Part 1 out of 4
Produced by Distributed Proofreaders
Quiet Talks with World Winners
S. D. Gordon
Author of "Quiet Talks on Power," "Quiet Talks About Jesus," "Quiet Talks
on Personal Problems," Etc.
1. The Master Passion
2. The Master's Plan
3. The Need
4. The Present Opportunity
5. The Pressing Emergency
6. The Past Failure
7. The Coming Victory
II. Winning Forces
1. The Church
2. Each One of Us
4. The Holy Spirit
The Master Passion
The Earliest Calvary Picture.
The Love Passion.
The Genesis Picture.
God Giving Himself.
The Genesis Water-mark.
A Human Picture of God.
On a Wooing Errand.
The Master Passion
The Earliest Calvary Picture.
There's a great passion burning in the heart of God. It is tenderly warm
and tenaciously strong. Its fires never burn low, nor lose their fine
glow. That passion is to win man back home again. The whole world of man
is included in its warm, eager reach.
The old home hearth-fire of God is lonely since man went away. The family
circle is broken. God will not rest until that old home circle is complete
again, and every voice joining in the home songs.
It is an overmastering passion, the overmastering passion of God's
heart. It has guided and controlled all His thoughts and plans for man
from the first. The purpose of winning man, and the whole race, back again
is the dominant gripping passion of God's heart to-day. Everything is made
to bend to this one end.
When Eden's tragedy came so early, to darken the pages of this old Book,
and, far worse, to darken the pages of human life, there is a great
glimpse of this passion of God's heart in the guarding of those Eden
gates. The presence of the angels with their sword of flame told plainly
of a day when man would be coming back again to the old Eden home of God.
The place must be carefully guarded for him.
This is a love passion, a passion of love. And love itself is the master
passion both of the human heart and of God's heart. Nothing can grip and
fill and sway the heart either of man or God like that.
We would all easily agree that the greatest picture of God's marvellous,
overmastering passion of love is seen in the cross. All men as they have
come to know that story have stood with heads bowed and bared before the
love revealed there. They have not understood it. They have quarrelled
about its meaning. But they have acknowledged its love and power as beyond
that of any other story or picture.
However men may differ as to why Jesus died, and how His dying affects us,
they all agree that the scene of the cross is the greatest revelation of
love ever known or ever shown. All theories of the atonement seem to be
lost sight of in one thought of grateful acknowledgment of a stupendous
love, as men are drawn together by the magnetism of the hill-top of
But there is a wondrously clear foreshadowing of that tremendous cross
scene in the earliest page of this old Book. Nowhere is love, God's
passion of love, made to stand out more distinctly and vividly than in the
first chapter of Genesis. The after-scene of the cross uses intenser
coloring; the blacks are inkier in their blackness; the reds deeper and
redder; the contrasts sharper to the startling-point; yet there is nothing
in the cross chapters of the Gospels not included fully in this first leaf
of revelation. But it has taken the light of the cross to open our eyes to
see how much is plainly there. Let us look at it a bit.
The Love Passion.
What is this greatest of passions called love? There is no word harder to
get a satisfactory definition of. Because, whatever you say about it,
there comes quickly to your mind some one who loves you, or you think of
the passion that burns in your own heart for some one. And, as you think
of that, no words that anybody may use seem at all strong enough, or
tender enough, to tell what love is, as you know it in your own inner
Yet I think this much can be said--love is the tender, strong outgoing of
your whole being to another. It is a passion burning like a fire within
you, a soft-burning but intense fire within you, for some other one. Every
mention of that name stirs the flame into new burning. Every passing or
lingering thought of him or her is like fresh air making the flames leap
up more eagerly. And each personal contact is a clearing out of all the
ashes, and a turning on of all the draughts, to feed new oxygen for
stronger, fresher burning.
There are many other things that seem like love. Kindliness and
friendliness, and even intenser emotions, use love's name for themselves.
But though these have likenesses to love, they are not love. They have
caught something of its warm glow. A bit of the high coloring of its
flames plays on them. But they are not the real thing, only distant
kinsfolk. The severe tests of life quickly reveal their lack.
Love itself is really an aristocrat. It allows very, very few into its
inner circle, often only one. The real thing of love is never selfish. Now
we know very well that in the thick of life the fine gold of love gets
mixed up with the baser metals. It is very often overlaid, and shot
through with much that is mean and low. Rank selfishness, both the coarse
kind and the refined, cultured sort, seeks a hiding-place under its cloak.
But the stuff mixed in it is not love, but a defiling of it. That is a bit
of the slander it suffers for a time, from the presence in life of sin.
Weeds with their poison, and snakes and spiders with their deadly venom,
draw life from the sun. That is a bit of the bad transmuting the good,
pure sun into its own sort. The sun itself never produces poison or any
Love itself is never mean, nor bad, nor selfish. The man who truly loves
the woman whom he would have for his own lifelong, closest companion is
not selfish. He does not want her chiefly for his own sake, but for her
sake, that so he may guard and care for her, and her life be fully grown
in the sunlight of the love it must have. And, if you think that is
idealizing it out of all practical reach, please remember that true love
will steadily refuse the union that would not be best for the loved one.
What is the finest and highest love that we know? There are many different
sorts and degrees of love revealed in man's relation with his fellow:
conjugal, the love between husband and wife; paternal, the love of a
father for his child; maternal, the mother's love for her child; filial,
the love of children for father and mother; fraternal, or brotherly,
meaning really the love of children of the same parents for each other,
both brothers and sisters--the same word is used for love between friends
where there is no tie of blood; and patriotic, or love for one's country.
And under that last word may be loosely grouped the love that one may have
for any special object, to which he may devote his life, outside of
personal relationships, such as music or any profession or occupation.
This is putting them in their logical order. Though in our experience we
know the father-and mother-love for ourselves first; and then in turn the
others, so far as they come to us, until we complete the circle and reach
the climax of father-and mother-love in ourselves going out to another.
Now of these sorts and degrees which is the highest and finest? Well, your
answer to that question will depend entirely on your own experience; as
every answer and every thought we have of everything does. All children
have mothers, or have had, but thousands of children don't know a mother's
I was speaking one time in New York City about the conception, of which
the Bible is so full, that God is a mother. And the English evangelist
Gypsy Smith, who lost his mother when very young, but who had an unusually
devoted father, said with charming simplicity that he could not just see
how God could be called a mother, but he knew He was a father. And then he
went on to speak very winsomely of God as a father.
Many times love is not born in the heart at all, until there comes into
the life some one clear outside of one's own kin. Many a woman never knows
love until it is awakened in her heart by him who henceforth is to be a
part of herself.
But the common answer, that most people everywhere give to that question,
is that a mother's love is the greatest human love we know. And if you
press them to tell why they think so, this stands out oftenest and
strongest--that it is because she gives so much of herself. She gives her
very life. If need be, she sacrifices everything in life, and then
sacrifices life itself, going out into the darkness of death that her
child may come into fulness and sweetness of life. This is the mother
spirit, giving one's very self to bring life to another.
The mother gives her very life-blood that the new life may come. And, if
need be, will gladly give her life out to the death that the new life
may come into life. And yet more, she gives her life out daily and yearly,
throughout its length, that so the full strength and fragrance of life may
come in her child's life.
Yet, when all this has been said, I am strongly inclined to think that the
mother's love, though the greatest that can be found in any one heart, is
not the perfect, fully grown love. The human unit is not a man nor a
woman, but a man and a woman. Perfect love requires more than one or two
for its matured growth into full life. It cannot exist in its full
strength and fragrant sweets except where three are joined together to
draw out its full depth and meaning.
There must be two whose hearts are fully joined in love, each finding
answering and ever-satisfying love in the other; and so each love growing
to full ripeness in the warm sunshine of the other love. And then there
needs to be a third one, who comes as a result of that mutual love, and
who constantly draws out the love of the other two.
For love in itself is creative. It yearns to bring into being another upon
whom it may freely lavish itself. That other one must be of its own sort,
upon its own level. Nothing less ever satisfies. And so the love poured
out draws out to itself an answering love fully as full as its own. And
then, having yearned, it does more. It creates. It must create. It must
bring forth life; and life like its own in all its powers and privileges.
This is the very life of love in its full expression.
Yet to say all this is simply to spell out fully, in all its letters and
syllables, the great, the greatest of passions, mother-love, which we
agreed a moment ago was the highest. For mother-love is not restricted to
woman, though among us humans it often finds its brightest expressions in
her. It knows no restriction of sex. It is simply love at its fullest and
highest and freest and tenderest; free to do as it will, and to do it as
fully as it will. Love left to itself, free to do as its heart dictates,
will give its very self, its life, that life may come to another. This is
the great passion called love, the greatest of all passions.
The Genesis Picture.
Now, maybe you think we have swung pretty far away from that first chapter
of the Genesis revelation. No; you are mistaken there. We have been
walking, with rapid stride, by the shortest road, straight into its inner
heart. Let us look a bit at the picture of God sketched for us in this
earliest page of revelation.
There are two creations here, first of the earth, man's home; and then of
man himself who was to live in the home. Here at once in the beginning is
mother-love. Before the new life comes the mother is absorbed in getting
the home ready; the best and softest and homiest home that her mother-love
can think of, and her fingers fix. The same mother instinct in the birds
spends itself in getting the nest ready, and then patiently broods until
the new occupants come to take possession.
The Bible never calls God a mother, though the mother language, as here,
is used of Him many times. It takes more of the human to tell the divine.
You must take many words, and several of our human relationships, and put
them together, in the finest meaning of each, to get near the full meaning
of what God is. Up on the higher level, with God, the word "father" really
includes all that both father and mother mean to us.
The word "father" is even used once of God in what we think of as the
strict mother sense. In speaking of God's early care of the Hebrews Paul
says, "as a nursing-father bore he them in the wilderness." That word
"nursing-father" is peculiar in coupling the distinctive function of the
mother in caring for the babe with the word father.
