How Shall We Escape?
“How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?”—Hebrews 2:3
One of the great human failings with which God has to deal is that He can never bring us up face to face with the real issues of life. We know they are there, we are conscious that the dangers are ‘round about us, but we do not want to face them.
It is a helpful thing to know the characteristics of animals. It gives you a sort of rough outline of some human characteristics. I used to have a yellow dog that I picked up one day and brought home. The boy who never had a yellow dog has missed something in life. Mother saw how much I wanted him, so she let me keep him, and how I enjoyed that dog! When father came home from a trip I had given it a bath and taught it a few things, and was delighted with it, and when father said, “Why, it is nothing but an old yellow common cur,” it nearly broke my heart. But one thing I learned about that dog: it was mighty hard to make him look me in the face. He would shy off to this side, and take a glimpse at me and shy on the other side, but he wouldn’t look me in the eye.
We Will Not Look
And that dog characteristic is a human characteristic. God cannot get us to look Him in the eye. He puts His hand under our chin and wants us to look at Him and talk to Him. We don’t want to talk. We want to escape. The human heart is not searching after God. If it were not for God’s Spirit in the world, we would all of us just naturally follow the devil, and even in spite of God’s Spirit we are pushing aside from Him. Men have to preach night after night, to plead with men and women, give them every opportunity to accept the Gospel—the Spirit Himself making “groanings that cannot be uttered”—yet men want to escape, get away from Him. You would think they would want to escape damnation; that the lowest man in this tabernacle the minute he hears the Gospel would rush up the aisle and take it.
Let me tell you, I had the greatest surprise of my life, after I met the Lord; I expected that when I told folks what a lovely experience the Lord had given me, that they would all say, “Paul, tell us how you got it.” Who did it? Nobody—NOBODY—and you know who that is. For a long while I couldn’t understand it, couldn’t see why it was. The human heart wants to escape—think of it—escape the spiritual things, the best things that the Lord gives. They see it means a change in their life, a change of heart, and they see they have to quit sin and put it out of their lives, and they begin to fight and say to themselves, “I wonder how I can get around this thing.”
Now God says there is no way of escape. If I offer you a city lot, you can take it or let it alone, just as you want to; but I say to you that when I offer you salvation and you refuse it, YOU CANNOT ESCAPE. There isn’t a way left. You may think so now, but look around a little bit and you will find out there is no way of escape, no other way to climb up, no other way to get in, outside of Jesus Christ and His shed blood.
Friend, outside of Jesus this world is as dark as midnight. If it wasn’t for the light in the world because of Christian people, because Jesus has been there, because the Gospel has been preached, the darkness of America tonight would be as black as African darkness is, as dark as heathen darkness is, darker than China itself. The heathen nations are in darkness because they have not had the Gospel. The moment the Gospel is preached, light springs from it to every avenue of life.
All Follows After
The Gospel is not education, the Gospel is not homes, the Gospel is not clothes, the Gospel isn’t better morals in itself—the Gospel is SALVATION—but the minute you begin to preach salvation through the blood of Jesus all these other things, all the other light that we have in the world, follows in the trend of it. Jesus is the Light of the world. When He is taken out, men know nothing about God; heathenism is the only thing they can have.
Think of the poor mothers out yonder in heathen darkness that sing this lullaby to their babies:
“Cursed be the night of horror in which I was conceived;
“Cursed be the night of iniquity in which I was born;
“Cursed be the father that begat me and the mother that bore me;
“Cured be the god that made me for the suffering of a woman’s life.”
Another mother takes her baby and throws it into the Ganges; others follow fire worship, all sorts of things. I have seen Indians dance around by the dozen with a bit of hoop in their breast bone fastened to a pole, dancing around that pole until they are exhausted. What for? All to appease the gods, to acquire some sort of merit—but they have not found God. They find no escape.
What If Jesus Was Removed?
