D. L. Moody: A Hero of Faith—Part 1Pastor Lutzer | March 30, 2008
Like D. L. Moody, we need to make decisions that give us eternal significance.
Selected highlights from this sermon
D. L. Moody had a poor upbringing, and he pursued wealth and worldly success. But after a dramatic prayer meeting in Chicago, his life as a salesman was put behind him and he threw himself into the full-time ministry.
Moody never stopped speaking the Gospel, serving the destitute, and chasing the lost, even though he was hardly educated. He submitted to God, seeking eternal significance not passing success.
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Someone described him this way: “He dropped out of school when he was thirteen but he inspired students at Cambridge University in England and founded an internationally known school and church. He once preferred to only teach children because he was uncomfortable with adults due to his lack of education, but he ended up being one of the most persuasive orators of all time. He was born on a remote farm in rural Massachusetts but became famous for conquering whole cities for Christ. He was in love with money but ended up changing his priorities and living in austere conditions so that more money could go for the spread of the Gospel.”
Someone else wrote, “He had the impulsiveness, quick temper, and rough humanity of the Apostle Peter, the single-mindedness and strategic skill and heartiness of the Apostle Paul, and the love and the steady growth and devotion to God of the Apostle John.”
The man, of course, is Dwight Lyman Moody. Even though I’ve had the privilege of being the pastor of Moody Church for 28 years, I’ve never taken out time publicly like this in a service to give you something of a biography of his life. I thought that I would speak only once about D. L. Moody, and then I realized that this has to be two parts, and so this is the first part of a two-part series. Why do I do it? I do it because, first of all, we should know something about our own history, something about our origins. I do it so that we might understand better our own vision, and to clarify who D. L. Moody was.
The name D. L. Moody is very famous around the world in evangelical circles, but when you leave that group and you go into the wider world, they don’t have a clue as to Dwight Lyman Moody was. I saw the confusion myself a few years ago. We have relatives—my family does on my side—in Germany, and when they discovered that Wanda’s son is the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, they, of course, did some investigation, and they wondered what about this name Moody, so they looked it up in a dictionary. [laughter] They discovered (true story) it was irritable, depressing, unpredictable, and so they communicated and said, “What in the world is the Moody Church?” So we have some PR work that we have to do.
But the other reason I tell the story is because we need to be inspired to do great things for God like Moody did. What an inspiration he is to us! You may say, “Well, you know, I come to church to hear the word of God.” Well, you will hear the word of God today through the life and the lips of Dwight Lyman Moody. There was nothing in his history that would ever make us think that he would be famous. In fact, he had some very, very humble origins, born the fifth child of a large family on a farm in Massachusetts. His father died when he was four years old. His father drank too much whiskey and was in debt, so when he dropped dead one afternoon, Betsy Moody had the presence of mind to ask the oldest child to go and to hide some of the tools, and she herself took a calf to another pasture because the creditors came and they took everything. They took the horse, they took the buggy, they took the cows, and they even took the firewood, and it was one month after that that she gave birth to twins, meaning that now there was a family of nine.
No wonder Dwight dropped out of school when he was in about grade four or five to help with the family, but when he was seventeen he decided that he wanted to go to Boston. He wanted to be a salesman and his uncle had a shoe shop there in Boston, and the uncle said, “Yes, you can come and sell shoes if you attend the Mount Vernon Congregational Church.” So D. L. Moody did that, and that’s where he was introduced to Edward Kimball, who was his Sunday school teacher.
Now here’s Moody (he’s seventeen years old), and he goes to this class, and the teacher, Kimball, says, “Please turn to the Gospel of John,” and he’s looking for the Gospel of John in the Old Testament, and so Kimball, in order to avoid further embarrassment, because the other kids were rolling their eyes and giving stares, took his open Bible and gave it to Moody and took his back, so that he taught now from the Bible of Dwight Moody. Moody never forgot that act. The fact that his Sunday school teacher was willing to keep him from embarrassment immediately endeared him to his teacher.
