The Suicide of a Soul
I want to talk to you on the suicide of a soul. There surely could not be anything so terrific, as far as human condition of mind and human condition of heart is concerned, than for a man or a woman to deliberately take their own life. It is an awful thing to face death at the hand of disease or at the hand of men, but to have to face death by your own hand—that is almost unthinkable and must mean a terrific condition of soul darkness.
It is because of this awful soul darkness that Jesus Christ ever came from the throne of God, ever came from the ivory palaces of heaven down to this darkened sin-cursed world to reveal God to us. Yes, it was because the world of men was in darkness, terrific darkness, that He came. They knew not God. They were sinners, and “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.” Oh, what a message of hope that is, thrown out against the black midnight sky of sin! What a wonderful name to sing above the storm and the tempest of temptation and doubt and turmoil and the blackness of hell—that blessed name of Christ Jesus the Lord. “Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sin.” And if you are His people, you can rise up and say, bless God, I am saved by the precious name of Jesus.
Through the Veil
Jesus came to lift the curtain, to tear the veil, and let us see the face of God. Thank God for the awful rip He gave in the curtain of darkness, and the marvelous light that has burst through! This world would be a terrible place if it were not for the light on the face of God that only Jesus can give. Men all around us are committing suicide. They are little by little partaking of darkness and of the poison of the world until in the doubt and the fears and the remorse that come to those who lick up and take flesh pleasure in all of its abundance, they cry out, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity, and vexation of spirit!” and plunge to the end.
Solomon ought to have know that he was talking about on this point. If there was any lasting joy in things to eat or drink, Solomon had it; if there was any joy in pictures, Solomon had it; if there was any joy in the art world, Solomon had it; if there was any joy in horses, Solomon had it; if there was any joy in hanging gardens, in beautiful stretches of landscape, in flowers, or trees, or birds—if there was any joy in these alone that could satisfy a human heart, Solomon had it. If there was anything in society of men and women to give a man pleasure, Solomon had it. The Queen of Sheba could rise up and come to see Solomon and declare that the half had never been told of the glories of Solomon. If he could find pleasure in anything earthly, Solomon had it at his hand. All the “wisdom of Solomon” was there, if wisdom can give joy. If there is any joy in knowledge alone, Solomon had it. If there is any joy in that peculiar delight that comes to humanity when they know how to put first things first and last things last, and be able to size up the situation perfectly and have the light of wisdom burst in upon the thing that is before them—if any man can find joy in that, Solomon could find it, for he was wise beyond all the men and women of his time. God had wonderfully endowed Solomon. The riches and the glory and the honor, the iridescent splendor of popularity, pressed upon his majestic head; yea, with his crown set with jewels, with an ivory throne beneath him, with women, with men, with everything that man can devise or conceive to please the human heart, Solomon rises in his place and yells down the centuries and says: “It is vanity, vanity—all is vanity and vexation of spirit!”
Joy Not in Things
There is nothing in it. Why, then, if we are so smart in our day, do we seek it as a final goal? Why is it, my friends, that in this great day of success we talk of earthly joys as if they were heaven? We talk of this touch-button age of splendor, with so many things for so many people, as if it could satisfy. Why do we, if we are learned worship at the feet of the things that men of old have said are vanity, vanity—all is vanity and vexation of spirit?
No, my friends, the world seems to satisfy, but there comes the time when it is all over. The crowd goes. The lights are out and the paint shows horrible on the masquerade and on the faces. Life with its realities, with reeking, stinking death, is in our nostrils, and we face life, life without its joy, without what we have looked into or put into it, we face it in reality, and cry out as we stagger back from it, Oh, God, isn’t there something better than this Death, death, stinking, reeking, chilling death.
Shall we face this at last? Yes, every last one of us. May God sweep through this audience tonight and bathe us with common sense, good horse-sense, to face the reality, and say, “Where am I going? Where is my joy? Where is the fount of pleasure?” My friends, it is not in the world. It is not in all the things of the world put together. Though I should gain the whole world and lose my own soul, it would profit me nothing.
