So, as much as in me is,
I am a debtor, I am ready,
and I’m not ashamed.
Loizeaux Brothers Neptune, New Jersey
© 1965 by Loizeaux Brothers, Inc.
This book is
My Wife, Edna
A Devoted Christian
Faithful to God and His Word
Our Two Daughters
Ruth and Lois
Every Christian (and by Christian, I mean one who has been born from above into the family of God, by grace, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ) needs three G’s to be a soul winner: grace, guidance, and gumption.
We can point others to the Lord Jesus Christ only when we know that we have been saved by His wonderful grace. Only His marvelous grace can give us the compassion we need for the lost all about us.
Then we need guidance, and only the Holy Spirit can guide us to those we are to reach for Him with the good news of salvation. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Psalm 37:23). “I being in the way, the Lord led me” (Genesis 24:27).
Then we need gumption, holy gumption, to take our stand with a rejected Saviour and tell what great things the Lord has done for us.
This book is sent forth with a prayer that the Lord of the Harvest will use it to the blessing of many hearts and the salvation of some for His glory.
Suitcases Lost—Man Saved
For the past thirty years I have been doing what the Holy Spirit told Philip to do: “Go near, and join thyself to this chariot” (Acts 8:29). And the Lord has kept me all these fifty-four trips across America from ever being hurt in an accident or late for a meeting— for which I praise His Name.
But my life before that was quite different.
I was raised in a home where I can never recall seeing a Bible or hearing a word of prayer. My father was a hard drinker and my only brother committed suicide. I got off to a bad start and wasted some of the best years of my life in professional boxing. Then I became interested in show business. I was in an act with two comedians in Stamford, Connecticut, which wasn’t going very well. But in those days Hollywood was the land of opportunity, so I packed all my belongings into two suitcases, shipped them from New York to Hollywood, and hopped a freighter to try to sell our act out there.
I arrived all right, but my suitcases never did—I haven’t seen them to this day. They got lost—but I got saved!
I couldn’t sell our act in Hollywood—it was almost impossible for anyone unknown to get a break out there, but I managed to get work in two movies. Then one night in 1933 I heard Paul Rader on the radio. He was having gospel meetings near by; out of curiosity I went to hear him. For the first time in my life I saw that all my sin had been laid on Christ, who had made atonement for sin when He died upon the cross. Believing that Christ died as my substitute, I was justified, made as righteous as if I had never committed one act of sin! That was good news to me.
When the Lord found me there were many things I didn’t know, but one thing I was sure of: I was a new creation in Christ! My whole life had been transformed by His wonderful grace, and I had a great desire to tell others about Him. So I started hitchhiking, never dreaming I would be at it all these years.
It’s so long ago that I can’t remember the details of my early trips, except that I saw that hitchhiking was a good way to get close to men and tell them what the Lord had saved me from and to. As I rode along, the conviction grew that this was to be my service for the Lord, because it came easily and men would listen.
I had no home then, so just lived in a suitcase and kept going wherever the Lord led. When I first left Los Angeles, I headed east, and got a ride for about seventy miles.
Reaching Victorville, California, some colored folks asked me to preach for them. I told them I had been converted only a short time but I would do the best I could. So I opened my Bible to Genesis 13, where Lot was looking for grass and Abram was looking for grace. I suddenly stopped reading at these words: “And the Lord said unto Abram, after Lot was separated from him.” It seemed to me God couldn’t talk to Abram until there had been a separation; and God can’t talk to you and me until there has been a separation. I have read everything that the Apostle Paul has written, but I have never read where Paul says, “I know how to compromise and I was a good mixer.” But he does say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” Yes, God talks to separated men and women.
After that first sermon, I was often asked to speak, and was happy to preach in missions, jails, and wherever the door opened. As the years went by, and I had many requests to speak, I would plan my trips in advance, in order to arrive at the various places in time for these engagements.
From Hand to Mouth
A few months later I was in Wyoming sheltering from a storm on the porch of a store. Feeling a little down in the dumps I recalled what one of God’s servants once said, “When you get down in the cellar of despondency, look around for the King’s wine.” Just then a young man rolled up in his car and, since there was no hotel for miles, I asked him if I might sleep in his car for the night. He said he was working on a road job ten miles down the road and if I would come along to the camp, I could sleep in his car. He happened to be a Mormon and we talked until after midnight; some time that early morning I believe I led him to our Lord. Then he got me a blanket; in the morning he went over to the mess hall and arranged for me a good breakfast. It is wonderful to live from hand to mouth when it’s God’s hand and my mouth. The next morning the very first car to come along gave me a ride to Cody, the place I tried to get to the day before. Surely the steps and the stops of a good man are ordered by the Lord.
Where He Leads He Feeds
Shortly after I was converted I found myself walking along Hope Street in Los Angeles without a penny in my pocket and a little discouraged. As I passed the cafeteria of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles the thought came to me, “If these people knew how hungry I was, surely they would let me work for a meal,” but I felt so weak I didn’t feel I could talk to anyone. I said to myself, “I will just go in and order a meal and then tell the manager my predicament and offer to work the rest of the day or longer for the meal. While I was eating, a fine looking man came over and sat at my table and introduced himself as Dr. Arthur I. Brown. We had a nice time of fellowship and, without his knowing that I was financially embarrassed, he reached over and picked up my check, saying, “Let me pay this,” and shaking my hand, off he went. The Lord said to Elijah, “I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.” The ravens knew where there was, and if you are there you’ll get fed. Where He leads He feeds.
I recall hearing a story of a young Bible student standing in front of this same cafeteria, reading the menu for the day posted on the door. A returned missionary was standing alongside him, reading it also. The young student blurted out, “Can you beat it, dried beef on toast again today!” The missionary took hold of his arm and said, “Young man, don’t you ever sing, ‘Where He leads me I will follow,’ until you have learned to say, ‘What He feeds me I will swallow.’ “ How wonderfully the Lord has supplied my every need for more than thirty years without my ever knowing for sure where a dollar would come from. “Great is Thy faithfulness, Oh God, my Father!”
I have often said jokingly, “I have never missed a meal, just postponed a few.” There have been days when I have missed a meal simply because a place to eat could not be found. There was one of these days while I was crossing Louisiana. I had an early breakfast and now it was five in the afternoon. I was getting real hungry, when a young soldier stopped to give me a ride. One of the first things he said, after getting acquainted, was, “If you get hungry there is a bag on the back seat full of fried chicken my mother fixed, so just help yourself.”
Solver of Problems
Leaving Buffalo one morning, a man in a nice Packard stopped to give me a ride. As I witnessed to him he stopped me by saying, “Mister, you are talking to the most defeated and discouraged man that ever picked you up. I feel like running this car into a pole.” Then he told me some of his troubles. He had buried his dear wife that year, then his home had burned to the ground, and then he lost his business—six trucks and a steam shovel. How glad I was we could pull to the side of the road and tell him of:
A Saviour that could solve every problem,
The tangles of life can undo.
Nothing too hard for Jesus
Nothing that He cannot do.
