The King's Shoes
“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.”—Ephesians 6:15
This chapter of Scripture tells us that we wrestle against principalities and powers, and whenever the Gospel is preached there are onslaughts from the devil. If I were to talk tonight about gasoline engines, men’s interest would be aroused, there would be no darkness in their minds at all, and they would be quick to comprehend my meaning. If I were giving a travel lecture on Alaska, describing it as the pictures were thrown upon the screen, there would be no veil over men’s minds. Now comes a strange phenomenon: the Bible says that our Gospel is “hid to them that are lost,” for “the god of this world (the devil) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ…should shine unto them.” Their minds are blinded so they cannot comprehend the glories of this Gospel of peace that we are to put on as a shoe.
You may try with every known scheme to pull that blindfold aside, but you cannot do it. You may try with oratory, you may try with all the tricks of wit and humor to pull aside that veil from the human mind that comes the minute you begin to talk about the Gospel, but you will not succeed. The devil puts into many a heart a deep founded veil of prejudice, and adds to it fold after fold as he wraps it around the mind. He shows people hypocrites and people who have failed in the Church, professing Christians and preachers, and before long that veil is so wrapped about the minds of folks that they see things and folksinstead of seeing this blessed Gospel of peace, and they fail to pull on those shoes provided for them by God, in which they can walk to Glory. Whenever the Gospel is preached the devil begins wrapping the minds of unsaved ones with darkness and misapprehension, arousing argument in the heart, befuddling the faculties of the brain so the simple message of salvation will not be heard and understood, the hearer converted and turned to Jesus Christ. You can talk to any human being who seems to have intelligence and sense about any subject, but if you mention the Gospel he will look at you blankly as if his wits were gone and he did not hear you.
There are men who have heard the Gospel a hundred times, and do not know it now. I will never forget the night my brother “hit the dust and bit it.” I used to talk to him about salvation, and he always had an argument, always had an alibi, and he would get mad because he thought I did not think he had a big enough brain to comprehend it. We both had had the same father and mother, both had had opportunities of hearing the Gospel and knowing it, both had attended prayer meetings and services. The night he was converted I asked him to say something, and this is what he said: “I feel as if I know nothing. I used to think I knew something, but now I do not know anything, except that Jesus has saved me.”
Some of you may think you know a good deal about this Gospel, but you do not know anything about it until you see it in its sweetness as the Holy Spirit reveals it to you: and then you say, “Lord, I don’t know anything in my own mind and reasoning. I do know that Jesus has saved me and revealed the Gospel to me.” Even now the devil is prejudicing you and you are saying to yourself, “That fellow thinks I am a fool.” No, I do not think it, I know it; because a man who does not know God, and who says by his acts that there isn’t a God, is a fool. “The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” If you ever acknowledge in your heart that there is a God, you will not hesitate to seek Jesus Christ as your Saviour. You may be a graduate of the greatest university the world has ever known, and may have received the highest honors, but until you with your heart have said, “Jesus Christ is God,” you are still in the class with the fool, for you are absolutely blank as far as God is concerned.
God can reveal Jesus to hearts, and it is the work of the Holy Spirit to make the Gospel of Jesus Christ so plain you must believe it. He shows men that Jesus Christ has died, that He died for sinful men, the whole world having been condemned under sin, and that they may be saved from eternal death through receiving Jesus Christ as their substitute, their Saviour. While the Holy Ghost is trying to reveal that truth, the devil is trying his best to becloud and befuddle the mind; and because this little thing or that does not appeal to you, you say it does not sound reasonable, that you have better sense than to believe.
The Gospel is not reasonable. It is not reasonable at all to think for a minute that a holy God has a method by which He takes a man that has sinned against heaven and in God’s sight, a man who is unholy, a man charged with sin, condemned to death—and simply by his believing that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on a cross as his Saviour, God makes him a joint-heir with Jesus Christ. You do not deserve salvation, cannot get it by your own working, and all God asks you to do is to believe it and accept it. To any thinking man the most unreasonable thing I could ever tell him is that by simply believing his whole life can be changed and he will pass out of death into life and never face the judgment; but Hallelujah, it is true. Through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross eternal salvation is possible.
