Louis Albert Banks.

John and his friends: a series of revival sermons online

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NYPLRESEARCH LIBRARIES



3 3433 06827896 3



John and His Friends



A SERIES OF

REVIVAL SERMONS



BY

Rev. LOUIS ALBERT BANKS, D.D.

Pastor First M. E. Church, CLEVEtAND, Ohio



AUTHOR OF



' Christ and His Friends," " The Fisherman and His Friends,"
"Paul and His Friends," etc.



FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
New York and London



^vLa.



THE NEW ^■

PUBLIC IIB;:.ua

14S0S6B

TILDEN KOI^NDATIONS
B 1041 L



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I



Copyright, i8



Funk & Wagnalls Company

[Registered at Stationers' Hali, London, England]

Printed in the United States



MY SISTER,

ADDA VARDE BANKS,

THIS VOLUME

IS LOVINGLY DEDICATED

BY THE AUTHOR.



AUTHOR'S PREFACE.



The sermons contained in this volume were de-
livered in the First Methodist Episcopal Church,
Cleveland, of which I am pastor, in a series of re-
vival meetings, beginning with watch-night, and
continuing through the month of January, 1899.
The themes had been selected long before and
material gathered from time to time, but they
were finally prepared, and dictated to my steno-
grapher day by day as delivered. A very gracious
revival of religion was awakened by their delivery,
and a large number of persons were converted and
received into the church as the result. The other
volumes of this series, including " Christ and His
Friends," "The Fisherman and His Friends," and
"Paul and His Friends," have received such a
widespread welcome not only in this country, but
throughout the English-speaking world, that I am
encouraged to hope that the present volume will be
at least as valuable as any that have gone before it
in suggestive and illustrative material, for all those
who count it their greatest joy in life to win souls
to Christ.

Louis Albert Banks.

Cleveland, May 23, 1899.



CONTENTS.



PAGE

I. — John and His Friends, .... 1

II. — The Bright Heart op the Univeese, . 10
III. — Light, Fellowship, and Purity, . . 21
IV. — The Peril op Self-Delusion, . . .30
v.— A Confessing Sinner and a Forgiving

Savior, ....... 39

VI. — The Sinner's Attorney in the Court of

Final Appeals, 48

VII. — Christ Standing in Our Stead, . . 58

VIII. — Doing Keeping Pace with Knowing, . 66

IX —The Divine Anointing, . . . 76

X. — A Passing Lust but an Abiding Soul, . 88

XL— jVIeeting Christ Without Shame, . . 99

XIL— The Manner of God's Love, . . 108

XIII. — A Loathsome Relative and How to Get

Rid of Him, . . . . . .117

XIV. — A Love Stronger than Life, . . . 126-'^
XV.— The Testimony op the Divine Guest, . 134
XVI. — The Banishment of Fear, . . . 143

XVIL— Love's Reciprocity, 152~

XVIII —Love's Easy Harness, .... 158— '

XIX — IMan's Greatest Victory, .... 166



i^^i^



VUl CONTENTS. ,

'^ V (' / PAGE

XX.— What is it to Livb? \ . . . .173

XXI.— A Prosperous Soul, , . . . .181

XXII, — The Christ in Life's Clouds, . . . 189

XXIII. — A Candlestick in Danger, . . . 197

XXIV.— The Hidden Manna, the White Stone,

AND THE New Name, .... 206
XXV.— The Sinner's Open Door, , . .314

XXVI. — The Crowned Heads op the Spiritual

Realm 321

XXVII.— A Pillar in the Temple, . . .232

XXVIII. — The Poorest People in the World, . 240

XXIX.— Christ Knocking at the Heart's Door, 248

XXX.— A Door Opened into Heaven, . . 257

XXXI.— The Rainbow op Mercy, .... 267

XXXII —Happy Wedding -Glests, . . . .273

XXXIII.— The Great Welcome, . . . .283



JOHN AND HIS FRIENDS.



I.

JOHN AND HIS FRIENDS.

There was at the table reclining in Jesus' bosom one of hia
disciples, whom Jesus loved. — John xiii. 23 {Revised Version).

John is the typical man of friendship and love in
that group of special disciples whom Jesus gath-
ered round him. He stands in the world's eye as
preeminently the man of heart. His gospel and
his epistles and his book of Eevelation are full of
the rays of light and love, and abound in descrip-
tions of conversations with the Master which are
full of the very marrow of divine tenderness.