The word "father" applied to God includes not only our meaning of father
in all its strength as we know it at its best; but all of the meaning of
the word "mother," in all its sweet fragrance, as we have had it breathed
into our own very life.
We have come commonly to think of the word mother as a tenderer word than
father. Though I have met many, both men and women, who unconsciously
revealed that their experience has made father the tenderer, and the
tenderest word to them. Father stands commonly for the stronger, more
rugged qualities; and mother for the finer, gentler, sweeter, maybe
softer qualities, in the strong meaning of that word soft.
God Giving Himself.
Here in this Genesis story the creation of the whole sun-system to give
life to the earth, and of the earth itself, was the outward beginning of
this greatest passion of love in the heart of God. And if you would know
more of that love in this early stage of it, just look a bit at the home
itself. It has been pretty badly mussed, soiled and hurt by sin's foul
touch. Yet even so it is a wonder of a world in its beauty and
fruitfulness. What must it have been before the slime and tangle of sin
got in! But that's a whole story by itself. We must not stop there just
When the home was ready God set Himself to bringing the new life He was
planning. And He did it, even as father and mother of our human kind and
of every other kind do:--He gave some of Himself. He breathed into man His
own life-breath. He came Himself, and with the warmth and vitality of His
life brought a new life. The new life was a bit of Himself.
That phrase, "breathed into his nostrils," brings to us the conception of
the closest personal, physical contact; two together in most intimate
contact, and life passing from one to the other. The picture of Elijah
stretching his warm body upon that of the widow's son until the
life-breath came again comes instinctively to mind. And its companion
scene comes with it, of Elisha lying prone upon the child, mouth to
mouth, eye to eye, hand to hand, until the breath again softly reentered
that little, precious body.
And if all this seems too plain and homely a way to talk about the great
God, let us remember it is the way of this blessed old Book. It is the
only way we shall come to know the marvellous intimacy and tenderness of
God's love, and of God's touch upon ourselves.
How shall we talk best about God so as to get clear, sensible ideas about
Him? Why not follow the rule of the old Bible? Can we do better? It
constantly speaks of Him in the language that we use of men. The scholars,
with their fondness for big words, say the Bible is anthropomorphic. That
simply means that it uses man's words, and man's ideas of things in
telling about God. It makes use of the common words and ideas, that man
understands fully, to tell about the God, whom he doesn't know. Could
there be a more sensible way? Indeed, how else could man understand?
Some dear, godly people have sometimes been afraid of the use of simple,
homely language in talking about God. To speak of Him in the common
language of every-day life, the common talk of home and kitchen, and shop
and street and trade, seems to them lacking in due reverence. Do they
forget that this is the language of the common people? And of our good old
Anglo-Saxon Bible? Has anybody ever yet used as blunt homely, talk as this
old Book uses? And has any other book stuck into people's memories and
hearts with such burr-like hold as it has?
That breathing by God into man's nostrils of the breath of life suggests
the intensest concentration of strength and thought and heart. The whole
heart of God went out to man in that breath that brought life.
The whole thought of God's heart was to have a man like Himself. Over
and over again, with all the peculiar emphasis of repetition, it is said
that the man was to be in the very image, or likeness, of God. God gave
Himself that the man might be a bit of Himself. Here is the love-passion,
the mother-passion, the father-mother-passion, in its highest mood, and at
its own finest work.
The man was to be the very best, that so he might have fellowship of the
most intimate sort with God. Of course, only those who are alike can have
fellowship. Only in that particular thing which any two have in common can
they have fellowship together. Let me use a common word in its old, fine,
first meaning: man was made to be God's fellow, His most intimate
associate and companion.
As you read this early story in Genesis of God's passion of love, you
know, if you stop to think into it, that if ever the need for it came, He
will climb any Calvary hill, however steep, and receive the jagging nails
of any cross, however cutting, for the sake of His darling child--man.
This love-passion never faileth. There is no emergency that can arise
that is too great for love's resources. Any danger, however great, every
need, no matter how distressing, is already provided for by love. The
emergency may sorely test and tax love to its last limit, but it can never
outdo it, nor outstrip it in the race. No matter how great the danger,
love is a bit greater. No matter how strong the enemy threatening, love is
always yet stronger. However deep down into the very vitals of life the
poison-sting may sink its fangs, love goes yet deeper, neutralizing the
deadly influence with its own fresh life-blood.
Have you ever looked into a single drop of water and seen the sun? the
whole of that brilliant ball of fire there in one tiny drop of water?
Well, there's one word on this first leaf of the Book which contains the
clear reflection, sharply outlined, of the whole creation story; ah! yes,
more than that, of the whole Gospel story.
Come here and look; you can see in its clear surface the form of a man
climbing a little, steep hill, and being hung, thorn-crowned, upon a cross
of pain and shame. It is in chapter one, verse two, the word "brooding."
The old version and the Revision, both English and American, have the word
"moved." The Revisions add "brooding" in the margin. And that is the root
meaning of the word underneath our English--"brooding," or, rendered more
fully, "was brooding tremulous with love."
The Genesis Water-mark.
That English word "brooding," as well as the old word underneath, is a
mother word. The brooding hen sits so faithfully, day after day, upon the
eggs, bringing the new lives by the vital warmth of her own body. The
mother-bird nestles softly down upon the nest in the crotch of the tree,
patiently, expectantly brooding, by the strength of her own life giving
life to the coming young. She who, in the holiest, greatest function
entrusted to her, comes nearest to God in creative power and love--the
mother of our human kind, broods for long months over her coming child,
giving her very life, until the crisis of birth comes; and then broods
still, for months and years longer, that the new life may come into
fulness of life. That is the great word used here.
Now, will you please notice very keenly the connection in which it occurs.
It was because the earth was "waste and void, and darkness upon the face
of the deep," that the Spirit of God was brooding. It is only fair to say
that our scholarly friends who think in Hebrew are divided as to the
meaning here. Some think that these words, "waste and void," simply
indicate a stage, or step, in the processes of creation.
But others of them are just as positive in saying that the words point
plainly to a disaster of some sort that took place. In their view the
whole story of creation is in the ten opening words of the chapter. Then
follows a bad break of some sort; then the brooding of God in verse two;
and the rest of the chapter is taken up in what is practically a reshaping
up again of the whole affair. Some of this second group of Hebrew scholars
have made this translation,--"the earth became a waste," or "a wreck," or
"a ruin," or "without inhabitant."
If we may so read it now, it gives a world of additional meaning to this
word "brooding." Here was love not merely giving life, but giving itself
to overcome a disaster. The brooding was to mend a break. Love creates. It
also redeems. It stoops down with great patience, and washes the dirt and
filth thoroughly off, in the best cleansing liquid to be found, and brings
the cleansed, redeemed man back again.
Love does indeed create. It gave man the power to choose freely, without
any restriction, whatever he would choose to choose. Redeeming love does
more. It woos him to choose the right, and only the right. It gets down by
his side after his eyesight has become twisted, and his will badly kinked
by wrong choosing, and patiently, persistently works to draw him up to the
level of choosing right. Love makes us like God in the power of choice.
But there's a greater task ahead. It makes us yet more like Him in the
desire to choose only the right, and in the power to choose it, too. All
this is in that marvellous world of a word--"brooding."
The whole story of the sacrifice of Calvary is included in this wondrous
first leaf of revelation. If we had lost the Gospels, and didn't know
their story, nor the history of man, we yet could know from this Genesis
page that, if ever the need arose, God would lavishly give out His very
life, at any cost of suffering and pain, that His man might be saved.
John, three, sixteen is in the first chapter of Genesis. Calvary is in the
creation. God gave His breath to man in creation, and His blood for man on
Calvary. He gave His blood because He had given His breath. Each was His
You know the way publishers have of putting an imprint in a book by means
of what is called a water-mark. By the skilful use of water in
manufacturing the paper, a name or trade imprint is made a part of the
very paper of which the book is made.
Have you ever noticed God's water-mark on the paper of this first leaf of
His Book? Hold your Bible up as we talk; separate this first leaf and hold
it up to the light and try to see through it. The best light to use is
that which came from Calvary. Can you see the water-mark plainly imprinted
there? Look closely and carefully, for it is there. In clear-cut outline,
every bit of it showing sharply out, is a cross. And if you look still
more closely you will find this water-mark different from those in common
use, in this--there is a distinct blood-red tinge to it.
A Human Picture of God.
Illustrations of God from our common life are never full, and must not be
taken too critically, but they are sometimes wonderfully vivid and very
helpful. Anything that makes God seem real and near helps.
A few years ago I heard a simple story of real life from the lips of a New
England clergyman. It was told of a brother clergyman of the same
denomination, and stationed in the same city with the man who told me.
This clergyman had a son, about fourteen years of age, who, of course, was
going to school. One day the boy's teacher called at the house and asked
for the father. When they met he said:
"Is your son sick?"
"He was not at school to-day."
"You don't mean it!"
"Nor the day before."
"And I supposed he was sick."
"No, he's not sick."
"Well, I thought I should tell you."
And the father thanked him, and the teacher left. The father sat thinking
about his son, and those three days. By and by he heard a click at the
gate, and he knew the boy was coming in. So he went to the door to meet
him at once. And the boy knew as he looked up that the father knew about
those three days.
And the father said, "Come into the library, Phil."
And Phil went and the door was shut.
Then the father said very quietly, "Phil, your teacher was here a little
while ago. He tells me you were not at school to-day, nor yesterday, nor
the day before. And we thought you were. You let us think you were. And
you don't know how bad I feel about this. I have always said I could trust
my boy Phil. I always have trusted you. And here you have been a living
lie for three whole days. I can't tell you how bad I feel about it."