To the mind this does not seem logical, but with the heart you may believe the Gospel and it will work its way up into your head after a while, and that poor old organ will be convinced too; for your heart can know things that your brain cannot fathom; the heart can feel things, about which the head can arrive at no conclusion. Putting on “shoes of peace” is very simple.
How are you going to have your feet shod with this Gospel of peace? By simply believing and accepting the provision which God has made and perfected, as a “shoe.” Those shoes that are perfect and complete in the store window you take and put on, and are yours. You had nothing to do with their making, but you put them on and enjoy them. The salvation of men has been prepared by God on Calvary in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead and seated Him above all principalities and powers and every name that is named. He is there on the throne tonight, longing to be your personal Saviour, to give you eternal life.
This is what brings peace to the human heart—believing this Gospel of the Son of God, who has worked out salvation for you, putting all your sin and all your past on the cross. When you have, by simple faith, received Jesus Christ as your Saviour, the one who has taken your place on the cross of Calvary—you have peace and rest and stand before God as if you never have committed sin. It does not seem reasonable that just by saying to God, “I believe it,” you can receive so much; but it is a fact, and those who have believed have received another life. Jesus does not tell you to live a Christian life. He has done it for you, He has already completed salvation, and all He asks you to do is to step out on His promise and take it by simple faith.
Faith The Price
O, see the liberty of the Gospel. Dare to see that Jesus Christ has paid the price of your sin and has a gift of life for you. If you dare to believe it, all the government of heaven will have to be ripped and torn from its foundation, and the devil will laugh at God, unless God Almighty saves you. Jesus Christ says to the man for whom He has died, I am going “to present you faultless before the throne of God with exceeding joy.” He is a mighty conqueror. He is able to deliver and “save to the uttermost all who come unto God by Him.”
I have never seen Jesus, but I stepped out on His promise and I have known the angels of God to surround me, and the Holy Ghost to witness within my heart that I was a child of God, a joint-heir with Jesus Christ, delivering me from the power of the devil and the old life. Your good works do not amount to anything. All you have to do to be saved is to turn your face toward God and say, “I am the sinner you died for.” Thank God for the Gospel that saves, for the Christ who gives unto believers eternal life, and “they shall never perish.” That is a “pair of shoes” worth putting on, is it not?
Thousands of us have never seen Him, have never seen one drop of the blood spilled at Calvary, have never seen the spear that went into His side, have never heard the stroke of the hammer that drove the nails through those blessed hands into the cross; but O God, we believe that by the power of Jesus Christ something was done, completed and finished, that saves men. All we have to do is to take what He has for us, as we would take a pair of shoes, and thus have our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.
Footsore And Weary
We are going on a journey, and only the man who has these salvation shoes can make the journey. This poor old foot-weary world, cursed with sin can only make the trip through the merits of Jesus Christ, who has Himself become the vehicle of those who commit themselves to Him. He tells us if we take this glorious Gospel it will bring peace and rest to our hearts and we will find rest unto our souls. Without shoes our feet would be calloused by the stubble and the rocks, burned by the heat of the glaring sun upon the pavement or cut and frozen by the jagged ice of winter. The judgment of God and the fires of hell had a hold on the souls of men before Jesus Christ interceded and came and wrapped Himself around their poor souls. Now the madness of the world, its temptations, its sin cannot touch them; for Jesus with His love stands between men and the blighting frost of sin. Death cannot touch them, for they are in Christ all warm and snug and protected.
Somewhere I read a story about a fellow who went to a town called Ubique (Latin for EVERYWHERE). He left the train at the end of the journey, and said, “Is this Ubique?” “Yes,” said the conductor, “This is EVERYWHERE.” Mark this city—the conditions pictured here are everywhere.
“What do you do in this town?” inquired the visitor.
“We make shoes,” a proud citizen replied.
“Is that so? Fine,” exclaimed the newcomer.