Kimball went to visit him in the shoe shop. He discovered him in the back. He was hesitant to go in, but decided that he would, and then and there explained the Gospel, that Jesus loved him and if he believed on Jesus, he would be saved, and there Moody was received, of course, by God. He accepted Christ as his savior, and he said that he knew it. He said immediately everything was different. He said the sun shone more clearly, and the birds even sang more loudly.
He was converted, but when he tried to become a member of the church, he was rejected the first time around because they asked him this question: “What has Jesus Christ done for us?” and of course the kid was nervous, but he said, “Well, I think that Jesus has done a great deal for us, but I cannot think of anything in particular right now,” so they said, “Okay, we need to wait.” And by the way, when you become a member of Moody Church, if you give you that answer we’ll ask you to wait as well before you b3ecome a member, but the next year he did become a member.
Now he wanted to go to Chicago. He’s only nineteen years of age, but he has this great desire to go West, so for five dollars he buys a train ticket and comes here to Chicago because he has another uncle who works in the shoe business, and when Moody came here it was with one desire, and that was to earn $100,000, which in the 1850s was huge. We’re talking millions in our money, and he set about to do it, but he also became a member of the Plymouth Street Congregational Church here in the city, and he asked if he could teach Sunday school, and they said no. You have to understand he was uneducated. His grammar was atrocious, and so they said no, but they said he could get some of his young people in the church, so he rented four pews. In those days you rented pews, and he filled them with these kids, and the other members of the church were not too happy because of some of the smells that came from those four pews, and some of the rowdiness of the kids, but Moody said, “It’s okay if I don’t teach Sunday School, as long as I can bring some of these young people to others who can teach them.” There was a great revival going on here in Chicago at that time. We’re in 1858. Metropolitan Hall, which no longer exists (It was right across the street from the Thompson Center; I checked this out years ago), was filled for prayer every noon. I went across the street to the Historical Society many years ago and looked at the old microfilms of the Chicago newspapers to see what God did, and that’s a phenomenal story.
Moody attended these meetings and he wrote back to his mother and said, “Oh Mother, I go to meeting every night. Pray that it will continue until every knee is bowed.”
But Moody then began to work at a mission that was located where Moody Bible [Institute] is today, but he was still unhappy, and the reason is because even this mission did not minister to the poorest of the poor, so he went to what was known in those days as The Sands. The Sands was an area along Lake Michigan. This was the worst part of Chicago. It was known as a little hell. Chicagoans didn’t go there. Even the police only gave it scant attention. Someone said, regarding this place, “It can be described with bad women and worse men who had fallen too low to feel at home anywhere else,” and that’s where Moody began to minister because he said, “Nobody here will complain if I don’t know how to speak properly and if I don’t know how to read.” So he rented an abandoned saloon and had meetings there every Sunday evening for these kids.
The kids didn’t want to come, so he used sugar candy; he used pony rides to try to try to entice them with various contests. He also used pennies that he would give them, and eventually the kids began to come. Now he was criticized. He was criticized because the people said, “You’re bribing kids to come to your Sunday school,” and he defended it and said, “What difference is that than having a wonderful choir and beautiful architecture to try to entice people to come to church?” Moody didn’t care, even though he was criticized for what was known as candy missionary sugar that he was using with the children.
A man from Peoria by the name of Reynolds came to visit the Sunday school, and he said, “There was Moody (and these are his words) with a little Negro boy on his lap next to candlelight, and Moody was trying to read the story in the Bible of the prodigal son, but stumbling over the words and missing some because he didn’t know them.”