Five Verses for a Broken Heart
Not far out of Saint Louis, early one morning, I was picked up by a young man, six-foot-six, red-headed and freckled face, if you can feature that. One of the most likeable men I have ever met. After I witnessed to him for some time, he said, “I was in the Marines in this last war and in two major battles but right this morning I am going through the worst battle in my life. I’ve just said ‘Good-by’ to my wife. I love her more than anything in the world but for more than a year she has been unfaithful. I’ve tried everything, but this morning I gave up and handed her some keys and said, ‘Here, you can have all I’ve got. I’m getting in that car out there and I’m going to start riding.’ Now I picked you up.”
“Well, this didn’t happen by accident. Before I left my room this morning, I asked the Lord to get me a ride with someone who needs help that only God can give.” Taking out my New Testament I said, “There are five wonderful verses in this Book. They were a great blessing to me years ago and I believe they can be a help to you. I want you to read them.” We went down the road a few miles before he turned to me and said, “If I pull over there will you show me those verses now?”
“Indeed I will!” I replied. So he pulled over to the side of the road.
“The first one is John 5:24.” I found the place and handed him the Book, and he read: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
The next one was John 1:12: “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”
And of course there was John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Ephesians 2:8 followed: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Finally, he read Romans 10:9-10: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
After those five verses, I had him read quite a few more. After some time, the young man trusted Christ as His Saviour, and was taken out of bondage into glorious liberty. After we both prayed, he took me by the hand, and we agreed that he was going to call his wife and tell her what had happened.
“May this be the means of bringing our home together,” said the young man. It is wonderful what God can do with a broken heart when He has all the parts.
About a week later I was given a ride with a young sailor, who was on his way back to Seattle after spending a short leave with his wife and month-old baby. We talked about eternal things for a long time. As I was driving his car, I handed him my New Testament and asked him to read out loud those same five verses. After he read the last verse I referred to, he kept right on reading for the next fifty miles. Before we reached Denver I pulled to the side of the road, and he trusted the One who had died in his place as his Saviour.
You will never know the heartaches that are running up and down the highways until you get seated alongside of some of these men. I believe the best place in all the world to talk to a man is beside him in his car. He can’t go to sleep and he can’t go away. Always remember an argument may close the man’s mouth, but it takes the gospel to open his heart. The gospel is not good advice—quit this and do something else—but “good news.” The good news is, “How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3).
Leaving Tucson, on my way to Phoenix, I was given a ride by a young man who stopped my witnessing by saying, “Now listen, Mister, I was raised in a preacher’s home and I have no time for religion.”
“Now isn’t that strange,” I replied, “I don’t have much time for religion either.”
He was taken aback, and said, “But, aren’t you a preacher?”
“Yes,” I replied, “But let me make this one thing clear before we go any farther: The world is full of religion. At Easter time they are more religious than ever. Religion is trying to get to Heaven by something you can do, but Christianity is what Christ did for me when He shed His precious blood and died as my sin-bearer. Religion says, ‘See what I’m doing.’ Christianity says, ‘See what Christ has done.’ Religion says, ‘I need a new start.’ Christianity says, ‘You need a new heart.’
“Religion says, ‘At the first of the year I’ll turn over a new leaf.’ Christianity says, ‘You need a new life.’ Religion comes with closed hands and says, ‘Look at my good life, look at my zeal, look at my earnestness, look at my social standing.’ Christianity comes with empty hands and says,
“‘Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to the Cross I cling;
Foul, I to the fountain fly,
Wash me, Saviour, else I die.’”
Oh, I love this empty-hand salvation. Then for miles I told him of the wonderful grace of God and the finished work of Calvary. Finally we pulled to the side of the road and I had the joy of leading him to our Lord. After we had a time of prayer, he got out on one side, and I got out on the other, and he came around and took me by both hands, and said, “Preacher, I will meet you in Heaven.”
Law and Grace
While coming across the state of Texas I was given a ride by a Seventh Day Adventist preacher, and about a year later I was picked up by the same man within a few miles of the same place. We had quite a talk. In the course of the conversation I told him of an experience I had when I was given a ride by a man who had charge of publication work for the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Now this man didn’t tell me what he believed and what he stood for, but he let one word slip, then I knew where he stood. So I said to him, “My friend, do you really know why God gave the Law?”
He looked at me a little puzzled, so I said to him, “If you don’t mind, as we are riding along this morning I would like to show you from this New Testament just why God gave the Law. But first I want Romans 3:19 to tell you: ‘That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.’ If you try to get to Heaven by keeping the Law, God says your mouth will be shut. But if you will plead guilty, God will deal with you in mercy. For the Scriptures say, ‘By the Law came the knowledge of sin, not the knowledge of God.’ If there were not another verse in all the Bible but this verse, I could never be a Seventh Day Adventist: ‘If righteousness come by the Law, then Christ died in vain.’ If the Law could save, there was no need of a Calvary.
“The Law makes demands, Grace bestows favor. The Law condemns the best, Grace justifies the worst. The Law is something to be kept, Grace is something that keeps. The first time the Law was preached, three thousand died; the first time Grace was preached, three thousand were made alive. The end of the Law in New York state is the electric chair. The end of the Law in California is the gas chamber. The end of the Law in Connecticut is the rope. But in Grace Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone that believeth (Romans 10:4).
“Under the Law the sheep died for the shepherd, under Grace the Shepherd died for the sheep. There is a tremendous difference. ‘The Law is not of faith’ (Galatians 3:12). ‘Whatsoever is not of faith is sin’ (Romans 14:23). ‘For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God’” (Hebrews 7:19).
Free from the Law, Oh, happy condition,
Jesus has bled and there is remission.
Cursed by the Law and bruised by the fall,
Christ hath redeemed me once for all.
When we parted he made me promise to send him the sermon I preached to him on Grace, which I did.
On another trip east the very first man to pick me up was another Seventh Day Adventist, and it wasn’t very long until he asked me if I would show him any place in the Bible where the Sabbath had been changed.
“No, I can’t,” I replied, “for the Sabbath has never been changed. Saturday is still the Sabbath. But as a Christian, I worship on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week. When Paul wanted to reach the Jews he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath because he knew he would find them there. But whenever Paul went to worship and to break bread and have fellowship with the saints, he would go to their place of worship on the Lord’s Day, ‘the first day of the week.’”
Knowing that his church is strong on tithing, I asked him on what day he took his tithe to church. He replied, “On the Sabbath.”
“My friend, you’re taking it on the wrong day,” and I gave him this verse of Scripture: “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2).
Down through the years I have ridden with men in all walks of life. On just one day I was picked up by a contractor, a Jewish whisky salesman, a college man, a high school principal, a manufacturer, and an Army captain on his way to his mother’s funeral. On another day I was picked up by a salesman, two Jehovah’s Witnesses, a manufacturer, a Seventh Day Adventist, a truck driver, a Greek Orthodox Catholic, and a farmer.
Rules for Fishing
There are three vital rules for fishing: first, go where the fish are; second, stay out of sight; third, use the right kind of bait. Fish are never caught by hanging a sign on your hook, “All fish welcome.” Only the Word of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, convicts men of their sin.
Prisoner Set Free
On one of my recent trips east I was given a ride by a young man and I noticed he had strange burns across the back of both hands. I asked him if he would mind telling me how he got them. This was his story:
“I was in the Marines in this last war and was captured by the Japanese. I have in my bag a letter from President Truman, saying I was in solitary confinement longer than any other man, as far as they know.” He was a comparatively young man, but you would have taken him for someone’s grandfather. This man had really been through war.