Well, it was hard on the boy to be talked to in that gentle way. If his
father had spoken to him roughly, or had taken him out to the wood-shed,
in the rear of the dwelling, it wouldn't have been nearly so hard.
Then the father said, "We'll get down and pray." And the thing was getting
harder for Phil all the time. He didn't want to pray just then. Most
people don't about that time.
And they got down on their knees, side by side. And the father poured out
his heart in prayer. And the boy listened. Somehow he saw himself in the
looking-glass of his knee-joints as he hadn't before. It is queer about
that mirror of the knee-joints, the things you see in it. Most people
don't like to use it much. And they got up from their knees. The father's
eyes were wet. And Phil's eyes were not dry.
Then the father said, "My boy, there's a law of life, that where there is
sin there is suffering. You can't get those two things apart. Wherever
there is suffering there has been sin, somewhere, by somebody. And
wherever there is sin there will be suffering, for some one, somewhere;
and likely most for those closest to you."
"Now," he said, "my boy, you have done wrong. So we'll do this. You go
up-stairs to the attic. I'll make a little bed for you there in the
corner. We'll bring your meals up to you at the usual times. And you stay
up in the attic three days and three nights, as long as you've been a
living lie." And the boy didn't say a word. They climbed the attic steps.
The father kissed his boy, and left him alone.
Supper-time came, and the father and mother sat down to eat. But they
couldn't eat for thinking of their son. The longer they chewed on the food
the bigger and drier it got in their mouths. And swallowing was clear out
of the question. And the mother said, "Why don't you eat?" And he said
softly, "Why don't you eat?" And, with a catch in her throat, she said,
"I can't, for thinking of Phil." And he said, "That's what's bothering
And they rose from the supper-table, and went into the sitting-room. He
took up the evening paper, and she began sewing. His eyesight was not very
good. He wore glasses, and to-night they seemed to blur up. He couldn't
see the print distinctly. It must have been the glasses, of course. So he
took them off, and wiped them with great care, and then found the paper
was upside-down. And she tried to sew. But the thread broke, and she
couldn't seem to get the thread into the needle again. How we all reveal
ourselves in just such details!
By and by the clock struck ten, their usual hour of retiring. But they
made no move to go. And the mother said quietly, "Aren't you going to
bed?" And he said, "I'm not sleepy, I think I'll sit up a while longer;
you go." "No, I guess I'll wait a while too." And the clock struck eleven;
then the hands clicked around close to twelve. And they arose, and went to
bed; but not to sleep. Each one pretended to be asleep. And each knew the
other was not asleep.
After a bit she said--woman is always the keener--"Why don't you sleep?"
And he said softly, "How did you know I wasn't sleeping? Why don't you
sleep?" And she said, with that same queer catch in her voice, "I can't,
for thinking of Phil." He said, "That's the bother with me." And the clock
struck one; and then two; still no sleep. At last the father said,
"Mother, I can't stand this. I'm going up-stairs with Phil."
And he took his pillow, and went softly out of the room; climbed the attic
steps softly, and pressed the latch softly so as not to wake the boy if he
were asleep, and tiptoed across to the corner by the window. There the boy
lay, wide-awake, with something glistening in his eyes, and what looked
like stains on his cheeks. And the father got down between the sheets, and
they got their arms around each other's necks, for they had always been
the best of friends, and their tears got mixed up on each other's
cheeks--you couldn't have told which were the father's and which the
son's. Then they slept together until the morning light broke.
When sleep-time came the second night the father said, "Good-night,
mother. I'm going up with Phil again." And the second night he shared his
boy's punishment in the attic. And the third night when sleep-time came
again, again he said, "Mother, good-night. I'm going up with the boy." And
the third night he shared his son's punishment with him.
That boy, now a man grown, in the thews of his strength, my acquaintance
told me, is telling the story of Jesus with tongue of flame and life of
flame out in the heart of China.
Do you know, I think that is the best picture of God I have ever run
across in any gallery of life? It is not a perfect picture. No human
picture of God is perfect, except of course the Jesus human picture. The
boy's punishment was arbitrarily chosen by the father, unlike God's
dealings with our sin. But it is the tenderest and most real of any that
has come to me.
God couldn't take away sin. It's here. Very plainly it is here. And He
couldn't take away suffering, out of kindness to us. For suffering is
sin's index-finger pointing out danger. It is sin's voice calling loudly,
"Look out! there's something wrong." So He came down in the person of His
Son, Jesus, and lay down alongside of man for three days and nights, in
the place where sin drove man.
That's God! And that suggests graphically the great passion of His heart.
Sin was not ignored. Its lines stood sharply out. The boy in the garret
had two things burned into his memory, never to be erased: the wrong of
his own sin, and the strength of his father's love.
Jesus is God coming down into our midst and giving His own very life, and
then, more, giving it out in death, that He might make us hate sin, and
might woo and win the whole world, away from sin, back to the intimacies
of the old family circle again.
On a Wooing Errand.
Jesus was a mirror held up to the Father's face for man to look in. So we
may know what the Father is like. When you look at Jesus and listen to Him
you are looking into the Father's heart and listening to its warm
throbbing. And no one can look there without being caught by the great
passion burning there, and feeling its intense soft-burning glow, and
carrying some of it for ever after in his own heart.
Jesus was on a wooing errand to the earth. The whole spirit of His
dealings with men was that of a great lover, wooing them to the Father. He
was insistently eager to let men know what His Father was like. He seemed
jealous of His Father's reputation among men. It had been slandered badly.
Men misunderstood the Father. He would leave no stone unturned to let men
know how good and loving and winsome God is. For then they would eagerly
run back home again to Him. This was His method of approach to the world
He came to win.
Jesus is the greatest wooer the old world has ever known, and will be the
greatest winner of what He is after, too. Run thoughtfully through these
Gospels, and stand by Jesus' side in each one of these simple, tremendous
incidents of His contact with the common people. Then listen anew to His
teaching talks, so homely and so gripping. And the impression becomes
irresistible that the one thought that gripped at every turn, never
forgotten, was to woo man back to the Father's allegiance.
Have you not marked the world-wide swing of Jesus' thought and plan? It
is stupendous in its freshness and bold daring. The bigness of His idea of
the thing to be done is immense. To use a favorite phrase of to-day, He
had a world-consciousness. It is hard for us to realize what a startling
thing His world-consciousness was. We are so familiar with the Gospels
that we lose much of their force through mere rote of familiarity.
It takes a determined effort, and the fresh touch of the Holy Spirit, too,
to have them come with all the freshness of a new book. And then we have
gotten sort of used in our day, and in our part of the world especially,
to talking about world-wide enterprises.
We don't realize what a stupendous thing a world-consciousness was in
Jesus' day. He certainly did not get it from His own generation; not from
the Jews. It stands out in keen contrast to their ideas. They lived within
very narrow alleyways. They supposed they were the favorites of God; and
everybody else--dogs, and damned dogs, too; not in the profane usage,
But Jesus thought of a world, and yearned for a world. The words "world"
and "earth" are constantly on His lips. He said He came "into the world;"
not to Palestine; that was only the door He used for entrance. It was from
Him that John learned, what he wrote down, that He was to "lighten every
man that cometh into the world."
To the Jewish senator of the inner national circle He said plainly in that
great sentence that contains the gist of the whole Bible--John, three,
sixteen--that it was a world he was after. A saved world was the one
purpose of His errand to the earth. He had come to "save the world,"
and would stop at nothing short of giving His very self "for the life of
He tells His own inner circle that "the field" is a world. And that it
is to be won by the means He Himself was using; namely, men, human beings,
"sons of the kingdom" were to be sown as seed all over its vast extent.
You remember, that last week, the request of the Greeks for an
interview? The outside non-Jewish world came to Him in the visit and
earnest request of those Greeks. And His whole being became greatly
agitated. It was as when one, at last, after years of labor without any
seeming success, gets a first faint glimpse of the results he longs so
earnestly for. Here was a touch, a glimpse of the very thing on which His
heart was so set. The great outside world was coming to Him.
The realization of its tremendous meaning, the sure promise it held of the
day when all the world would be coming seems to set Him all a-tremble
with intensest emotion. The delight of the possible realizing of His
life-dream, His earth errand, and yet the terrific conviction that only by
travelling the red road of the cross could that world be won, made a
fierce conflict within. It was the world-vision that agitated Him.
And it was that same world-vision that held Him steady. He would not
scatter. By concentrating all in one act He would generate and set off a
dynamic power on Calvary that would shake and then shape a world. The
knowledge that all men would be irresistibly drawn by the loadstone of the
cross steadied His steps.
A few days later, as He sat resting a bit, on the side of the Hill of
Olivet, the disciples earnestly ask for some idea of His plan. And He
explains that the Gospel was to be "preached to the whole inhabited
earth." That conception was never out of His mind. How could it be!
But the great purpose and passion of His life stands out most sharply in
the words of that last imperial command. He shows the whole of His heart
in that stirring "Go ye into all the world and make disciples of all
the nations"; "preach the gospel to the whole creation." The passion of
Jesus' heart was to win the world. And that passion has grown intenser in
waiting. To-day more than ever the one passion of yonder enthroned Man is
to win His world. Everything else bends to that with Him. Nothing less
will satisfy His heart.
Now, the God-touched man is always swayed by the same purpose and passion
as sway God. The passion of every God-touched man, fresh from direct
contact with Him, is to win the whole world up to God. Everything will be
held under the strong thumb of this, and made to fit and bend and blend
The Master's Plan
Will the World Be Won?
Some Bad Drifts.
Great Incidental Blessings.
The World Really Lost.
God's Method of Saving.
The Programme of World-winnng.
The World-winning Climb.
Will the World Be Won?