While Christ loved all of his disciples, and in-
deed loved all men, with a heart overflowing with
sympathy and compassion, there were, as Morley
Punshon has aptly commented, distinctions among
the apostolic band. Three of them, Peter, James,
and John, seem always to have been selected on
the great occasions which stand out most promi-
nently in the life of our Lord. They seem to have
1



2 JOHN AND HIS FRIENDS.

been the innermost circle round the Master, the
nearest in intimacy, the most favored in fellowship,
the chosen ones to testify to any special revelation
of his love. Their very names. Dr. Punshon sug-
gests, were significant of the great purpose for
M^hich Christ came into the world ; that the " gift
or mercy of God," founded upon a "rock" of im-
pregnable strength, stood to "supplant" all idol-
atry and error. When the power of Christ over
death was to be displayed in the weeping house-
hold of the ruler of the synagog whose little
daughter had faded into the still beauty of the tomb,
Peter and James and John were the only witnesses
selected by Jesus to behold her miraculous recov-
ery. On the Mount of Transfiguration, when the
inner glory of the Savior's nature burst forth in
wondrous beauty, or in the mystery of the agony
in the Garden of Gethsemane, this same trio of
faithful and loving men were selected to accompany
their Lord,

In these three men Christ secured three distinct
characters. James, the earliest apostolic martyr,
was as stedfast and constant as the everlasting
hills. Other men might forget their devotion, might
give way to panic in the face of unexpected opposi-
tion ; but no one ever dreamed of James doing a
thing like that. He could die, but he did not know
how to run, or to be other than faithful to his vow.
In Peter, there was the impetuous, ardent advocate.
True, he denied his Lord, and left that blot forever



JOHN AND HIS FRIENDS. 3

on liis name, but lie came back to his fidelity with
as much impetuosity as he had shown m his de-
sertion, and forever after was the outspoken, dar-
ing mouthpiece of Jesus Christ. John, the Great-
heart, "the disciple whom Jesus loved," was the
supreme type of intelligent affection. He seems
to have come closer to Christ than any one else.
While Peter was always the first to act, John was
ever the first to know the mind of Christ, and to
perceive the presence of the Lord. On that morn-
ing when the little company had been at sea all
night, fishing without success, and as the day
dawned they beheld Christ on the shore, it was
John who first knew him, and said, "It is the
Lord." Peter was the first to act on this informa-
tion, for he impetuously sprang overboard and
swam ashore. And in this historic scene connected
with our text, the same characteristics in the two
men come out. Christ had just told them that one
of them sitting with him at the table would betray
him. With wonder and sorrow each man ques-
tions, timidly and tremblingly, " Is it I? " Then
Peter makes a sign to John, who is reclining in
Jesus' bosom, that he should ask Christ who it is,
and John whispers in the ear of Jesus the question
and receives the whispered answer in reply.

I think it is well for us, at the very beginning of
this month of special consecration to the worship
of God, in which we shall seek with definite pur-
pose to win our fellow men to yield their hearts to



4 JOHN AND HIS FRIENDS.

Christ, to remember that our religion is supremely
a religion of the heart. The life of Jesus is a life
of friendships, a life of personal relationships, and
we have constantly suggested the fact of his love
for different individuals, and his delicate and gen-
erous appreciation of their love and gratitude in
return. Jesus rejoiced to have people do things
for him because they loved him ; and if we are to
please Christ perfectly in this month of revival
effort, it will be because we gain spiritual strength
by reclining in his bosom, and go forth to win men
to him for love's sake.

This truth is beautifully illustrated in the story
of the woman who came to Christ when he was at
dinner in a rich man's house, and washed his feet
with her tears, and wiped them with the hairs of
her head. The host was angry at the sight, and,
greatly disgusted, thought within himself: "This
man, if he were a prophet, would have known who
and what manner of woman this is that toucheth
him : for she is a sinner " ; and no doubt he thought
that word " sinner " with a sneer of contempt. But
his thoughts were not hid from Christ. Jesus saw
the sneer and the thought that was behind it, and
answered the man's silent contempt by saying:
" Simon, I have someAvhat to say unto thee. And
he saith. Master, say on. There was a certain
creditor which had two debtors : the one owed five
hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when
they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them



JOHN AND HIS FRIENDS. 5

both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love
him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose
that he to whom he forgave most. And he said
unto him. Thou hast rightly judged. And he
turned to the woman and said unto Simon, Seest
thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou
gavest me no water for my feet; but she hath
washed my feet with tears, and wdped them with
the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss ;
but this woman since the time I came in hath not
ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou
didst not anoint; but this woman hath anointed
my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto
thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven."