Where is Joy?
What is the revelation, then? Where is the happiness for a human being? The horse may die in joy in his pasture, the bird may sing on the branch and be delighted with its life as it goes out, but mankind hungers, thirsts, yearns, agonizes, for something else, and he never finds it in the world. No wonder that men are committing suicide. No wonder that men come on and drink that which keeps them from thinking; no wonder they buy the seat in the show house and say, “Let the play commence, I want to forget, I want to be lulled into some kind of a stupor”; or else, “I want to be tickled until I can laugh in spite of my condition.”
Oh, my friends, do we have to take dope? Is life such that only dope can assuage our poor hearts that ache and yearn for something else? No, thank God; above all this blast and roar, above all the glitter and the clatter that death puts into the world, thank God, Jesus has stood forth, saying: “My joy I give unto you; not as the world gives, give I unto you.” His joy! No, “the world cannot give it,” and, thank God, the other great thunder clap of promise comes from God “and the world cannot take it away.” Stick the believer of Jesus in a dungeon and still he has joy. Hang him up by the fingers and see him die in agony, and yet with a shout on his lips he passes in joy to heaven under the hands of his persecutors.
Take Stephen and slam the rocks into his ribs, but he looks up and sees Jesus, highly exalted, standing at the right hand of God, and cries out above the curses of that poor mob of hating humanity and says: “Father, lay not this sin to their charge! They are drunken, deluded folks. They think they are bothering me with stones;” and his sweet spirit goes out to meet Jesus, and Jesus is standing to receive him.
Oh, my friends, there is hope nowhere but in Jesus. In Him only is there joy—joy that the world cannot give.
God has made every effort to reveal Himself; God has tried to make His revelation to your heart, to make it to the heart of every man. He started out first in creation. Creation is a wonderful, a marvelous revelation. I have sometimes wished I could isolate my mind for hours, until I could contemplate just the working of God; that I could get alone and read Genesis by the hour, and wait as God’s Spirit showed me this old world, in space, whirling in darkness, covered with gases, no flowers, no trees, no little brooks to run down the valleys, no birds, no human beings—then God’s Spirit moving over the face of the deep and turning the darkness back and letting the sunlight in, and saying to the waters, “Gather yourself into one place and let the dry land appear.” It would be glorious to wait there and look while God brings forth the flowers, fills the sea with fish, brings all into fruition. Think how marvelous when the trees begin to flower, and out of a poor little stem covered with leaves a little blossom comes, then a little green nugget, and as the days go on it bursts into a round, rosy-cheeked apple. Out of an old stem, out of the clod, God’s little chemists are at work in the laboratory of the trunk, taking up the sap and turning it into the apple.
Even to a Rose
Oh, the wonder of the work of God ought to make men bow down before Him. If I did not have a God tonight, my friends, I would go out and get the prettiest little rose and grow it in my hot-house, and in my yard through the summer, and day after day I would bow down before it—the power that put the softness and the perfume of a baby’s breath into its petals. Then I would gather at the feet of some mother when she brings her infant into the world, and as it comes with its little cry of life, out of nowhere—a personality—I would rise from my rose and say, “Good-bye—I have found something better still,” and I would worship at the feet of that little tiny being whose hand lays itself on my cheek—out from somewhere, I know not where it has come. Oh, the tenderness of the creation of God when He lays into your hands a little tiny morsel of your own flesh and blood.
Where is His Character?
Friend, get a sense of God as a Creator. It is wonderful to look at nature, but, oh, it is so impersonal. The springtime comes; I smell the blossoms, I am delighted, but I turn toward a place like San Francisco and see humanity shaken from their beds, and the thunder roll, and the ground quake, and men thrown into confusion, and I cry out, Is God still the God of nature? I see the Galveston flood sweep up and over a city, and I cry out, Is that wind not tempered to these that are here? I look up and down the valley of the Dayton flood, and I say to myself, Oh, this was beautiful before; children sang along the banks, people hummed in their homes…but the water is over it now. I cannot reconcile it. There is revelation of God as force. There is nothing in the world to teach me what He is in character. I know He exists. I see His mind at work. I see a plan behind it all. I see a hand that seems to move it. But, oh, it is an impersonal as electricity, and I cry, “But what is His character? I wish I could see Him.”
