Youthful Days

A Gospel Message

Where are you going?

“… whence comest thou? and whither art thou going?” (Genesis 16:8)

God is entitled to ask questions of persons.  You find it often in scripture.  Not because He doesn't know the answer, but because we need to know the answer.  And it seems to me that these two Bible questions need to be answered in the Glad Tidings now.

Questions and answers usually define things.  Consider the questions that God directed to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, "Where art thou?" and "What is this thou has done?" (Genesis 3:9 & 13).  These two questions defined what had happened to a man – one, that he was lost and the other that he and his wife were both guilty.  And these two things are true of everybody in the world today.  Nobody escapes these definitions.

Of course, there are sinners saved by grace, those who've been found by Jesus.  God's grace followed Hagar as recorded in Genesis 16, and it has followed you throughout your life too.  Thank God there's a Saviour for the lost today, and there's a Saviour for the guilty.  Jesus “has come to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10).  He didn’t come to save just a few in Bethlehem or in Jerusalem or in Israel, but the whole world.  That's everybody.  We've all sinned, every one of us. 

If we apply these questions to Him, "Where did He come from?", He came from the glory, He came from heaven.  And why did He come?  He came because you and I were lost, and there was no way that we could be redeemed to God unless He came and took on our liability at Calvary's cross. That's why Jesus came.

“Where was He going?” He was going back to the glory, but He was going by way of the cross. He was going to Jerusalem, because there He would suffer and die, and there He would bear God's judgment against the sins that you and I have committed.

There was never a life like Jesus’ life, there was never a purpose-driven life like His.  Is your life purpose-driven too, does it have any direction?  Or are you just waiting for the next day to come?

God’s offer of blessing is beyond anything this world could give you.  It gives you peace in your heart because you know that the past has been settled, it gives you a future because you know that you're going to be with Christ, and it gives you joy for the present.  That's something that's truly worth having.  But my Saviour had to go by way of the cross before I could stand here tonight and tell you of the Glad Tidings of salvation. 

There's nothing haphazard about any life.  We all belong to God.  He gives to each a body as it pleases Him (1 Corinthians 15:38).  He gives breath, He gives life.  We all are responsible to our creator God.  Think of the human body, the most intricate, amazing thing, and yet man wants to believe there was no designer.  It just happened?  What a folly!

And so that's where you've come from.  You never just happened.  You're responsible to God because of what you are, and you're responsible because of what you've done.  And all have sinned.  You see, sin entered the world because of what Adam did.  And has death passed upon all because of what Adam did?  No, death passed upon all because all have sinned.  You're responsible for your own sins, and you can't do anything about them.  God alone can forgive your sins, and He came here by way of Bethlehem’s manger - the blessed God in the form of a man.

In the course of time, you and I will be overtaken by death.  No one escapes.  Most people know the day of their birth, but no one knows the date of their death.  We will be overtaken by death unless the Lord comes for us before then.  But the Lord would never have been overtaken by death.  Death is the wages of sin, but He was sinless.

The righteousness and holiness of God required a perfect sacrifice.  Who could take that on?  “The redemption of their soul is costly, and must be given up forever” (Psalm 49:8).  There was no way until Jesus came.  He offered Himself without spot to God.  The sinless One bore our sins in His body on the tree.

That's what happened in those three hours of darkness at Calvary, when Jesus took on my liabilities, my guilt.  What was due to me as a sinner was borne by Jesus so that I can go free, knowing that everything that stood out against me in the sight of a holy and righteous God has been cleared away.

His precious blood was shed as a sign that God's holy requirements had been met completely. Because without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.  But the shedding of the blood of my Saviour means a full and free remission is available to all who will trust in Him.

How about you?  Are you trusting in the blood of Christ, in that finished work?  Or are you just drifting along?  Where are you going?

A question was once asked of a believer, "Why does God send good people to hell?", and the answer was, “God is not sending anybody to hell”.  But the fact that you're a sinner, that's where you'll be.  John 3:16 explains that completely, that you're perishing if you’re without Christ.  But the day you accept Him as a Saviour, you're found, you have a hope, you'll spend eternity with Him.

The believer went on to illustrate it as a ship, and you’re on that ship and it’s sinking, and the lifeboat is alongside.  God has sent the lifeboat - it is Christ.  Will you get out of the sinking ship and enter the lifeboat now?  The day you put your faith in Christ and trust Him for all that's past, for your lost condition, and accept Him as your Saviour, you get into the lifeboat.  The alternative is unthinkable. 

Dear friends, it's so important that you accept Christ as your Saviour before it's too late.  He's coming again - He may come today.  So, I urge you to come right now where you are.  Repentance towards God and faith in Christ is the only way of blessing. There is no other Saviour, there is no other way of salvation. 

