Andrew, or A Great Sinner

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 5
While I was preaching I noticed among the people a man, who was evidently much interested in the good news of God’s free grace. What I was seeking to enforce was the complete ruin of man, and his utter alienation from God according to Romans 3:9-199What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; 10As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17And the way of peace have they not known: 18There is no fear of God before their eyes. 19Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (Romans 3:9‑19), where the unconverted are described by God Himself as— “All under sin,”— “All gone out of the way,” — “Unprofitable,” — “Throat an open sepulcher,” — “Tongues using deceit,” — “Poison of asps under lips,” — “Mouth full of cursing and bitterness,” — “Feet swift to shed blood,” — “No fear of God before their eyes,” —and all “Guilty before God.”
At the same time, I did not neglect to point out God’s love in sending His only begotten Son into the world, to die for the sins of others; and that all God’s just claims had been fully met by Jesus, so that He could now come out to justify the ungodly in RIGHTEOUSNESS; and that WHOSOEVER accepted the character God gave him—as above—and the Savior which He, in His love, had provided, has EVERLASTING LIFE.
Being deeply concerned about the soul of this man, I called on him at his home, and found that he was anxious to know about the “Salvation of God,” for he was assured he needed it. In the course of our conversation, I found he had been a noted sinner.
I prayed God to make me a “Messenger of Peace” to his precious soul, and knowing that the Lord was much more interested in him than I could be, I began to speak with him.
“I have been a great sinner, sir, and would like to be saved; but I’ve been a great sinner—a great sinner,” said the man.
“And a lost sinner, Andrew?” I said.
“Yes, a lost sinner; and I deserve to be,” he replied.
I pulled out my Bible, and said to him, “Do you believe this book to be God’s Word?”
“Yes.”
“For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Looking at the verse he said, “There it is, sure enough, I wish I could believe it.”
“But, did you not say a minute ago that the Bible was God’s Word?”
“Yes, yes; I mean, I wish I could feel it was so.”
“That would not be faith, Andrew,” I answered. “You are nowhere told in God’s Word to feel and be saved, but to believe and be saved (Acts 16:3131And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:31)). ‘Christ died for sinners’ (Rom. 5:88But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)), and the chief of sinners, Paul himself (1 Tim. 1:1515This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15)), has been in the Lord’s presence for more than eighteen hundred years. Salvation now is just a question of giving and taking; giving on God’s part; taking on man’s. Hence it is Jesus says in Revelation 21:66And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. (Revelation 21:6), ‘I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.’ But in Revelation 22:1717And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17), the latest news from heaven, it is not give this time, but, ‘WHOSOEVER will, let him TAKE of the water of life freely.’ Now your difficulty is feeling and not taking. There need be no difficulty in taking a gift. ‘The gift of God is eternal life’” (Rom. 6:2323For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)).
“And what have I to take?” the man asked. “You have to take God at His word; and the moment you do that, you have what God gives— ‘everlasting life.’”
“But then I ought to feel happy.”
“Yes, when you have taken, you will feel happy; but you want to feel happy before you have taken. Eternal life is not a thing, or an influence, but a PERSON—Christ Himself. I want to let you understand what believing is, Andrew,” and with that I put my hand into my pocket, and pulling it out again closed, said, “Look here, I’ve my pocket knife in my shut hand; do you believe it is there?”
“O, yes.”
“But you have not seen it, Andrew?”
“No.”
“Nor felt it?”
“No.”
“Then how do you know it is there?”
“Because you say it is there, and a preacher wouldn’t tell a lie, surely.”
“Well,” I said, “Andrew, you can take the poor preacher at his word, but you can’t take God at His. He says (John 3:3636He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36)), ‘He that believeth on the Son HATH everlasting life.’”
The man felt this rebuke, and it bowed his head in shame. The arrow, drawn at a venture, pierced his soul, as he said most feelingly, “And that’s faith, is it? O Mr. M—, you have made it clear.”
“God has, Andrew; God has. Faith is saying Amen to what God says; taking Him at His word, and asking no questions. And He says (1 John 5:1313These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13)), ‘These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know (KNOW) that ye have eternal life.’”
“Well, then, I must have eternal life, for I believe on the Son. Yes, yes, I do believe; and I must, must have eternal life, for God says it—God says it,” was now the aged believer’s response.
We praised God, and as we arose from our knees, his dear wife, a Christian woman, said, as the big tears stood in her eyes,
“This is one of the happiest days in my life, for God has answered my prayers.”
I often used to visit Andrew, and he never once lost confidence in the Word of God.
“I’m no scholar,” he used to say, “but I want to know more about Jesus.”
To talk of Him was his delight. “I’ve been a great sinner,” he used to say, “but Jesus has saved me, and it’s through the blood.”?
“What has the debtor-man to bring
As tribute to the Eternal King?
Nothing!
Still let him come to God, and prove
His riches, His abounding love.
What has the sinner-man to bring
As a sufficient offering?
Nothing!
Still let him come to God, whose grace
Has bruised a Savior in his place.
Come then, poor sinner, come, and sing;
Come, in thy poverty, and bring—
Nothing!
God bids thee in His grace believe;
God bids thee from His grace receive—
Everything!”