Rescue The Perishing
“Go out into the highways and the hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”—Luke 14:23
There is a picture of this compelling in the story of the Good Samaritan in the 10th chapter of Luke. We can take this story, this good news, this Gospel to a lost and beaten world, and it compels men to come into the Father’s house. We are not to go with the law. Praise God for that, but we are to go and preach this compelling Gospel of the grace of God to a world that has fallen among thieves and been shorn of its covering. It is such joy to know that God wants a house full. This is a house full of the lost restored to Himself. Why should He want us? Oh, I have asked myself that question a thousand times. “Lord,” I have cried to Him, “why did You come my way and pick me up? I was so far from anything that You could love, or so it seems to me.” And out of His Book He would give me an answer in the story of the poor fallen woman washing His feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”
Then the devil has suggested that from this reasoning one must sin much in order to love much. But the Spirit comes back with light, saying all have sinned and come far short of the glory of God, but to the one who realizes his sin and the awful influence of sin there is much light thrown onto this wonderful redemption and grace in Jesus becoming sin for us. Only those who see can love Him as they should. When the sins of men have caused the world to turn from them and they become even despised by their kind it seems that the story of redeeming love that will take them in becomes powerfully compelling. They are willing to admit their condition, and God can work with them, but those who still have the respect of their neighbors get mad if they are told they have no standing before God, and are cursed in His presence because of their sin. It is this high-headed class that, though they receive the invitation, give excuses, and at last God turns to the harlot, the drunkard, the outcasts, and compels them to come in. They will testify of His grace. They will say gladly: “I was lost, but Jesus found me, found the sheep which went astray.” The high-headed class of our day say: “We have never gone astray. We are on a nice stone path we built ourselves, and trimmed with hedge and flowers. Besides, many others of our friends walk on this path. We are not lost. We like each other. We walk together on the path, all our own and a good one.” And by their very words they condemn themselves, for God’s Word says: “We all like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). Oh, it’s that way, “his own way,” that ends in death whether it leads through the gutter, through the red-light district, or through your set and its ways of living, or your formal religion that satisfies self.
Humanity is like old Colonel Cabot of Boston. A friend found him one night in the wee hours, staggering from side to side, making his way along a lonely street lined with homes. All the colonel’s friends knew he lived at the Adams House.
“Well, colonel,” a friend said, greeting him, “I guess you are lost tonight. The Adams House is just the opposite direction from the way you are going.”
“Lost? Lost?” shouted the old colonel. “My friend, you are drunk. You should know Colonel Cabot better than that. The Adams House may be lost, but Colonel Cabot is never lost.”
Though the friend argued for hours, he could not get him to leave his high-handed position and admit that he was traveling in the wrong direction. He could not get him to take a carriage. The police was the last resort. Jesus in telling of this man on the Jericho road shows that he had come from the place of blessing (Jerusalem), and was on his way down to Jericho, the place of the curse. He had fallen among thieves, who had stripped him of his raiment. Sin has stripped us of our covering. As the sun could shine upon the skin of this man and show the wounds, so God’s eyes look straight upon us and He sees nothing but sin. God hates sin. You would be shocked if naked people tried to parade before you. Disgust would fill your soul. But sin is so repugnant to God that He cannot look upon it with any degree of allowance. His wrath is revealed against all sin and He is going to put it out of His sight forever. His plan is twofold to put sin from His sight. His hate of it He has already shown in Adam and Eve, in the awful death-dealing waters of the flood, in Sodom and Gomorrah with a rain of fire. He will not put up with sin. He will not compromise with it. He will not accept excuses for it, and if men hang to it they will have to be put away. They hang to it because it is a part of self. It is in the heart, deep seated, mysteriously connected up with all life’s functionating. Praise God that He has provided a way by which sin can be put away without the soul having to go with it. He has done this by making His Son, Jesus Christ to be sin for us. And without a covering He let all His disgust and wrath come upon Him as He hung between Earth and heaven dying in the dark, forsaken, a curse, with God’s back turned, and the world made dark from the sixth to the ninth hour. Sin was put away in the death throes as the life of the spotless Son of God paid the awful curse price of sin. It was there Jesus made an atonement, meaning a covering. He put away sin, and His death covers our case; and as God looks at the folks who believe in Jesus’ work on the cross covering their case God does not see our sin, but His Son’s death and payment of it. This is our covering. He put sin away for as many as believe. Will you take His covering? Remember that it matters not who you are, you are stripped before God, and if you try to cover up before God with any of your own good works you are doubly repulsive to God. Your righteousnesses, He says, are filthy rags. If you try to cover up in your own high-headed way you are like a girl with horrible leprosy, who dresses in lovely clothes and asks a man to marry her. Her very kiss would be death to him. Thank God, the poison kiss of sin will never get to God’s lips. If you want to live in His bosom you will have to take the white life blood of Jesus to cleanse your heart of its sin. “It is the blood that maketh an atonement” covering. Oh, this is the good news, the Gospel we can carry to a stripped world of leprosy. It is this glad news of an atonement that God tells us to take to the highways and the hedges and compel them to come in. Will you come in? There’s a place at the table for you waiting. And His righteousness, His holiness, is the clothing for the feast.