The great passion of God's heart is a love-passion. Love never fails. It
waits and, if need be, waits long; but it never fails to get what it is
waiting for. Love sacrifices; though it never uses that word. It doesn't
know it is sacrificing, it is so absorbed in its gripping purpose. There
may be keen-cutting pain, but it is clean forgotten in the passion that
burns within. God means to win His world of men back home to Himself.
But some earnest friend is thinking of an objection to all this talk about
a world being won. You are taken all anew with the great picture of God's
passion of love in the opening page of this old Book. But all the time we
have been talking together you have been having a cross-cutting train of
thought underneath. It has been saying, "Isn't this going a bit too far?
will the whole world be won?"
Let us talk over that a bit. We have been used all our lives to hearing
about soul-winning. We have been urged, more or less, to do it. A
favorite motto in some Christian workers' convention has been, "Win one."
But this idea of winning the world has not been preached. At first it
doesn't seem exactly orthodox.
The old-time preaching, of which not so much is heard now, except in
restricted quarters, is that the whole world is lost; and that we are to
save people out of it. We used to be told that the world is bad, and only
bad; bad beyond redemption, and doomed. In his earlier years Mr. Moody
used to say often with his great earnestness that this was a doomed world,
and that the great business of life was to save men out of it.
But of late years there has been a distinct swing away from this sort of
preaching and talking. Everything we humans do seems to go by the clock
movement, the pendulum swing: first one side, then the other. Now we hear
a very different sort of preaching. This is really a good world. There is
some wickedness in it, to be sure. Indeed, there is quite a great deal of
it. But in the main it is not a bad world, we're told.
The old-time preaching was chiefly concerned with getting ready for
heaven. Now it is concerned, for most part, with living pure, true lives
right here on the earth. And that change is surely a good one. But it is
also the common thing to be told that the world is not nearly so bad as we
have been led to believe.
Some Bad Drifts.
It is striking that with that has come a change of talk about sin, the
thing that was supposed to be responsible for making the world so bad. Sin
is not such a damnable thing now, apparently. It is largely
constitutional weakness, or prenatal predilection, or the idiosyncrasy of
individuality. (Big words are in favor here. They always make such talk
seem wise and plausible.) Heaven has slipped largely out of view;
and--hell, too, even more. Churchmen in the flush of phenomenal material
prosperity, with full stomachs and luxurious homes and pews, are well
content with things as they are in this present world, and don't propose
And with that it is easy to believe what we are freely told, that there is
really no need of giving our Christian religion to the heathen world.
Those peoples have religions of their own that are remarkably good. At
least they are satisfactory to them. Why disturb them? They are doing very
well. This talk about their being lost, and needing a Savior, is reckoned
out of date. The old common statements about so many thousands dying
daily, and going out into a lost eternity, are not liked. They are called
lurid. And, indeed, they are not used nearly so much now as once.
This swing away has had a great influence upon the mass of church-members,
and upon their whole thought of the foreign-mission enterprise. There is a
vaguely expressed, but distinctly felt idea both in the Church and outside
of it, for the two seem to overlap as never before--that the sending of
missionaries is really not to save peoples from being lost. That sort of
talk is almost vulgar now.
Mission work is really a sort of good-natured neighborliness. It is
benevolent humanitarianism in which we may all help, more or less (usually
less), regardless of our beliefs or lack of beliefs, our church-membership
or attendance. We should show these heathen our improved methods of
living. We have worked out better plans of housekeeping and schooling, of
teaching and doctoring, and farming and all the rest of it. And now we
want to help these poor deficient peoples across the seas.
We think we are a superior people in ourselves, as well as in our type of
civilization, decidedly so. And having taken good care of ourselves, and
laid up a good snug sum, we can easily afford to help these backward
far-away neighbors a bit. It is really the thing to do.
Such seems to be the general drift of much of the present-day talk about
foreign missions. The Church, and its members individually, have grown so
rich that we have forgotten that we were ever poor. The table is so loaded
with dainties that we are quite willing to be generous with the crumbs,
even cake crumbs.
Great Incidental Blessings.
Now, without doubt the sending of the missionaries has vastly improved
conditions of human life in the foreign-mission lands. The missionaries
have been the forerunners of great improvements. They have been the
pioneers blazing out the paths along which both trade and diplomacy have
gone with the newer and better civilization of the West. Civilization has
developed marvellously in the western half of the world. And the
missionaries have been its advance agents into the stagnant East, and the
savage wilds of the southern hemisphere.
Full, accurate knowledge of nature's resources and laws, and adaptation of
that knowledge to practical uses, have been among the most marked
conditions of the western world during the past century. And, as a result,
education, medical and hygienic and sanitary science, development of the
earth's soil, and resources above and below the soil, have gone forward by
immense strides. So far as is known, our progress in such matters exceeds
all previous achievements in the history of the race.
And some of all this has been seeping into the heathen world. It hasn't
gotten in far yet; only into the top soil, and about the edges, so far.
The progress in this regard has seemed both rapid and slow. When the great
mass of these peoples have not yet gotten even a whiff of the purer,
better civilization air of the western nations the progress seems slow.
But when we remember the incalculably tremendous inertia, and the
strangely stagnant spirit of heathen lands, it seems rapid.
The effort to get the heathen world simply to clean up; to open the
windows and let in some fresh air, and use plain soap and water to scrub
off the actual dirt makes one think of the typical small boy's dislike of
being washed up. It has been a hard job. Yet a great beginning has been
made. The boy seems to be beginning to find out that his face is dirty,
and feels dirty. And that is an enormous gain.
The World Really Lost.
Yet while this is good, and only good, it isn't the thing we are driving
at in missions. While it would fully warrant all the expenditures of
money, and vastly more than has yet been given, it should be said in
clearest, most ringing tones that all this is merely incidental. It is
blessed. It is sure to come. It is remarkable that it always has come
where the Gospel of Jesus is preached.
Yet this is not the thing aimed at in missions. The one driving purpose is
to carry to men a Saviour from sin. And to take Him so earnestly and
winsomely that men yonder shall be wooed and won to the real God, whom
they have lost knowledge of.
It cannot be said too plainly that the world is lost. It has strayed so
far away from the Father's house that it has lost all its bearings, and
can't find its way back without help. The old preaching that this is a
lost world, is true.
But we need to remember the different uses of that word "world." In the
old-time conception it was used in a loose way as meaning the spirit that
actuates men in the world. The scheme of selfishness and wickedness and
sinfulness which has overcast all life is commonly spoken of in the Bible
as the world spirit. In that sense the world is bad, and only bad. Men
are to be saved out of it, as Moody said.
But, in the other commoner use of it, that word "world" simply means the
whole race of men. And we must remind ourselves vigorously of the plain
truth that this is a lost world. That is to say, men have gotten away from
God. They completely misunderstand Him. Then they do more, and worse, they
misrepresent and slander Him. The result is complete lack of trust in Him.
They have lost their moorings, and have drifted out to deep sea with no
compass on board. Thick fogs have risen and shut out sun and stars and
every guiding thing. They are hopelessly and helplessly lost, and need
some one to bring the compass so as to get back to shore, back home to
But this world of men is to be won. Jesus said He came to save a world.
And He will not fail nor rest content until He has done it, and this has
become a saved world. He said that He gave His life for the life of the
world. And the world will yet know the fulness of that life of His
throbbing in its own heart.
This does not mean that all men will be saved. There seems to be clear
evidence in the Book that some will insist on preferring their own way to
God's. And I am sure I do not know anything except what the Book teaches.
It is the only reliable source of information I have been able to find so
far. It must be the standard, because it is the standard.
There will be a group of stubborn irreconcilables holding out against all
of God's tender pleading. John's Patmos vision of glory, with its
marvellous beauty and sweep, has yet a lake of fire and a group of men
insisting upon going their own way. If a man choose that way, he may. He
is still in the likeness of God in choosing to leave out God. He remains a
sovereign in his own will even in the hell of his own choosing.
God's Method of Saving.
The method of saving is by winning. The Father would not be content
with anything else. Such a thing as might be represented by throwing a
blanket over the head of a horse in a burning stable, and so getting it
out by coaxing, and forcing, and hiding the danger, is not to be thought
of here. Sin is never smoothed over by God, nor its results, their badness
and their certainty.
He would have us see the sin as ugly and damning as it actually is, and
see Him as pure and holy and winsome as He is; and then to reject the sin
and choose Himself. The method of much modern charity, the long-range
charity that helps by organization, without the personal relation and warm
touch, is unknown to God. He touches every man directly with His own warm
heart, and appeals to Him at closest quarters.
Man's highest power is his power of choosing. It is in that He is most
like God. God's plan is to clear away the clouds, sweep down the cobwebs
that bother our eyes so, and let us get such a look at Himself that we
will be caught with the sight of His great face, and choose to come, and
to come a-running back to Himself. The world will be saved by its own
choosing to be. It will be saved by being won. Men will choose to leave
sin and accept God's Saviour Jesus Christ.
It is a great method. It is the only method God could use. The creative
love-passion of His heart was that we should choose Himself in preference
to all else, and choose life with Him up on His level as the only life.
And the method of winning is by getting each man's consent. The old cry of
soul-winning is the true cry. It tells the method of work for us to
follow. Each man is to be won by his own free glad consent. There is to be
no wholesaling except by retailing. In business the wholesale comes after
the retail. It is the child and servant of the retail.
Here the method is to be one by one; and the results, a great multitude
beyond the power of any arithmetic to count. Soul-winning is the method,
and world-winning is the object and the final result.
The Programme of World-winning.
There is a programme of world-winning repeatedly outlined in this old
Book of God. That programme has not always been clearly understood.
Indeed, it may be said that for the most part it has been misunderstood,
and still is by many. And, as a result, many churchmen have lost their
bearings, and strayed far from the Master's plan for their own lives and
service. It helps greatly to get the programme clear in mind, so we can
steer a straight course, and not get confused nor lost.