He went down town in the afternoon, and in the stores were all kinds of shoes displayed—children’s shoes, school shoes, party slippers, patent leathers and all kinds of shoes. On the sidewalk, looking longingly at the shoes, stood a group of children. He took them all in and provided shoes for them at his own expense. The mothers of some of the children pulled them away from that vicinity, mad as could be, and made the children take off the shoes, saying haughtily, “When we want our children to have shoes we will buy them for them.”
He saw a tramp coming along, and asked, “Would you like some shoes?” He was pretty tough, but whined, “My feet are bruised and frost-bitten.”
“Sit on that bench,” said his benefactors, “and I will get you some shoes.”
When he came back with the shoes the tramp was gone.
He went to a cab-driver, stuck his hand in his pocket, pulled out a card and said, “Do you know that man?” “Yes,” answered the man, “he is one of the biggest shoe manufacturers in the world.”
“That is my old college chum,” answered the visitor, “I would like to go to his home.”
“Do I understand this is the greatest shoe making town in the world?” asked the occupant of the cab. “What would you say if I were to give you a pair?”
“There it goes again,” muttered the cabby. “There was a guy here this morning trying to slip me a pair of shoes.”
“O, excuse me,” apologized the gentleman, “I will tend to my own business hereafter, but I wonder why people turn me down when I want to give them shoes, when they make them here.”
“We mind our own business,” scolded the cabman, “and expect other people to mind theirs.”
Arrived at the residence, he ascended a great stairway, followed a walk past a beautiful artificial lake, rang the doorbell, and the door was opened by the butler, who held out a silver plate. “Do they take a collection every time anyone comes to the house?” thought the caller. “Card, please,” murmured the butler.
He was ushered into the reception room, and soon the wife of the host came rushing in, saying, “Well, well, well, we are glad to see you. When Tom comes he will be tickled to death to see you!”
“I’m delighted to see you,” returned the old friend. “Many things have happened since the old college days.”
“Oh, yes,” said the hostess, proudly, “Tom is very prosperous. We have the biggest shoe business in the world. Everybody likes Tom, and they want him to run in politics. He is the same fellow he was in college.”
“You said he was manufacturing shoes? I suppose just children’s and workmen’s shoes?”
“Why no; all kinds of shoes.”
“Make any ladies’ shoes?”
“Well, I don’t want to be inquisitive, but—why—haven’t you any shoes on?”
She looked down at her silken hose, and nervously said, “Now, listen; let me tell you something. Don’t for goodness sake talk to Tom as you talk to me. Everybody has a right to put on shoes when they please; but I do not care to wear them.”
“But Tom makes them, and they are manufactured all around here.”
“Yes, but you always were personal. Why don’t you stay on general topics? Why get personal?”
(That’s the way some of you people argue when someone invites you to put the shoes on. You won’t go to an evangelist meeting because they ask you to be shod with the Gospel of peace, and it makes you angry. The best friend you have is the one who comes and asks you to slip on the Gospel shoes that will take you to Glory.)
Pretty soon Tom came in laughing and joking, gave his old chum a college hug, and settled down to visit about business and other things, the distinctions and honors that had come, the great factories, marvelous machinery, complicated labor troubles, and contemplated extensions. Finally, unable to restrain himself, the visitor blurted out, “But wait a minute, Tom; I’ve got to ask you. You have been boasting about the fine shoes you are making, but tell me why do you not wear them yourself?”
“I was afraid you would ask that, and tried to talk so fast you couldn’t,” evaded his host. (I have gone to dinner with men who did not know Jesus, and they talked from the time we started the soup until we finished the nuts, and never gave me one chance to slip the Gospel in at all; because they knew I was a “shoe salesman,” and would try to get a word in about my “line.” I have been with fellows in business, and have seen the devil work that trick in their souls. They have heard about the Gospel, but will not slip it on to others. O men, wake up, and know that the devil has blinded your eyes to keep you from seeing what wondrous things have been done for you in Jesus Christ. The devil will tell you the “shoes” pinch, that you cannot wear them. He is an awful liar; you can—because Christ “is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”)
Finally at the dinner table with a group of friends, the hostess looked across the table and said, “Tom, I know what will please him. Fix a party for him tonight.” “But he doesn’t go to shows or dances.” “I know,” she returned, “but tonight is the big night at the factory auditorium. We will take him over there.”