That ministry began to grow until there were 300 children. He needed more space, so then he moved to what was known as the North Market Hall, which held room for about a thousand or fifteen hundred kids. Now here’s the point. Moody knew that in order to get these kids, who were so rowdy and so rough, he was going to have to train them and break them in something like you do wild horses. I mean the kids were doing somersaults and all kinds of stuff. So what he did was he had a regimen that he put them through in those meetings, and it was basically you sing one song, then you have a Bible study, then you allow for rowdy time. Everybody has rowdy time for a few minutes (it’s true) and then what he’d do is he’d do it over again—song, Bible study, rowdy time. He kept this up for two hours, convincing other teachers to come and help him, of course, to do this, and pretty soon the kids were disciplined enough that he could actually divide them into separate Sunday school classes. That’s what he did.
He was called Crazy Moody for a reason. I mean, he went to The Sands, he had a pony, and he did crazy things. I could tell you some of those and I may have time for one or two today, but his Sunday school, because of enticements, began to grow, and now we’re in 1860. Abraham Lincoln is elected President of the United States and he is here in Chicago on his way to Washington to be inaugurated, and Lincoln is willing to leave a dinner party early to go to visit the Sunday school, and that’s what Lincoln did. The President said that he would come as long as he didn’t have to speak, but before he left, Moody said, “If Mr. Lincoln desires to say a word as he goes out, of course all ears will be open.” So Lincoln turned around and gave a brief address, ending with these words, “With close attention (he’s speaking now to all of the children that are there) to your teachers, and hard work to put into practice what you learn from them, some one of you may also become President of the United States in due time, like myself, as you have had better opportunities than I had.”
After the President visited the Sunday school, D. L. Moody noticed a difference. Instead of people calling him “Crazy Moody,” they now referred to him as “Brother Moody,” and that was an improvement.
It was during this time that D. L. Moody had a huge struggle on his hands. It was an internal struggle. You see, he was making lots of money. Imagine he was making $5,000 a year now selling real estate. The idea of banking $100,000 would certainly be within reach if he were to stick with the program, but internally there was this battle because he really felt that he needed to go into full time work, and others said it, but he said he would not listen to it. He had no time for the idea that he should leave his business to go to full time work, and it was during that period of time that an incident happened that will teach us the first transforming lesson in D. L. Moody’s life. It happened this way.
He had a class of girls that was so rowdy that when he spoke to them and tried to teach them, they shouted in his face. He gave them to another teacher and essentially the same thing happened, and this teacher came to him and said, “I’m dying. I have blood in my lungs. I’m very weak. I have to go back East by train to die and to be with my mother,” and he said, “but my burden is that none of these girls have trusted Christ as Savior.” So Moody said, “Well, let’s take my carriage, and let’s visit them,” and so they did. The man was very weak. In fact, he could scarcely do it, but they went to the first girl whose name was Mary. They explained the Gospel—that Jesus loves you, and He died for sinners, and you can receive Him—and Mary got saved.
They went to the second girl and the same thing happened. Over a period of ten days they visited these girls, and at the end of ten days every one of them had come to saving faith in Christ. Now D. L. Moody wanted to have a farewell service for the dying teacher, and he invited the girls to come, and at the end Moody knelt and the teacher knelt and they prayed for one another, but now I want you to hear in his own words Moody’s account. He said:
He prayed for me as superintendent of the school. After he prayed I prayed, and when I was about to rise, to my surprise, one of those scholars began to pray and she too prayed for the superintendent. (Isn’t that sweet? He’s calling these girls scholars. They’re about twelve years old.) Before we rose from our knees every one of the girls had prayed. It seemed as if heaven and earth came together in that room. The next day I went back to the store, but to my great amazement I lost all ambition for the business.
D. L. Moody said that after that the idea of earning (you know, stockpiling $100,000) meant absolutely nothing to him. He said that this was so transforming it lit a fire in his heart that never went out. He prayed later and said, “Oh God, let me die rather than miss the blessing I had that evening,” and that’s when the decision was made that he would leave business behind, and he would now give the rest of his life to children and to the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What a remarkable story of devotion to the Lord.