“One night I thought my buddy would die for want of food, so I sneaked out during the night and stole some food for him. But I was caught and the Japs said, ‘For stealing, this is what we do,’ and they took a hot iron and burned the back of both my hands.”
Letting go of the wheel for a split second and holding up his hands, he said, “This isn’t what bothers me. What bothers me is that not only am I an alcoholic, but I’m a slave to dope.” Then he asked me to reach into his glove compartment and take out five small bottles.
“There,” he said, “is a hundred dollars worth of dope. That is all that will help me when I get these shakes that I got from eleven months of solitary confinement.”
I turned to him and said, “Mister, when the Lord saved me, I too was a slave to many bad habits, but the Lord set me free. One night I was a slave to sin and the next morning I was a free man in Christ. What the Lord did for me, He can do for you. Christ came to set you free. So when we find a shady spot, I want you to stop and I want you to read something from this New Testament.”
Well, there seemed to be no shade and it was terribly hot so, finally, he said, “Mister, I’m all mixed up and confused but I’m concerned about this.” So he pulled to the side of the road where we could read the New Testament together. In less than thirty minutes he was a free man in Christ, for the Lord Jesus came to break the power of canceled sin and set the prisoner free.
Fear of Death
On my way home I was picked up by a young engineer. After I witnessed to him for a short time, he took a telegram out of his pocket and said, “Read this.” It told of the death of his mother in a small town in New Mexico. Then he said, “By mistake it was handed to my youngest brother. After reading it, he dropped it to the floor, jumped up from his chair, and ran right through the second-story window, breaking his back and cutting his face quite badly. But I had to come on to take care of the funeral.” Then he told me how every one in his family had a terrible fear of death.
“We’re all afraid to die.” As I talked to him, he said, “Sir, you don’t have that fear of dying, do you?”
I told him that when you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and are sure that all your sins have been dealt with at Calvary, you have the assurance that when you die you will go home to be with the One who died as your sin-bearer. “Absent from the body, present with the Lord.”
“My,” he said, “I’d give a million if I could know that.”
“Well, you can know it and it won’t cost you a penny, for every time the Bible speaks of salvation, it is always a free gift. The Lord Jesus said, ‘I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish. The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’” I was driving his car at the time, so I said, “May I pull over there and show you from this Book how you, too, can have rest and peace that is only found in the Lord Jesus Christ?”
He said, “Pull over.” In less than a half hour he, too, was resting in the finished work of Calvary. One of the last things he said to me before parting was, “Mister, I don’t seem to have that terrible fear of dying any more.”
“How Can I Find Him?”
As I was waiting for a ride near San Jose, a car stopped in front of me. A lady sitting at the wheel said, “May I give you a ride?” To put her at ease, I let her know at once that I was a Christian and loved the Lord. Then she said, “Isn’t it strange that I should pick you up, having passed so many along the road? But something seemed to say, ‘Pick up that man, pick up that man.’” Then she told me this story:
“Before I left home this morning, a preacher came on the radio, and for some reason I couldn’t turn him off as I did all the others. When he finished I wrote something in this book.” She took a little red book out of her handbag and showed me what she had written: “What I need is God. How can I find Him?” I feel sure the Lord had me there that day to tell that lady the good news of the gospel.
Coming up from the south a very nervous man, though he had a big job with the state, stopped to give me a ride. He said, “I’m only going forty miles.” Well, I knew I had less than an hour, so I got right down to business with him.
When we came to a certain town he pulled into a gas station and asked the attendant where the town was.
“Oh,” he said, “you have come forty miles in the wrong direction.”
As he pulled alongside the curb, I took out my New Testament and holding it up said, “Let me show you from this Book how you can be on your way to Heaven and never get lost.”
“Please show me,” he replied. I don’t believe I showed him a dozen verses of Scripture and explained them before he bowed his head on the wheel and trusted Christ as his Saviour. After we both prayed, and I helped him with other Scriptures, he reached over and took me by both hands.
“You saved my life this morning,” he said. “I’m so glad I got lost.” I too was glad he got lost—then saved. I have thought from some of the things he said that he may have been contemplating suicide.
As I was waiting in Baltimore for a ride going to Washington, D.C., four men were standing there also, and they all were given rides. So I had a little word of prayer and then walked back to the traffic light. A car stopped and, while waiting for the light to change, I walked over to the window and said, “If you are going into Washington, may I go along? I have the best of credentials.”
“Sure, get in,” he replied.
In all my years of hitchhiking I’ve never met a man in more trouble. He was running away from his wife and family that very morning. So I told him I wanted him to read just five verses from my New Testament.
“They were a great blessing to me years ago and may be a help to you.” We went down the road nearly a mile, without my saying a word. Then he pulled over to the side of the road, and said, “Let me read them now.” I showed him those five (John 5:24; 1:12; 3:16; Ephesians 2:8; and Romans 10:9-10) and many more, and after quite some time I had the joy of pointing him to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.
When I was getting out of his car in Washington, D.C., he reached into a bag in the back seat and took out a quart bottle of whisky. Handing it to me, he said, “Take this along. I won’t need it any more.” Well, I didn’t need it either, but I took it and put it in my topcoat pocket. It felt as if I were carrying a piano! I could hardly wait till I could pour it down the drain.
Before I left him I said, “Let me have the little booklet I gave you” (everyone I ride with gets something good to read), and I wrote the name of a Christian business man that I know, back in his home town.
“Now you go back home to your wife and family, but go to see this man right away. He is just the kind of a person who wants to help men like you.” After I had been home in Los Angeles for three weeks, I received a letter from this business man. His letter said this: “Mr. Cone came to see me last week and told me all that had happened. He brought his brother along and I had the joy of leading him to the Lord. Now he is bringing another brother and I am dealing with him.”
The Bible says, “Ye are My witnesses”—not lawyers, “witnesses”—and a witness only has to tell what he knows. If you and I would only tell what we know of our wonderful Lord and His so-great salvation, we would have lots to talk about. We are admonished to buy up every opportunity as a merchantman would buy up a scarce commodity. “He that is wise winneth souls.”
Religion Without Salvation
One day in New Mexico I was picked up by a man who had lots of religion without salvation. There are many hands that hold cocktails on Saturday night that hold hymnbooks on Sunday morning. “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:5). After I had witnessed to him for a few minutes, he said, “Now, let me tell you the five steps to salvation.”
“Five steps!” I exclaimed. “Why, I didn’t know a dead man could walk. How is he going to make the first step? For the Bible says, ‘Thou shalt make no steps to my altar.’”
“Do you mean to tell me that I don’t have to do my part?”
“Oh, indeed you do,” I replied, “and you’ve done it. Your part is to do all the sinning and God’s part is to do all the saving. He is a Saviour, not a helper.”
“If we make the first step toward God, He will meet us halfway,” he replied.
“That sounds like a fifty per cent grace.”
“Doesn’t a man have to give his heart to God?”
“What would God do with the filthy thing if He had it?” I asked him. “Think of making God a present of something He says ‘is deceitful above all things, and exceedingly corrupt’ (Jeremiah 17:9). After a man has been redeemed, then God says, ‘Son, son, give Me thine heart.’”
