Wondrous Love

By Dwight L. Moody

Chapter 7


Read Acts xvi. 23, 40

I shall not preach a sermon; I have just one thought, and that is, to tell every anxious soul what they must do "to be saved." That is the first question of every one who is honestly and really inquiring "the way of salvation," and, God helping me, I will try to-night to make it plain to all.


If I say to you, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," you will reply, "Oh, believe! I have heard that word till I am sick and tired of it. Scarcely a week but I hear it in the church, or at a prayer-meeting, or at some drawing-room meeting." You have all heard it over and over again; I don't suppose there is a child here over five years of age but can repeat that text. What you want is, to know how to believe--what it is to believe.

Some of you say, "We all believe that Christ came into the world to seek and to save the lost; and that he that believeth shall be saved." But the devils believe, and are not saved. Ay, they believe and tremble! You must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and not merely about Him, and then you will know what salvation is.


Well, we'll take another word which means the same thing; perhaps you'll get hold of it better. "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." Bear in mind, "received Him." That's it; not receiving a doctrine or a belief, but receiving Him. It is a person we must receive.

Now, my experience of the last few years is, that we all want to have the power before we receive Christ. That is, we want to feel we are in Christ before we will receive Him. But we cannot love God and feel His presence until we have received Him into our hearts. It is just like a boy with a ball; he throws it to you. Well, you must catch it before you throw it back again. That is the real meaning of "believe"--it is "receive"--receive Christ as yours. I don't know any verse in the Bible that God has blessed to more souls than John i. 12: "To as many as received Him, to them gave He power."

I don't know any better illustration I could have than matrimony; for every other one doesn't hold good in some points; but I think this is one of the best I could use. Some of you smile at this illustration, but the Bible uses it, and if God uses it in His word, why should not I?

In the Old Testament He uses it--"I am married unto you" (Jer. iii. 14). Jesus Himself uses it, when He speaks of the bride in John iii. 29. Paul uses it in his epistles, as in Romans vii. 4, as an illustration of the union between Christ and His church.

Now, it is an illustration you can all understand; there is no one here but knows what it means. When a man offers himself, the woman must do either of two things--either receive or reject him. So every soul in this hall must do one of these two things--"receive" or "reject" Christ. Well, if you receive Him, that is all you have to do, He has promised power.


There was a shop-girl in Chicago, a few years ago; one day she could not have bought a pound's worth of anything; the next day she could go and buy a thousand pounds' worth of whatever she wanted. What made the difference? Why, she had married a rich husband; that was all. She had received him, and of course all he had became hers. And so we can have power, if you only receive Christ. Remember, you can have no power without Him; you will fail, fail constantly, until you receive Him into your heart; and I have Scripture authority to say that Christ will receive every soul that will only come to Him.


You know that Abraham sent his servant Eliezer a long journey to get a wife for his son Isaac. When Eliezer had got Rebekah, he wanted to be up and off with the young bride; but her mother and brother said, "No, she shall wait awhile." When Eliezer was determined to go, they said, "We will inquire of the damsel." And when Rebekah appeared, they said to her, "Wilt thou go with this man?" That was a crisis in her life. She could not have said "No." Undoubtedly it cost her an effort; it would, of course, be a struggle. She had to give up her parents, home, companions, all that she loved, and go with this stranger. But look at her reply; she said, "I will go."

I have come to-night to get a bride for my Master. "Wilt thou go with this man?" I can tell you one thing that Eliezer could not tell Rebekah; he could not say, "Isaac loves you." Isaac had never seen his bride. But I can say, "My Master loves you!"


Ah, that is love! But bear in mind, my friends, that the moment Rebekah made up her mind to accept Isaac he became everything to her, so that she did not feel she was giving up anything for him. Ah, what a mistake some people make! They say, "I'd like to become a Christian if I hadn't to give up so much." Just turn round and look at the other side. You don't have to give up anything--you have simply to receive; and when you have received Christ, everything else vanishes away pretty quick. Christ fills you, so that you don't feel these things to be worth a thought.