It Is Grace That Saves
The Levite and the priest had to pass by on the other side of this man who was stripped. They represented the law, and it is grace that saves—not law. The law says “thou shalt not,” but grace says “I came that we might have life and that ye might have it more abundantly.” The law could come and look the poor fellow over, but it had to pass on. But the good Samaritan Jesus Himself represented here “came where he was.” He does not only ask you to come to Him, but remember, He has come to where you are—that is in sin. He took your very place and suffered for your stripped condition, and He has a right that no man has the right to turn aside when He says come. He could sing to you:
“I gave my life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might’st ransomed be
And quickened from the dead.
“I suffered much for thee—
More than thy tongue can tell—
Of bitterest agony
To rescue thee from hell.”
Yes, he came to our Earth. He came to a body like ours. He came to our death and took it for us. He came from the throne of life and He gives us life and a place at His side.
The Healing Portion
“He bound up his wounds and poureth in oil and wine.”
This is the only medicine that can heal our old wounds. After Jesus had suffered on the cross and was risen from the dead He knew the disciples felt the old wounds quite a bit. The slander of the world would hurt the old self-life. The bitter thrusts of sarcasm would make the old self-life cry and pull away from the battle. These disciples would be set aside and considered the scum of the world and the old self, sore self, knotty self, sensitive self, would want to get away from a life that had to stand such things. So Jesus said to them: “Tarry in Jerusalem until ye be imbued with power from on high.” Oh, here is God’s wine and oil, the third person of the Trinity, coming into our life, to be our comforter. He is our victory. See how Peter stands out on the day of Pentecost, and the old touchiness is gone, the wounds are healed, the joy and confidence and courage of the new wine are on him. The crowd even accused these filled ones of having new wine. They were full of new wine, but not of Earth. It was new, pure, holy life of the Holy Spirit coming to dwell in them. No more petting of self. Nay, they will count it joy now to die. The old, stiff, wounded self-life has been turned into a smooth flow of oil life.
“Joys are flowing like a river
Since the Comforter has come.
He abides with us forever,
Makes the trusting heart His home.
“Blessed quietness, holy quietness,
What assurance in my soul.
On the stormy sea
He speaks peace to me.
How the billows cease to roll.”
See them going about Jerusalem, the old wounds cured, the overflowing joy of the Lord in their hearts. What are they doing. Compelling men to come in? Yes, by the thousands. Oh, the Lord is going to have a full house. I say there is room for you. Come weary, wounded heart; there is all you need. Come, timid soul. He is your courage. Come, fettered one, He can loose you and let you go free.
Our Captain Says Come
“He set him on his own beast.” I have seen them try to go to the inn in their own strength, and faint by the way. All sorts of movements are in the land today trying to prop old self up on its feet and get it to going for the inn. This is the one great, outstanding mark of our time. Men are refusing God’s Book first of all, and taking their own. God’s Book knows the way and gives the directions to a poor, lost, staggering world. But men want to accept their own arguments. Yet God says “All scripture is God breathed.”
Suppose a noble ship from this country of plenty drew near to an island on its homeward trip. The captain goes ashore and finds some men building away at a ship. Their tools are poor, their food supply cannot last more than thirty days, there is no chance on the island for life any longer than this, but to the captain’s great invitation to come aboard free of charge they answer: “We cannot see the country to which you say you will take us, so we cannot go with you.” That is a reason that men are giving today for not taking Jesus as their Savior. They make fun of us when we tell them of the glory world. The captain, Jesus, said: “I come from the Father and I go to the Father. I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am there ye may be also.” Men laugh at this.
“Well,” says the captain, “do you know that in thirty days at the greatest you’ll be dead if you stay here?”
“We don’t think of it that way, sir,” they answer. “We have our own boat in building. It will be done before then. We like to go on our own merits. We will be off before the food runs out.”
“Off where?” the captain asks.
“Oh, off into the water,” is the high-headed answer.
“But where are you going?” The captain presses the answer earnestly.
