Make Them Come In!
[Compel Them to Come In]
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
December 5, 1858
© Copyright 2013 by Tony Capoccia. This updated file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as
long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold. All rights reserved.
Verses quoted, unless
otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION,
©1984 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
This sermon, preached by Tony Capoccia, is now available on Audio CD and MP3: www.gospelgems.com
[said]: A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At
the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited,
Come, for everything is now ready. But they all alike began to make excuses.
The first said, I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please
excuse me. Another said, I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my
way to try them out. Please excuse me. Still another said, I just got married,
so I can’t come.
The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the
house became angry and ordered his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and
alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the
lame. Sir, the servant said, what you ordered has been done, but there is
still room. Then the master told his servant, Go out to the roads and country
lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full” –
I feel in such a hurry to go out and obey this commandment this morning, by urging those who are unsaved to come in to the Gospel feast, those who are now lost in their sins, and I cannot wait for an introduction, but must quickly go about my business.
Listen to me, you that are strangers to the truth about Jesus—listen to the message that I have to bring to you. You have fallen, fallen in yourselves, by your daily sins and your constant rejection of the gospel; you have provoked the anger of the Most High God; and as surely as you have sinned, so certainly must God punish you if you continue in your sins, for the Lord is a God of justice, and will not in any way spare the guilty. But have you not heard, has it not been often spoken to you, that God, in his infinite mercy, has devised a way whereby, without any violation of his honor, he can have mercy on you—you, the guilty and the undeserving ones?
To you I speak; and my voice is directed to you, men and women; Jesus Christ, the very God, the True God, has descended from heaven, and was made in human likeness. Brought about by the Holy Spirit, he was born of the Virgin Mary; he lived a life of perfect holiness in this world, and also experience a life of deepest suffering, until he finally gave himself up to die for our sins, “the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God” [1 Peter 3:18]. And now the plan of salvation is simply stated to you—“Whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved” [Acts 16:31]. For you who have violated many, many of God’s laws, and have despised his mercy and provoked his vengeance against you, but there is still mercy proclaimed, for “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” [Joel 2:32]. “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” [1Timothy 1:15]. “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” [Hebrews 7:25].
Now, all that God is asking of you—and this he gives you—is that you simply look at his bleeding dying son, and trust your souls into his hands, whose name alone can save you from death and hell. Isn’t it a amazing thing, that the proclamation of this gospel does not receive the unanimous approval of men and women? One would think that as soon as this gospel was preached, “That everyone who believes in Christ will have eternal life,” that then every one of you, repenting of your sins and wickedness,” would lay hold of Jesus Christ, and look only to his cross. But sadly! Such is the desperate evil of our nature, such the wicked depravity of our character, that this message is despised, the invitation to the gospel feast is rejected, and there are many of you who are this day enemies of God by wicked works, enemies to the God who preaches Christ to you today, enemies to him who sent his Son to give his life a ransom for many. It is strange that it should be this way, yet nevertheless it is the fact, and therefore the necessity for the command of our text this morning to — “Make them come in.”
Let me just say a quick word to those who have become true Children of God, you who have already believed in Jesus Christ for salvation, I will have little or nothing to say to you this morning; I am going straight to my business—I am going after those that will not come to Christ—those that are still lost in their sins, and God going with me, it is my duty now to fulfill this command, “Make them come in.”
First, I must, find you out; secondly, I will go to work to compel you to come in.
I. First, I must FIND YOU OUT.
If you read the verses that precede the text, you will find the context of this command: “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame;” and then, afterwards, “Go out to the roads,” bring in the drifters and wanderers, “and country lanes,” bring in those that have no place to call home, bring them in too, and “make them come in.”