“What do you do over there?” inquired the guest. “O, Tom has built the most wonderful auditorium for the employees and the people of the town. It has marble steps, and lions at the sides, and pillars. It has a great foyer, beautiful halls, wonderful hangings, paintings and sculpture. It seats 5000 employees at one time. It contains the largest pipe organ in the world, and we employ splendid musicians, a robed choir. The most eloquent speakers available come to lecture.”
“What do they lecture about?”
“Why they talk about shoes, and sing about shoes. What else do you suppose they would do in a shoe factory?”
“All right, I’m on, I’ll go; but what about you folks?”
“Why, we enjoy it, we go.” (“The idea! Do you think we are heathen? WE go to church!” “But why don’t you buy?” I don’t care whether you go to church or not. What I want to know is: Have you ever slipped on the shoes? Have you ever taken Jesus as your personal Saviour? Do you acknowledge that His blood was spilled for you? Have you acknowledged Him before men? Do you wear the King’s shoes? Have you taken this Gospel, this glorious news of salvation as a fact and slipped it into your soul and said, “Lord, I stand forever clean through the merits of Jesus, and through Him alone.”)
They went right along, and the guest was the only one who had any shoes on. “Now listen,” expostulated Tom, “you can wear shoes if you want to, but for goodness sake don’t make a noise about it.” (There it is. None of them want you to say “Amen.” Keep still, shut up. “Mr. Rader, I would come to your Tabernacle, but I tell you that ‘Amen’ business nettles me. I don’t like it.” You love to hear me talk about shoes, but when the person next to you squeaks theirs, you do not like it, because you haven’t any on. It is enough to make anybody nervous. When you know a fellow has the stuff on him that will take him to Glory, and you sit there respectable, nicely dressed, educated, refined, of good birth, sitting there in your own merits, and someone sits beside you clothed in the righteousness of Jesus, with “shoes” that squeak! It is enough to make you angry. Oh, that folks would get back to the old Gospel and slip the “shoes” on, and tell other folks they are all made and finished, and all they have to do is to slip them on!)
“Well, Tom,” replied the guest, “you invited me but I have to act to suit myself.” They went up the marble steps and joined the crowd in silks and broadcloth, walking carefully as if afraid of touching someone. “Hey, Tom,” ejaculated the visitor, “here comes a family, an old lady and an old man and ten children, and they all have shoes. Oh, Tom, I’m going over there.”
“Come along,” growled Tom, “you’re coming with us.”
“But my shoes squeak, and you will be embarrassed. I had better go over there to the ‘Amen’ corner.”
“O no, come along with us. Those folks got in in the early days of the factory.” (They are chasing you folks with a “squeak” out of places of worship today, but O bless God for a “pair of shoes” that just tickle you to death, which you know are eternal, which walk along without any effort and you do not have to pick them up at all. Jesus has done the work for you, and He takes you through.)
Tom and his company, and the poor family went into the auditorium, and soon the choir in its flowing robes, began to intone something unintelligible. During a lull the man who wore shoes poked Tom and whispered, “Where is that soprano going?” “Shut up, you fool,” growled his friend, “We pay her six thousand dollars a year to do that.” “Do you really like that?” “I tell you it’s the thing they all do, and we do it better than the rest.”
When the “Amen” had sounded, the listener asked, “Tom, what were they singing about?” “You big fool they were singing ‘Shoes for everybody! Shoes for everybody! All may have shoes!’ You big dunce, didn’t you hear?”
“Well, I thought I did, but could not believe my ears. I looked at the bottom of their robes and none of them have shoes on. You’d better let me out of this place. You sing about them, talk about them, and here none of you wear them but that old couple and their children, and you are kicking against their presence. Are you going crazy, or am I?”