“We don’t know, but we are sure that the powers that run the ocean will see us safe on some fair shore, where our needs will be supplied.”
“You talk like crazy men,” yells the captain. “We know where we are going. I’ve taken the trip before. Your ship’s no good in the first place, and you talk like a fool about a fair shore. The waves are not friends, and the fair shore is too far for you to ever reach it.”
He tries to compel them to come into his ship, but they start a little powwow right in his presence and sing the praises of their ship yet unmade. Yes, that is the thing that the smart ones of our time are doing. Their ship is yet unmade and will be unmade, for it takes life to make a ship that will float the ocean of death, and spotless life at that to land in God’s presence on that fair shore. They know of no life. Their own will last only a little longer. It will soon run out. There stands a life ready and offered if they will take it, but, oh, they prefer their own best efforts to the gift of the captain.
The captain waves farewell and pushes out to the home port. Jesus is passing along your way today. He is offering His own beast to carry you through—that is, His own power; and He says “My grace is sufficient.” Yes, on His own beast. Yes, He has the power to carry you through. “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior be glory and majesty, dominion and power both now and ever.”
His Own Beast
Oh, how wonderful when we find out the power that carries us through is His; the grace that keeps is His; the life that wins is His; the hope that lifts up over death is His; the faith that holds on is His. It is His beast. It is Himself. Do not expect help from anywhere else. He came where you were; He put the oil and wine on the wounds. He set you on His own beast. Do not struggle. Let Jesus carry you through to the glorious inn. You see by the parable that He takes you to the inn. He pays for your keep. He pays the extras. It is Him, Him, Him. Oh, take your eyes from everything else.
When He Departed
What a glorious day it was when Jesus departed—went back to the Father to prepare for us a place. But He left an earthly inn here for us. The Spirit is to be our abiding place. We are to abide in Him. How the hearts of that gazing company must have leaped for joy to see Him ascend far above all principalities and powers and every name that is named. He is there today praying for you. He has departed, but it is for you, to become your priest in prayer at the Father’s right hand, “Where He ever liveth to make intercession for us.” I remember the first time I heard Dr. Scofield speak. It was at Old Orchard, Me. He was illustrating this verse, or rather the intercessory life of the Lord Jesus. He said that on a day in Texas, while he ministered there, a dark day came to his heart for some unknown reason. He had ridden that day in his work with a saint of God, and they talked as they rode on their horses through the morning hour. Nothing that was said by the saint lifted the load that was pressing. They finally separated at noon without the doctor telling his friend of the burden. Miraculously in the afternoon as the doctor rode along the Lord lifted the cloud and there was glorious sunlight flooding his soul. It came right from the throne, a divine work. “The saint is praying for me,” the doctor told himself. When he joined him again at evening he thanked him very much, saying: “I’m glad you saw the cloud this morning and prayed for me. Just shortly after we parted the Lord wonderfully worked and the light came.”
“I wasn’t praying for you,” said the saint. “I did notice you were under a load. But,” said the wise one of the Lord quickly, “I know some one that was. It was Jesus. ‘He ever liveth to make intercession for us.’”
Yes, He has departed, but He’s praying for us up there, and has left the twopence to pay for all our needs down here. “The Spirit helpeth our infirmities.” I’ll tell you how He does it. He is the waiter in this inn. He comes to us with God’s menu open—God’s Book. He says: “Here are the promises by which you are partakers of a divine nature. Now whatever He has promised I will see to it that you get it.”
Oh, beloved, “We have not because we ask not.” Hear Him saying to you “Ask.” He wants you to stand on the porch, where the world passes by, and compel them to come in. How? By showing that you are well fed and well kept. They will see your keep and in their failure and weakness they will listen while you tell them the story.
Are you compelling folks to Jesus because you are fat in your soul in Him? Does your cup run over?
He prepares with this twopence a table in the presence of our enemies. Does He for you? He will if you let Him.
“When I Come Again”
He is not always to be away, even in the glory. The house is to be full one day. The last one will have been called. The Father will order the doors closed and immediately we shall be with Him. He is coming for us at any moment. Oh, can you say you are ready, brother? Lord Jesus, come back soon. But in the waiting time may we compel men to come in that Thy house may be full. We comfort ourselves in the harvest field with the glorious hope that Thou wilt return. The next sheaf gathered may be the last. We look for Thee.
“Oft our eyes mid earthly shadows
In the sky Thy form would trace,
And our hearts are filled with longing
Soon to see Thy lovely face.
“We’ll work ‘til Jesus comes;
We’ll work ‘til Jesus comes;
We’ll work ‘til Jesus comes;
And then be gathered home.”