The first item of that programme is world-wide evangelization. That is the
great service and privilege committed to the Church, and to every
Christian, for this present time. Every other service is second to this.
This does not mean world-wide conversion. That comes later. It does mean a
full, winsome telling of the story of Jesus' Gospel, to all nations and to
It means the doing of it by all sorts of helpful, sensible means; the
hospital and medical dispensary, the school and college, the printed page,
and the practical helping of men in every way that they can be helped.
Above all, it means the warm, sympathetic, brotherly touch. Not simply by
preaching; that surely, but in addition to that the practical preaching of
the Gospel by all of these means..
When that has been accomplished the Kingdom will come. The King will come,
and with Him the Kingdom. There will be radical changes in all the moral
conditions of the earth. It will be a time of greatly increased
evangelization, and of conversions of people in immense numbers. It will
seem as if all were giving glad allegiance to Jesus the King. The world
will then seem to be indeed a won world.
But there will be many who have simply been swung into line outwardly by
the general movement among the mass of peoples, just as it always is. And
our King wants whole-hearted love and service.
And so, at the end of the kingdom period, there will come another crisis.
It is spoken of by John in his Revelation vision as a loosing of Satan,
and a renewal of his activity among men. That used to puzzle me a good
bit. I wondered why, when that foul fiend had once been securely fastened
up, he should be loosed again. But I'm satisfied that the reason is that
at the end of the Kingdom time there is to be full opportunity for those
who are not at heart loyal to Jesus, and who simply bow to Him because the
crowd is doing so, to be perfectly free to do and go as they choose.
Jesus wants a heart allegiance, and only that. The great thing is that
every man shall freely choose as he really prefers. This it is that both
makes and reveals character. And so there will be a final crisis. All who
at heart prefer to do so may swing away from Jesus.
That crisis ends with the final and overwhelming defeat of Satan and all
the forces of evil. He goes to his own place, the place he has chosen and
made for himself; and all who prefer to leave God out will go by the moral
gravitation of their own choice to that place with him.
Then follows the full vision of a won world, which John pictures in such
glowing colors in these last two chapters of Revelation, as a city come
down from God out of heaven.
There are two leading passages that speak of this programme. You remember
that during the last week of His life Jesus told His disciples of the fall
of Jerusalem. They came earnestly asking for fuller information regarding
the future events. They asked when the present period of time would come
to an end. And in answering He said--and the answer became a pivotal
passage around which much else swings--that the Gospel of the Kingdom
would be preached in the whole inhabited earth for a testimony unto all
nations. And then the end of the present age or period of time would
The first council of the Christian Church was held as a result of the
remarkable success attending the beginning of world-wide evangelization.
It was held in Jerusalem to consider the serious question of what to do
with the great multitude of foreign or Gentile converts.
The Church had been practically a Jewish church. But Paul had commenced
his remarkable series of world-wide preaching-tours. Great numbers of the
outside peoples had accepted Christ, and been organized into Christian
churches. Some of the Jewish Church in Jerusalem thought that all of these
should become Jewish in their observance of the old Mosaic requirements.
Both Paul and Peter, the two great church leaders, object to this.
It is at the close of the conference that James, who was presiding,
outlines in his decision the programme of world-winning of which we are
talking together. He quotes from the prophecy of Joel. He says there
are to be three steps or stages in working out God's plan.
First of all is the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus to all the nations,
in which work Paul had been so earnestly engaged, and the remarkable
success of which it was that had given rise to the whole discussion. When
this has been completed the kingdom is to be established with the nation
of Israel in the central place, the tabernacle of David set up, as he
quotes it. The purpose of this is that all the rest of the peoples on the
earth, all the nations, "may seek after the Lord."
The purpose of the Kingdom is the same, in the main, as is now the purpose
of the Church. It is to push forward on broader lines, and more vigorously
than ever, the work of bringing all men back to the Father's house.
There are many other passages that might be referred to, but these will
answer our purpose just now. There is to be a won world, and the old Book
outlines plainly just how and when it will be won.
Now, I know that all ministers and Christian teachers are not agreed about
this. There has been a controversy in the Church, both long and sometimes
bitter, unfortunately, about the Lord's return and the setting up of the
Kingdom. And I have no desire to take any part in that, but instead, a
strong desire to keep out of it. There is too much pressing emergency
among men for helpful service to spend any time or strength in
In a word it may be put this way. There are those who believe that Jesus'
coming is a thing to be expected as likely to occur at any time, or within
our lifetime, within any generation. His coming is to be the beginning of
the Kingdom period, when all peoples will be loyal to Him.
The others believe that the preaching of the Gospel will bring the whole
world into allegiance, and that will be the Kingdom, and then Jesus will
return. Both agree fully that the thing to be desired, and that will come,
is the world-wide acknowledgment of Jesus as Saviour and King.
It may be added, however, that of later years there is a third great group
in the Church, which is really the largest of the three. These people
practically ignore the teaching about an actual return of Jesus to the
earth. They believe that He has already come, and is continually coming in
the higher ideals, the better standards, and nobler spirit that pervade
If it be true that the present preaching of the Gospel is to result in
winning the whole world at once, without waiting for this programme of
which I have spoken, then there is in that a very strong argument for
world-wide evangelization. For only so can the desired result be secured.
And so we can heartily join hands together in service regardless of what
we believe on this question. I make a rule not to ask a man on which side
of the question he stands, but to work with him hand in hand so far as I
can in spreading the glad good news of Jesus everywhere.
The difference of view regarding the Lord's return need not affect the
practical working together of all earnest men. We are perfectly agreed
that the great thing is to have the story of Jesus' dying and rising again
told out earnestly and lovingly to all men. And we can go at that with
greatest heartiness, side by side.
The great concern now is to make Jesus fully known. That is the plan for
the present time. It is a simple plan. Men who have been won are to be the
winners. Nobody else can be. The warm enthusiasm of grateful love must
burn in the heart and drive all the life. There must be simple, but
The campaign should be mapped out as thoroughly as a Presidential campaign
is organized here in our country. The purpose of a Presidential campaign
is really stupendous in its object and sweep. It is to influence quickly,
up to the point of decisive action, the individual opinion of millions of
men, spread over millions of square miles, and that, too, in the face of a
vigorous opposing campaign to influence them the other way. The whole vast
district of country is mapped out and organized on broad lines and into
the smallest details.
Strong brainy men give themselves wholly to the task, and spend hundreds
of thousands of dollars within a few months. And then, four years later,
they proceed as enthusiastically as before to go over the whole ground
again. We need as thorough organizing, as aggressive enthusiasm, and as
intelligent planning for this great task which our Master has put into our
And we have a driving motive power greater than any campaign-manager ever
had or has--a Jesus who sets fire to one's whole being, with a passion
of love that burns up every other flame. We need a Church as thoroughly
organized, and every man in it with a burning heart for this great
The World-winning Climb.
An old school-master, talking to his class one morning, many years ago,
told a story of an early experience he had had in Europe. He was one of a
party travelling in Switzerland. They had gotten as far as Chamounix, and
were planning to climb Mont Blanc. That peak, you know, is the highest of
the Alps, and is called the monarch of European mountains. While it is now
ascended every day in season, the climb is a very difficult task.
It requires strength and courage and much special preparation; and is
still attended with such danger that the authorities of Chamounix have
laid down rigid regulations for those who attempt it. One's outfit must be
reduced to the very lowest limit. And, of course, nothing else can be done
while climbing. It absorbs all one's strength and thought.
There were two parties in the little square of the town, making their
preparations with the guides. One young Englishman disregarded all the
directions of the guides. He loaded himself with things which he
positively declared were absolutely essential to his plans.
He had a small case of wine and some delicacies for his appetite. He had a
camera with which he proposed to take views of himself and his party at
different stages of the climb. He had a batch of note-books in which he
intended recording his impressions as he proceeded, which were afterward
to be printed for the information, and, he hoped, admiration of the world.
A picturesque cap and a gayly colored blanket were part of his outfit.
The old toughened guides, experienced by many a severe tug and storm in
the difficulties ahead, protested earnestly. But it made no impression on
the ambitious youth. At last they whispered together, and allowed him to
have his own way. And the party started.
Six hours later the second party followed. At the little inn where they
spent the first night they found the wine and food delicacies. The guides
laughed. "The Englishman has found that he cannot humor his stomach if he
would climb Mont Blanc," one of them said grimly. A little farther up they
found the note-book and camera; still higher up, the gay robe and fancy
cap had been abandoned. And at last they found the young fellow at the
summit in leather jacket, exhausted and panting for breath.
He had encountered heavy storms, and reached the top of the famous
mountain only at the risk of his life. But he reached it. He had the real
stuff in him, after all. Yet everything not absolutely essential had to be
sacrificed. And his ideas of the meaning of that word "essential"
underwent radical changes as he labored up the steep.
Then the old teacher telling the story suddenly leaned over his desk and,
looking earnestly at the class, said, "When I was young I planned out my
life just as he planned out his climb. Food and clothing, and full records
of my experiences for the world's information, figured in big. But at
forty I cared only for such clothes as kept me warm, and at fifty only for
such food as kept me strong. And so steep was the climb up to the top I
had set my heart upon that at sixty I cared little for the opinions of
people, if only I might reach the top. And when I do reach it I shall not
care whether the world has a record of it or not. That record is in safety
We laugh at the ambitious young Englishman. But will you kindly let me
say, plainly, without meaning to be critical in an unkind sense, that
most of us do just as he did. And will you listen softly, while I say
this--many of us, when we find we can't reach the top with our loads, let
the top go, and pitch our tents in the plain, and settle down with our
small plans and accessories. The plain seems to be quite full of tents.
The plan of the Swiss guides is the plan for the life-climb. It is the
plan, and the only one for us to follow in the world-winning climb. That
was Jesus' plan. He left behind and threw away everything that hindered,
and at the last threw away life itself, that so the world might find life.