There is nothing I enjoy more than sitting alongside a Catholic priest and telling him of salvation by sovereign grace and grace alone. On my latest trip into Chicago from the west, a young Jesuit priest stopped to give me a ride. I must say he was a well-educated young man and, as far as brains were concerned, I knew I was no match for him. But I also knew he was no match for the Bible, so I just gave him verse after verse from the Book. The Lord laid it on my heart to speak to him about the finished work of Christ, and thoughts just rushed into my mind. As I was speaking, he put his hand on my shoulder and said, “That’s wonderful. I have never heard anything like that.” He almost begged me to give him all that I had in print about the finished work of Calvary, and I certainly did.
Not far out of Niagara Falls, one day, I was picked up by another priest but this one was a hard stern man. After we had been talking together for several miles he said, “Sir, if you ever get to Heaven you will have to do some good works.”
“Listen to the words of Paul,” I replied, “found in the fourth chapter of Romans, ‘Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not [and I always add this: ‘doesn’t do a blessed thing’] but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.’ Please don’t misunderstand me: if there is anyone who believes in good works, I do. But you must put them in the right place. Good works always work from the Cross, never to the Cross. We are saved for good works but never by them.”
“I believe you will have to be obedient to the traditions of the Catholic Church.”
“I have another verse for you,” I replied. “Listen carefully to the words of Paul, again found in the fifth chapter of Romans: ‘For as by one man’s disobedience [meaning Adam] many were made sinners, so by the obedience of two shall many be made righteous.’ My friend, it doesn’t read that way. Listen once more, ‘For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one many shall be made righteous.’ It isn’t my obedience and His put together, but His obedience, even to His death on the cross, that makes me righteous.” All he knew was the gospel of works and all I know is the gospel of grace, so we had quite a time.
On my way up the west coast to Canada, I was sitting alongside a Catholic priest, and I must say he was a very friendly young man. He put out his hand to introduce himself, saying, “My name is Father George Callahan.”
“Well,” I said, “I’m happy to know you. My name is Father George Watmough. I have a wife and two kids.” He smiled, then for quite some time he listened to me as I told him the story of salvation by grace—plus nothing. Before we parted he took everything I gave him to read and thanked me. Then taking me by both hands, he said, “Mister, I’d like an interest in your prayers.” I have prayed much for him ever since.
Not Mary but Christ
While traveling in Florida, I was given a ride with a man wearing a white T-shirt. After I witnessed to him, he said, “Perhaps I should tell you, I am a priest in the Roman Catholic Church.” In the course of our conversation, he asked me why I didn’t believe in praying to Mary, the mother of our Lord.
“I believe that Mary was the most wonderful woman in all the world,” I replied. “She had to be, to be the mother of our Lord. Yet she knew that she needed a Saviour. For Mary said, as recorded in Luke 1:46; ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.’ On another occasion, the Angel said to Mary, ‘Blessed art thou among women’—not above women. The Scripture says in Matthew 2:11 that when the wise men came into the house, ‘they saw the young child with Mary His mother, and fell down, and worshipped Him’—not Mary—but Him.”
When I got out of his car, I said, “You and I may never meet again. If you trust in anything you are, being a priest or Roman Catholic or doing what you believe to be right, you will never see Heaven. But if you put your trust in what the Lord Jesus Christ did for you when He died on the cross, and put all your faith and hope in His precious blood and finished work, I’ll meet you in Heaven.” Without saying a word, he reached out and gave my hand a real grip.
God Is Not the Father of All
On another occasion not far out of New York City I was given a ride by a man wearing a grey shirt and a grey windbreaker. I hadn’t been witnessing to him very long when he said, “Perhaps I should tell you I am a doctor of theology in the Roman Catholic Church.” Just about that time we heard on the radio a news commentator quoting the words of Pope John: “We should all realize we are brothers and pray for peace.” The priest asked me if I believed we were all brothers. I replied that I did not, for the Bible teaches that God is the Creator of all men but the Father only of those who believe in His Son as their Saviour.
Paul said that by nature we are children of wrath, and the Lord Jesus Christ said to the Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil… If God were your father, ye would love Me.”
There is a verse that declares, “We are all the sons of God” [and the modernists stop there], but the rest of the verse reads, “by faith in Christ Jesus.” “The Lord knoweth them that are His,” implying that there are some who are not His. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” “His Spirit bears witness with our Spirit that we are the sons of God.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon told of a preacher coming to talk to him about all men being brothers and God the Father of us all. Spurgeon stopped him by saying, “How would you like to become a human being?” The preacher looked at him a little startled and then exclaimed, “Why, I don’t quite understand you, I am a human being.”
“Well,” said Spurgeon, “Apply that same reasoning to this verse of Scripture: ‘But to as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name.’ If we are all sons of God, then why do we need the right to become the sons of God?”
I recall looking in on a meeting where a rabbi, a Catholic priest, and an apostate minister were all on the same platform, speaking on the “Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man.” And as I listened to those false prophets, I said to myself, “That isn’t brotherhood, that is death amalgamated,” for no man can say, “God, my Father,” until he has first said, “Lord Jesus, my Saviour.” You must begin there. Life begins at Calvary,
On the Alcan Highway
While on the Alcan Highway enroute to Alaska a man going the other way turned and stopped in front of me.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“I’m on my way to Alaska,” I replied.
“Why, don’t you know there is a bridge out forty miles up the road?”
“Yes, I do, but if I could only get to the river, there may be a way of getting across.”
“Jump in my car,” he exclaimed. “There’s a man in town with a load of groceries going that way, and if we can find him, I feel sure he would give you a ride.” We soon found him and he took me to the river. Then I helped load a truck on the other side as four young men from Queen’s College in Canada carried the boxes of groceries across a temporary footbridge. Then the driver locked all five of us in the back of the truck and started up the highway.
“Doesn’t this remind you of outer darkness?” one of the young men said. That was my opening, and for several hours this young man, who was a Catholic, and I had a most wonderful conversation as the other three fellows listened. I marveled how the Holy Spirit brought verses to my mind, verses I hadn’t thought of for years. If we hide the Word of God away in our hearts, just when we need it the Holy Spirit will bring it to our remembrance.
This makes me think of a time when I stopped to get my hair cut in the Bronx, where there are more Jews residing than in Palestine. So, while the barber was working on my head, I started working on his heart. Again I marveled how the Holy Spirit brought verses in the Old Testament to my mind, verses I had completely forgotten.
“Were you in the Bronx three years ago?” the barber asked. “And did you get your hair cut on that certain corner?” I recalled that I had.
“Oh!” he said, “I remember you. You’re the man that told me so much about the Messiah and many other things in the Old Testament.”
I recall on another occasion getting my hair cut in Salt Lake City. I noticed the barber had two cauliflower ears from boxing, so for a few minutes we talked about some of the men we both had boxed. When the opportunity came I told him how the Lord saved me and transformed my life and gave me something to live for. He stopped cutting my hair and came around and stood in front of me.
“Did God really do all that for you?” he exclaimed.