Yes, I see you this morning, you that are poor. I am to make you come in. You are poor in your circumstances, but this is no barrier to the kingdom of heaven, for God has not exempted from his grace the man or woman that shivers in rags, and who is destitute of food. In fact, if there was any distinction made, the distinction is on your side, and for your benefit—for “...it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent” [Acts 13:26]; “the good news is preached to the poor” [Matthew 11:5]. But especially I must speak to you who are poor, spiritually. You have no faith, you have no virtue, you have no good work, you have no grace, and what is worse, you have no hope. Oh, my Master has sent you a gracious invitation. Come and be welcomed to the marriage feast of his love. “Whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” [Revelation 22:17]. Come, I must lay hold of you, though you are defiled with the foulest filth, and though you have nothing but rags on your back, though your own righteousness has become like filthy rags, yet must I lay hold of you, and invite you first, and even make you come in.
And now I see you again. You are not only poor, but you are crippled. There was a time when you thought you could work out your own salvation without God's help, when you could do good works, perform religious ceremonies, and get to heaven by yourselves; but now you are crippled, the sword of the Law has cut off your hands, and now you can no longer work; you say, with bitter sorrow, that you have lost all power now to obey the Law; you feel that when you would do good, evil is present with you. You are crippled; you have given up, all hope, all attempts to save yourself, because you are crippled and your hands are gone. But you are worse off than that, for if you could not work your way to heaven, yet you could walk your way there along the road by faith; but you are crippled in the feet as well as in the hands; you feel that you cannot believe, that you cannot repent, that you cannot obey the requirements of the gospel. You feel that you are utterly doomed, powerless in every respect to do anything that can be pleasing to God. To you am I also sent. Before you I am to lift up the bloodstained banner of the cross, to you I am to preach this gospel, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” [Acts 2:21], and “Whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” [Revelation 22:17].
There is yet another class. You are lame. You are stumbling between two opinions. You are sometimes seriously inclined towards Christ, and at another time worldly pleasures call you away. What little progress you do make in religion is only a limp. You have a little strength, but it is so little that you make only a little painful progress. Ah, limping friend, to you also is the word of this salvation sent. Though you waver between two opinions, the Master sends me to you with this message: “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him” [1 Kings 18:21]. Consider your ways; “Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover” [2 Kings 20:1]. Because I will do this, “prepare to meet your God!” [Amos 4:12]. Waver no longer, but decide for God and his truth.
And yet I see another class—the blind. Yes, you that cannot see yourselves, that think you are good when you are full of evil, to you I am sent. You, blind souls that cannot see your lost condition, that don’t believe that your sin is extremely sinful as it is, and who will not be persuaded to think that God is a just and righteous God, to you I am sent. To you that cannot see the Savior, that see no beauty in him that you should desire him; who see no excellence in virtue, no glories in Christianity, no happiness in serving God, no delight in being his children; to you, I am also sent.
And our text goes further than this—it not only gives a particular description, so that each individual case may be met, but afterwards it makes a general sweep, and says, “Go out to the roads and country lanes.” Here we bring in all ranks and circumstances of men and women—A man riding down the highway, and the woman going about her business, the thief ambushing the traveller—all different types of people, all are to be made to come in. This is the universal command—make them come in.
Now, I pause after having described the characters, I pause to look at the enormous work that lies before me. It is like a little child trying to make the incredible strong Samson do something, as I seek to lead sinners to the cross of Christ. And yet my Master commands me to do it. Oh, I see the great mountain before me, a mountain of human depravity and indifference, but by faith I cry, “What are you, O mighty mountain? Before [me] you will become level ground” [Zechariah 4:7]. Does my Master say, make them come in? Then, though the sinner is like Samson and I a simple child, I will lead him with a thread. If God says do it, if I attempt it in faith it will be done; and if with a groaning, struggling, and weeping heart, I so seek this day to make sinners come to Christ, the sweet urges of the Holy Spirit will go with every word, and some indeed will be made to come in.
II. And now to the work — directly to the work. Oh, unconverted, unreconciled, unregenerate men and women, I am to MAKE YOU COME IN.
Permit me first of all to confront you in the roads of sin and tell you over again my mission. The King of heaven this morning sends a gracious invitation to you. He says, “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live” [Ezekiel 33:11]. “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” [Isaiah 1:18].
