Hope to Have

While preaching the gospel in a certain district, I had only one evening to devote to a particular place. In the afternoon, a young believer informed me that her mother, Mrs. Harden, had promised to come to the gospel meeting that night. She was an elderly person, by no means opposed to the things of God, but had never given evidence of having simply received the truth of the gospel in its peace-giving power. Anxious as the daughter was for her mother's blessing, she was nevertheless importunate that I should not speak personally to her for fear of her being offended, and laid rather a strict embargo on my lips, should I happen to come in contact with the old lady.
At the close of the evening gospel meeting, as I was standing near the door, I saw Mrs. Harden, whom I recognized from the afternoon's conversation, passing slowly out. Offering her a little tract, and at the same time expressing a wish that she might suffer no harm from the rain which was falling in torrents, she replied that she did not think she would, and further, that she was glad that she had come, for she had enjoyed the meeting.
As I had been speaking on the text, "Be it known, therefore, unto you that the SALVATION of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it"—(Acts 28:2828Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. (Acts 28:28)), I added, "I trust you now know the salvation of God, and have eternal life."
"I hope so," she replied, showing no desire to pass me.
"But why should you only 'hope,' my friend, when God wishes you to 'know' that, if believing in His Son, you have eternal life?"
"Well, sir, I believe in the Son of God; and all I can say is, I 'hope,' and I don't think anyone can 'know' as long as they are in this world."
"If you will permit," I answered, "I will show you just one little verse in the Word of God which will settle that matter definitely."
"You need not trouble yourself," said she. "I know the Word of God well. Ever since I was a child I have studied it, and I don't believe there is a verse you can show me that I don't know."
"Just one, Mrs. Harden."
"Well, where is it?" said she.
Taking her large-print Bible from her hands, I found and read to her, "These things have I written unto you that believe in the name of the Son of God, that ye may KNOW that ye HAVE eternal life." I John 5:1313And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. (John 5:13). I read it a second time, and then said, "Do you believe in the name of the Son of God?"
"I do," was the emphatic reply.
"You really do own that you are a lost sinner needing salvation, and that nothing but the shed blood of the Son of God could avail to put away your sins?"
"I do."
"You repudiate all thought of salvation by your own works, confess that you are an undone, guilty sinner, and now simply believe in the name of the Son of God?"
"I do," was again the short and sincere answer. "Well, then, granting all that; have you eternal life?"
"I hope so."
"Oh," was my reply, "I see it now! In the days when you went to school, which is, of course a great while ago, they used to spell differently than now."
"How so, sir?"
"Why, K-N-O-W used to spell H-O-P-E in those days?"
"Not at all, sir."
"What did it spell?"
"Why, of course, it spelled KNOW the same as now."
"There is a mistake somewhere," I replied, "there must be, for you say you believe in the name of the Son of God and He says, 'These things have I written unto you that believe in the name of the Son of God, that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life.' And you stand there and tell me that you only hope you have it."
"Let me see that verse myself," said the old lady. Suiting the action to the words, she thrust her hands into her pocket. Taking out and adjusting her spectacles, once and again she read slowly to herself, and then most emphatically, out loud, "These 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."
The Spirit of God blessed her perusal of the sacred message, and filled her heart with peace as she believed it. "Hope" died on the spot, and faith and amazement mingled had full possession of her soul.
Looking up, she now added, "Well, isn't that strange? For, often as I have read the Epistle of John, I never saw that verse yet. Of course I must have read it, for I am very fond of John's writings; but I never saw it in the light I do now. I am very glad you spoke to me, sir, and showed me that verse. Dear me, how dark I have been, and there it was all the time and so plain too; I wonder I never saw it before!"
"Well, thank God you see it now, and you believe it simply as it stands, don't you?"
"Oh, yes! There's no room left for 'hoping' or doubting now; I'm sure now, and I have to thank you for drawing my attention to the Lord's Word."
We had a little more conversation; and then seeing that she was now resting simply on the Lord and His blessed written Word, I bade her "Good night," closing our short and only possible earthly interview with this question, "And now, Mrs. Harden, if a friend meets you on your way home and asks, 'Have you eternal life?' what will you say?"
With a face beaming with joy in the assurance of God's salvation, she replied, "I shall tell them that I KNOW I HAVE IT because I believe in Jesus. And God has said, 'These things have I written unto you that believe in the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life.' Good night and good-by, sir."
To her it was truly a good night and to me truly a good-by, for not many weeks later the old lady passed away to be forever with the Lord, in the sweet enjoyment of the present possession of eternal life.
And now, my dear reader, I trust you will be as simple as the one of whom I have written. If you know that you are a ruined, lost sinner (and you must know it if you accept the testimony of the Word of God) just look away from yourself simply to Jesus. You will never get peace by looking to yourself, or trying to realize or feel assurance. This is obtained only and simply by receiving God's testimony to you. You must receive His witness to you before there can be any witness in you. Nothing can be simpler. I must be in a relationship in order to enjoy its proper affections, or fulfill its duties. I must know that I am a son of God, before I can feel like one; so must you. I must know (and I do know) from God's Word that I "have eternal life," before I can (and I do) feel that I have it. SO MUST YOU.