Real Salvation and Whole-hearted Service

By R. A. Torrey

Chapter 16



" He first findeth his own brother Simon... And he brought him to Jesus." — John i. 41, 42.

The one who brought his brother to Jesus in this passage was Andrew. We are not told that Andrew ever preached a sermon in his life. If he did, the Holy Spirit did not think it was worth putting on record; but this brother, whom he brought to Jesus, preached a sermon that led three thousand people to Jesus in one day. Where would Simon Peter's sermon have been if it had not been for Andrew's personal work? The most important kind of Christian work in the world is personal work. We look at the men who stand on the platform and speak to great crowds; but I believe God pays more attention to the man who sits down with a single soul.

A blind woman once came to my office in Chicago and said, " You don't think my blindness will keep me from doing Christian work, do you? " " No," I replied. " On the contrary, I think it might be a great help to you. A great many people, seeing your blindness, will come and sit down with you, and you can talk with them about the Saviour." " That is not what I mean. I don't want to talk to one person. When a woman can talk to five hundred or six hundred, she don't want to spend time talking to one." "Your Master could talk to five thousand at once, for we have it on record, and He did not think it beneath His dignity to talk to one at a time."

Have you ever thought of the tremendous power that there is in personal hand-to-hand work? One day a man in Boston had in his Sunday School class a boy fresh from the country. He was a very dull boy, and he knew almost nothing about the Bible. He did not even know where to look to find the Gospel of John. He was very much put out because the other boys were bright boys and knew their Bibles. He was just a green country boy, seventeen years of age; but that Sunday School teacher had a heart full of love to Christ and perishing souls. So one day he went down into the boot-shop where that boy worked, and said, " Would you not like to be a Christian? " The boy had never been approached that way before. Nobody had ever spoken to him about his soul. He said, "Yes; I would like to be a Christian." And that Sunday School teacher explained what it meant to be a Christian, and then he said, "Let us pray." They knelt down in the back of that boot-shop, and the boy, as far as he knew, became a Christian. That boy was Dwight L. Moody. If it had not been for Edward Kimball's faithful, personal work, where would Dwight L. Moody and his great work throughout the world have been?

Probably there are some Sunday School teachers here who say, " I wish I could get down to the great meeting in the big hall; but I have to stay here just teaching a lot of little boys or girls." Who knows who there is in that little class of yours? Who knows what your ignorant little ragged boy may become? Every teacher of you make up your mind, by God's help, you will at least make an honest effort to lead everybody in your Sunday School class to Christ today. This world will never be saved by preaching; but this world could soon be evangelised by personal work. Let us see. Let us suppose there are two thousand people in this audience this morning, suppose every one of you became a personal worker, and suppose, by your very best effort, you only succeeded in leading one to Christ in a year, and that one led one to Christ the next year, and so on, what would be the result? At the end of the year there would be 4000, at the end of two years there would be 8000, at the end of three years 16,000, at the end of four years 32,000, at the end of five years 64,000, at the end of six years 128,000, at the end of seven years 256,000, and at the end of eight years your whole city would be won for Christ. At the end of thirty-five years every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth would have heard the Gospel. There is not one that cannot lead at least one to Christ this year. You can instruct every one that you lead to Christ to go out and be a soul-winner. After you get hold of them, send them out, when converted, to lead others, and he bringing one, and that one bringing in another, you will soon touch the whole city.

I want to talk about the advantages of personal work.

1. The first advantage is that anybody can do it. You cannot all preach. I am glad you can't. What an institution this world would be if we were all preachers! You cannot all sing like Alexander. I am glad you can't, for if you could he would be no curiosity, and you would not come out to hear him sing, and give me a chance to preach to you. You can't all even teach Sunday School classes. Some people have an idea that any converted person can teach a Sunday School class. I don't believe it. I think we are making a great mistake in this respect, in setting unqualified persons to teaching in Sunday Schools; but there is not a child of God who cannot do personal work. A mother with a large family knows she is not called to be a preacher (at least I hope she does); but she can do personal work better than anybody else.