“Yes,” I replied, “and the Lord can do the same for you, for He came to save sinners like you and me.” After I paid my bill I opened my bag and got a book I thought would be of some help to him, then bid him good-by. But before I reached the corner, the Holy Spirit seemed to check me, “Why, that man was concerned.” So I turned and went back to the shop and before I left I had the joy of leading him to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
While still on the Alcan Highway, I stopped to wait for a ride just across the road from a Royal Canadian Mounted Police barracks. The officer in charge came over for a friendly greeting. I gave him a personal testimony of what the Lord had done for me and a good gospel tract to read. A few minutes after he returned to his barracks, he called to me, “Come over for a cup of tea.” But when I went in, I saw that he had fixed a fine roast beef dinner.
After the dinner I pulled my chair alongside his and took out my New Testament. In less than thirty minutes I had the joy of pointing him to our Saviour, and soon we were both on our knees in prayer. As long as I live I shall never forget the way he gripped my hand as he prayed and asked the Lord to save him, a sinner. Then he fixed a nice lunch for me to take along.
When I reached the customs that night, the officer in charge told me that I could sleep on one of the cots in the barracks; but he was sorry that he could not give me or sell me a morsel of food, for it was against Army regulations. The Lord had known my needs, and He had supplied the good lunch in advance.
While still going north in Canada, I was given a ride by a young couple from New Jersey. It had rained all that day, and time after time we had to shovel the car out of the mud until the young man and I were both up to our knees in gumbo mud. So he suggested I try to get a place to sleep at the next farmhouse, for he and his wife planned to get a little rest in the car. We stopped at the next farmhouse, where the farmer told me that every room was taken and some were sleeping on the floor. But he gave me a fur coat and a flashlight and told me I could sleep on the hay in the barn.
It was one miserable night. The horse downstairs snored all night, and the hay was filled with mice. I think they all came out to greet the new guest! I was thankful when morning came. One of the men in the house took me miles up the road to the next town, where I was able to get cleaned up.
When I reached Whitehorse in the Yukon, I spent several days speaking to the children at an Indian School, and at a chapel on the Lord’s Day, where the message went out over the air. The next day, as I was waiting for a ride, a Canadian soldier walking by asked me if I was the man he had heard on the radio last night, and said a few encouraging things. Then he said, “If you get in touch with Major Coward—why, here he comes now!” And he ran out and stopped the car. The major said for me to go back into Whitehorse and have Mr. Lee call him. The next morning there was an Army truck at the door and the driver had written orders to take one passenger to the Alaska border.
The next morning one of the men going through the customs gave me a ride to Anchorage, 450 miles, and I had the joy of leading him to the Lord right on the main street in Anchorage.
Law Under Grace
When I returned to the States, I was waiting one evening when a car stopped and a door opened. A voice said, “Get in!” I looked and there was a state trooper sitting at the wheel. Not knowing whether I was arrested or not, I began to witness to the officer, and he became quite interested. We came to a crossroad, and I said, “Turn here,” and he turned. Then we came to a dirt road, and I said, “Turn here.” Again he turned. Then we came to the farmhouse, which I was looking for, and I said, “I believe this is the place I’m staying for the night.” By this time he was asking me questions about the Bible. We sat there for some time, talking about the things of the Lord; and before he left, I believe that he trusted the Lord Jesus as his Saviour.
That was one time I had the law under grace.
This makes me think of an experience in the deep south. I was waiting for a city bus to take me to the next town, when a car stopped in front of me. The sheriff at the wheel asked me if I would like a ride to the next town. After getting in and thanking him for his kind offer, I said, “It has been a long time since I was given a ride by a minister.” I kept looking right straight ahead and I could see he was looking me over.
“Did you say ‘minister’?” he exclaimed.
“Why,” I said, “Don’t you know the Bible calls you a minister?” Now he was really upset. So I took out my New Testament and read from the thirteenth chapter of Romans these words: “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” This opened the way for a real good talk.
The Kingdom of God
Not far out of Pittsburgh one morning a Christian Scientist stopped to give me a ride. It was easy to see that he judged himself a man of culture (culture is the embalming fluid that keeps the old man from stinking). He quoted to me one of their favorite verses, “The kingdom of God is within you.” So I asked him if he knew to whom Jesus said that. Of course he didn’t know, so I showed him from Luke 17:21 that the Lord Jesus said it to the Pharisees. But “within you” is not what the Lord said. What He really said was, “The kingdom of God is in your midst.” When He comes again, the kingdom will come, for there can be no kingdom without the King, no peace without the Prince of Peace.
Down through the years I have been picked up by every cult and ism you can think of, for everyone who starts a new religion brings it out to Los Angeles to get it patented. The strange thing is that many of them talk about Jesus. They speak of Him as a good man, a noble example, a way-shower, and a lovely teacher. They believe in the Jesus who taught them but they don’t believe in the Christ who bought them. In the Book of Jude we are warned of those that have gone the way of Cain. Do you know what the way of Cain is? It is worshiping the true God in a false way. They get their creed from Pilate, “Behold the Man,” instead of getting it from John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb.”
The Lamb of God
Leaving Philadelphia on my way to Akron, Ohio, I was given rides by five men, and they all heard some good news. Two were Protestants, two Catholics, and the last a Jew. I pointed him back to the lambs in the Old Testament, then to the New Testament, to the words of John the Baptist, as he pointed to the Lord Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God.” I reminded him that from that day on, the Jews have never had a blood sacrifice to atone for their sins. Yet Moses said, “It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). Before we parted, he said, “I’ve been going to the synagogue all my life and yet you have told me many things I’ve never heard before.” He asked me to write down all the verses I had referred to, which I gladly did.
When I got out of his car and started up the ramp, a young man stopped to give me a lift. I was not able to reach any of those five men for the Lord. I knew I had only ten more miles to go, so I came right to the point at once with the young man. In less than ten minutes he said, “I believe God sent you along to talk to me this way. I’m in show business and right on the verge of making a big deal. But I have a mother who is a real Christian. She has for years asked me to give up this kind of life.” So we pulled into the parking lot of a supermarket, and I took out my New Testament and had the joy of pointing him to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Social Gospel
Leaving Toronto one Saturday morning I was given a ride by a captain of the Fire Department, on his way to a cabin on a lake. In the course of our conversation he told me he went to a certain church almost every Sunday and contributed quite a little to the church, yet he never became a member. The pastor and some of the deacons were always after him to join the church, so he invited them out to his cabin to do a little fishing. They brought along their liquor, so when they spoke to him that day about joining the church, he said, “Why should I join your church? You men drink and smoke like I do, and I know I’m not a Christian. But you are all disillusioned in thinking you are.”
I commended him for having a little good sense and told him this story: When C. H. Spurgeon, the famous preacher, was just a boy he had a strange dream. He dreamed he saw a phantom ship and all the men on board were dead men.
There were dead men at the oars, dead men at the ropes, and a dead man at the wheel. Then Spurgeon went on to say, “But I lived to see the day when dead men were running a church—dead men singing in the choir, dead men taking up the collection, and a dead man in the pulpit.” We have many of these same churches today. You can write over the door of this kind of a church, “Old Adam Improvement Society,” and at the Rapture they won’t lose one member.
One of the longest waits I have ever had was leaving Prescott, Arizona, but finally the right man came along. One of the first things he said, was, “I don’t know why I ever stopped. You are the first man I have ever picked up. What’s more, I never come this way.”
