Helping The Helpless
“But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy), I say unto thee, Arise and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.” —Luke 5:24
Here is a story of the helping of the helpless. This man was absolutely helpless, and the sinner is absolutely helpless. The great trouble with men today in dealing with God is that they feel that somehow they can help themselves, and there is no help for them.
The sinner is a helpless man. If there had been any way for him to help himself, there would have been no necessity for Jesus Christ to have come from His Glory. He could have come as a pattern or a model, but He did not. Jesus Christ came to save man with life. He did not come with a kit of tools, nor with a code of laws, but He came with Life—that Life is in Himself—and it is that Life that does the saving.
Now, here in the verse is a perfect picture of a sinner. This man is helpless; he cannot get up and go, but he can consent to be taken. You have no ability to save yourself, but you can consent to be saved. When we ask you to come down these aisles and settle it, we are simply asking you to consent to allow the work to be done in your heart which only Jesus Christ can do.
I do not preach Reformation. I do not tell you that if you quit doing certain things you are going to be a Christian. You might quit all your sins and not be a Christian. Quitting things doesn’t save you. A man might quit all his murdering and still be a murderer. A man might quit all his stealing and still be a thief. A man might quit all his lying and still be a liar. You can quit all of these things, but that would not make you a Christian. Your life could not stand in the white light of God.
There are a lot of people that seem to think that salvation is something like this. In an examination at school, if you make 75 percent, you pass. Are you the kind of person who says—Well, I think I am about 75 percent good, so I think I will pass. I have not been such a very bad man.” That is not God’s conception of salvation at all. You think all you need is a little straightening up here and there and you are fit for the kingdom of God. The murderer might just as well stand up in his cell and say, “If I had another tie on, I would not be a murderer.”
We have taken the body and soul and brain which God has given us for a temple for the Holy Spirit and we have demolished the temple. That is our sin. And then we go ahead and say, “Because, according to man’s standard I have not been so very bad, I think I am going to be saved.”
Many a man says, “I believe in doing the best I can.” There is no salvation in that. There is not a person here who can pass the salvation mark. There is not a man living outside of Jesus Christ that is under the grace of God. The whole world is already condemned before God. We have all sinned and want our own way and when God tries to get us, we fight Him. There are men and women right here in this audience who are fighting God. You have lived for twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, or seventy years maybe, and before God you are condemned. God knows you better than anybody else, and yet He says: “I stand at the door and knock.”
When will your minds be opened up to the fact that you were made for the indwelling of the Spirit of God, and waken up to your high calling in Christ Jesus? You are His. He has loved you with an everlasting love. When I wakened up to it, how the fetters fell off and how the bands of habits and selfishness dropped aside. How do you expect to stand before a righteous and holy God unless you have been washed? You are responsible for that temple He has given you. Are you to let Him see it in that condition? Do you imagine for a minute that if God were to take you to Heaven, if you were not washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, that you would be happy there?
It is much more than forgiveness that we need. There are beautiful cathedrals over in Europe that look like a back alley mass. They were not made for bullets and bombs, but these things hit them and now they are only a mass of brick and mortar. Are these wrecks cathedrals now? Because God forgave you, would that build back the cathedral you have ruined? You don’t know His will. There are men in the city of Toronto who are as ignorant of God as the horse they own. For the purpose for which they are intended, they are as useless as the cathedral which has been torn to pieces.
Thank God, Jesus has come to restore us and make us better than we were in the first place. He came to give me Life I never had and could never cultivate, and that I never could deserve. He comes to give me a new birth. He looked at a man who was as religious as any man in the city of Toronto and he said: “Ye must be born again.” Everything in the life of Nicodemus was religious and yet Jesus said to him: “Except a man be born again, he will never see the kingdom of God.”
You have wrecked the old regime. You have demolished the temple and now Jesus comes to reconstruct. You talk about an era of reconstruction. Remember, friends, that the devil connived against you, and Jesus Christ came for reconstruction work. He says: I will remember the old cathedral against you no more forever. He came to pay off the mortgage from a lost world—a world lost in sin—He paid it off on the cross of Calvary. It makes no difference what the sin has been. You are all individuals before God. To shoot yourself is as much murder as it is to shoot somebody else. In the sight of Heaven, the most serious sin you can commit is to refuse to accept this salvation which Jesus Christ has offered. There is no sinner on Earth as much a sinner as he who hears the story of what Christ Jesus did and then refuses this great salvation. Let it settle down and soak in. Jesus has paid for all your sins on the cross, and by rising from the dead offers you a new Life, absolutely new.