A lady came to me one time — she had five children — and said (I think she had been reading the life of Frances Willard), " I wish I could do some work like that for Christ." I said, " You can work for Christ among all the people you move among." I watched that woman. Every one of her children was brought to Christ — every one! Every maid that came to work in that home was dealt with about her soul. Every butcher's boy or grocer's boy that came around to the door was dealt with about his soul. Every time she went out shopping she made it a point to talk with the man or woman behind the counter. And when, one dark day, death came into that home, and took away a sweet little child, she did not forget to speak to the undertaker, that came to do the last offices for the dead, about his soul. He told me that nothing had ever impressed him in his life as that woman, in the midst of her sorrow, being interested in his soul.

An invalid can do personal work. I have a friend in New York city who has left a life of wealth and fashion to go out to work among the outcast. One day she got hold of a poor outcast girl. She did not live much more than a year after that lady had led her to Christ. She took her to her home to die. As Delia was dying, she wrote to her friends, some in Sing Sing prison, some in the Tombs of New York city — all her friends were among the criminal class — about Christ. Those who were not behind prison bars she invited to come and see her. My friend told me, " There was a constant procession up the stairway of outcast women and men who come to see Delia, and I knew before Delia died of one hundred of the most hopeless men and women in New York city that she had led to Christ." That puts us to shame! Suppose God kindled a fire right here in your hearts, and that you received the anointing of the Spirit of Christ, and every one of you should start out to do personal work. You would not need any evangelist to come from abroad. That is what we have come for, to stir you up to do it.

2. The second advantage is that you can do it in any place. You cannot preach in every place. You can preach in the churches two or three times a week; you can preach in the town hall occasionally; you can preach in the streets sometimes. But you cannot go down in the factories and preach often, you cannot go there and hold services; but you can go there and do personal work, if you just hire out there. One man came to our meetings in Liverpool from Hudson's dry soap factory, and he was converted, and every once in a while I get a letter telling me of their meetings there, and now they have a meeting that they conduct outside the building somewhere. In Bradley's foundry a workman got a card to the meetings, and he could not come, so he handed it over to the wickedest man in the shop, and that man was grateful for the invitation, thought he would appreciate it by going, and was converted at the very first meeting, and went back and told his companions, and there was a revival in the foundry. A telegraph messenger boy was converted in Manchester, and before we were through there were seventy messenger boys converted in Manchester. There is not a hotel, or a factory, or a public-house where you cannot do personal work.

3. The third advantage is that you can do it at any time. Any hour of the night, 365 days in the year (366 this year, for it is leap year). Certainly you cannot preach every hour of the day. If you preach three times a day, you are doing well; but there is not an hour of the day or night, between twelve one night and twelve the next night, that you cannot do personal work. You can go out on the streets at night and find the poor wanderers. When I lived in Minneapolis I employed a missionary just to go out on the streets at night, to speak to the drunkards, outcast women, and night-workers, and some of the best conversions were among these people. She had been an outcast herself at one time, and was leading them to the Christ that she had found.

Soon after Mr. Moody was converted he made up his mind that he would not let a day go by without speaking to some one about his soul. One night he came home late — it was nearly ten o'clock. He said, " Here, I haven't spoken to my man to-day. I guess I have lost my chance." He saw a man standing under the lamplight, and said to himself, " There's my last chance." He hurried up to him, and said, " Are you a Christian? " " It's none of your business, and if you were not a sort of preacher I would knock you into the gutter." " Well," Mr. Moody said, " I just wanted to lead you to Christ." The next day he went to a friend of Mr. Moody's, and said, "That man Moody has got zeal without knowledge. He spoke to me in the street last night, and asked me if I was a Christian. It is none of his business. If he had not been a sort of preacher, I would have knocked him down. He has got zeal without knowledge. He is doing more harm than good." This friend of Mr. Moody's came to him and said, " See here, Moody, it is all right to be in earnest; but you have got zeal without knowledge. You are doing more harm than good." (Let me say here, it is better to have zeal without knowledge than knowledge without zeal.) Mr. Moody went out, feeling rather cheap and crestfallen. A few weeks passed, and one night there was an awful pounding at his door. Mr. Moody got up and opened the door, and there was this very man. He said, " Mr. Moody, I have not had a night's peace since you spoke to me that night under the lamp-post. I have come to ask you to show me how to be a Christian." Mr. Moody took him in, and showed him the way of life, and when the Civil War broke out that man went and laid down his life for his country.

