Our Yesterdays, Today and Tomorrow
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation. —Hebrews 2:3
Probably in all the languages spoken by men there is no word that signifies quite so much as the term “salvation.” When used in the Bible sense it includes in its meaning God’s gracious provision for man’s deepest need, and any provision that is adequate to the need of man must of necessity include his past, his present, his future,—his yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Even if a sinner was to decide to live right from the present his past must be reckoned with. That has to be straightened out before happiness can be assured. Righteousness demands that the old account must be settled. “He that covereth his sin,” said Solomon, “shall not prosper.” That is just as true today as it was when Solomon uttered those words. We may try to prosper by covering up our sins, but we shall find it absolutely impossible. “Be sure your sin will find you out.”
A few weeks ago there was a very pathetic story in our daily papers. A man had been sentenced some years ago to serve a long term in prison. After being there for a short time he managed to escape and got clear away. He went to a certain town in the south and found a good position. He was a first-class mechanic. He made up his mind that he would live right in the future. In the course of time he married a young woman, and a baby was born into their happy home. Some two years passed when one night in a crowded street car with other workmen, a detective recognized him and felt sure as he looked at him that he was the man who had escaped from prison. He reported his convictions to the authorities. Investigation was made, and they discovered that he was the escaped convict. He had never told his young wife a thing about his evil past. His little child did not know. He was living as a true, clean, good citizen, but the past had not been settled. His sin found him out.
Past Sin to Reckon With
Now not always will the law find you out, nor will your wife or your mother. But some day your sin will surely find you out unless it has been covered and cancelled by the blood of Christ. There is a little monitor in every breast which is a faithful witness, and every time certain sins are committed it registers, and sooner or later it will present the bill for collection.
You remember the story of Joseph and his brethren, how they cast him into a pit and later sold him to the Gentiles. He was carried into Egypt and quite forgotten. Indeed, they considered him dead. But God blessed Joseph, and he became the saviour of all Egypt. A sore famine spread over the world and Jacob’s household was on the verge of starvation. He was obliged to send his ten sons to Egypt to buy corn. One day when they came to the market it was reported to Joseph that certain Hebrews were there to purchase corn. Joseph accused them of being spies. He recognized them readily, but they never dreamed that he was their despised brother. They declared their innocence, and to prove it stated that they were all sons of one father, and that they had one other brother named Benjamin. But Joseph treated them harshly and declared that one of them must remain in Egypt until they could return with this younger brother whom they said was at home. This would be conclusive evidence that they were telling the truth. For three days they were held in prison, and while in that dungeon conscience was at work and they said one to the other, “We are verily guilty concerning of his spirit and pitied him not.” And Reuben added, “I warned you not to hurt that child, and now his blood is upon us.” Joseph had not accused them but conscience did. Their sin had found them out.
Provision for the Past
Herod killed John the Baptist to please a wicked woman. At a later date when he heard of the ministry of Jesus he cried, “It is John the Baptist whom I beheaded come to life again.” Judas betrayed his Lord, but afterwards, filled with remorse, he flung the thirty pieces of silver down at the priests’ feet saying, “I have betrayed innocent blood,” and he went out and hanged himself. You see how impossible it is for us to begin anew unless the old account is completely settled. Conscience can convict and lash us severely, but conscience cannot atone for the past, nor wipe it out. Only God’s salvation can do that and does do it. It meets the issue squarely and settles it. The very first thing God does for a sinner is to put away all his past sins. So his provision includes the past. “Come, let us reason together, saith the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as wool; though they be red like crimson they shall be as white as snow.” “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” “As the heaven is high above the earth so great is his mercy towards them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” “I, even I, am he that blotteth out your transgressions, and your sins will I remember no more.” Oh could anything be more definite and explicit than these promises of God to take care of your past?
I heard of a little boy who asked his mother the meaning of that last passage I quoted, “What does God mean,” said he, “when he says, ‘I will blot out your sins’?” The mother asked the child for his slate on which he had been drawing a few minutes before. When he handed it to her she asked him where the picture was that he had been drawing. He replied, “Oh, I blotted it out.” “Well, where is it?” she said. “I don’t know,” said the child. “Ah,” said she, “that is what God does when He blots out our sins. They are remembered no more.”
My sins, oh the bliss of that glorious thought,
My sins, not a part but the whole
Are cleansed by His blood and I have them no more.
Bless the Lord, Bless the Lord, Oh, my soul.