Friends, the minute Jesus is taken out of the world, life become sensuous; and the minute you have passion and sensuousness turned loose, you have horrible degradation. Heathen religions bring the vilest of human sin in as part of their religious system. You cannot have anything else. Only by keeping to what Jesus reveals can you have any kind of civilization, any kind of decency, any kind of control to bridle the passions of men. And yet, in spite of the just men in a city, the good people in a city, you go down to a dirty, filthy hole called a first-class hotel and see the kind of life that sports in the spotlights, see women’s dresses, see the others called women sitting at their tables and smoking—throwing all that stuff into the face of decency. Oh, when Jesus Christ comes for His own elect and pulls them forth from the world, and the Holy Spirit leaves this old ball and judgment begins to come as it did to Sodom and Gomorrah, then men and women will find out where the light came from. There will be no men to protest against fellows who want to criticize the Bible, against preachers who preach something else than the blood of Jesus Christ, against church members going to the theaters, going on in their worldly pursuits—God will withdraw His Spirit, and this old world will see what it means for the human heart to be without the light of God.
Back to Savages
My friends, you take from the men and the women who do not know Jesus Christ the influence of a godly mother, the influence of godly men back in their family, the influence of a godly brother or sister, or friends—take that influence from them, and you will see what the human heart is. I tell you I have had experience enough in my life to know what I am talking about. I don’t know how many of you fellows were Westerners, or ever followed a gold rush or went in behind men who left home and civilization and everything else and just went after gold; but I have seen men, decent men, well-dressed, well-shaven, well-taken care of, and inside of three months in a camp you would not know a single one of the men—following the lewdest kind of women, outlaws, licentious, gamblers. What has become of their standards? They have left their good wives in the East, left the bulwark of civilization they had round about them, and in three months’ time they have gone to pieces. You read some of the letters from the men in the army camps today, and see what men are when they are turned loose from civilization and home and their influences. Those of you who were in San Francisco after the earthquake know what men are when the home is torn down and the channels of society are changed and the unbridled passions of men are let loose. In the lives of the soldiers today by the thousands, at the time of taking a city, are the things that no paper in America can print—the awful horror and crime and murder.
Oh, the very best thing God could do to some of you tonight would be to wake you up to the fact of what a human heart is without restraint. I have a had a bronco and put the saddle on him and ridden him for the whole summer, and then turned him loose with the wild bunch on the prairie for the winter, and in the springtime I would go after him and think I could ride him. No, sir. Away he went—all the old wild stuff in him again.
Man, woman, listen to me tonight: God Almighty knows what a human heart is, and this infernal talk, begotten of the devil, of a divine spark in man, is the most damnable doctrine that ever was preached. Why? It gives an entirely wrong conception of the human heart. God loved a human heart enough to give His Son for it; and the very Christ of God who gave His life for men said at the same time that it was hard for them to escape the damnation of hell.
Trying to Escape
We are trying to escape, we are trying to cover up, we are trying to run ourselves through lines of culture and education—the offshoots of religion, the offshoots of Christ, trying to be satisfied with the reflection of real life. Christianity has come, salvation has come, and right where the blood of Jesus Christ has gone into a community and made the finest set of citizens on Earth, those men who used to be “camp meeting folks”—right behind them, having reaped all the benefits of godly Christian parents, comes the generation that is turning like a traitor against the blood of Jesus Christ, going on with their own works, their own culture, their own education and refinement as a substitute for salvation through the precious stream from Calvary.
Jesus said, “I am the door.” God says there is only one way of escape, and that is through the door. “I am the door—by me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” “He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.”
Men are trying to climb some other way. They are trying to say that their good intentions, their good ways, the goodness of men in itself is salvation.
We walk around dressed up in our culture and our education and our enlightenment and they are all clothes that came because Jesus has been in the world. There is no life outside of Him, and the moment you remove Him we are going to have the blackest night the world has ever known.
Listen: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights in whom there is not variableness neither shadow of turning.” If you think culture is a good gift—it comes down from above. If you think refinement is a good gift—it comes down from above. If you think music is a good gift—it comes down from above. God used it in the sunset, in a flower, before a man ever stuck color on a brush. And the minute God withdraws His presence of the Holy Spirit, it will be shown up that everything that we have in the way of good gifts we have borrowed.