Surel}^ that incident must have been recorded for
the purpose of forever setting beyond all cavil the
fact that Jesus Christ rejoices in the personal love
of his friends, and that service is glorified in his
eyes when it is done for love's sake. How ashamed
we ought to be of ourselves when we go about our
Christian work as though it were a load to be car-
ried, and not a joyous privilege. Is it not quite
possible for us to go to church every Sunday morn-
ing and Sunday night, and attend the prayer-meet-
ing regularly and give a regular sum to support
the Gospel, and yet so imitate Simon in the for-
mality and coldly critical spirit of our service that
when the hour is over and we have gone home, our
Lord could say to us truthfully : " You gave me no
kiss, you did not anoint my head with oil, you



6 JOHN AND HIS FRIENDS.

gave me no water for my feet; you bowed your
head in prayer-time, you put your money in
the contribution basket, but you gave me no
loving overflow of tenderness and gracious ser-
vices"? God save us from such a comment from
him who hesitated not to give his own life on the
cross for us !

When we come to enter into fellowship with John,
the Greatheart, we find that we can not enjoy our
OAvn fellowship with Christ without sharing it with
others. John's big heart always had room for
somebod}' else. Christ knew this when, as he hung
on the cross, he gave his mother into John's keep-
ing. And he who comes to love Christ finds that
his own spiritual joy depends on sharing it with
others.

During tlie last great famine in India, one of the
missionaries in the famine district had just seated
himself with his family at the dinner-table, and
they had begun to eat, when they were interrupted
by a i^eculiar noise on the veranda. A boy and a
dog were fighting over a bone. The bo}'^ was so
thin and emaciated from long-continued hunger
that his ribs could be plainly counted under the
skin. The dog was almost as thin and hungry as
the boy ; and the bone they were fighting over was
one that had been thrown away by the missionary's
servant after every particle of meat and even mar-
row had been removed from it. The missionary
called his wife, and she and the children came run-



JOHN AND HIS FRIENDS. 7

ning out. The dinner was forgotten in tlie pres-
ence of that terrible sight of human misery.

"We never can enjoy our dinner, John," cried
the missionary's wife, "as long as such a thing as
that is going on within reach of us ! "

The boy and the dog were separated, and the
boy was cared for in the missionary's home; but
no one wanted to sit down to the table in that house
until that awful condition of human suffering was
relieved. They could not enjoy their own meal
with the vision of that savage scene coming up
before their minds.

If we are truly the Lord's, the sight of spiritual
hunger and famine will appeal to us, and it will
not be iDossible for us to enjoy our own feast of
love with Christ unless we are conscious that we
are doing our very best to bring the bread of life
to these other perishing souls. It is a terrible
thing that we should sometimes seem to be so in-
different to the men and women who are dying of
spiritual famine — peojile whose hearts are break-
ing in sorrow without the knowledge of Him who
is our soul's greatest comfort ; men and women who
are chained by wicked passions, who are held in
cruel bondage by evil habits ; and yet we, who have
learned the song of jubilee, who have been given
freedom by the great Deliverer, are so timid and
hesitating about making known the opportunity of
freedom to these who are held in such bitter bond-
age ! I i^ray God that the Holy Spirit may give



8 JOHN AND HIS FRIENDS.

US eyes to see clearly tlie sad ravages whicli sin
is making upon the unconverted people whom we
know, and that we shall so appreciate their needs
that in self-defense, for our own joy's sake, our
hearts shall prompt us to bring salvation to them.

It is only heart-religion that can give us that
sympathetic atmosphere which will help us to win
souls. A friend was asked : " What is the secret of
Wilberforce's success? " " In his power of sympa-
thy," was the ready answer. He was large-hearted,
generous, and liberal ; he went straight to the front,
and threw himself heart and soul into every project
which had good for its object. It was said of Nor-
man Macleod that sympathy was the first and last
thing in his character — he found in humanity so
much to interest him; the most commoni^lace
man or woman yielded up some contribution of
humanity. "When he came to see me," said a
blacksmith, " he spoke as if he had been a smith
himself ; but he never went away without leaving
Christ in my heart."