I stand on the street corner and see the car go by and the motorman turn his lever here and there, but I cannot grasp electricity. It is too impersonal. I see the system, but I cannot grasp it; it is too impersonal. I know that gravitation pulls that apple and brings it against the sod and presses it in until it finally gets the seed in the earth and a tree springs up, but, oh, it is too impersonal. I can get no joy from this and this alone. I feel outside of it all, and I stand back staggered from the creation of God and say I cannot find Him yet. I know He is there but I cannot find Him. Show me a man through the pages of history who has found God through creation. Never, never, never. Men know that He is there, but they cannot outline Him. They say it is a personal force, and they admit it; they have to admit it or they are fools. There is a God, and every man who looks into the rose leaf and into the baby’s eyes says yes—but he cannot outline Him. He cannot give Him a character. He cannot get at the thing His soul hungers to reach, and never reaches through creation.
Can you See God in Conscience?
Then men turn toward another line, and say, I feel Him move upon my heart; He must have moral character. Why? Because there are some things that appear wrong and other things that appear right. When I do certain things I suffer in my soul or conscience, and when I do other things I am contented. Therefore, that person that stands behind must have moral character. He must want certain things in my conduct, and other things he doesn’t like. So I begin my fetish and start my religion. I may be an Indian, but I start my tomtom—why? That awful conscience will not be still and I do everything to appease it.
Gaining Merit for Conscience
The poor woman throws her baby into the Ganges—why? Simply to appease the conscience—and that does not appease it. Bring the China missionary here tonight and let him show you the man crawling up to the heathen temple. He crawls up and crawls up, and ask him why he suffers so—ask him what he is seeking, and he will tell you he is seeking merit, but he does not find it, and he bows down to his wood and to his stone, he makes an image of it, that the conscience that is within him might be appeased, that he might have peace from gaining merit.
Oh, my friends, we make fun of the poor Chinaman that bows down to his little mud doll, to his little mud idol, and worships it. We say we are much more enlightened, we folks in Chicago. Listen to me: I would rather be that Chinaman out there in the dark, bowing down to his little mud idol, in the day of judgment, than to be some of these nice men here in our high-brow universities, with all their education, who are bowing down still to the dust and do not even have a mud doll in their infidelity, only that vague thing called natural religion. Jesus has made a revelation in this twentieth century, yet in this day of light we have educated heathen in America saying to us, “Give us natural religion. Let me bow down to something that is on this earth alone. I will not accept the supernatural.” I say to you, my friends, this is the sad, mad heathenism of our times. They simply try to set up a system of ethics and a system of morals built upon their own man-fixed plan and then say this will do. But the facts show that this does not change the darkness of a human heart. One of you who are here tonight says to me,” Mr. Rader, I am living a pretty good life.” Why, I can show you Hindus that can beat you in living up to a standard, and thus gaining merit. They put their hand up in the air and have never taken it down from the day they put it up, and it has become atrophied. They have shut their hand and never opened it up until the finger nails have grown through the back of the hand. If the keeping of moral standards that you set down to satisfy your conscience is the highest you know, you will put yourself on the same basis with the Hindu and the man who is bowing down to his mud god. If all the revelation you have of God only leads you to a moral standard then you admit you have not found God, but have found a few rules that bring you more peace, and you call your rules religion. They are man-made, and you worship their maker, and glory in what he can do with conscience. What man can do, this is your limit.
Friends, I say to you, give me the fellow who is out there in the dark with his little mud doll and let me stand my chances before a God who has made a revelation in Christ Jesus, rather than the cultured man of our day who sets up his own god of self and says, I will not have Jesus Christ to rule over me.
God pity us in our times. We cannot find God through creation alone, nor through conscience alone. Anything that is natural has never been able of itself to apprehend God.