“Perhaps the Lord had something to do with it,” I said. If ever I met a man in real soul trouble and under conviction of sin, it was this man. When I asked him if he would like to be saved and know it, he exclaimed, “Not only would I like to be saved, but I want to be saved! In fact just this week I went to see a preacher. I told him that I was a lost man and asked if he could tell me how to get right with God. And this is what he said, ‘Now if you will just join my church and pay your tithes, all will be right.’”
“My friend,” I said, “it would have done you just as much good if you had joined the Elks and paid your dues, for salvation is not by joining or paying, but by believing and receiving. Every time the Bible speaks of eternal life it is always a free gift. The Lord Jesus said, ‘I give unto them eternal life … the gift of God is eternal life.’” After we had lunch I said to him, “I know a good place along the road, but a little out of your way. Now let’s you and I go there and I will show you from the Scriptures how to believe the good news and receive the gift, the Lord Jesus Christ. So we stopped, and it wasn’t long until this man trusted the Lord Jesus as his own personal Saviour. After a time of prayer, he turned and went down the road rejoicing.
Right here is where the social gospel fails. It gets the prodigal son a better job in the far country, and leaves him there. But the gospel of grace gets him back to the Father’s house, where there is bread enough and to spare. The social gospel puts the old man in a new suit of clothes, but the gospel of grace gives a new man a robe of righteousness. You just can’t substitute a social gospel for a personal salvation.
God’s Plan for the Jews
I knew I would be down near the Mexican Border in Texas, so I loaded up with Spanish tracts and booklets. One day, in the providence of God, I was picked up by a young Jewish salesman and I rode with him all day. About every twenty or thirty miles he would take his little suitcase into a store to peddle his wares, and I would go up and down the street, giving out tracts. Each time he would come out of the store he would have another question for me. (I believe he was thinking them up in the store.) So, near the end of the day, I said, “You have been asking me questions all day and I have been trying to give you a fair answer from the Bible. Now I want you to answer one question for me. You being a Jew, I want you to tell me why so many of your people are going back to Palestine.”
“Why they are going back is something I just can’t answer,” he replied. “A Jew always goes where there is money to be made, and there is no money to be made over there. Yet I know they are going back, for I have friends who have gone there and friends who are planning to go in the next few years.”
“Do you know, it is God’s plan that they should return to the land,” I said, “and someday these two verses from your Bible will be fulfilled: ‘And they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and they shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn’ (Zechariah 12:10). ‘And one shall say unto Him, What are these wounds in Thine hands? Then He shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends’ (Zechariah 13:6). Then they will know that the One who was crucified, and still has the prints of the nails in His hands, is the Messiah and the King of the Jews and their eyes will be open and a Nation will be born in a day.”
The Rich Fool
After I witnessed to a business man in Tennessee for quite some time, he turned to me and said almost frantically, “I’ve just got to make money! I’ve just got to make money!”
“Sir, when you reach your hotel tonight would you do one thing for me?” I replied. “Lock the door, and sit down, and say out loud a few times, ‘What will it profit a man if he gain the whole state of Tennessee—’ No— ‘What will it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul.’”
One of the few men the Lord Jesus called a fool was the man who was building bigger barns and starving his own soul. The man said, “Many years,” but God said, “This night.” God often gives his tenants short notice. You can point to the calendar and show the day of your birth but you can’t point to the calendar and show the date of your departure.
William Reynolds, who labored with D. L. Moody, tells of preaching in a church in southern Illinois, and at the close of the meeting a wealthy farmer invited him home for dinner. After they had a nice chicken dinner, they went out for a walk. While they were standing on a high place on the farm, the farmer said, “Brother Reynolds, do you see all that corn waving in the breeze? Well, that’s all mine. Do you see all those fine cattle grazing? I own every head. Do you see all that woodland? I own every cord. And all those lovely fruit trees? They are mine, too. In fact almost as far as you can see in every direction, it’s all mine.” Mr. Reynolds put his hand on the farmer’s shoulder and, pointing towards Heaven, he said, “But how much do you own in this direction?” The Bible says, “Be rich toward God.”
I marvel how the Lord has given me rides when it seemed almost impossible to reach my speaking engagement that night. Leaving Vancouver, Canada, on my way to Gearhart, Oregon, it seemed as if I was racing against time all day. When I came within just fifty miles of Gearhart, I had only an hour and twenty minutes to get to the chapel, and very few cars were going that way. It seemed certain that this would be the first time to be late for a meeting in all my thirty years of hitchhiking. While I was standing there, praying, a big green Cadillac stopped in front of me, with a lady at the wheel and her husband beside her.
After thanking them for stopping and giving me a much-needed ride, I noticed they had a piece of cellophane over the ash tray. They told me they were Catholics and would not let anyone smoke in their car, and for some time they told me of some of their good habits. I had to remind them that not only our lying, or stealing, or smoking, but all our righteousnesses (the very best we can do) are as filthy rags in the sight of God, and that the only kinds of people whom Christ can save are sinners. For the Bible says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
When the wife learned that I was to speak at Gearhart that night, she looked at her wrist watch and said, “We weren’t going that way, as it is a little out of our way, but I’ll see what we can do to get you there on time.” And she stepped on the gas and took me right to the chapel. After thanking them for their kindness to me and giving them something to read, I started up the stairs to the chapel. Looking at my watch, I saw I had two minutes to spare before the scheduled time of my meeting.
Getting into Colorado Springs late one night I got a room at the YMCA. The next morning there was a raging blizzard sweeping in off the Rockies. As I stood there looking out the front door, wondering what I should do, I heard the man behind the desk say to a young girl, who was typing, “How would you like a ride to Denver?” Turning, I saw this man coming toward me with a suitcase in his hand. Introducing myself I asked him if he was the man going to Denver in a storm like this. He told me he had to go to deliver the brand-new Greyhound bus. He took me along and I had the whole bus to myself and the ride was free.
As I waited for a ride about a hundred and sixty miles from Los Angeles one Saturday afternoon, an Army truck rolled up. About forty Marines got off, and they started hitchhiking, too. Humanly speaking, I didn’t have a chance in the world of getting a ride, so I took off my hat and prayed, reminding the Lord of these verses: “Ask and I will do it,” “Ask that your joy may be full.” In less than ten minutes a car going the other way, with a man and his wife in the front seat, turned in front of me. Pointing to me, he said, “Would you like a ride?”
“I don’t quite understand it,” I said, as we were riding along. “You were going the other way and turned for me.”
“Well, it was like this: we passed you and got down the road several miles and I turned to my wife, and said, ‘You know, that civilian back there will never get a ride in a million years with all those Marines standing around him. Let’s go back and get him.’”
I had made a long trip all across the southland and down into Florida and then away up into Montreal. By the time I reached Salt Lake City I was very weary of the trip and with pains in the left side of my back. As I was praying that morning, thinking of that seven hundred and fifty miles across those wide open spaces, I prayed for something I had never prayed for before in all my life. I said, “Father, please send along a good heavy car.” And my Father sent along a brand-new Lincoln, the heaviest car on the road. The driver was having trouble with his back also, and whenever it would begin to ache he would push in a plug at his left hand, and the whole front seat would vibrate. He said, “Twenty minutes of this, and you will feel as if you have been in bed for eight hours.” Strange as it may seem, this man had fifty-two men working for him, selling Bibles from house to house, yet he was an unsaved man himself.