Extract from a gospel preaching by David McIntyre, 1st January 2023

extracted from the Mar 2023 issue of Youthful Days

The Three-legged Stool

There could be no two opinions about it – the stool had seen better days, and was really fit only for firewood.  It was a very old stool, and its owner, Betty, was a very old lady; and somehow there was a link in this very fact between them. 

The stool had been in her family for many a year, even long before Betty was born.  As a little girl, it had been her seat by the fire.  It had done its duty well, and had been scrubbed and sanded until it was quite worn, and its old face shone, in keeping with the rest of that little cottage, for its owner liked everything to be looking its best.  But now she often felt ashamed of the old stool, it was so worm-eaten, and was starting to be shaky on its legs too, but Betty had grown to look on it as a long-time companion, so although she had often threatened to break it up, nothing ever came of her dire threat.

Betty was a regular attendee at the local church gatherings, but the pastor was very much concerned about her.  It was not that she was a wicked old woman with a loud tongue and an interfering manner, for she was, on the contrary, a highly respectable and most religious person.  Whatever the weather, hot or cold, rain or snow, it mattered little; for whenever the church door opened, there old Betty was to be found.  First in her seat, she had said her prayers and smoothed her hair, and was ready to look round patronisingly and smugly on the congregation as it slowly filed in.

And then, when the service began, she was in her element!  Her voice rose above all others.  She stood or knelt with the nicest exactness, in accordance with the rule.  During the sermon, she was all attention – she never slept in church!  Nodding approvingly at this, smiling complacently at that, deeply sighing as she applied each word of exhortation to the shortcomings of others, Betty rested in her deeply-held conviction that hers was a life too blameless to have need to apply it to herself.

A visiting preacher determined to visit Betty and, on arrival at the house, was welcomed in.  He was shown to a seat, though not without apology from Betty that the cottage was but a poor place for the likes of him to come to, whilst looking around contentedly on her neat little room.  The visitor thanked her warmly, and said he would like to have a talk with her as he had heard she liked good things.

In short, the preacher set her so entirely at ease that she launched forth at once on her favourite topic, and gave him a long account of her good life, her prayers, and her good works, reflecting sadly on the differences between herself and others who were not so particular.  He listened quietly, needing to say nothing – waiting until the flow of words had run their course.
When a pause in her flow seemed to ask for a word of approval, her visitor simply raised his hand, pointing to the old, well-worn, worm-eaten stool sitting silently by the fireside; whereupon followed a long apology, followed by an assurance that many a time she had decided it should be broken up and thrown in the fire, for it was fit for nothing else.

At these words, the preacher raised his eyes, his finger still pointing to the stool, and said solemnly, “‘Fit for nothing else!’  My dear woman, you are just like that three-legged stool.”
Betty’s indignation knew no bounds, as she gasped for breath – surely her ears deceived her!  But no! There was no mistake.  That finger steadily pointing; that face looking calmly on hers dispelled any doubt on the subject.  Her pride was wounded, and after the preacher had gone, she considered the innocent cause of it – the old three-legged stool.  Her anger increased as she looked at it, sitting there so provokingly quietly, as if regarding her maliciously, and silently agreeing to the words just uttered.

She could stand its silent preaching no longer; she must have some vent for her indignation, and before long she was seated in the house of her neighbour, a humble Christian woman who was ever ready to sympathise with, and help, the troubled.  Betty’s neighbour soon heard the full story, and had been reminded what a good woman Betty had been, attending church regularly and doing the best she could to get to heaven, ‘like a proper Christian’.

Her neighbour just let Betty run on, but, as she did, she prayed earnestly that the Spirit of God would use the preacher’s intervention to show her the foolishness of her own efforts for salvation and her own righteousness.  And so, as the evening wore on, Betty still sat by the neighbour’s fire, afraid to confront the three-legged stool, though not allowing herself to think that this was the real reason for her staying.

When she finally returned, she hurriedly went upstairs without even a glance in the direction of the old stool but, on reaching her bedroom, she began to weep with bitter tears, true tears of sorrow and repentance, and kneeling down, cried to God for His mercy to her.  Hearing her cries, her neighbour ran in to see what was the matter, and found her distraught, declaring, “What a wicked sinner I have been!”  Then it poured out, “And I never realised it – never!  Always thinking I was so good and religious, me that has been so full of pride.  And all the time, turning my back on Jesus Christ, and thinking I didn’t need to be converted, I was so good.  Who would have thought it would all be through that old stool, a self-righteous sinner like me was to be broken down!  Oh neighbour, tell me, is there mercy for me?”

Sitting up on her bed, she drank in the words that her neighbour spoke of the true way of salvation, of the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses from every sin.  Then and there, sinner as she was, she believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and was saved.  Early the next morning, Betty wended her way to confess to all how the Lord had had mercy on her, and had spoken to her heart through her old three-legged stool.

J C Rainey (adapted)

extracted from the Jan 2023 issue of Youthful Days