When a bride marries a man, it is generally love that prompts her. If any one is here that really loves a man, is she thinking of how much she will have to give up? No; that wouldn't be love. Love doesn't feed upon itself, it feeds upon the person who is loved. So, my friends, it is not by looking at what you will have to give up, but by looking at what you will receive, that you will be enabled to accept the Saviour.


What is He willing to be to you, if you will have Him? Won't you be made heirs of heaven, joint-heirs with Christ--to reign with Him for ever and ever--to be His--to be with Him where He is--to be what He is? Think, then, of what He is, and of what He gives. You don't need to trouble yourselves at present about what you have to give up. Receive Him, and all these things will appear utterly insignificant.

I used to think of what I would have to give up. I dearly loved many of the pleasures of this earth; but now I'd as soon go out into your streets and eat the dirt as do those things. God doesn't say, "Give up this and that." He says, "Here is the Son of my bosom--receive Him." When you do receive Him, everything else goes. Stop that talk about giving up; let Christ save you, and all these things will go for nothing.

Mark the words, "To as many as received Him, to them gave He power." Now, my friends, will you go with this man? You have often heard about Christ; you know as much about Him as any one on this platform perhaps; but did you ever know a man or woman who regretted receiving Him?

No man ever regretted receiving Christ; but I have heard of thousands who have been followers of the devil, and have regretted it bitterly. And I notice that it is always the most faithful followers of the devil who are regretting it most.


My friends, accept my advice, and take Jesus with you when you leave this hall. Remember, He is the gift of God offered to whosoever. You belong to that class, don't you? Just take Him; that's the first thing you have to do. When you go to cut down a tree, you don't take the axe and commence to hew down the branches. No, you begin right down at the root. So here, you must take Christ, and then you will get power to resist the world, the flesh, and the devil.


Now, another case--Ruth and Orpah. Many are like these two young widows. A crisis had come in their lives; they had lost their husbands, and had been living up there in the mountains of Moab. Often had they visited the graves of their dear ones, and perhaps planted a few flowers there, and watered them with their tears. Now, Naomi is about to return to her native land, and they think they will go a bit of the road with her. It is a sad parting; but now the crisis comes. Down in the valley they embrace each other, and give the parting kiss. Then they both say they will go with Naomi, but she warns them of the difficulties and the trials which might await them. So Orpah says, "I will go back to my people"; but Ruth cannot leave her mother, and says she will go with her.

Orpah turns back alone, and I can see her on the top of the hill; she stops, and turns round for a last look. And Naomi says to Ruth, "Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone back to her people, and unto her gods; return thou after thy sister-in-law." What does Ruth say? "Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God." Her choice was made. Poverty here or suffering and want yonder, she would share Naomi's lot.


Orpah loved Naomi, but not enough to leave all for her; while Ruth loved her mother so much, that the leaving of her people seemed nothing to her. Oh, may God draw out all your hearts, so that you may leave all and follow Him! We never hear any more of Orpah; the curtain falls upon her life. Perhaps she died away up in the mountains of Moab, without God and without hope. But how different with Ruth! She becomes famous in history; she is one of the few women whose names have come along down the roll of ages; and she is brought into the royal line of heaven. I have an idea that God blessed her for that decision. And He will bless you if you decide in a like manner. Who will say to-night, as Ruth did, "I will follow thee; and thy God shall be my God"? Will any one take up the language of Ruth? Is there not a Ruth here? If there is, the Master is calling.

I'll take another word. I have been speaking of "receive"; the next word I want your attention to is,


Many get hold of that when they cannot get hold of "believe" or "receive." You all know what it is to trust. If it were not for trust, there would be a terrible commotion in this building to-night.

If you could not trust that the roof was firmly put up, you would get out pretty quick; and if you could not trust these chairs to support you, how long would you sit on them? Why, you wouldn't have come here at all if you didn't trust our word that there would be an address. Now, it is just the same trust that God wants. It is no miraculous trust or faith, but just the same kind, only the object is different. Instead of trusting in these earthly things, or in an arm of flesh, you are asked to trust in the Son of God.