Do you think you are not going to be condemned if you sit here and hear the Gospel and take chances? Do you think that before God you are blameless when Jesus Christ has suffered to give you life? Tonight, I am pleading for your soul, my friend, and yet you deliberately walk out of this hall without accepting the Lord Jesus. God knows that you are helpless and all that He asks you to do is to consent to let Him give you this Life. What does Heaven think of you tonight if you refuse when you have the right and the chance now to take this Christ? What does He think of you? He comes to help the helpless.
I ask you this: Is there anything you can do physically to save yourself? Do you know of anything you can do to get rid of death and disease in even your own physical body? We no sooner get rid of one disease than we get a new one. We have done all kinds of research work and then we come into another lot of troubles. We have more dental diseases than were ever heard of in the world before. Men are living under conditions that make the teeth decay early.
One of the best scientists in the world says that life has been shortened fifteen years during his lifetime. Our best businessmen are dying right around fifty with a stroke of paralysis. We have deceived ourselves with the idea that life—human life—is as long as it used to be. Physical science has done its best to lengthen life and it has not lengthened it. We have had the finest experiments and the finest kind of scientific research, but it has not changed life one iota. The death rate in the city of Chicago in the last forty years has not changed one hair’s breadth and yet we have spent millions to make better health conditions.
We gave a prize to a man who kept human skin alive for a few hours after the patient died. But they will never get in to the tree of life, for when God threw Adam and Eve out of Eden, He put an angel with a flaming sword around the tree of life “lest they partake of that and live forever.” The decree of death has gone out, and there is nothing chemically nor materially nor physically that you can do, and if science would only look facts in the face they would know this.
We are helpless. Our science can’t save us. Is there any other thing that can save us? No. All the learning of Earth and all my tears won’t save me. I am helpless—body, soul and spirit, unless God helps me.
I told a criminal in Philadelphia about Jesus. Despair took hold of him and it had nearly killed him. He was an athlete—a big powerful man. I said to him: “Your physique can’t help you.” He told me that when they got him he fought down four of the policemen, but now the law had him and he couldn’t get loose. I say to you again—God’s laws have you—all that science can do is never going to deliver you from your doom. You may say: I have got character enough to save myself. Oh, no, you have not. Tonight you stand condemned before heaven because of your sin and all your own power is not going to save you.
But you can be saved by the acceptance of another Life—a new Life in Christ Jesus. He will present you to God without spot or wrinkle—without fault before His face. He is going to present this bloodwashed throng with a new Life. “It doth not yet appear what we shall be. Beloved, now are we the sons of God.” When He shall appear, then we shall see Him as He is and we shall be like Him. I have a foretaste of Glory Divine in my heart right now.
When my mother used to bake a cake, she would let us take a portion of it and bake it in a small pan, and we would eat that first. Well, I have not got the big cake of the resurrection yet, but I have got a fine sample in my heart. “I know in whom I have believed.” He takes us poor sinners and makes us joint heirs with Jesus Christ.
Do you mean to tell me that in your natural character you are going to be acceptable? If you were to be taken in among the ransomed in your old character, Heaven would be hell to you, my friend. You could not stand it. What would your soul look like if it were stripped? You are helpless in your present condition.
The man who was sick of the palsy was helpless, and Jesus said to him, “Arise and take up thy couch and go unto thine house.” He did so and went on his way rejoicing—but he did it in the strength of Jesus. He could not do it before.
Now this is just where you are—you can do nothing of your own power and strength, but in the strength of Christ you can be saved. Are you going to stand on your own record or are you going to take the substituted Life in Christ Jesus?
Will you get up tonight and come to Him? Will you come and accept the gift? Will you do it NOW?
A sermon preached in Massey Hall, Toronto, and stenographically reported for the Evangelical Christian.