We must follow Him.
The Urgent Need
Three Great Groups.
The Needle Of The Compass Of Need.
A Quick Run Round The World.
West By Way Of The East.
The Greatest Need.
Groping In The Dark.
Living Messages Of Jesus.
The Great Unknown Lack.
Three Great Groups.
The human heart is tender. It answers quickly to the cry of need. It is
oftentimes hard to find. In Christian lands it is covered up with
selfishness. And in heathen lands the selfishness seems so thickly crusted
that it is hard to awaken even common humanitarian feeling.
But that heart once dug out, and touched, never fails to respond to the
cry of need. We know how the cry of physical distress, of some great
disaster, or of hunger will be listened to, and how quickly all men
respond to that. When the terrible earthquake laid San Francisco in
burning ruins the whole nation stopped, and gave a great heart-throb; and
then commenced at once sending relief. Corporations that are rated
soulless and men that are spoken of as money-mad, knocking each other
pitilessly aside in their greed for gold and power, all alike sent quick
and generous help of every substantial sort.
Beside expressing their sympathy in kindest and keenest word, they gave
millions of dollars. Yet this might seem to be a family affair, as indeed
it was. But the great famines in India and in other foreign lands farthest
removed from us, have awakened a like response in our hearts. Great sums
have been given in money and supplies to feed the hunger of far-away
peoples, and help them sow their fields and get a fresh start.
There is a need far deeper and greater than that of physical suffering.
And there is a heart far more tender than the best human heart. That need
is to know God, whom to know is to enter into fulness of life, both
physical and mental; and into that life of the spirit that is higher and
sweeter than either of these lower down. And that tender heart is the
human heart touched by the warm heart of God.
Many of us Christian people who are gathered here to-night have had
unusual blessing in having our hearts touched into real life by the touch
of God. And there's much more of the same sort waiting our fuller touch
with Him. And now we want to see to-night something of the needs of God's
great world-family, which is our own family because it is God's. Then we
shall respond to it as freely and quickly and intelligently, as He Himself
did and does.
I am going to ask you to come with me for a brief journey around the
world. We want to get something of a clear, even though rapid view, of the
whole of this world of ours. For the whole world is a mission field.
Missionaries are sent everywhere, including our own home-land, and
including all of our cities.
Our cities are as really mission fields as are the heathen lands. There
is a difference, but it is only one of degree. The Christian standards
present in our American life, and absent from these foreign-mission lands,
make an enormous difference. But, apart from that great fact, the need of
mission service is as really in New York as it is in Shanghai.
If we are to pray for the whole world, and to help in other ways to win
it, we ought to try to get something of a clear idea of it, to help us in
our thinking and praying and planning.
It will help toward that if we remember at the outset that the world from
the religious point of view, divides up easily into three great groups.
First there are the great non-Christian, or heathen, lands and nations.
This includes those called Mohammedan; for, while that religion is based
upon a partial Christian truth, it is so utterly corrupt in teaching and
morally foul in practice that it is distinctly classed with the heathen
Then there are the lands and nations under the control of those two great
mediaeval historic forms of Christianity, the Roman and Greek Churches, in
which the vital principles of the Christian life seem to have been almost
wholly lost in a network of forms and organization. The essential truths
are there. But they are hidden away and covered up. There are untold
numbers of true Christians there, but they live in a strangely clouded
The third great group is of lands and peoples under the sway of the
The Needle of the Compass of Need.
Let us look a little at these peoples. Where shall we start in? The old
rule of the Master's command, and of the early Church's practice, was to
begin "at Jerusalem," and keep moving until the outmost limit of the world
was reached. I suppose that practically, in service, beginning at
Jerusalem means beginning just where you are, and then reaching out to
those nearest, and then less near, until you have touched the farthest.
But the old Jerusalem rule will make a good geographical rule for us
English-speaking people, with an ocean between us, in getting a fresh look
at this old world that the Master asks us to carry in our hearts and on
our hands. So we'll begin there.
The needle of a magnetic compass always points north. The needle of the
compass of progress has always pointed west; at least always since the
Medo-Persian was the world-power. But it is striking that the compass of
the world's need always points its needle toward the east. And so,
starting at Jerusalem, we may well turn our faces east as we take our
swing around the world to learn its need.
It may be a relief to you to know at once that there will not be any
statistics in this series of talks. We want instead just now to get broad
and general, but distinct, impressions. Statistics are burdensome to most
people. They are a good deal of a bugbear to the common crowd of us
every-day folks. They are absolutely essential. They are of immense, that
is, immeasurable, value. You need to have them at hand where you can
easily turn for exact information, as you need it, to refresh your memory.
And an increasing amount of it will stick in your memory and guide your
thinking and praying.
There are easily available, in these days of such remarkable missionary
activity, an abundance of fresh statistics, in attractive form. We are
greatly indebted to the Student Volunteer Movement and the Young People's
Missionary Movement and the Church Societies for the great service they
have done in this matter of full fresh information.
But the thing of first importance is to get an intelligent thought of the
whole world. And then to add steadily to our stock of particular
information, as study and prayer and service call for it. It is possible
to get a simple grasp of the whole world. And it helps immensely to do it.
It helps at once to this end to remember that two-thirds of all the
peoples of the earth are in the distinctly heathen, or non-Christian,
lands. This in itself is a tremendous fact, telling at once of the world's
need. At the beginning of the twentieth hundred-years since Jesus gave His
command to preach His Gospel to all men, two-thirds of them are still in
ignorance of Him and under the same moral sway as when He went away.
I might add that there are a billion people in these two-thirds. But that
figure is so big as only to stagger the mind in an attempt to take it in.
The important thing is to see that it doesn't by its sheer bigness,
stagger our faith or our courage or our praying habit. We want to be like
the old Hebrew who "staggered not" at God's promise to do for him a
naturally impossible thing. Yet it is well to repeat that word "billion,"
for it brings up sharply and gigantically the staggering need of the world
One-third is in lands commonly called Christian. Though we must use that
word "Christian" in the broadest and most charitable sense in making that
A Quick Run Round the World.
Beginning at Jerusalem, then, means for us just now beginning with the
Turkish Empire. And with that, in this rapid run through, we may for
convenience group Arabia and Persia and Afghanistan. This is the section
where Mohammedanism, that corrupt mixture of heathenism with a small
tincture of Christian truth, has its home, and whence it has gone out on
its work throughout the world.
Great populations here have practically no knowledge at all of the Gospel,
for missionary work is extremely scant. The land of the Saviour, with its
eastern neighbors, has no Saviour, so far as knowing about Him is
concerned, though it needs His saving very sorely.
Next to it, on the east, lies the great land of India, with the smaller
countries that naturally group with it. And here are gathered fully a
fifth of the people of the earth. These are really in large part our
blood-brothers. Their fathers away back were brothers to our fathers. And
so missionary work here ought to be reckoned largely as a family affair.
British rule has had an immense humanizing influence here. Missionary
activity has been carried on aggressively for years, and great and blessed
progress has been made.
Yet it is merely a preparation for the work now so sorely needed. These
years of faithful seed-sowing have made the soil dead ripe for a harvest
in our day. A strange religiousness utterly lacking both in religion and
in morality, abominably repugnant in its gross immorality, honey-combs the
life of these people. The cry of need here is deep and pathetic.
Pushing on still to the east, the great land of China with its
dependencies, looms up in all its huge giant size. Roughly speaking,
almost a third of the world's people are grouped here. There are
practically almost as many in what is reckoned Chinese territory as in all
Christian lands. Here is found the oldest and best civilization of the
non-Christian sort. The old common religion of Confucius is practically
not a religion at all, but a code of maxims and rules, and utterly lacking
in moral uplift or power.
The peculiarly impressive thing about China, as indeed about nearly all
of the heathen world, is the spirit of stagnation. There is a deadness,
or sort of stupor, over everything. It is as if a blight had spread over
the land, checking all progress. Habits, customs, and institutions remain
apparently as they were a thousand years ago. This stands out in sharp
contrast with the spirit of growth that marks Christian lands.
It seems strange to us because the spirit of growth is the atmosphere of
our western world, breathed in from infancy. The one word that seems
peculiarly to describe China is that word "stagnant." The people
themselves are remarkable both for their mental power and their habits of
industry. The Chinese may well be called the Anglo-Saxons of the Orient,
in latent power and mental character.
In our modesty we think the Anglo-Saxon, the English-speaking, the
greatest of living peoples. Certainly the leadership of the world is in
Anglo-Saxon hands, and has been for centuries. And the marvellous,
unprecedented progress of the world has been under that leadership.
Well, when these Chinese wake up we are very likely to find the race
getting a new leadership, and the history of the world a new chapter
added. What sort of leadership it will be morally, and what sort of a
chapter, will depend on how much statesmanship there is in our praying and
giving and missionary service. But the need is enormously intensified by
the unawakened power of these Chinese.
West by Way of the East.
Still moving east, we come to the newly awakened and very attractive
island-nation of Japan, which, because of its geographical and territorial
situation, has been called the Great Britain of the Orient. Japan stands
at present as the exception to the common stagnation of the heathen world.
It has made a record nothing less than phenomenal as a student of Western
life. It has absorbed, and imitated, and adapted to its own use, the
Western knowledge and spirit with a wonderful power and intelligence.
Japan is both bright and ambitious to an almost abnormal degree, and as
tricky in its dealings, and morally unclean in its life, as it is bright
and ambitious. They have been called the Frenchmen of the Orient, and that
characterization fits remarkably in many respects. Great progress has been
made in giving the Gospel to Japan, but the present moral need is
immensely intensified by the very aggressiveness of the Japanese spirit.
With Japan, the island-kingdom, it is easy to group the whole island-world
lying to the east and south, though these are utterly different peoples.