Dear brother and sister, it makes my heart rejoice to think that I would have such good news to tell you, and yet I confess my soul is heavy because I see you don’t think it good news, but turn away from it, and don’t give it any consideration. Permit me to tell you what the King has done for you. He knew your guilt; he knew that you would ruin your soul. He knew that his justice would demand your blood, and in order that you might escape this judgment, but that his justice would still be fully satisfied, so that you could still be saved, Jesus Christ has died in your place.
Will you just for a moment glance at this picture. You see that man there on his knees in the garden of Gethsemane, sweating drops of blood. You see this next: you see that miserable victim tied to a pillar and lashed with terrible scourges, till his shoulder bones are seen like white islands in the midst of a sea of blood. Again you see this third picture; it is the same man hanging on the cross with hands extended, and with feet nailed tight, dying, groaning, bleeding; the picture spoke and said, “It is finished.” Now all this has Jesus Christ of Nazareth done, in order that God might, consistent with his justice, forgive sin; and the message to you this morning is this—“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” [Acts 16:31]. That is, trust him, repent of your sins, and your ways, and set your heart only on this man, who gave himself for sinners.
Well brothers and sisters, I have told you the message, what do you have to say about it? Do you turn away? You tell me it means nothing to you; you don’t want to listen to it; that you will hear me eventually; but you will go your way today and take care of your own business. But, Stop! I was not merely told to tell you this and then go about my business. No; I am told to make you come in; so permit me to witness to you a bit more before I go. There is one thing I can say—and to which God is my witness this morning, that I am sincere with you in my desire that you should comply with this command of God. You may despise your own salvation, but I don’t despise it; you may go away and forget what you have heard, but please remember that the things I now say to you cost me many a heartache before I came here to share them. My inmost soul is speaking out to you, my poor friend, when I beg you, in Jesus’ Name—him that lives and was dead, and is alive for evermore, consider my master's message, which he now commands me to speak to you.
But do you still reject it? Do you still refuse it? Then I must change my tone for a minute. I will not merely tell you the message, and invite you as I do with all seriousness, and sincere affection—I will go further. “Sinner, in God’s name I command you to repent and believe!” Do you ask me where do I get my authority to say this? I am an ambassador of heaven. My credentials, some of them are secret, and within my own heart; and others of them are open before you this day in the evidences of my ministry, some are sitting and some are standing in this Church, where God has given me many souls for my service to him. As the eternal God has given me a commission to preach his gospel, I command you to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; not on my own authority, but on the authority of him who said, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” [Mark 16:15]; and then added this solemn affirmation, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” [Mark 16:16]. If you reject my message, then remember this, “Anyone who rejected the Law of Moses died without mercy…How much more severely do you think a person deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot?” [Hebrews 10:28-29]. An ambassador is not to stand below the man with whom he deals, for we stand higher. If the minister chooses to take his proper rank, fortified with the omnipotence of God, and anointed with his Holy Spirit, he is to command men and women, and speak with all authority making them come in: Command, “Encourage and rebuke with all authority” [Titus 2:12].
But do you still turn away and say you will not be commanded? Then again I will change my tone. If that still doesn’t work, then all other means will be tried. My dear friend, I come to you with plain language, and I urge you to flee to Christ. O my friend, don’t you know what a loving Christ he is? Let me tell you from my own soul what I know of him. I, too, once despised him. He knocked at the door of my heart and I refused to open it. He came to me, time and time again, morning by morning, and night by night; he convicted me in my conscience and spoke to me by the Holy Spirit, and then finally, the thunders of the law prevailed in my conscience, I thought that Christ was cruel and unkind. O, I can never forgive myself that I would have ever thought him to be harsh. But what a loving reception I had when I finally went to him. I thought he would kill me, but his hand was not clenched in anger but opened wide in mercy. I thought for sure that his eyes would flash lightning bolts of wrath on me; but, instead, they were full of tears. He hugged me and kissed me; he took off my filthy rags of my self-righteous works and clothe me with his righteousness, and caused my soul to sing out loud for joy; while in my heart and in his church there was music and dancing, because his child that he had lost was found, and he that was dead was made alive. I urge you, then, to look to Jesus Christ and be saved.