In Dublin I was speaking to a lady in the inquiry-room, when I noticed a gentleman walking up and down before the door. I went forward and said, "Are you a Christian?" He was very angry, and turned on his heel and left me. The following Sunday night I was preaching about "receiving," and I put the question, "Who'll receive Him now?" That young man was present, and the question sank into his heart. The next day he called upon me--he was a merchant in that city--and said, "Do you remember me?" "No, I don't." "Do you remember the young man who answered you so roughly the other night?" "Yes, I do." "Well, I've come to tell you I am saved." "How did it happen?" "Why, I was listening to your sermon last night, and when you asked, 'Who'll receive Him now?' God put it into my heart to say, 'I will'; and He has opened my eyes to see His Son now." I don't know why thousands should not do that here to-night. If you are ever to be saved, why not now?

But another point you must remember--


and it is a free gift for us. Can you buy it? It is a free gift, presented to "whosoever." Suppose I were to say, I will give this Bible to "whosoever"; what have you got to do? Why, nothing but take it. But a man comes forward, and says, "I'd like that Bible very much." "Well, didn't I say 'whosoever'?" "Yes; but I'd like to have you say my name." "Well, here it is." Still he keeps eyeing the Bible, and saying, "I'd like to have that Bible; but I'd like to give you something for it. I don't like to take it for nothing." "Well, I am not here to sell Bibles; take it, if you want it." "Well, I want it; but I'd like to give you something for it. Let me give you a penny for it; though, to be sure, it's worth twenty or thirty shillings." Well, suppose I took the penny; the man takes up the Bible, and marches away home with it. His wife says, "Where did you get that Bible?" "Oh, I bought it." Mark the point; when he gives the penny it ceases to be a gift. So with salvation. If you were to pay ever so little, it would not be a gift.


Man is always trying to do something. This miserable word "try" is keeping thousands out of heaven. When I hear men speak of "trying," I generally tell them it is the way down to death and hell. I believe more souls are lost through "trying" than any other way. You have often tried, and as often failed; and as long as you keep trying you will fail. Drop that word, then, and take as your sure foothold for eternity, "trust." "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" I that is the right kind of trust. Would to God that you would all say, "I will trust Him now, to-night." Did you ever hear of any one going down to hell trusting in Jesus? I never did. This very night, if you commit yourself to Him, the battle will be over.

You are complaining you don't feel better. Well, remember, the child must be born before it can be taught. So we cannot learn of God until we receive Him. We must be born--born again--i.e. the new birth, ere we can feel. Christ must be in us the hope of glory. How can He be in us if we don't receive Him and trust Him?


Another verse that has been used a great deal during the past two years, and I feel that I rest my own salvation on it, is John v. 24. I trust God will write it on your hearts, and burn it down into your souls. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life." Thank God for that "hath."

I had a few men in the inquiry-room the other night who could not find peace. I said, "Do you believe the Bible?" "Yes, sir." "I think I will prove you don't. Turn up John v. 24." They turned it up. "Read the verse." "'He that heareth My Word--'" "You believe that?" "Yes, sir." "'And believeth on Him that sent me--'" "You believe God sent Jesus?" "Yes." "Well, read on." "'Hath everlasting life.'" "You believe you have everlasting life?" "No, we don't." "Oh, I thought you didn't believe in the Bible!" What right have you to cut a verse in two, and say you believe the one half, but not the other? It plainly says, that he who believes "hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." Why, if you believe God's words, you can say, "I have passed from darkness into light." Just by resting on that one little word in the present tense we may have "assurance" now. We don't need to wait till we die, and till the great day of judgment, to find it out.


A lady in Glasgow came to me, and said, "Mr. Moody, you are always saying 'Take, take!' Is there any place in the Bible where it says 'Take,' or is it only a word you use? I have been looking in the Bible for it, but cannot see it." "Why," I said, "the Bible is sealed with it; it is almost the last word in the Bible. 'And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.'" "Well," she said, "I never saw that before. Is that all I have to do?" "Yes, the Bible says so." And she took it, just there. God says, "Let him take"; who can stop us if God says it? All the devils in hell cannot hinder a poor soul from taking, if God says "Take." My friends, are you going to "Take" to-night? Are you going to let these precious meetings pass without getting Christ--without being able to look up and say, "Christ is my Saviour, God is my Father, heaven is my home"?