Another time the thought came to him after he was in bed, " You have not spoken to your man today." But he said, " I am in bed. I cannot get up and go out now." But he could not rest, so he got up, and went and opened the door, and it was pouring. "Well," he said, "there is no use going out on the street this awful night. There won't be a soul out in this pouring rain." Just then he heard the patter of a man's feet, and saw a man coming. As he came up, Mr. Moody rushed out, and said, " Can I have the shelter of your umbrella? " " Certainly." "Have you got a shelter in the time of storm? " and he pointed him to Jesus.

4. The fourth advantage is that it reaches all classes. There are a great many people that cannot be reached in any other way than by personal work. Thousands of people could not come to church if they would, and thousands would not come to church if they could. This is a splendid hall, just adapted for our purpose, and will hold about 10,000 women this afternoon, and 10,000 men to-night, that is twenty thousand people inside, and there will be 580,000 outside. It is the 580,000 that we are after. You cannot reach them by the church, you cannot reach them by the open-air meeting, you cannot reach them by rescue missions. There is only one way you can reach them, and that is by personal work. There is not a man, woman, or child that you cannot reach by personal work. You can reach the policemen, the tramcar men, the railway men, and there is not anybody you cannot reach by personal work.

5. The fifth advantage is that it hits the mark. In preaching you have to be more or less general. In personal work you have just one man, just one woman, to talk to, and you can hit the mark every time. You have heard of Henry Ward Beecher. He went out with his father one day, shooting. He had often gone before, but he had never shot anything in his life. Way down yonder was a squirrel. His father said, " Henry, do you see that squirrel? " "Yes, father." "Would you like to hit it?" "Yes, father; but I never hit anything in my life." "You lay the barrel of your gun across the top rail down here, and," he said, " look right down along the barrel. Henry, do you see the squirrel? " " Yes, father." " Well, pull the trigger." He pulled the trigger, and the squirrel fell at the first shot. The first thing he ever shot in his life. Why? Because it was the first thing he had ever aimed at. That is the trouble with a good deal of our preaching: we aim at nothing, and hit it every time. This is the advantage of personal work: we aim at one definite person. But in our preaching, as Mr. Moody used to say, " I speak to this lady on the front seat, and she passes it over her shoulder to the man back of her, and he passes it to the woman back of him, and she passes it to the man back of her, and they keep passing it on till they pass it out the back door." We have a wonderful power of applying the good points of a sermon to somebody else. When it comes to personal work, there is nobody else to apply it to. I try to be personal in my preaching; but, be just as personal as you can, and yet you will miss your mark.

A man came to my church one morning, unctuous, not having unction, but unctuous, a man who was all the time talking about " the deeper life," and had not got an ordinary decent every-day kind of Christian life. He had all the phraseology of the deepest Christian experience; a man that talked about being filled with the Spirit, and cheated other people in business. I saw him coming into the audience, and I said to myself, " I am glad you have come. I will hit you this morning. I have a sermon just adapted to you. While I was preaching I would look right at him, so he would know I meant him, and he sat there, beaming up at me, and when the sermon was over, he came down to me rubbing his hands. " Oh," he said, " Brother Torrey, I came eight miles to hear you this morning. I have SO enjoyed it." That was just what I did not want. I wanted to make him miserable. But I had him now face to face, and he did not enjoy it. That is the advantage of personal work. You can aim right square at the mark and hit it. A man can stand preaching all day, but he will say, " I don't like this personal work." It hits too hard. You don't like to have a person come up and say, "Are you a Christian?" The minister can preach all he pleases, but when he looks you right in the eye you know it means you. It aims right straight at the mark and hits it.

6. The sixth advantage is that it is effective. Personal work succeeds where every other kind of work fails. I don't care who the preacher is, how good a preacher he may be; a man or woman who has not been affected by the sermon will be reached by some very ordinary person with the love of God and of souls in his heart. Take Mr. Moody, for example. I think Mr. Moody was as good a preacher as I ever heard. I would rather hear Mr. Moody preach a sermon that I had heard a dozen times than to hear any other man preach a sermon I had never heard at all; but as good a preacher as Mr. Moody was, thousands of people would go out utterly unmoved by his sermons. I have seen very ordinary working people, uneducated people, but people who had the love of Christ and of souls in their heart, get hold of the man or woman who had gone out of Mr. Moody's meeting utterly untouched, and in ten or fifteen minutes lead them to the Lord Jesus Christ.