We must not hold people at arm's length with
some cold intellectual reasoning if we would win
them to Christ. We must think about their con-
dition, must meditate on their need of Christ, must
muse on the transformation that would come if they
knew Jesus ; must pray about them, carrying their
personality before the mercy-seat, until our hearts
arc filled with the longing to see them Christians ;
then when we go to talk with them, the heart-fel-



JOHN AND HIS FRIENDS. 9

lowsliip of sympathy and love will make itself felt,
and will be more powerful tlian anything we say or
do to make the Christian life charming to them.

We must not be too particular as to whom we
shall win. Any man, woman, or child who does not
know the Lord will seem infinitely desirable to us
when we look at them through the light of Christ's
love and sacrifice in their behalf. George Mac-
donald says a man must not choose his neighbor;
he must take the neighbor that God sends him.
In him, whoever he be, lies hidden or revealed a
beautiful brother. The neighbor is just the man
who is next to you at the moment. This love of
our neighbor, he says, is the only door out of the
dungeon of self. What a glorious month it would
be for us if this first month of the new year should
liberate every member of this church from the dun-
geon of selfishness, and grant unto us that inde-
scribable joy that comes to those who are conscious
of having been the instruments, in the hands of
God, of bringing liberty and forgiveness to a soul
perishing in its sin! Such a happy privilege is
within the reach of every one of us. God grant
that we may seize the opportunity, and each be-
come a Greatheart in the enthusiasm and love with
which we give ourselves to winning souls for the
Master !



n.

THE BRIGHT HEART OF THE
UNIVERSE.

This is the message which we have heard from him, and
announce unto you, that God is light, and in him is no dark-
ness at all. — Ijohni. 5 {Revised Version).

The supreme duty of a Christian minister is set
forth with perfect clearness in this text. Accord-
ing to John's idea, the minister is the messenger of
Jesus Christ to announce to his fellow men the
truth about God. He is not to formulate his own
message; he is not to bring them the results of his
own philosophizing or theorizing; he is to bring
to them the message of his Master. What Christ
says about God is the great substance of the mes-
sage which the Christian minister is to announce to
the people. That was what Paul meant when he
said at one time, on coming to a people, that he
should know nothing among them save Jesus Christ
and him crucified. To Paul's mind, the great sac-
rifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as an atonement
for the sins of men was the essence and substance
of tlie revelation of God's heart to the world, and
it was therefore the substance of Paul's message

10



THE BRIGHT HEART OF THE UNIVERSE. 11

which he was sent to announce to tlie people. I
do not understand that there has been any change
in the order of the Christian ministry. Men are
not called of God to be mere theorizers about the
Gospel, but are called to announce the Gospel
itself; not to make a Bilile, but to declare one
already made. We are called not to declare the
vaporings of our own imagination, Irnt to point to
Christ, the Savior of the world, and call sinners to
repentance before that God who is light, and in
whom "there is no darkness at all."

It is a very happy and cheerful message which I
have for j'ou this morning — a message of good
cheer for every one. My message is that the Heart
of the Universe, the Center from which shine
forth strength and wisdom and beauty, is bright
and full of all radiant things, and that in that
great and glorious Center "there is no darkness
at all." If a man is ill, there may be more or less
gloom over the household, and many fears and fore-
bodings among anxious relatives; but if I can find
the physician, and know that in Ms mind there is
a i)erfectly clear concejition of the case, and that he
has no doubt whatever of his ability to deal with
it, or of his power to banish the disease and bring
the patient speedily back to health, then my confi-
dence is at once restored, and the fears of those who
do not understand the case no longer make me anx-
ious. It is good cheer like that which I bring to
you this morning. This world of ours is sick with



12 JOHN AND HIS FRIENDS.

sin ; it has been covered with strife, and torn by
war and pestilence and famine. Sin stalks abroad
yet, sometimes like an epidemic, but always work-
ing in secret, preying upon the hearts and lives of
men and women, ever and anon sending forth de-
fiant shouts of fiendish victory from its strongholds.
Many people become frightened and discouraged,
and believe that mankind is getting worse, and that
the human race staggers like a man sick unto death
to its grave. Many are the moans and the hojje-
less cries of despair, until one is depressed by all
this mingled sin and sorrow which meet the gaze
on every hand. But to every one who has come
under such an influence I have a message of good
cheer. I have it from the very mouth of Christ,
who came forth from the Father, and who speaks
with knowledge, that in the heart of God there is
not now, nor has there ever been, any sense of dis-
couragement. His heart has ever been full of hope
and courage. No darkness of fear or doubt or anx-
ious foreboding has ever clouded the divine Mind.
He has seen the end from the beginning, and has
known that all these things which have discouraged
us are but temporary, and that goodness is in-
finitely^ stronger than evil, and is yet to triumph
among mankind. In the bright Heart of the Uni-
verse there is no fear that mankind will eollaj^so in
its effort toward righteousness and stumble back
like a drunken man into the darkness. God sees
always that man's way is upward ; and Christ, look-