Sinner, you will never regret your decision—I will vouch for my Master that you will never regret it—you will have no desire to go back to being under God’s judgment; you will leave the bondage of sin and will go into the promised land and will find it flowing with milk and honey. You will find that the trials of the Christian life will be heavy at times, but you also will find that God’s grace will make them light. And as for the joys and delights of being a child of God, you will taste and see that the Lord is good, in fact, you will find that he is not only good, but better than human lips can ever can describe.
I don’t know what arguments to use with you. I appeal to your own self-interests. Oh my poor friend, wouldn’t it be better for you to be reconciled to the God of heaven, than to be his enemy? What are you getting by opposing God? Are you happier by being his enemy? Answer, pleasure-seeker; have you found joys in this world of pleasure? Answer me, self-righteous one: have you found true rest in your soul by trying to earn your way to heaven? Oh you that go around trying to establish your own righteousness, I charge you to let your conscience speak. Have you found it to be a joyful path? Ah, my friend, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of foods” [Isaiah 55:2].
I exhort you by everything that is sacred and solemn, everything that is important and eternal, flee for your lives, don’t look back, don’t stop until you have been covered by the blood of Jesus Christ, that blood which cleanses us from all sin. Are you still cold and indifferent? Won’t the blind man allow me to lead him to the feast? Won’t my crippled brother put his hand on my shoulder and permit me to assist him to the banquet? Won’t the poor man allow me to walk side-by-side with him? Must I use some stronger words? Must I use some other compulsion to make you come in?
Sinners, one thing I know this morning, if you won’t be saved, then you will be without excuse. You, the elderly, and all those down to the tender age of childhood; if you today day refuse to come to Christ, then your blood will be on your own head. If there is power in man to bring the lost person to Christ (as there is when man is helped by the Holy Spirit), then that power will be exercised this morning, God helping me. Come, I am not to be put off by your rejections; if my exhortation fails, I must do something else. My friend, I plead with you, I implore you to stop and consider. Do you know what it is you are rejecting this morning? You are rejecting Jesus Christ, your only Savior. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” [Acts 4:12].
Oh, my dear friend, I cannot bear that you should do this, for I remember what you are forgetting: the day is coming when you will want a Savior. It won’t be long, before you realize it, your days ordained for you on this earth, will be coming to an end, and your strength will begin to decline; your pulse will fail you, your strength will depart, and then you and the grim monster—death, must face each other. What will you do in your final hours of life on this earth without a Savior? Deathbeds are hard and cold without the Lord Jesus Christ. It is an awful thing to die anyway; even he that has the best hope, and the most triumphant faith, finds that death is not a thing to laugh at. It is a terrible thing to pass from the seen to the unseen, from the mortal to the immortal, from time into eternity, and you will find it hard to go through the iron gates of death without the sweet wings of angels to guide you to the gateways of the skies. It will be an awful thing to die without Christ. I can’t help thinking of you. I picture myself standing at your bedside and listening your moans, and knowing that you are dying without hope. I can’t bear that. I see myself standing by your coffin now, and looking into your clay-cold face, and saying. “This person despised Christ and neglected the great salvation.” I think what bitter tears I will weep then, if I think that I have been unfaithful to you, and how those eyes that are sealed closed in death, will seem to blame me and say, “Minister, I attended your church, but you were not serious enough with me; you amused me, you preached to me, but you didn’t plead with me. You didn’t know what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “…God [is] making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God!” [2 Corinthians 5:20].