This includes the great number of islands scattered throughout the Pacific
Ocean. The conditions are largely those of savagery except where affected
by Christian civilization through the missionary enterprise. The Gospel
has done some wonderful feats of transformation here. And there is plenty
of room for more. Australia, the "island continent," is a British colony,
and of course now reckoned among Christian lands; as is also the large
island of New Zealand, also a British colony, which has been a leader in
some of the most advanced steps of modern civilization.
Crossing the Pacific to the east brings up the South American Continent;
and Central America, the connecting stretch of land with our own
continent; and Mexico, which is commonly grouped with foreign-mission
lands. South America has been spoken of both as the "neglected continent"
and as the "continent of opportunity." The common characteristic
religiously of all this vast section from Mexico to the "Land of Fire," at
the southernmost toe of South America, is that it is under the sway of the
Roman Catholic Church. Some parts of it have been spoken of as "baptized
heathenism." A vast network of church forms and organization, practically
lifeless, holds these peoples in an iron grasp. The need of the Gospel of
Jesus is fully as great as in civilized China or savage Africa.
One more long easterly stride, across the Atlantic, brings black Africa,
and completes this rapid run around the globe, so far as distinctly
heathen lands are concerned. Africa is peculiarly the savage continent,
though it has the oldest civilization in its northeast corner, and the
newest British civilization rapidly developing on its southern edge. It is
the "dark continent," both in the color of its inhabitants and in its sad
destitution and degradation. About a tenth of the world's population is
here; with as many missionaries as in civilized India, but unable to reach
the people as effectually as there because of the lack of national
organization and the absence of great highways of travel.
Africa is essentially a great mass of separate tribes, larger and smaller,
most of them in deepest savagery, with sorest need not only of salvation,
but of civilization. The sore need of its very savagery has seemed to make
it a magnet to missionary enterprise. And yet all that has been done, and
is being done, seems almost swallowed up in the depth of its degradation
I have taken you with me in this very rapid run that we might try to get a
simple practical grasp of the heathen world. And if you and I might often
take just such a run, with map or globe and Bible at hand, and our knees
bent, it would greatly help us in getting close to the world our Lord died
for; and which He means to win; and to win through you and me; and which
He will win.
But I must talk with you a bit about our Christian lands, Europe and
America, with huge Russia sitting astride both Europe and Asia, with a
foot dangling on each side of the globe. For these, too, are mission
lands. Foreign-mission lands, would you call them? Well, that depends
entirely on what spot you happen to call home. They are all mission
fields. The whole world is a mission field to God. Foreign-mission
field? or home-mission? Which? It makes no practical matter which term
you choose to use.
It will be well to remember just what that common phrase, "Christian
lands," really means. It may help us in our praying. And it may help us,
too, to keep humble as we think about heathen lands. It means, of course,
the lands where Christian standards are commonly recognized as the proper
standards of morals and of life.
It does not mean that the people are all Christian. Only a minority so
class themselves; the great majority do not. Neither does it mean that
that minority called Christian is controlled in daily life and in
business by the principles of Jesus. For by pretty general consent they
are not so controlled. It is not too much to say that there is more of
that same spirit of selfishness that marks the heathen world, dominating
the personal lives of people in Christian lands, than there is of the
unselfish Christ spirit. That may sound unkind and too critical to you. It
is not said in a critical spirit, but simply in the desire to get the
facts as they are. I am fully persuaded that the more you think about it
the more you will come to see that this is simply the truth.
Nor yet does that term, "Christian lands," mean that these lands are as
distinctly Christian through and through as heathen lands are distinctly
heathen, or non-Christian, through and through. As a matter of fact,
Christian lands are not dominated as thoroughly by the Christian spirit
as heathen lands are by the heathen spirit. We really don't deserve our
distinctive phrase as much as they deserve theirs.
It does mean chiefly this, that here in these lands the Christian Church
has its stronghold; that Christian standards are commonly recognized,
though in practice they are so commonly disregarded. It means that the
enormous incidental blessings, in material and mental life, that always
follow the preaching of the Gospel are here enjoyed most fully. And it
means, too, that much of the humanizing, softening, and energizing power
of the Gospel of Christ has seeped and soaked into our common civilization
and affected all our life.
This is true; yet the mass of persons living in this atmosphere, and
enjoying its great advantages, are wholly selfish in the main drive of
their lives, and so in being selfish are un-Christian. While Christian
ideals dominate so much of our life, the term "Christian lands" really
describes our privileges more than it does our practices.
The Greatest Need.
A word now about these great Christian lands of Europe and America. The
Catholic countries of Europe have been regarded as mission fields by the
Protestant churches, and missionary operations have been conducted in them
for many years. Russia has likewise been commonly regarded as missionary
territory, and a very difficult one at that. In portions of Great Britain,
in our own Western States and frontiers, in the Southern mountain States,
and in other sections, and among special classes, missionary work has been
regularly carried on.
And the cities, those great, strange, throbbing hearts of human life, are
all peculiarly mission fields. It is remarkable how the modern city
reproduces world conditions morally. The city is a sort of miniature of
the world. All the varying moral conditions of the heathen world, atheism,
savagery almost, crude heathenish superstition, degradation of woman,
neglect of children, and untempered lust, may be found in New York and
Chicago, in London and Paris, in Vienna and Berlin, and in varying degree
in all cities of Christian lands. The grosser parts are hidden away, more
These conditions are softened in intensity by the commonly recognized
moral standards of life. But they are there. The man immersed in mission
service in any of these cities is apt to think that there can be no
greater nor sorer need than this that pushes itself insistently upon him
at every turn.
The slum ends and sides of our Christian cities and huge heathendom,
jostle elbows in the likeness of their moral conditions. The need is
everywhere, crying earnestly, wretchedly out to us. There is good mission
ground anywhere you please to strike in.
But--but, by far the greatest need, with that word "greatest"
intensified beyond all power of description, is in the heathen lands. The
vastness of the numbers there, the utter ignorance, the smallness of their
chance of getting any of the knowledge and uplift of the Gospel, all go to
spell out that word "greatest." The awful cumulative power of sin,
unchecked by the common moral standards of life, with the terrific
momentum of centuries; the common temptations known to us, but with a
fierceness and subtlety wholly unknown to us in Christian lands--and yet
how terrifically fierce and cunningly subtle some of us know them to
be!--these all make every letter in that word "greatest" stand out in
biggest capitals, and in blackest, inkiest ink.
Groping in the Dark.
That is a bare suggestion of the need of the world in bulk. But we want
to get a much closer look than that. These are men that we are talking
about; our brothers, not merely hard, unfeeling, statistical totals of
millions. Each man of them contains the whole pitiable picture of the sore
need of the world vividly portrayed in himself.
The very heathen religions themselves are the crying out, in the night, of
men's hearts, after something they haven't, and yet need so much. Strange
things these heathen superstitions and monstrous practices and beliefs
called religions! It has been rather the thing of late to speak somewhat
respectfully of them, and rather apologetically. They have even been
praised, so strangely do things get mixed up in this world of ours. It
has been supposed that God was revealing Himself in these religions; and
that in them men were reaching up to God, and could reach up to Him
They really are the twilight remnants of the clear direct light of God
that once lightened all men; but so mixed through, and covered up with
error and superstition and unnatural devilish lust, that they are wholly
inadequate to lead any man back home to God. In almost all of them there
is indeed some distinct kernel of truth. But that kernel has been
invariably shut up in a shell and bur that are hard beyond any power of
cracking, to get at the kernel of truth for practical help, even if the
people knew enough to try.
They tell pathetically of the groping of man's heart after God. But the
groping is in the pitch dark, and amid a mass of foul, filthy cobwebs that
blind the eyes with their dust, and grime all the life. I have no doubt
that untold numbers of true hearts in heathen lands are feeling after God,
and in some dim way coming into touch with Him. He is not far from any one
of them; but they find Him chiefly in spite of these religions, rather
than through any help found in them.
The story is told of a Chinese tailor who had struggled hopelessly for
light, and had finally found it in finding Jesus. He put his idea of the
heathen religions that he knew, and had tried, in this simple vivid way:
"A man had fallen into a deep, dark pit, and lay in its miry bottom,
groaning and utterly unable to move. He heard a man walking by close
enough to see his plight. But with stately tread he walked on without
volunteering to help. That is Mohammedanism.
"Confucius walking by approached the edge of the pit, and said, 'Poor
fellow! I am sorry for you. Why were you such a fool as to get in there?
Let me give you a piece of advice: If ever you get out, don't get in
again.' 'I can't get out,' said the man. That is Confucianism.
"A Buddhist priest next came by and said: 'Poor fellow! I am very much
pained to see you there. I think if you could scramble up two-thirds of
the way, or even half, I could reach you and lift you up the rest.' But
the man in the pit was entirely helpless and unable to rise. That is
"Next the Saviour came by, and, hearing his cries, went to the very brink
of the pit, stretched down and laid hold of the poor man, brought him up,
and said, 'Go, sin no more.' This is Christianity."
The awful moral or immoral conditions prevalent throughout the heathen
world are the most graphic comment on the influence of these religions. It
can be said thoughtfully that, instead of ever helping up to God and the
light, they drag down to the devil and to black darkness. There is not
only an utter lack of any moral uplift in them, but a deadly downward
pull. The very things called religions point out piteously the terrible
need of these peoples.
Living Messages of Jesus.
Now, what is it that these people need, and that we can give to them? May
I first remind you what they don't need? Well, let it be said as plainly
as it can be that they don't need the transferring to heathen soil of our
Western church systems, nor our schemes of organizations. It is not our
Western creeds and theology that they stand in need of.