THE BRIGHT HEART OF THE UNIVERSE. 13

ing forward past the cross on Calvary, past the
grave in the garden of Joseph, past the Mount of
Ascension, past our day and beyond, saw the trav-
ail of his soul, and was satisfied with the glorious
victory that he was to win in the hearts and souls
of men.

Knowing that God is not discouraged, and that
he expects victory, ought to encourage our hearts
and give us that power of expectancy in which lies
victory.

One of Spurgeon's students said to him: "I am
afraid I have mistaken my calling, and that the
ministry isn't my proper work."

"Why," said Spurgeon, "what is the reason you
have come to that conclusion? "

" Well, I have been working in such a place for
such and such a time, and I don't seem to have ac-
complished much."

"Why, man alive! you didn't expect that every
time you preached a sermon somebody would be
converted, did you? "

"No, of course I didn't expect that."

"Well, you don't get it, then. Expect results,
and you will find them."

This great message which John brings to us
from Christ, that there is never for a moment
any sense of discouragement or defeat in the
heart of God, and that he is able to conquer
every wicked habit and heal the heart of every
sin, ought to illuminate our own souls, and give



14 JOHN AND HIS FRIENDS.

US faith and courage to expect great things in
our efforts to save sinners.

It should comfort us very much to feel that there
is no darkness of ignorance in the mind of God.
He is not taken unawares by any unexpected trou-
bles that confront us. Unforeseen as they have
been to us, and unprepared as we may be to meet
them, God has not been taken by surprise, for in
him there is no darkness at all. He has known all
about it, and thoroughly' understands the case now,
and has not a single dark cloud of foreboding con-
cerning the outcome. This thought ought to lead
us to trust God i)erfectly and have no anxious
fears.

A little four-3- ear-old inquired of her mother
one moonlight night : " Mamma, is the moon God's
light? "

The lamp had just been put out, and the timid
little girl, as well as her mother, was afraid of the
dark ; but presently she saw the bright moon out of
her window, and it suggested the question, " Is the
moon God's light? "

"Yes, Ethel," replied the mother; "his lights
are always burning."

Then came the next question from the little girl :
" Will God blow out his light and go to sleep too? "

" No, my child," replied the mother; " his lights
are always burning."

Then the timid little girl gave utterance to a sen-
timent which thrilled the mother's heart with trust



THE BRIGHT HEART OF THE UNIVERSE. 15

in lier God: "Well, mamma, wliile God's awake I
am not afraid."

We may be sure that there is no darkness of ig-
norance or drowsiness at the Heart of the Universe,
which is forever bright with the wakefulness of
abounding love.

There is no darkness of prejudice in the mind
and heart of God. What an evil track prejudice
leaves behind it in this world ! One often hears a
complaint that this one or that one has not had a
fair chance because the people who had the power
to control to some extent his destiny were preju-
diced against him. God is never prejudiced
against any of his children. Prejudice is always
born either of ignorance or sin, and neither of
these has any place in God's heart. There are no
dark jealousies or envies or prejudices in the bright
heart of our Heavenly Father. There could not be
false testimony enough heaped together in the
whole world to prejudice our case before him for a
single moment. He knows everything about us ;
he sees every purpose that is formed in our hearts ;
he knows what we strive to do just as well as what
we actually succeed in accomplishing. No soul
will ever be shut out of a fair chance, for in the
brightness of God's countenance are perfect knowl-
edge and perfect justice. And if any soul cries
out in its anguish, " Perfect justice will mean my
condemnation forever, for I have sinned against
God," then take heart, " for God so loved the world



16 JOHN AND HIS FRIENDS.

that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in him should not perish, but have ever-
lasting life. For God sent not his Son into the
world to condemn the world, but that the world
through him might be saved."


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Online LibraryLouis Albert BanksJohn and his friends: a series of revival sermons → online text (page 1 of 17)