I beg you to let this message enter your heart for another reason. I picture myself standing at the Great White Throne of God—in the Day of the Final Judgment. As the Lord lives, the Day of Judgment is coming. Do you believe that? Your conscience won’t allow you to doubt that the judgment day is coming! Perhaps you may have pretended to doubt a Day of Judgment, but you can’t. You feel there must be a day when God will judge the world for its sin. I see you standing in the midst of that multitude, and the eye of God is focused on you. It seems to you that he is not looking anywhere else, but only at you, and he summons you before him; and he reads a long list of your sins, and then he shouts at you, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire…! [Matthew 25:41], the eternal fires of hell!” Oh, my friend, I cannot bear to think of you at that moment; it seems as if every hair on my head must stand on end to think of any listener of my preaching being damned to hell forever! Can you picture yourselves there? The word has gone out from God’s lips, “Depart, you who are cursed.” Do you see the flaming pit of hell as it opens up to swallow you? Do you listen to the shrieks and the screams of those who have preceded you into that eternal lake of fire and torment? Instead of picturing the scene, I turn to you with the words of the inspired prophet, and I say, “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?” [Isaiah 33:14]. Oh! My friend, I can’t let you ignore the Gospel this way; no, I think of what is to come after death. I would be destitute of all humanity if I saw a person about to poison himself, and did not quickly grab the cup of poison away from them; or if I saw another person about to jump off a high bridge, and if I didn’t do everything possible in preventing them from jumping. And I would be worse than a devil if I didn’t now, with all love, and kindness, and earnestness, beg you to “grab hold of eternal life,” [1 Timothy 6:12
Some would tell me that I am wrong to continue pleading as I do. I can’t help it. I must do it. Since I must stand before my Judge in the end, I feel that I will not give a good accounting of my ministry unless I beg with many tears that you would be saved, that you would look to Jesus Christ and receive his glorious salvation. But do you still refuse? Are all our appeals lost on you; do you turn a deaf ear? Then again I change my note. “Sinner, I have pleaded with you as a man pleads with his friend, and were it for my own life I could not speak more earnestly this morning than I do speak concerning yours. I did feel intense about my own soul, but not a bit more than I do about the souls of my congregation this morning; and therefore, if you ignore these pleas I have something else—I must threaten you.
ou will not always have such warnings as these. A day is coming, when all the voices of every gospel minister will be silenced, at least for you; for your ear will be cold in death—in the grave. There will not be any more threats; it will be the fulfillment of all the previous threats. There will be no more promises made, no more offers of forgiveness and mercy; no peace available by the blood of Christ, for you will be in the place of eternal nights of misery and torment, and where the preaching of the gospel is forbidden because it would be pointless. I charge you then, listen to this voice that now addresses your conscience; for if not, God will speak to you in his wrath, and say to you in his burning displeasure, “Since you rejected me when I called you and ignored me when I stretched out my hand to you, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster” [Proverbs 1:24-26]. Sinner, I threaten you again. Remember, you may only have a short time left to hear these warnings. You imagine that you will live a long life, but do you know how short it is? Have you ever tried to think how frail you are? Did you ever see a human body when the anatomist has dissected it into pieces? Did you ever see such a marvelous thing as the human body?
But just let one mouthful of food go down the wrong direction, and you may die. The slightest chance, as we have it, may send you swiftly to death, when God wills it. Strong men have been killed by the smallest and slightest accident, and so may you. In the home and at work, men have suddenly dropped dead. How often do we hear of men dying suddenly of a heart attack—and instantly entering into eternity? And are you sure that your heart is healthy? Is your blood circulating properly? Are you quite sure of that? And if it’s true, then how long will it stay that way? O, perhaps there are some of you here that will never see another Christmas day; it may be that the command from God has already gone out concerning your life, “Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover” [Isaiah 38:1].
Out of this congregation, I might make an accurate guess how many will be dead in a year; but with certainty I could say that everyone of us here this day, will all never meet together again. Some of you out of this crowd, perhaps some two or three will die before the New Year will be ushered in. I remind you, then, my brothers and sisters that either the gate of salvation may be shut, or else you may no longer be in the place where the gate of mercy stands. Come, then, let all the threats have an effect on you. I don’t threaten you for no reason, but in hopes that my threats may drive you to the place where God has prepared the feast of the gospel.