“He saw me plunged in deep distress—
He flew to my relief—
For me He bore the shameful cross,
And carried all my grief.”
Jesus Is the Revelation
Jesus is the revelation of God, and if there is not a revelation then we are plunged into a midnight of awful darkness, walled up by horrible, lasting death, and there is no way out, no way. You are of all people the most miserable unless you have found out that God has made a revelation, and that Jesus is God’s revelation to this world, and that Jesus is the way to God. There is not such a thing as a system by which you can get to God. There is a Person—Jesus, His beloved Son, came in the flesh, died, and rose again to the right hand of God. That is the way to the Father, and that is the only way.
Saved Through Belief
You are saved through believing a revelation from God, and man, listen to me: if in our enlightened age, when God has made the revelation in Jesus and you turn Him down, please tell me where you are going to find a revelation of God? Every man who has ever sought Jesus Christ has shouted, “Praise God, I have found Him! Him whom my soul so long has sought, and mourned because it found Him not.” They are happy in Him. He is the character of God, and we know through Him that God is love, only through Him.
I grope around in a dark room. I feel of certain things, and I say to my friend, Bill, I think that is so and so. No, he says, I think that is something else. All right, let’s argue about it. So we feel it all over, argue about it, about what we think this is, and finally I say to him, “Bill there is no use arguing. We do not either one of us know. If we had a little light we could see it.”
Do you mean to tell me that a little wonderful mysterious light will make it all bare? Yes, sir. Throw up the curtain, let in the light, and then you know. And the fellows in the next room in the dark say, “What are you shouting about in there? We don’t see anything.”
“You fool, let up your curtain—it’s light outside.”
“Oh, no, we would never do that,” they reply. “If we cannot dig it out with our own understanding and our own faculties, we will never do it.”
God through Jesus Christ has ripped the veil that hides His marvelous face of love, and shown us through the agony of death that He is for us, and anyone can see God who will see Jesus. Jesus is the window to God’ there is no other revelation. Man, if you do not light up with Jesus by coming down that aisle tonight, God pity you. Where will you turn for your light? Where is there another revelation?
We are in darkness, and suicide is our end if we refuse God’s revelation. There is no light in human reason or human intelligence or human knowledge in itself that can satisfy a human heart. There is nothing in the world that can satisfy a heart, and men who have tried it have cried out: “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity, and vexation of spirit!”
Jesus the Light
Now comes Jesus upon this dark scene, and says, “I am the Light of the World.” Glory to God for Jesus Christ tonight, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world! Is it any wonder then that God counts turning down His Son the sin of sins? God help you, man, tonight. Get on your feet tonight and confess Him before men, and He says He will confess you before His Father which is in heaven. There is no other revelation, “There is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved,” but the name of Jesus Christ; and that is why I love that matchless name tonight! Out of the darkness of philosophy, out of the darkness of doubt, out of the darkness of natural religion, out of the darkness of sin, out of the darkness of modern education, thank God, Jesus came into my life and let the light of God in, and now I see. Come on, believe Him and you’ll see too!
Blind But Now We See!
Ask me why I see? I can no more tell you why I see than why the combination of light and eyes tells you objects all around you, but I know that I see, and that is enough. And if I am a person at all, and if there is such a thing as consciousness, my soul knows that my Redeemer liveth, and that I shall stand with Him at the latter day upon this old Earth. This Book is a revelation of God, and Jesus is this Book in human form. Jesus is the alive Word of God. God sent out His Word and then He sent out His Son, of whom His Word had spoken. Jesus Himself said as He talked with His disciples after He had risen from the dead: “All things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets and in the psalms concerning Me.” He is the One.