7. The seventh advantage is that it meets the specific need and every need of the individual. Even when a man comes to Christ he has difficulties and doubts, and troubles and questions. He cannot ask them of the preacher. How often a man sits down in the audience and says, " I wish I could speak to that preacher alone." In this personal, hand-to-hand work a man can ask all the questions he wants to, and you can meet all his difficulties. I am getting letters from people all over the world who have difficulties. My father used to tell a story (he did not vouch for its truth), but the report was that there was a physician in the village who had a jug, and he took a little of every kind of medicine he had in his shop and put in that jug and shook it up, and when any one came to him and he did not know just what was the matter with them, he would give them a spoonful out of that jug, thinking, " There is something in it that will meet their case, anyhow." That is the way we do in our preaching; we take a little comfort and put it in the sermon, a little bit of conviction, a little bit to show the way of life, and shake it all up and give it to the people. If I were going to be doctored, I would want the doctor to find out my specific difficulty, and I would want to take the kind of medicine that met my specific need. In personal work you give specific passages of Scripture for specific difficulties.

8. The eighth advantage is that it produces abundant results. The great services, where the ministers speak to 500, or 1000, or 5000, do not produce as abundant results. Suppose a man were pastor of a •church of 100 members, and suppose he was a very faithful minister, and that as a result of his preaching there were added fifty to his church each year on confession of faith. That would be a pretty good record. In the report of the Presbyterian churches of America there were only 200 of the 7000 that reported over fifty accessions for the year. But suppose by his faithful preaching this pastor added fifty a year. Now suppose that pastor said, " I am going to train my people to do personal work," and trained his people to do personal work, and suppose only one-half of them would consent to do it. Suppose that these fifty trained workers only succeeded in winning one a month apiece to Christ. That would mean 600 a year. Preaching is not in it with personal work.

But, friends, some of us think we pay the minister to do the work. You don't do anything of the kind. Your minister is your leader, and you are supposed to work under his leadership. One reason why the church of which I am pastor always has a revival is because the people are trained to do personal work. It has had a revival ever since I have been pastor of it. I have been pastor ten years. There have been ten years of revival. There has never been a month that we have not received new members. There has never been a Sabbath without conversions. We would not know what to make of it if there were a Sabbath without conversions. I do not think there has been any day in the week of all this time — 3650 days in all — that some one has not been won to Christ in or about the building. There will be a good many people converted there to-day. You say, " Who is going to preach? " I don't know. But whoever preaches, there will be conversions, and in the Sabbath School this afternoon there will be conversions, and in the evening meeting to-night. Why? Because I have a church that believes in and does personal work. Every Sunday evening while I preach I know there is some one right near every one in that church who knows how to lead a soul to Christ. There are workers in every section of the church. If anybody gets up and goes out, I like it in Chicago, because just as sure as anybody gets up and leaves I know that there is at least one person that is going to be spoken to that night. Some one will drop down the stairs behind them, perhaps follow them a block or two before they speak to them.

Go out to the people and ask God to give you power. The Holy Spirit is for every one of us. I do thank God that the great gift of the Son is for the whole world, and that the gift of the Holy Ghost is for every saved one. " If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him." Just ask, and then go out. Of course, you need to know something about your Bibles in order to do personal work, but you only need one text to start with.

When Mr. Moody first came to New Haven we thought we would go out and hear this strange, uneducated man. I was in the senior class in the Theological Department of the University, and was just about to take my B. D. degree. I knew more then than I will ever know in my life again. We thought we would patronise Mr. Moody a little bit. He did not seem at all honoured by our presence, and, as we heard that untutored man, we thought, " He may be uneducated, but he knows some things we don't." Some of us had sense enough to go to him and say, " Mr. Moody, we wish you would tell us how to do it." And he told us to come round early the next night and he would tell us, and we theologues went up to the meeting, and he said a few words to us, gave us a few texts of Scripture, and then said, " You go at it." The best way to learn how to do it is to do it. " He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." If, however, you make a stupid blunder the first time, go at it again. But if you never start until you are sure you will not make a blunder, you will make the biggest blunder of your life. Go alone with God first, and see if you are right with God; put away every known sin out of your life, surrender absolutely to God, ask for the Holy Spirit, and then pitch in.