D. L. Moody said he would have never made this decision to leave business were it not for that event. Now let’s just think for a moment. What if D. L. Moody had said yes to money? The first lesson that we learn from him is he said no to success, as it is generally defined, and he said yes to eternal significance. But what if D. L. Moody had said, “Hey, I’m going the money route”? Could you imagine? There’d be no Moody Bible Institute. Instead of a Moody Bible Institute maybe we’d have a Moody Hotel, because this was the day when many millionaires were made. Remember this was the day of Marshall Field; this was the day of Mr. Palmer of the Palmer House. This was the day of Cyrus McCormick who made farm machinery. Now wouldn’t that be something? No Moody Bible Institute, but a Moody Hotel. No Moody Church but a Moody Shoe Shop, and then we’d be stuck possibly with just a Moody Pub instead of a Moody Publisher. Wouldn’t that ever be awful? Can you imagine that?
D. L. Moody decided that God would be first, and people would be more important than earning money. Parenthesis—he raised more than 1.8 million dollars in his lifetime for various projects. None of it stuck to his fingers. None of it! He lived an austere life of poverty so that the Gospel could go out, because once you have had the joy of seeing people’s lives transformed by the Gospel nothing can ever take its place again.
We have a marvelous heritage. Let’s think for a moment about our own church here at The Moody Church. Now, we’re thinking 130 years after Moody began what today we call The Moody Church, and he died in 1899, so we’re more than a hundred years after his death. How wonderful it is that when we built the Christian Life Center, the second floor is totally devoted to children. We have a wonderful children’s ministry under the leadership of Abby Naus, and now we have taken the unprecedented step of stepping out in faith and saying that we are hiring and bringing on staff a wonderful man by the name of Bob Gunter who is going to be the head of the family ministry, making sure that in every department of our family ministries we can say to the city of Chicago that if you want to go to a place that is not only family friendly but family safe, and a place where you know that you’ll be welcomed and helped, let it be The Moody Church. That’s our desire and that’s our vision. (applause]
Ten years ago there’s a woman whom all of us know who had her own experience something like Dwight L. Moody. She was in the advertising business. Her name is Donnita Travis, and her desire was to have an award in advertising, but God led her into children’s ministry, and so as a result of her faith and her vision beginning here and then going to Cabrini Green, recognizing that we have presently in the city of Chicago our own Sands area (the poorest of the poor), those that are most under-resourced, we began then that ministry in Cabrini Green, and it has expanded to Altgeld, and to the Austin neighborhood. Let me say in parenthesis this is a very expensive ministry, because Donnita rightly saw that you cannot do what she wants to see done under the good hand of God simply by volunteers. There are nearly fifty people on the payroll, most of whom are actually full-time, but what a transforming ministry this is for those neighborhoods, and what an opportunity for hundreds of volunteers to be involved in the lives of children.
You know people who are ninety years old and over have been asked these questions: What would you do over again? What are your regrets? Almost all of them said something like this. They said, “We wish that we had spent more time investing ourselves in that which will live beyond us.” My friend, when you are involved in the ministry of children, leading them to Christ and taking them by the hand and taking them where they need to go, you can be sure that you are investing heavily in that which will outlive you.
D. L. Moody has been in heaven for what to us appears to be a long time, so I don’t think he’s at all knowing what’s going on here on earth, but this week, as I was thinking about this, I thought if D. L. Moody knew what we were doing here at the church (all we can to have a ministry to children), and if he knew about By the Hand (the club for kids which in many respects far exceeds any of his original vision and work), if he knew that we were raising funds for The Redemption Project, to help build an orphanage in India for girls who are being rescued out of sexual slavery, D. L. Moody would say, “Yeah, go for it! That’s my kind of ministry,” and that’s what God is calling us to do today—to follow that legacy.