Poor Judas represents the suicide of human hearts today. He watches this man walk along and says to himself, “This man is going to have a following.” The great trouble with Judas to begin with was that he saw a system and not a person, and one of the greatest hindrances that we have in modern days is that men see some kind of formal worship (system) and do not see Jesus. They see a church service, they hear the songs, they hear the reading, they hear the preacher, but they do not see Jesus. Judas never saw Jesus. He had the opportunity, but he turned away. What pulled him away? His love for money. He did not dare listen to Jesus. He did not dare take it all in. Why? He would have dropped that bag in a hurry and dropped at the feet of Jesus, the Son of God—but his ambition crowded out the person of Jesus. Judas would have belonged to any kind of an organization. He is just the kind you are tonight, maybe. You have joined the church, but you do not know Jesus. You have joined organizations, but you have not met this Man of Galilee who is the Son of God. Oh, how the men and women of Chicago need to meet Jesus! Not a system, not a philosophy, not a bunch of theories, but The Light from Heaven that reveals God to a human heart. Jesus. Have Him tonight! “Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out,” He says. And as the light, if you open your eye to it, reveals something, Jesus, if you open your heart to Him, reveals God to you. There are men sitting in his congregation who have never had a great education, but, thank God, they have a past master’s diploma from glory in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. There are men here who have never known what it means to follow the philosophies of men and the revelations of men alone, but I tell you, my friends, they know God and they would die on the block tonight with their head rolled into the gutter before they would take back that precious name of Jesus; and it is not because it is fanaticism or because it is a fetish to them, but because He, Jesus, is real.
But Judas Saw a System Instead of a Person
But Judas saw a system instead of a Person. He saw himself as the treasurer of that system. He thought it was some sort of a great healing cult, and that this man was really coming as a pretender of the Messiah; he saw His miraculous power and thought he had a chance to get in on the cult; had a chance to get in as treasurer of this new thing coming. He saw the popular idea. But, oh, my friends, the man that really accepts Jesus, thank God, he says, “If I have to forsake father, mother, riches, houses, lands, anything—I will accept Him.”
Oh, friend, listen to me tonight: If you can believe that Jesus is the Son of God the world is changed that minute. Believe Him, trust Him, tonight, and all the darkness, all the doubt, and all the death, and all the turmoil and the struggle, praise God, is as nothing to you, for He is victor of all these. You have been born again, and Jesus is King of death and of the devil and everything that can touch you, and you can shout aloud, praise God, that your Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords.
A Person Revealed
He is the revelation of God. God waited until men had tried all their own schemes, all their own revelations, all their own plans of redeeming men, and not a one of them ever succeeded. Every plan that is put forward as a new thing is all only something of the old, that has been tried time after time. There is nothing new in New Thought, there is nothing new in Christian Science, they are cursing to the last degree; there is no revelation here of a person, a divine person. Jesus revealed God as a person, His Father. The God of Christian Science is nothing. There is no God there. There is nothing there. And life is nothing, and you are nothing, and you sink into oblivion and everything becomes nothing. I say to you, my friend, Jesus said of you that you are a person, your soul is going to live forever. That soul of yours yearns for God, and He says: “I will give you water and if you drink it you will never thirst again.” And He declared Himself to be that water. He said: you are a person and are going to thirst forever unless you take this water that I give you. But he that drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” Glory to God tonight, He is a fact!
Only Jesus Saves
There is but one thing that can save men and transform the lives of men, and that is Jesus Christ. Poor old Judas thought he was going to be happy, thought he was going to cash in, but, oh, when he made his last bet, played his last card, all that he won from it he threw down on the temple floor, and went out and said, “I have betrayed innocent blood.” It came over him surging like a nightmare, but it was too late. Jesus was in the hands of His condemners, the deed was done. With the horror of his guilt upon him Judas went and hanged himself. He had turned down God’s revelation—had walked with Him and eaten bread with Him, that same revelation. Jesus Christ has been in this Tabernacle night after night, and you have not accepted Him. God help you to wake up tonight to the revelation of Jesus Christ. What is it that stands so big that you won’t let God’s revelation into your heart? Wealth? It will soon be gone. Society? It will soon be over. Pride? It will be humbled to the earth. All Earth’s pleasures are but for a season, but Jesus abides through eternal ages the same.