Sins Blotted Out
You have probably heard how on one occasion Mr. Moody was to give an address at a penitentiary and was given the privilege by the warden of presenting a pardon to a prisoner. When he stood up to speak to that great company of men he stated that he held a pardon for one of the prisoners. The feeling became so tense that he could not proceed with his sermon, and the warden was obliged to request that he present the pardon before attempting to say any more. Taking it from his pocket, Moody called the name of Samuel Johnson. Now all the prisoners began to look at each other for in those institutions they are known not by names but by numbers. The real Samuel Johnson was not very far from the front, but he was looking back to see who the favored man might be. Some one, pointing to him, said, “Sam, it’s you.” He was so overcome that they were obliged to assist him to his feet to receive the discharge at the hand of Moody.
Now, my dear brothers and sisters, I honestly believe that God has commissioned me to offer to any sinful man or woman a pardon for all the past, a pardon that will give you a standing before the throne of heaven. “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation.” He is born anew, absolutely and completely. The past is not only forgiven but forgotten.
There was a Scotchman who had formerly been a notable character, a prize-fighter and gambler. Changed by the grace of God he became a mighty soul-winner, and on one occasion his message was being greatly blessed. Just before he arose to speak some one sent an envelope to the platform. On opening it he found along list of sins and crimes that he had committed in that very city. At first he felt that he must run away, but stepping boldly to the front of the platform he said, “Friends, I am accused of crimes and sins which were committed in this very city. I will read them to you.” One after another he read these charges, and at the conclusion of each he said, “I am guilty.” When he had finished the whole list he paused for a moment and then said, “You ask me how I dare come to you and speak of righteousness and truth with such a list of crimes like this against my name? I will tell you, ‘This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief.’” Yes, my dear friends, the salvation of Jesus takes care of the past.
Provision for the Present
Today. We must never forget that “as our day so shall our strength be.” When I receive Him it is more than making a good resolution. Some of us know what that is,—trying in our own strength only to fail again and again. He not only puts away the past but He puts His spirit within us and causes us to keep his statutes and judgments. “As many as received him,” says John, “to them gave He power to become the sons of God.”
I can well remember my first day as a Christian. When I came home that night, I cannot express to you the gratitude that filled my heart as I faced the fact that God had kept me that day free from the degrading and debasing things that had played such a large part in my life for many years. Certain habits that I had formed that I could not free myself from dropped out of my life at that time and they have never returned to this day.
Not long ago I was speaking about the power of Christ to break the power of cancelled sin. A young man seated by the side of his mother, who had come home from the war with the drug habit was touched by the message. He was a poor slave and had tried several times to be cured, only to fail. On this occasion he said to himself, “Christ can give me power. Christ can deliver me. Oh, Jesus, I open my life to Thee.” I knew nothing about this for three weeks. Then he came to me with his mother to tell me that he was entirely delivered of the old drug habit. I have heard of him since that. He is free indeed. This is just as I would expect it to be in the life of any man who puts his trust in God. He is able to save from the uttermost to the uttermost. “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” Salvation involves a person, a real, living Christ. It has been said of Him, “His name shall be called Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins.”
God’s Plenty for Future
Tomorrow. Not only does he deliver you from the past and give you power for the present, but our hearts are filled with hope for the future. The path of the just is as a shining light that groweth brighter and brighter even unto the perfect day. “I have set the Lord always before me,” said the Psalmist. “Because he is at my right hand I shall not be moved.” “Hath he not said I will never leave thee nor forsake thee?”
I heard some time ago of a young Scotch student in a university who was rooming with an old Christian auntie who read her Bible and believed it. One day the student came home and said to her, “Auntie, you know that verse in Hebrews that you so often quote: ‘I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.’ Well, I have found out today that in the Greek there are five negatives there in that verse and it reads like this, ‘I will never, never, never, never, never leave thee.’” “Oh,” said the old lady, “one of them is good enough for me, Laddie.” Because He hath said, “I will never leave thee,” we may boldly say, “I will not fear.” Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we fear no evil because He is with us. He hath made provision for the future. It may hold for us some days of trouble and testing such as we have never dreamed of, but make sure of this, beloved, “He giveth more grace.”
This earth hath no sorrow
For today or tomorrow
But Jesus hath known it and felt long ago,
And when it comes o’er me,
And I’m tempted so sorely,
I will tell it to Jesus, my Lord.
Godliness is profitable, having the promise of this life and of that which is to come.