Now very quickly, in 1862 D. L. Moody married Emma Revell. It was a good idea. D. L. Moody had all the characteristics of A.D.D. (attention deficit disorder). I’m serious. He was flighty, impatient, began many ministries, didn’t want to continue them, but always recruited others. He was great at recruiting. He’d show them how, and then he’d move on, and sometimes he did silly things. I mean, I’m talking about finding a girl that he invited to his Sunday school, and the next week she wasn’t there. Then he sees her and she sees him and she begins to run. He chases her down the street, up an alley, through a saloon, into her apartment. She is under the bed. He pulls her out by her leg, and talks to her and to her mother and leads the family to Jesus Christ. By the way, don’t do that or you’ll be arrested. I can assure you. [laughter]
They didn’t call him Crazy Moody for no reason. You know, the Bible says, “Let you light shine.” D. L Moody’s light was basically a blowtorch actually. [laughter] That’s the kind of man he was, and Emma Revell (and by the way, her brother began the Revell Publishing Company) was his balance wheel. That’s what he called her. She somehow helped him with his schedule. She answered his mail. She became, in effect, his chief of staff, keeping him from people who did nothing but waste his time. I mean, she saved Moody Bible Institute. There was such a disagreement as to how the school was to be founded that D. L. Moody resigned. He said, “I’m out of here. You guys can’t get along. I want nothing to do with it.” She wrote a nineteen-page letter explaining Dwight’s frustration and she encouraged him to telegraph that he is rescinding his resignation, and that’s how come Moody Bible Institute exists today. She was a remarkable woman.
Two years after he is married in 1864, you have the beginning of the Illinois Street Church, which, of course, is our date for the beginning of the Moody Church. Now, there was another event that transformed Moody. If the first event was the salvation of these girls when Moody said, “My aims are too small. Aiming at money is too low. I have a grander purpose for which to live—the joy of seeing these young people come to know Christ as Savior,” the second event happened in the Great Chicago Fire, seven years after the Illinois Street Church was founded.
D. L. Moody is preaching in North Market Hall. His sermon is “What will you do with Jesus who is called the Christ?” and then he tells the people to think about it and come back next week, but before the meeting was over there were fire sirens and bells were ringing and Chicago was burning. It was a wooden city in those days. There were hundreds of miles of wooden sidewalks. Three-and-a-half square miles of the city of Chicago burned. Ninety thousand people were without homes. Three hundred people were dead, and Moody never saw that crowd again, and he said to himself, “I’ve learned one lesson and that is to always press the claims of Christ upon people, because you do not know whether or not there will be a tomorrow.” If the first lesson was the need to trade his idea of success in for eternal significance, the second lesson was to concentrate only on the Gospel.
Before the fire, Moody was involved in so many different things that he couldn’t focus on the one thing to which God had called him. Eventually he would say, “This one thing I do, and not these forty things I dabble in.” D. L. Moody was constantly concerned about the one thing. He kept the main thing, which is the Gospel, the main thing, and to him the Chicago Fire was kind of a template. It was a recognition that this is the way in which the world really is. The world is burning, and people are going to hell, and our responsibility is to rescue people from the fire, so to speak.
Moody has been frequently criticized for not having “a social conscience,” but that’s not true. If we had time I would tell you about all of the things that he did socially. Maybe in the next message I can mention his trips to the Civil War, and the scenes there, and how he helped the soldiers, and all of the things that D. L. Moody was involved in.
Someone has well said that there were two fires in Chicago. One fire was the fire which eventually was contained—the Great Chicago Fire, but there was another fire going on in Chicago, and that was the fire that had been lit in D. L. Moody’s heart. He was passionately involved in soul winning for the rest of his life, and he did it in his large rallies. There are more than sixty biographies written about Moody, and all of the writers say that it is conservative to say that D. L. Moody preached in his lifetime to 100 million people. Imagine that—without a P.A. system, without jet planes, particularly yes, here in the great rallies in the United States, but in Great Britain—the British Isles. I’ll tell you about that in the next message. It is absolutely unbelievable the fame that this man ended up having, but he was always a personal soul winner.