Don’t be a spoiled child tonight. How many spoiled children there are, and God cannot make a revelation to you because you are spoiled; you have been so spoiled that you sit there unmoved and God cannot even move you by the death of His own Son. I would wake up to the awful condition of my heart tonight, brother, sister, if I were you.
The mother of a spoiled child, a young son, came to me with her sad heart one day; her son was in a western city, and had written her, and she said, “Mr. Rader, I want you to pray for my boy.” I read the letter half way through—I knew the rest of it. I said, “Are you going to send this boy any money?” She said, “I have sent him nearly all I have.” “Don’t send him any more,” I said. “Why,” she said,” he is sick—he says he has to go to the hospital—he says he has appendicitis.” “Yes,” I said, “and he is lying.”
“Why, how do you know?” “I have read these letters by the hundreds. He is working you, my dear sister, for something else.” “Why, Mr. Rader, do you mean to tell me that I could have flesh and blood that knows my fingers are worn out from sewing, that I have done everything to make money to send him—that I could have flesh and blood that could lie to me and take the dollars that I make?”
“Yes, and take the coat off your back and pawn it for himself. I never saw him, but I know the heart that is behind that letter. My dear sister, wait for a little while, and if you want to really help him you will wait, and not send him any money. He is spoiled, he is ruined, he has had everything his own way.”
She said, “He married a girl here who had money; he spent all her money.”
“What did he do to her?” I asked. I knew where she was—over in one of the buildings, working in the hardest kind of a task, robbed of all she had by that young fellow.
“He took her money,” she answered.
“He will take yours also,” I replied.
But I knew that mother would send him the last dollar she had, and she did. He came to the city after a while, and she brought him up to me. He had told her he had a tube in his side—I knew that young fellow never in the world had a tube in his side. He told her he had been operated on, and it had cost him a lot of money. There she was, crying about the horrible things she had gone through, and while he was talking I just struck him over the side a chance blow, just for fun, and he never flinched. I said, “You look like a fellow that has had appendicitis”—and then he made out like he was fainting.
Who Will Pay?
What am I talking about? I am talking about the horror of a natural human heart. “Deceitful above all things,” as God says, “and desperately wicked.” God has sent Jesus in all the agony and all the pathos and all the passion of it, to die for men and give men an inheritance incorruptible, that fadeth not away. Yet here are some of you tonight, spoiled as you are, who will not humble yourselves and confess your guilt and take the blood of Jesus Christ to cover. God pity you, if you don’t. God is no lolly-pop. God is merciful, but let me tell you, my brother, my sister, you are going to pay for your sin. God is not mother that you can bluff. God is slow to anger and plenteous in mercy and tonight He offers you salvation through a revelation and Jesus Himself has done the suffering for sin, but, my friends, if you turn God’s revelation down, you will have to meet God in judgment; the penalty of sin must fall and it will fall. Hear me! Let Jesus pay tonight, or you pay.
A Serious Moment
This is no merely emotional business. This is the most serious moment of your life. God has revealed Himself in His Son, and if you turn Him down God pity the blackness of your midnight of hell. In this age of thrillers and excitements, God has a mighty hard time rousing people, and if God has spoken a word to you tonight, if the Holy Spirit has caused your heart to hunger for God at all, cherish that invitation from God and come—He has everything ready for you. All He says to you is to step out, to come out as Lot left the burning city of Sodom. The angels grabbed him and pulled him out fast to get him out before the fire fell on Sodom and Gomorrah. Some men and women are going to preach their own funeral sermon tonight, and you know it. Young fellow, if God speaks a word to your heart, come! Young women, if God is talking to you, leave the poor, sad world behind and come to Jesus. Father—do your children call you that? At the Easter Sunday School service last Sunday I asked boys and girls in the late teens to raise their hands who had fathers and mothers unsaved—and they raised their hands all over this Tabernacle. That was a very sad sight. Can it be that a mother can raise a family and dare to do it without Jesus? Can a father dare to raise his boys without Jesus? Oh, men, if you have any fatherhood in you, take Jesus. Mother, father, sister, brother, come, in the name of Jesus and have Him tonight. He is the way. Take Him!