And now, must I hopelessly turn away from you? Have I exhausted everything that I can say? No, I will come to you again. Tell me what is it, my friend, which keeps you from Christ? I hear one person say, “Oh, it is because I feel myself too guilty to be saved.” But, my friend, that can’t be, that can’t be. “But,” you say, “I am the chief of sinners.” Friend, you are not. The chief of sinners died and went to heaven many years ago; his name was Saul of Tarsus, afterwards called Paul the apostle. He clearly declared himself to be the chief of sinners, and I know he spoke the truth.
But you still say, “No, I am too wicked to be saved.” But, you can’t be more wicked than the chief of sinners. You must, at least, be second worst. Even supposing you are the worst sinner now alive, you still are the second worst of all time, for he was chief. But even suppose that you are the worst ever, isn’t that the very reason why you should come to Christ. The worse a person is, then all the more reason they should go to the hospital or to a physician. The poorer you are, the more reason you should accept the charity of another. Now, Christ does not want any thing from you. He gives freely. The worse you are, the more welcome you are.
But let me ask you a question: Do you think you will ever get better by refusing to go to Christ? If so, you know very little about the power of salvation to change your life. No, sir, the longer you stay away from Christ, the worse you will become; your hope will grow weaker, your despair will become greater, and you will be less hopeful than ever. Come, I beg you, remember there is nothing to be gained by delaying, but by delaying everything may be lost.
“But,” says another, “I feel that I can’t believe.” My friend, you will never believe if you only look at your own power to believe. Remember, I did not come to invite you to faith; rather I came to invite you to Christ. But you say, “What is the difference?” Why, just this, if you first say, “I want to believe something,” you’ll never do it. Rather your first question must be, “What is this thing that I am to believe?” Then faith will come as the consequence of that search. Our first business has not to do with faith, but with Christ. Come, I beg you, to Calvary, and look at the cross. Watch the Son of God, he who created the heavens and the earth, dying for your sins. Look at him is there not power in him to save? Look at his face so full of pity. Is there not love in his heart to prove him willing to save? Oh, sinner, the sight of Christ will help you to believe. Do not believe first, and then go to Christ, or else your faith will be a worthless thing; go to Christ without any faith, and throw yourself at his feet—begging for his mercy.
But I hear another person say, “Oh sir, you do not know how many times I have been invited to come to Christ, and how many times I have rejected him.” You’re right, I don’t know, and I don’t want to know; all I know is that my Master has sent me, to make you to come in; so come now to Christ. You may have rejected a thousand invitations; don't make this a thousand-and-one. You have been to church many times, and you have only become hardened to the gospel. But I think I see a tear in your eye; come, my friend, don’t be hardened by this morning’s sermon. O, Spirit of the living God, come and melt this heart for it has never been melted, and make him to come in! I cannot let you go with such idle excuses as that; if you have lived so many years rejecting Christ, there are so many reasons why now you should not reject him any longer. But did I just hear you whisper that this was not a convenient time to be saved? Then what must I say to you? When will that convenient time come? Will it come when you are in hell? Will that time be convenient? Will it come when you are on your deathbed, and death is in your throat—will it come then? Or when the burning sweat of a fever is scalding your brow; and then again, when the cold clammy sweat of death is there, will those be convenient times? When pains are racking your body, and you are approaching the edges of the coffin? No, sir, this morning is the convenient time. May God make it so.
Remember, I have no authority to ask you to come to Christ tomorrow. The Master has not given you an invitation to come to him next week. The invitation from God, as stated in his Holy Word, is, “Today, if you hear [my] voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion,” [Hebrews 3:7-8], for the Holy Spirit says “today.” “Come now, let us reason together, ” [Isaiah 1:18], why should you put it off? It may be the last warning you will ever have. If you put it off today, then you may never have another opportunity to be saved. You may never have so serious a sermon preached to you. You may not be pleaded with as I am pleading with you now. You may go away, and God may say, “He is given [over] to idols, leave him alone!” [Hosea 4:17]. He will let you go your own way— but note this, that your course is direct to inevitable damnation and eternal torment.