You know, there is a story that R. A. Torrey told. He was a friend of Moody’s and he said that Moody never went to bed—in fact Moody had this rule—unless he witnessed to someone that day, and hopefully brought them to Christ, and so it was almost bedtime and Moody hadn’t led anyone to Christ, and so he got up and he went and found a man standing along the street and said to him, “Are you a Christian?” The man said, “That’s none of your business.” Moody said, “That is my business,” and the man said, “You must be Dwight L. Moody.” Moody said, “Yes, that’s who I am.”
He was always, always leading people to Christ and never forgetting children. There’s a famous story that Moody came in one day and said, “Well, I led two and a half people to Christ today,” and somebody said, “Oh, two adults and a child?” and Moody said, “Oh no, two children and an adult.” Yes. Half of the adult’s life is over. It’s the children who have their entire lives to live for the honor and the glory of God.
Now I need to explain this. In 1864, you have the Illinois Street Church that was totally burned down in the great Chicago Fire. You have a second place where the meetings were held and that is called The North Side Tabernacle. D. L. Moody raised funds for this, but it was recognized to be a temporary structure. Then you have a church where Moody Bible Institute is today. It’s known as the Chicago Avenue Church and we have pictures of it. It was a wonderful church. It wasn’t as large as this one but it had to be torn down when LaSalle Street was widened, and that’s why they came a mile north then from where they were—from where the Moody Bible Institute is today—and they purchased this property, and this church was dedicated in 1925. D. L. Moody died in 1899, so if you do the math you know that he never preached in this particular building, but D. L. Moody is the one, you see, who has given the inspiration to the great ministries that we think about when we even think of the name Moody.
On that original church (1864) there was a sign that said these words: “Ever welcome in this house of God are the strangers and the poor.” Moody never lost sight of the poor, despite his fame. Did you know that that sign is also on our church? If you’ve never seen it, do it before you leave today. You go out the Clark Street side and you find the cornerstone, and above the cornerstone school—“Ever welcome to this house of God are the strangers and the poor.”
Isn’t it interesting that a few years ago when a number of us met together to decide the focus of Moody Church and who we really were, we came up with a fourteen-word statement, and we call it the promise statement that “Moody Church is a trusted place where anyone can connect with God and others.” We’re trying to carry on in our own way the legacy and the vision of D. L. Moody.
A number of years ago when we did a survey we discovered that we have present with us about fifty-six different nationalities, that is to say countries of origin, here at the Moody Church. Let me tell you about last Wednesday. I was leading prayer meeting and the thought occurred to me as we were singing one of the hymns, “Wouldn’t it be interesting to give praise in different languages?” There weren’t a whole lot of people there. It wasn’t as large as we’d like to see prayer meeting be, but we began to ask people to identify themselves who have a different country of origin or who speak a different language, and then what we did while all of us were standing is people gave praise to God one after another in the different languages. I asked a young woman who was near the front to keep count and she said there were about fourteen or fifteen different languages within the small group. I mean, it was blessed. We had Korean, Japanese, Hungarian, Albanian, Chinese, and Spanish, and it ended with someone who had a different country of origin giving God praise in German, of all things, a language that I think God also understands. I think some of you, maybe, missed all of that. [laughter] I won’t repeat it but think about it for a moment.
Imagine in this small group fifteen different tongues (fifteen different languages) giving praise to God. You’ve often heard me say, “I want Moody Church to look like heaven where people come from every tongue, every nation, and every language and every culture, all of whom give praise and honor to God as Lord and as Savior.”
What does all this mean for us? It means a couple of things. First of all, it’s very important for us to realize two lessons. Number one, what we need to do is to be done with success, the way in which the world defines it, and what we need to do is make decisions that are going to give us eternal significance. Jesus put it this way: He said, “Those who save their lives (those who play it safe and are self-absorbed, those whose goals are definable in terms of this world, those who say “I’m going to earn money; I’m going to do this and I’m going to do that.”) will lose it. But if you lose your life for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel, you will find it.”