“You remind me of one of Noah’s carpenters,” I said to him. “You’re helping to build the ark but you are not going to get in yourself.”
“Do you know,” he replied, “I pray every morning, ‘Oh, God, help my unbelief.’ “We talked about the gospel and his need of a Saviour. When we reached Oakland late that night, we both got out of the car and we stood there, still talking about his desperate need of the Lord Jesus Christ. But, as far as I know, he never did receive the Lord as his Saviour.
Coming across Arizona a fine young man, seventeen years old, stopped to give me a ride. We hadn’t been together very long when he said, “You are a Protestant and I am a Catholic, but perhaps you can help me. My parents went to great sacrifice to send me to a fine school, but two days ago I was expelled. If I told the whole truth, several other boys would have been expelled along with me, so I just took all the blame. This morning I decided to run away from home. I threw a few things into my bag and left a note to my mother.”
After a long talk, I convinced him that his greatest need was to know the Lord Jesus as his Saviour, the One who could help him more than anyone else. I believe the boy was saved. Before we parted in Phoenix that night, he promised me he would go no farther and would call his parents in the morning.
About seventy miles west of Cambridge, Ohio, a young salesman stopped to give me a lift. After we became acquainted, he asked me how far I was going.
“As far as Cambridge.”
“Well, who are you going to see there?”
“I am going to see some friends by the name of Sherman.”
“Why, I’m going to see the very same man!” And he took me right to the door.
Some years ago I visited the only leper colony on this continent at Carville, Louisiana, and was taken all through it by the chaplain. As we were walking along, he said, “I want you to take a good look at this young couple coming our way, arm in arm. They are in love with each other.” Their eyes had been removed and their sockets were running sores. I couldn’t help but think that, if they could only see each other, I believe they would run in the opposite direction. That is just like sin—blinding and deceiving.
Then we stopped to talk to a man seventy-five years old and he told me this story:
“One day I saw a little white spot on the back of my hand that would not heal. So I sent for the doctor. Then the doctor sent for a specialist. Taking one look at it, he said, “Man, you’re a leper and you will have to leave for Carville.” With tears in his eyes he told me, “My wife and I have lived together for more than fifty years and now that we are old and need each other the most, we must be separated the rest of our lives. If they would only let us live together on the farm and not even see the mailman! But the law says we are to be separated as long as we live.” No wonder in the Old Testament God likened sin to leprosy, for sin will separate you from everything that is good. And if you die without Christ as your Saviour, you will be separated from Him for all eternity. Before we left, I asked the chaplain how a person first knows when he becomes a leper.
“It starts with a little white spot and there is no feeling,” he replied.
“Oh,” I said, “that is just like sin.” For sin can start with just a little white lie and it can go on till the sinner reaches the place that Paul speaks of as “past feeling.”
Answer to Fear
One of the signs of the end of the age is “Men’s hearts failing them for fear.” In the last few years I have ridden along the road with some of the most fearful men I have ever met. Leaving Milwaukee one day about noontime, a salesman stopped to give me a ride. Soon after we became acquainted, he said, “I’m on my way home and as soon as I get there, I’m calling up my firm and telling them I’m resigning. For more than a year, there has been something preying on my mind. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, and it is hard for me to sell. It has gotten to the place in my house that my wife is afraid to see me walk out the door.” I knew what he meant, so I said, “My friend, there is only One who can give you peace and rest and joy. And it is found only in knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord.” It wasn’t long until we pulled off the main road and I had the joy of leading him to the Prince of Peace.
Early one morning, not far out of New Orleans, a man came along in a beautiful big car. To look at the man, you wouldn’t have thought he had a care in the world. After we had talked for a short time, he said, “I’m awfully glad I stopped to pick you up, for right this morning I’m facing a real problem. Perhaps you can help me.” Then he proceeded to tell me his story.
“I’m a Protestant, but my wife is a Catholic. We have always had a happy home, but now my only son is getting ready to go to university. I know the school that he should go to, to get the training he needs, and I can well afford to send him there. But my wife insists that he go to a small Catholic school.”
“You said you were a Protestant and have a little religion, and your wife is a Catholic and she has a little more religion. But it doesn’t make a bit of difference when you change the label on an empty bottle. You both need more than religion.” Then, for quite some time, I showed him that the greatest need in his home was their need of the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
It was about noontime, and the man pulled into a motel. He rented a room and then called me in. I took out my Bible, and in less than thirty minutes we were both on our knees. He trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour and passed from death unto life. Before we parted he took me by the hand and said, “I’m a richer man for having stopped to give you a ride.”
Five Verses to Salvation
Leaving Santa Barbara one day a man pulled over and gave me a ride—one of the most defeated men I’ve ever met. It wasn’t long until he was telling me some of his troubles.
“Last Friday I buried my mother, and less than a year ago my wife was killed in an auto accident, and now I am being transferred to the Midwest. Just when I need friends, I am going amongst strangers.” I saw the man was tired so I asked him if I could drive his car, as I was going three hundred miles his way. But before I pulled away from the curb, I took out my New Testament and dropped it in his lap.
“There are five wonderful verses in that Book, and I want you to read them out loud and I will try to explain them as we ride along. First I want you to turn to the Gospel of John.” Here was a big business man who didn’t know where the Gospel of John was, so I found John 5:24, and he read these words, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
“Now I want you to see that this is the gospel,” I said to him. “Believe the good news you are reading and receive the gift.”
I had him read John 1:12: “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”
“Next, I want you to read that wonderful verse, John 3:16”: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“Now I want you to see that we are saved by sovereign grace, and grace alone,” and I had him read Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
“Now just one more reference, for the time being,” and I had him read Romans 10:9 and 10: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
When he finished, he said, “Would you mind if I read them again?” So I found them all for him and he read them once more. When he finished the second time, he said, “Would you mind if I read them just once more?”
“Read them as often as you like,” I replied. “We have three hundred miles ahead of us and I like to hear you read them.” But when he finished this time he looked down toward the corner of the door, and I could hear him saying, almost under his breath, several times just these three words, “Shall be saved,” “Shall be saved.” Then he turned and, looking at me, he said, “That last verse says, that if I believe that Jesus is Lord—and I believe it right now—and if I believe that God took Him out of the grave—and I believe that, too—that last part says, I shall be saved.” Then he stopped and waited several minutes, then exclaimed, “I believe that I am a saved man right now!” We stopped and had a Bible study and we both prayed. When I left him, he went down the road, just rejoicing in the Lord.
When I met him he was one of the most beaten and discouraged men I have ever met, but I wish you could have seen him as he drove down the road, rejoicing in his new-found Lord and Saviour.
If my memory serves me right, I believe it was my first hitch across Texas after I was converted. I was witnessing to a man of what the Lord has saved me from and saved me to; and how I knew for sure that I would spend all eternity with the Lord. He turned to me and, with a little sarcasm, said, “The trouble with you Christians is you are too dogmatic.” [Not knowing for sure what the word dogmatic meant, the first chance I had I looked it up in the dictionary. Webster gives this definition: “dogmatic, to assert positively and boldly.” Well, if there is anyone in all the world who should assert positively and boldly, it is one who proclaims the gospel. And when it comes to the new birth, I’m bull dogmatic. You must be born again. The Lord Jesus did not say, “You ought to be,” or “it is the sensible thing to do,” but “you musty When the Lord Jesus says you must, there is no alternative. You must be born again, or, from above.]