And now again, is it all in vain? Will you not now come to Christ? What more can I do? I have only one more choice, and that will be tried. I can weep for you; I can pray for you. You will scorn the message if you like; you can laugh at the preacher; you may call him fanatic if you like; he will not rebuke you, he will bring no accusation against you to the great Judge; but remember that the message that you are rejecting this morning is a message from the God of Love, and it is given to you also by the lips of one who loves you. You can continue to let the devil entertain you, and you may think it is no big thing; but there lives at least one who is in serious about your soul, and one who before he came here this morning, wrestled with his God in prayer for strength to preach to you, and who when he has left this church this morning will not forget his hearers of this morning. I say again, when words fail us we can give tears—for words and tears are the arms with which gospel ministers compel men and women to come in. You don’t know, and I suppose could not believe, how anxious a man whom God has called to the ministry feels about his congregation, and especially about some of them.
I heard the other day of a young man who attended our church for a long time, and his father’s hope was that he would soon be brought to Christ. However, he became friends with an atheist; and now he neglects his business, and lives in a daily path of sin. I saw his father’s poor drawn face; I didn’t ask him to tell me the story himself, for I felt it would be opening up an old wound; Sometimes I fear, that good man, that young man’s father, may carry that sorrow to the grave. Young men, and young women, you don’t pray for yourselves, but your mothers wrestle in prayer for you. You won’t think of your own souls, but your fathers worry about you. I have been at prayer meetings, when I have heard godly parents pray there, and they could not have prayed with more earnestness and more intensity of anguish if they had been seeking their own soul's salvation. And isn’t it strange that we would be ready to move heaven and earth for your salvation, and that still you would have no thought for yourselves, no regard for eternal things?
Now I turn for one moment to some others of you here today. There are some of you here who are members of Christian churches, who make a profession of religion, but unless I am mistaken about you—and I will be happy if I am—your profession is a lie. You don’t live up to it, you dishonor it; you can live in the perpetual habit of being absent from Church, and commit many other sins worse than that. Now I ask people like you who do not love the doctrine of God your Savior, do you imagine that you can call me your pastor, and yet that my soul cannot tremble over you and in secret weep for you? Again, I say it may be of little concern to you how you defile your Christian testimony, but it is a great concern to God’s true saints, who sigh, and cry, and groan over the sins of the false professors of Christ.
Now does anything else remain for the minister to do besides weeping and prayer? Yes, there is one thing left to do. God has not given his pastors and preachers the power of saving someone, but he has given them something like it. It is impossible for any man to save his neighbor; and yet how are men and women born again to God? Now the minister has a power given him by God, to be considered both the father and the mother of those born to God, for the apostle Paul said he suffered “…the pains of childbirth for souls until Christ was formed in them” [Galatians 4:19].
What can we as ministers and preachers do then? We can now appeal to the Holy Spirit. I know I have preached the gospel, and that I have preached it earnestly; I challenge my Master to honor his own promise, for he has said that “…his Word that goes out from his mouth: will not return to him empty, but will accomplish what he desires and achieve the purpose for which he sent it” [Isaiah 55:11].
Your salvation is in his hands, not mine. I cannot make you come to Christ, but the Holy Spirit, God Himself, who has the keys of every heart, can make you come. Did you ever notice in Book of Revelation, chapter 3:20, where Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock,” and a few verses before that, in verse 7, Jesus is described, “…as he who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut…” So that if knocking on the door of your heart won’t work, then he has the key and can and will come in. Now if the knocking of an earnest minister will not open your door this morning, there remains still that secret opening of the heart by the Holy Spirit, so that you will be made to come to him.
Now as I close this sermon, I believed it to be my duty to plead with you one last time; now I give it into my Master's hands. It cannot be his will that we should labor in childbirth, and yet not bring forth spiritual children. It is thru him; he is master of the heart, and the day will declare it, that some of you will be compelled by the sovereign grace of God, and will become the willing captives of the all-conquering Jesus, and will bowed your hearts to him, through the sermon preached this morning.
This sermon, preached by Tony Capoccia, is now available on Audio CD and MP3: www.gospelgems.com
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