There’s a different way also that Jesus put it. He said, “Except a kernel of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit.” In the next message I’m going to tell you about something that happened to D. L. Moody that is so revolutionary that if we followed his path we also would transform this city, as God began to work in his life and in his heart.
One thing is sure: There came a time in D. L. Moody’s life when he died to everything that he wanted to do, and he said he had only one ambition and that was to do God’s work and to spread the good news of the Gospel, which really is the second lesson. Our focus must always be the main thing, the main thing being the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course we are involved in holistic ministries. Of course we help and we feed the poor, and we help clothe the naked and we do all of those things that are so much an outgrowth of our faith in Jesus Christ, and we build orphanages, and we raise money for children’s ministries, but at the end of the day we know what the end game is. We know it is the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I could not be true to D. L. Moody nor true to the Scriptures if I just left you here today without appealing to you that you, if you’ve never trusted Christ as Savior, that you would come to know Him and His forgiveness and His love and His matchless grace. It is available to all those who savingly believe on Him.
D. L. Moody began became an orator only by telling Bible stories to children. That’s where it all began, but he developed his ability to speak, and he was quite a preacher. Someone said of Moody, “He was a plain man who preached the plain gospel plainly.” That’s the way to describe him. His sermons had imagination; they had immediacy; they were sermons that helped people to get excited about what it was that Moody was preaching about, and so what I’d like to do today is to conclude with just a paragraph of D. L. Moody’s messages, and I conclude this way as an appeal to you. Hear this not as the words of D. L. Moody. Hear it not as my words to you, but think of it in relationship to your soul and your eternal salvation. Here we go, and by the way I’m not impersonating him. I don’t know how D. L. Moody spoke, although we have about ten words of D. L. Moody on a recording. Can you believe that? In 1899 people were beginning to record voices and we have that in our possession, but here, listen to the words of D. L. Moody:
I can imagine when Christ said to that little band around him, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel,” Peter said, “Lord, do you really mean that we are to go back to Jerusalem and preach the Gospel to those men who murdered you?” “Yes,” said Christ, “go. Hunt up that man that spat in my face and tell him that he may have a seat in my kingdom. Yes, Peter, go find that man that made the cruel crown of thorns and placed it on my brow, and tell him I will have a crown ready for him when he comes into my kingdom, and there will be no thorns in it. Hunt up that man that took a reed and brought it down over the cruel thorns driving them into my brow, and tell him that I will put a scepter in his hand, and he shall rule over the nations of the earth if he’s willing to accept salvation. Search for the man that drove the spear into my side and tell him that there is a newer way to my heart than that. Tell him I forgive him freely and that he can be saved if he will accept salvation as a gift.”
Those are the kinds of words preached by Dwight L. Moody. I say to you today, no matter where you are I appeal to you. I wish D. L. Moody were here to do it, but he’s not. I appeal to you in the name of Jesus, if you’ve never received Him as Savior, He can forgive you. You come with your shame, you come with your regrets and you even come with your unanswered questions, but you come to receive. You come to be forgiven and you come to be transformed by the same Gospel that changed the life of Moody, that changed the life of thousands and thousands of children, and the same gospel that is still doing it today. You come to Christ, and now let me pray.
Father, thank you for the way in which D. L. Moody’s life corrects us. Thank you, Father, for the way in which it instructs us and challenges us and helps us realize once again what the issues are. For those who have never trusted Christ as Savior, I pray that right now they may say, “Well, if the thief could be saved on the cross; if the man who struck Christ with a sword could be saved if he believed, I will believe.” Cause them to do that. For those of us who know You as Savior we pray in Jesus’ name, “Please, Lord, help us to give up the toys, and to pour our lives into that which will outlive us.” Enable us to do that. May we be a transforming community in the great city of Chicago—the legacy given to us, yes by Dwight L. Moody, but more importantly by Your Holy Word, that we shall be light and salt and hope to a very broken world.
In Jesus name, Amen