as no man ever inherited on this earth. When you go by the rich man's mansion you say, " I wish I had a home like that." You could not keep it long. If you will take Jesus Christ, you will know that you are heir to all God has. The whole world belongs to Him — the cattle on a thousand hills; and if you are a child of God, if you will take Christ, you will be heir to all He is and all He has; and you can become an heir to-day.

One more reason why Christians are happy. That is because God gives to Christians the Holy Spirit to dwell in their hearts, and when the Holy Spirit dwells in the heart He fills the heart with sunshine and gladness, and joy unspeakable. One Monday morning a poor woman came to my door, rang the bell, and said she wanted to see me, and the girl said, " You know he sees no one on Monday." She said, " I know it, but I have got to see him." So the girl called me down; and when I came down I saw one of the members of my church — a poor washerwoman who had to work hard for her living. " Oh," she said, " Mr. Torrey, I knew you didn't see anybody on Monday, and I didn't like to trouble you, but I received the Holy Spirit last night. I could not sleep all night, and I made up my mind that I was going to give up one day's work, and just come round and tell you how happy I was. I just had to. I can't very well afford to give up a day's work, but my heart is so full of joy I could not keep still. I had to tell somebody, and I didn't know anybody else I wanted to tell as much as I wanted to tell you. Though I knew you didn't see anybody on Monday, I thought you would be glad to have me come and tell you." "Yes," I said, "I am glad."

That woman was so happy that she could not work; her heart was full of joy.

So, woman, I don't care how dark your heart is to-day, how full of sadness it is; I don't care how full of bitterness; I don't care how hopeless; if you will really take Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and surrender your whole heart and your whole life to Him as your Lord and Master, there will come into your heart sweetness above anything to be known this side of heaven.

Christians rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. But you have to be real Christians. Just going to church won't do it; just saying your prayers won't do; just reading your Catechism won't do; just reading the Bible won't do; just reading the Prayer-book won't do; just being baptized won't do; just being confirmed won't do it; just going to the Lord's Supper won't do; but if you will take Jesus into your heart to be your Saviour, and to rule and reign there, and surrender all to Him, I will guarantee that every one of you who will do it will get a joy that is heaven begun below. People say to me, " Do you expect to go to heaven? " Yes, I know I am going to heaven; but, thank God, I am in heaven now. I have now a present heaven to go to the future heaven in. I feel like singing all the time. I used to be one of the bluest men on earth. I was constitutionally blue. I was despondent; I was gloomy. I inherited it from both sides. Oh, I used to sit and have the blues by the hour. But, do you know, I never have had the blues since I really took the Lord Jesus. I have had trouble; I have had losses; I have seen everything I had in the world swept away, so I had nothing left; I have seen the time when I had a wife and four children and not a penny to buy them the next meal with. But it came in time, for I knew where to go — right to God. I have seen when I didn't know where the rent for the house was coming from, nor the wood for the fire in a bitter, cold winter. But I was happy. I have been in a foreign country where I could not talk the language, and some way or other there was a failure of supplies, and I was absolutely penniless in a foreign city with a wife and child, hardly knowing anybody in the whole place. But I was happy. I knew Whom I trusted. I knew He would get me out somehow, and He did. Oh, if you want darkness turned into sunshine, if you want sadness turned into joy, if you want despair turned into glory, if you want defeat turned into victory, if you want all that is bad turned into all that is good — take the Lord Jesus Christ, and take Him right now.