A lady came to my house the other night, anxious about her soul; but after some conversation she left, without finding peace. She came again, and I asked, "What is the trouble?" "I haven't got peace." I took her to this verse, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life" (John iii. 36). I just held up that little word "hath" to her, and turned to John v. 24, and vi. 47. There these words were spoken by Jesus, and they are all linked on to believing on the Son. After we had talked for some time, she looked in my face earnestly, and said, "I have got it!" and went away rejoicing in the Saviour's love.

If you seek life you can have it now, as you sit upon your seat. The word "hath" occurs again in Isa. liii. 6: "All we like sheep have gone astray;... and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Our iniquity has been laid upon Christ, and the Lord is not going to demand payment twice. "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree."


Suppose I owed Mr. Wanamaker a thousand pounds, and I became a bankrupt; I would have nothing to pay, so he might send me to prison. But suppose Mr. Stone heard of it, and says, "I don't want to see Moody taken to prison." So he pays the debt for me, and gets the receipt. When I see the receipt, I know that I am free. But Mr. Wanamaker finds out that I didn't pay it, and gets me hauled off to court. He says he must have me pay it myself, or I must go to prison. I show the receipt. "Why," says the judge, "the debt is paid."

Mr. Wanamaker says, "Moody didn't pay it." Would any judge in the land support him? No; it is paid, and cannot be demanded again. Well, if man do not ask payment twice, will God? No, certainly not! The case is this: the debt has been paid, our sins have been atoned for. Christ Himself has redeemed us, not with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but with His precious blood; therefore we are free.

But remember, although salvation is so free for us, it cost God a great deal to redeem us. He had an only Son, and He gave Him up freely for us. What a wonderful gift! If you make light of so great a salvation, how can you escape the damnation of hell?


Now, one question: What are you going to do with Christ? You have got to settle that question. You may get angry, like a man a short time ago, who marched out of a church, saying, "What right has that American to make such a statement?" But it is true; you must settle it. Pilate wanted to shirk the responsibility, and sent Jesus to Herod; but he was forced to a decision. When the Jews forced him to decide, he washed his hands, and said he "was innocent of this just man's blood." But did that take away his guilt? No.

An angel may be here, hovering over this audience, and he is listening to what is said. Some one may say, "I will receive Him; I will delay no longer." Immediately the angel will wing his way right up to the pearly gates, and tell the news that another sinner has been saved. There will be a new song ringing through the courts of heaven over sinners repenting. God will issue the command to write down their names in the book of life, and to get rooms ready for them in the new Jerusalem, where we all will soon be.


A man was once being tried for a crime, the punishment of which was death. The witnesses came in one by one, and testified to his guilt; but there he stood, quite calm and unmoved. The judge and the jury were quite surprised at his indifference; they could not understand how he could take such a serious matter so calmly. When the jury retired, it did not take them many minutes to decide on the verdict "guilty"; and when the judge was passing the sentence of death upon the criminal, he told him how surprised he was that he could be so unmoved in the prospect of death.

When the judge had finished, the man put his hand in his bosom, pulled out a document, and walked out of the dock a free man. Ah, that was how he could be so calm; it was a free pardon from his king, which he had in his pocket all the time. The king had instructed him to allow the trial to proceed, and to produce the pardon only when he was condemned. No wonder, then, that he was indifferent as to the result of the trial. Now, that is just what will make us joyful in the great day of judgment; we have got a pardon from the Great King, and it is sealed with the blood of His Son.


After the Chicago fire took place, a great many things were sent to us from all parts of the world. The boxes they came in were labelled "For the people who were burned out," and all a man had to do was to prove that he had been burned out, and he got a share. So here, you have but to prove that you are poor, miserable sinners, and there's help for you. If every man who is ruined and lost will cling to "try," there is no hope; but if he give it all up as a bad job, then Christ will save him. The law condemns us, but Christ saves us.