Of course, there need to be both churches and organizations. Only so will
the work be done, and what is gotten held together. But these are in
themselves temporary. They are immensely important and indispensable, but
not the chief thing. The great need is of the story of Jesus. That is,
plain teaching about sin--the hardest task of all for the missionary,
whether in Asia or America--and the damnable results locked up in sin.
Then the winsome telling, the tirelessly patient and persistently gentle
telling of the story of love, God's love as revealed in Jesus. The telling
them that Jesus will put a new moral power inside a man that will make him
But they need even more than this, aye, far more. They need men--human
beings like themselves, living among them in closest touch--whose clean,
strong, sweet lives spell out the Jesus-story as no human lips can ever
To live side by side with men who like themselves are tempted sorely, but
who show plainly in their lives a power that downs the temptation--this is
their great need. The good seed, after all, is not the message of truth
merely, but the "sons of the kingdom," men living the message of Jesus,
and more, the power of Jesus, daily.
A kindergarten teacher opened a mission among the slum children of a very
poor section of Chicago. She began her work by gathering a number of
dirty, unkempt children of the street into the neat mission room. Then,
instead of preaching or praying or something of the conventional sort at
the first, she brought in and set on a table a large beautiful calla lily,
bewitching in its simple white beauty.
The effect of the flower on one child, a little girl, was striking. No
sooner had she looked at it than she looked down at her own dirty hands
and clothes, with a flush creeping into her face. Then she quickly went
out into the street. In a little while she was back again, but with her
face washed, her hair combed, her dress tidied up, and a bit of colored
ribbon added. She walked straight up to the lily again, and looked long,
with deep wondering admiration in her eyes, at the beautiful white flower.
The flower's purity was a mirror in which she saw her own dirtiness. It
was a magnet drawing her gently but strongly up to its own higher level.
It was an inspiration moving her irresistibly to respond to its own upward
A simple, pure, human life is the greatest moral magnet. Jesus Himself
down here was just such a magnet. Such a life is impossible for us without
Jesus. It tells His power as no tongue can. It spells out loudly a
standard of life and, far more, a power that can lift the life up to the
standard. It doesn't simply tell what we should be. That may only
tantalize and tease. But it tells what we actually can be.
Jesus is more than a message. He is a living power in a man's life. This
is the great need of men's hearts,--the message of Jesus' purity and of
Jesus' power embodied in live men, living side by side, in the thick of
things, with their brothers of the great world.
The Great Unknown Lack.
The greatness of men's need stands out most pathetically in this, that men
don't know their need. They have gotten so used to the night that they
don't care for the sunlight. They have been hungry so long that the sense
of hunger and the call of appetite have wholly gone.
There is a simple, striking story told of two famous Scandinavians, Ole
Bull, the great violinist, and John Ericsson, the great inventor, who
taught the world to use the screw in steam navigation. The one was a
Norwegian, the other a Swede. They had been friends in early life, but
drifted apart and did not meet again until each had become famous. The old
friendship was renewed on one of Ole Bull's tours to this country.
As Bull was leaving his friend, after a delightful visit, he gave him a
cordial invitation to attend his concert that evening. But the
matter-of-fact, prosaic Ericsson declined, pleading pressure of work, and
saying that he had no time to waste on music.
Bull renewed his invitation, time and again, finally saying, "If you won't
come, I'll bring my violin down here to your shop, and play." "If you do,"
replied the famous engineer laughingly, "I'll smash the thing to pieces."
The violinist, knowing the marvellous, almost supernatural, power of his
instrument to touch and awaken the human heart into new life, felt curious
to know what effect it would have on this scientific man steeped in his
prosaic physics. So he planned a bit of diplomacy.
Taking the violin with him, he called upon Ericsson at his workshop one
day. He removed the strings and screws and apron, and called Ericsson's
attention to certain defects, asking about the scientific and acoustic
principles involved, and discussing the differing effect of the different
grain of certain woods. From this he went on to a discussion of sound
waves. Finally, to illustrate his meaning and his questions, he replaced
the parts, and, bringing the bow softly down upon the tense strings, drew
out a few marvellously sweet, rich tones.
At once the workmen in the shop dropped their tools, and listened with
wide-eyed wonder. Ole Bull played on and on, with his simple great skill,
making the workshop a place of worship. When finally he paused, Ericsson
lifted his bowed head, and showed eyes that were wet. Then he said softly,
with the touch of reverent awe in his voice, "Play on! Don't stop. Play
on. I never knew before what it was that was lacking in my life."
That is what men everywhere say when they come to know Jesus. They fight
against knowing Him because of their ignorance of Him. At home, prejudice
against theology of this sort and that; against some preaching, or church
service, or some Christian people they have unpleasant memories of
perhaps, bar the way. Abroad, prejudice against their treatment at the
hands of Christian nations, or against anything new, shuts the door with a
slam and a sharp push of the bolt.
It takes great diplomacy, love's diplomacy, the combination of serpent and
dove, subtlety and harmlessness, to get an entrance. But when the door is
pried open, or coaxed open enough for some sound or sight of Jesus to get
in, they passionately cry out, "This is what I need. This Jesus is the
lacking thing in my life!"
The Present Opportunity
Somebody's Knocking at the Door.
They're Standing in the Dark.
The Coming Leaders.
What They're After.
Returning Our Call.
The Present Opportunity
Somebody's Knocking at the Door.
There's a soft, tender passion in the heart of God. Its flame burns
steadily. It never flags nor dims. It's a passion for His child-man. And
that very passion itself draws man to Himself with a drawing power that is
irresistible. They can't resist being drawn, even though they may refuse
to yield to it.
There is an answering passion in man's heart for God. It is often a sort
of dumb longing, not clearly defined nor well understood. It is a mute
yearning of his heart for God, though often he doesn't think of it that
way. But it is there; for these two, man and God, belong together. They
were together until sin drove its ugly wedge in between. They are a part
of each other. Neither one is complete nor happy without the other.
The heart of God can be satisfied only as man comes back home to Him. And
man's heart never rests until it finds rest in comradeship with God. These
two are always drawing toward each other. God is always drawing man by the
great master-passion of His heart. And man is always responding to that
tender, strong pull in the underneath, mute yearning of his heart.
By and by the thing that keeps them apart will be gotten rid of. Sin will
be shipped overboard, to fall by its own dead weight to the bottom of the
sea. Then there will be glad reunion of God and man, their hearts in full
glad accord again. To-night we want to talk together a bit about this
answering passion of man's heart for God.
The heathen world is knocking to-day at the door of the Christian Church.
It has found out who has the fullest and truest information about God. And
it is knocking loudly and earnestly at that door. And it keeps on
knocking, though the door seems to be barely open yet; and a good
many--most?--inside don't seem to have heard the knocking.
The most remarkable thing about the present time from the Church point of
view is that the heathen peoples are asking for what the Master has told
us to give them. The centre of Church attraction and of Christian action
to-day is on the swing toward heathen lands.
When the Church began again, a hundred years ago, to enter the great
heathen world, it had to use pick and axe, jimmy and chisel. It seemed
like using burglar's tools. Certainly it was working in the dark, with
only the burglar's dark-lantern to show the way. But now the heathen door
is wide open. Instead of our knocking at their door, the heathen world is
knocking at our door.
Our billion brothers stand in the night-time of their darkness blindly
feeling for our door, and knocking, now timidly, now earnestly and loudly,
ay, imperiously, for the light that we have. It has been a cold night for
them, and a long night, too. But the darkest hour of it is already
throbbing with the flood of coming light. They have found the door and are
using it. The whole foreign non-Christian world is knocking with
incessant, insistent clamor at our church door.
They're Standing in the Dark.
I do not mean that actually every country in the world is open to the
Gospel. For there are a few countries with comparatively scanty
populations that are not open; except, indeed, on the edges, to the man
prying earnestly around for a way to get in.
I don't mean that every man in these open countries is actually asking us
to send him some word of Jesus. For vast numbers of them have never heard
either about us or about Him. They don't know there is a Jesus to ask
about; or, judging by others, they would be asking.
Neither do I mean that these multitudes who are asking are, in every case,
asking for the Gospel itself. For many times that is not so. They ask for
that which appeals to them strongly as something that they want. They want
our Western science and learning. They want to get from us the secret of
harnessing nature up to their wagon to pull their heavy loads.
In many cases, without doubt, they don't want our Christianity at all.
They regard it simply as something that goes along inseparably with the
thing they do want. They are willing to put up with some of it for a
while, if only they can get the thing they are after. Their eyes have been
caught by the bright light of our Christian civilization. They don't
understand how it came to us. They haven't wakened up enough, most of
them, to think into that.
They want the light we have, as we might want something that we could
order a shipment of. They haven't learned enough yet to want to get the
light-generating plant installed in their midst. The great fact that all
our civilization has come to us through the partial presence of the Light
of the world hasn't dawned upon their minds yet.
But, however selfish motives and a crude understanding or misunderstanding
may enter in, the great strange unprecedented fact still remains true that
the world of heathenism is knocking at the door of Christendom as never
before in the world's history.
And then, too, everywhere some of them are asking plainly and piteously
for the real thing. Great numbers in all the foreign-mission lands are
asking that Christian teachers be sent to them with Bibles and other books
to teach them the way back home to God. Wherever they find out that there
is a knowledge of God to be gotten, from there comes the insistent
knocking that it be brought to them.
I remember Bishop Bashford, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, stationed
in China, telling of one of his thrilling experiences out there. He had
gone inland quite a bit into China on one of his tours. One day he was
preaching the story of Jesus to a crowd of Chinese gathered in the open
air. As his interpreter turned his words into Chinese the crowds listened
with great respect and keenest interest.
As he finished he asked them if they had ever heard the Gospel before. No;
none of them had. He was turning up absolutely fresh soil. And they
pressed in about him, earnestly asking that men be sent to tell them. And
this experience of Bishop Bashford's is being repeated, over and over
again, throughout the foreign-mission world.