Men go forth like poor Sambo in culture clothes. These great, big, smart men go forth as if they made electricity, go forth with steam and show the engine as if they made steam, and forget that God put the coal down underneath the earth; and that God made the water and put the power into it, and the laws that govern it and turn it into steam. We praise ourselves for these things, and then come up to God and say, “I want to get in.” On what? On the clothes God has provided, and we won’t give Him credit for them. “By deeds of the law, by works, shall no flesh be justified.” If you think you are going to get in on your own good, you are mistaken. God would not be just conduct and your own character, to let you in on that, and God doesn’t—God has one door to let men in.
God sends out ministers and the Holy Spirit and petitions people to come in, for the feast is ready. If you are here tonight born poor, you have just as much chance for salvation as if you were born rich. If you are ignorant, you have just as much chance as the man who is smart. If you are one nationality, you have just as much chance as any other nationality. God is no respecter of persons. God condemns all men alike, and there is one way of escape. God help you to take salvation tonight!
Suppose I put a nice roadway between here and Wheaton, with men all along the way to keep you straight on the road; and you start out and think you will build a little bit of a road of your own. It would be a very insult to the country that built the road. God says there is no other way, and even what you think you are trying to build isn’t a road at all. It is an insult to God. We want to escape—why? Because we do not want to confess we are sinners.
When someone comes along with a religion that says there isn’t a hell, that you can sin and don’t have to pay, that you are born in sin, that God has to take care of the whole proposition forever, that you all have a spark of divinity in you—men settle back and say, “That’s fine.” It is just like scratching an old cow’s horns. They say, “I like a preacher like that.” Humanity has always been a friend to dope. That is why we have to keep booze away from humanity…Barnum said men love to be humbugged, and men love the dope the devil wants to give them.
There is no way to get into heaven but through the blood of Jesus Christ—no matter how much you argue about it. Take a little bunch of sweet pea seeds and argue all you please about what they will be, but there is one way to settle all your arguments, and that is to plant them. All our arguments are set at naught, for here is the vine coming up the trellis and producing little pink flowers—sweet pea blossoms. And the man that plants salvation in his heart, praise God he will blossom more than any sweet pea ever did. No man has a right to sit on the outside and discuss it. Sweet pea seeds were never made to be discussed; they were made to be planted. This Bible was never made to be discussed by a bunch of critics. God help you to stop your speculation and try faith a while. God doesn’t ask you to explain it any more than He asks you to explain water, or explain sugar, or explain meat.
If a musician here tonight strikes four notes on that piano, any musician in the house can tell me whether he has struck a chord or struck a discord. Is there any reasoning power about it? I might have the best reasoner on Earth here, and strike the most awful discord on the piano, and he might not know the difference. And just as truly as there is a sense that knows when notes are harmonious, thank God, when Jesus touches a soul He makes everything in it ring in assurance that He is the door and only His blood can cleanse, and that He gives life.
How are you going to escape, when God puts it all on one little proposition: That you are a sinner, that Jesus has paid for sin and asks you to believe? All the science in the world, all the philosophy in the world, all the books in the world, can never remove that consciousness from your heart that you are a sinner. When a man is in danger, does he reason out a door of escape? No, sir—the minute he sees it he runs into it. I have seen little birds frightened in a storm, and a window happened to be open, and they fly right into the room.
Just as You Are
God says, “I take you just as you are.” Will you turn the proposition around and do that for Him? How are you going to escape? There is no other way to escape. You have got to meet your doom. You have got to pay. Jesus has opened the way.
Somebody comes to me and says, “Oh Mr. Rader, that is just emotionalism.” No, sir. It is not. I don’t care how I get you out of a burning building, just so I get you out. If I grab you and take you down a ladder, all right. If I take you in my arms and throw you down into a blanket, all right. If I have to pull one of your fingers off while I am dragging you out, that’s all right, just so I get you out of the burning building.
“How Shall We Escape?”
I have tried to tell you that there is no escape. Every way out is shut up. You must meet death. You cannot escape it, and Jesus is the only door through death. Praise God He went through it and on the victory side of death His disciples met Him, ate with Him, talked with Him, listened to His words. Thomas put his hand into His side when the blood and water of death had gushed forth. He went through death. Only through Him is there any escape. “How shall we escape?” Take Him, He is the door.