The superintendent of a Sabbath school in Edinburgh was walking down the street one day, when he met a policeman leading a little boy by the hand, who was crying bitterly. He stopped, and asked the policeman what was the matter with the boy. "Oh," said the officer, "he has got lost." The superintendent asked to look at him. They went to a lamp, and held up the little fellow. Why, in a moment the boy knew his superintendent, and flew to his arms. The gentleman took him from the policeman, and the boy was comforted. The law has got us, but let us flee into Jesus' arms, and we are safe.

A friend of mine in the North told me of a poor Scottish lassie, who was very anxious about her soul. He told her to read Isaiah liii. She replied, "I canna read, and I canna pray; Jesus, take me as I am!" That was the true way; and Jesus just took her as she was. Let Him take you this night, just as you are, and He will receive you to His arms.


One night, when preaching in Philadelphia, right down by the side of the pulpit there was a young lady, whose eyes were riveted on me as if she were drinking in every word. It is precious to preach to people like that; they generally get good, even if the sermon be poor.

I got interested in her, and after I had done talking, I went and spoke to her. "Are you a Christian?" "No, I wish I was; I have been seeking Jesus for three years." I said, "There must be some mistake." She looked strangely at me, and said, "Don't you believe me?" "Well, no doubt you thought you were seeking Jesus; but it don't take an anxious sinner three years to meet an anxious Saviour." "What am I to do, then?" "The matter is, you are trying to do something; you must just believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."

"Oh, I am sick and tired of the word, 'Believe, believe, believe!' I don't know what it is." "Well," I said, "we'll change the word; take 'trust.'" "If I say, I'll trust Him, will He save me?" "No, I don't say that; you may say a thousand things, but if you do trust Him." "Well," she said, "I do trust Him; but," she added in the same breath, "I don't feel any better." "Ah, I've got it now! You've been looking for feelings for three years, instead of for Jesus. Faith is up above, not down here."

People are always looking for feelings. You are getting up a new translation of the Bible here, and if the men who are translating it would only put in feelings instead of faith, what a rush there would be for that Bible. But if you look from Genesis to Revelation, you cannot find feelings attached to salvation. We must rise above feelings. So I said to this lady, "You cannot control your feelings; if you could, what a time you'd have! I know I would never have the toothache or the headache."


"Feelings" is the last plank the devil sticks out, just as your feet are getting on the "Rock of Ages." He sees the poor trembling sinner just finding his way to the Saviour, when he shoves out this plank, and the poor sinner thinks he's "all right now." Some sermon you have heard arouses you, but then you feel all right when you get on this plank. Six months after, perhaps, you are dying, and the devil comes along when you think you're quite safe. "Ah," he tells you, "that was my work; I made you feel good." And where are you then? Oh, take your stand on God's word, then you cannot fail. His word has been tried for six thousand years, and it has not failed.

So I said to the lady, "Have no more to do with feelings; but, like Job, say, 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.'" She looked at me a few minutes, and then, putting her hand to take mine, she said, "Mr. Moody, I trust the Lord Jesus Christ to save my soul to-night." Then she went to the elders and said the same words. As she passed out she met one of the church officers, and, shaking his hand, said again, "I trust the Lord Jesus to save my soul."

Next night she was right before me again. I shall never forget her beaming face; the light of eternity was shining in her eyeballs! She went into the inquiry-room. I wondered what she was going there for; but when I got there, I found her with her arms round a lady friend, saying, "It's only to trust Him. I have found it so." From that night she was one of the best workers in the inquiry-room, and whenever I met a difficult case, I got her to speak to the person, and she was sure to help them.


Surely you can trust God to-night. You must have a very poor opinion of God if you cannot trust Him. You have only to come to Him thus--receive Him, trust Him. What more can you do, and what less can you do than trust Him? Is He not worthy of it? Now, let us be perfectly still a moment, and while the voice of man is hushed, let us think of one passage of Scripture "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." That is Christ standing at the door of your heart, knocking; and He says, "If any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." Will any one to-night pull back the bolts, and say, "Enter, thou welcome, thrice welcome One. Blessed Saviour, come in." God grant that all here may do this!