“You are going crazy; you are in the minority. We are in the majority, we are highbrows, educated, cultured. (Talk about your Jesus as a good man; tells folks to pattern after Him; sing about Him; but don’t ever get up and say you know Him, and that you are saved.) Don’t say you wear shoes, just say you make them. Tell about the art, about the intricate scientific and marvelous method by which they are put together. Use such poetry, and illustration, such music, such artistic cultured verbiage that everybody will recognize that what you say about shoes is the prettiest thing they ever heard about shoes in all their lives, and they are delighted; but if you ask the people to slip the shoes on, they will not come any more; so we just talk about them, and never ask them to put them on.”
“Tom, who is that man?” “That’s the lecturer of the day. Listen!”
“Won-n-der-r-ful sho-oo-es! Ma-ar-vel-l-ous shoes!”
“Tom, what are they doing?”
“They are intoning, singing as they come in.” (We used to have them come in and kneel and pray, and then get up and preach; but now we put in the intonation instead. Sometimes the minister’s collars did not suit; sometimes he was bow-legged and we did not like that; sometimes he was too short or too tall; but now they all look about the same in their long gowns. So we fix them just right, and have the choir just right.)
“What is he going to do now, Tom?”
“He’s going to talk about shoes.”
“Oh, Tom, I just want to cry. Neither one of those ministers has any shoes on. Am I crazy?” (O the old times when a man gave his testimony in the pulpit, wore the “shoes” himself and talked about them, squeaked and shouted! Those emotional days when they had the reality are all over now. They have education and culture, talking about something now, but do not get down to the rough vulgarity of asking if a man has what he is advocating. Bring men into the audience, let them hear what you have to say, but O do not ask them to take any action in regard to it.)
The speaker of the hour was introduced as the most marvelous expert on “Paytent Leathah” in the world, who had come across the water to talk about the marvelous science that had taken a rough cow, so removed its hirsute covering, so manipulated its epidermis by chemical processes, that it shone in the sun and became the most polished, artistic and beautiful footwear the world had ever seen.
He arose, bowed, and with appropriate gestures said, “Friends, when the sun shines on the early morning hills the cattle go forth at dawn to browse beside the babbling brook. All day long they nibble the green grass and drink of the sparkling water, the water, the water. By some strange alchemy, the water and the grass are assimilated and turned into hide and hair, and then by a painless process the animals are butchered. We will pass over this. We pass over this. In our age blood is not mentioned. (“There are ladies in my audience,” I heard a preacher say not long ago, “and if I were to mention the blood of Jesus Christ they would faint.”) We are so cultured, we are far above talking about butchery. We will pass that by and go immediately to the hide. We know we cannot get this hide without the shedding of blood—but we pass that by—blood is so abhorrent. So we will talk about the character of the hide, the spots, distinguishing marks on the hide, its finish for modern twentieth century manufacture. I will tell you of the marvelous machinery spun out of the brain of man, and how we prepare this hide. The hide thus prepared, glistens in the sun and a man may behold his own image, and exclaim, “The achievement of my brain is reflected back to me!”
He becomes eloquent in his oratory, and climaxes his lecture with the assertion, “And now, friends, we have perfect shoes. Will the audience rise while we sing a sweet ‘Amen.’”
That is the biggest fool story you ever heard in your life, but it is the best picture of modernism that I can paint for you. We are spending millions for something like that! The world has turned fool, and perhaps some of you have heard the story of salvation and passed over the blood of Christ that was shed for sinners. But we who have received as a gift His substitutionary atonement for our sin, robe ourselves in His work, in His righteousness, His deity, His body that rose from the dead. He died to give to us eternal life. His covering has become our covering, His righteousness our righteousness, and as God looks at us we are covered with the life of His own Son, accepted in the Beloved, complete in Him.
O do not only read about it, but see it, and say “I see that all I have to do is to believe that Jesus has paid for all the old ruined life of mine, and offers me a new one; and I take it.” How do you expect to be saved? By just joining a society? Or are you going to step out and say, “I acknowledge Jesus Christ as my Saviour, and yield myself to Him.” Will you slip these Gospel shoes on?