S.D. Gordon.

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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.

Jesus' World-passion.

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 actually.

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,"[2]
and would stop at nothing short of giving His very self "for the life of
the world."

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"[3] were to be sown as seed all over its vast extent.

You remember, that last week, the request of the Greeks for an
interview?[4] 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."[5] 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
into it.

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.
Early Moorings.
Service Unites.
The World-winning Climb.

The Plan

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
to move.

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

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Online LibraryS.D. GordonQuiet Talks with World Winners → online text (page 2 of 14)