After we had ridden quite some time, he turned again to me and said, “You know, I didn’t sleep a wink last night. I heard the clock on the town hall strike every hour.”
I spoke up and said, “There was a time when my conscience used to sit on the edge of the bed and talk to me all night, but last night I slept like a baby, knowing that all my sins have been forgiven and I have peace with God. In fact, ‘He is my peace’ (Ephesians 2:14). My peace is a Person, a never-changing Person, the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”
Human Child, Divine Son
Some years ago, while in Mexico, I met up in a strange way with a young modernist missionary. I don’t know why, but he asked me if I would go along with him on the following day and preach for him, and he would interpret in a few cities where he had a congregation. Before we were very far out of Mexico City, I soon realized he was short on Bible but long on theology, as he was fresh out of seminary (I might say, very fresh). I asked him if he believed the Lord Jesus Christ was born of a virgin and he replied, “Certainly not. Why, it’s only mentioned once or twice in the New Testament.”
“How many times does God have to say anything to make it true?” I asked him. I opened my Bible to Isaiah 9:6 and read him these words, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” The Child is born, speaking of His humanity; the Son is given, speaking of His divinity. Deity and dust came together in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord was so human He could be sold for thirty pieces of silver, yet so divine He could redeem the world; so human He could be sold for the price of a slave: yet so divine He could set millions free.
When Thomas came and fell at the Lord’s feet and said, “My Lord and my God,” the Lord Jesus accepted His worship. Paul was speaking of One and only One when he said, “Our Great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ.” Then on another occasion, when Philip came to our Lord and said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us,” the Lord Jesus said, “Philip, you take a good look at Me. Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.”
Paul says, in the first chapter of Romans, He “was made of the seed of David … and declared to be the Son of God with power.” Made human; declared divine. If the Lord Jesus Christ is only a good man, then how could He have said to the scribes and Pharisees, “Ye are from beneath but I am from above”?
One who was only a man could never die for my sin; it was God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. Happy is the man who believes it with all his heart.
The Continental Divide
On my way west I was given a ride by a judge in Wyoming. I had the joy of telling him the gospel of salvation by grace and that Christ is the Supreme Court, beyond whom there is no appeal. Finally we came to a fork in the road where we parted, as he was going to a place called “Baggs”—where I went a year later and rented a hall for some meetings. But before we parted he said, “When you reach the top of the mountain you will be standing on the Continental Divide; all the water that falls on the east side flows toward the Atlantic and all the water that falls on the west side flows toward the Pacific.”
The sun was just setting and the western sky was ablaze with beautiful color. As I sat on my suitcase, I picked a little mountain flower, one of the most beautiful flowers I’ve ever seen. I just couldn’t help but know that the same God that painted that sunset across the sky was the same God that painted all the beautiful lines in that little flower. And He is my Father and has promised never to leave me nor forsake me. I walked all night, that night, and when I reached the Continental Divide there was a large sign that read, “Continental Divide, elevation 8,280 feet.” I felt so happy in the Lord that I just had to have a prayer meeting, so I got down on my knees and thanked my Father for the night my soul stood on the great divide and I stepped over the line, out of bondage into glorious liberty, out of death into life, and out of the pit into His presence. From that hour on everything in my life has flowed toward God. As I walked along the road that night, every star in the heavens seemed to be saying, “Born again, never to die.”
Long Rides, Short Walks
While packing my bag for one of my recent trips, I noticed I was putting in more tracts and booklets than I usually take along. I could see my bag was going to be quite heavy, so I paused for a short word of prayer and asked my Father to arrange the rides so I wouldn’t have to walk and carry my bag very much. When I got to the east coast, I traced back over the rides and, in all the walks put together, I carried my bag less than two miles out of the three thousand.
One day in the city of Douglas, Arizona, I got on a city bus to go to the home of a friend on the north side of the city. The bus driver took me all over the town and brought me back to the very same place. By this time the bus was loaded with Spanish-speaking people, and all at once I remembered that a few days ago a friend had given me some very attractive booklets in Spanish. Opening my bag and taking them out I passed one to everyone on the bus. Without one exception, every single person was reading this booklet all the time I stayed on the bus.
I believe one of Satan’s greatest weapons is discouragement. Arriving in Denver one cold winter night, I went to the YMCA and got a room in the dormitory. The next morning there were seven inches of snow on the ground—and both my shoes had holes in them. So I went to Woolworth’s and bought a pair of stick-on soles. As I was walking back to the Y, it seemed as if Satan himself were walking beside me and saying, “You preach the gospel; why, you have never reached the sixth grade.” And I could take you to the very spot on Sixteenth Street where I stopped and said—out loud— “Yes, by the grace of God, I shall preach the gospel and have been for thirty years.”
The next day I got a job in a Chinese restaurant. The son of the owner, a young man about seventeen years old, was lying in the back room, very sick with T.B., so each day as I was peeling potatoes or shelling peas, I would tell him of a dying Saviour’s love and a risen Saviour’s power. Before I left I had the joy of leading him to the Lord Jesus Christ.
On my next visit to Denver, about a year later, I went back to see the boy, but he had gone on to be with the Lord. This is one of the “And we know” truths of Scripture (it’s not just a promise, it’s a fact). “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
I am convinced that the reason the Lord does not use us more in personal soul-winning is that we are not prepared to do it. We do not carry a New Testament, and if we did, we wouldn’t know where to turn for the appropriate verses for the man we are dealing with, whether he be Jew or Gentile or Catholic or in some cult. We seldom think of carrying some real good tracts and booklets in our pocket, or of asking the Lord to lead us to some soul that day. We must use the Word of God and trust the Holy Spirit to quicken it to some heart and mind.
I remember a time when I was getting ready to hitch up the west coast and, as I opened the drawer where I keep my tracts and booklets, there was a little booklet called A Jew and the Name of Messiah, by Daniel Rose, a Jew who has trusted the Lord for many years. This booklet seemed almost to leap at me, so I picked it up and bowed my head and asked the Lord to get me a ride with a Jew who needed this booklet.
The next day, as I started out, my longest ride was with a fine, well-educated Jew. I could see this man had a keen mind and could ask questions about the Messiah that you don’t hear very often. So, after we had talked for hours, I asked him what his profession was. He told me he was a lawyer from New Jersey. We had a most wonderful conversation. As far as I know he did not receive the Lord Jesus as his Saviour, but I am sure he had a great deal to think about and he promised me he would read every word in the booklet.
When I reached Redding, California, on this same trip I stood in the hot sun wondering why no one would stop. Then this fine young man came along. It wasn’t long until we were talking about the gospel, and he just didn’t seem to open up. Then after quite some time, he said, “Well, I suppose you and I will never meet again so I might as well tell you the whole story.
“Not long ago I came back from overseas and my wife told me she would like to have a divorce. And we have a little three-months-old baby. Well, it was more than I could take and it began to prey on my mind so they put me in a naval mental hospital. As I lay there day after day I began to think of something that happened four years ago. I took my younger brother hunting and by accident I shot and killed him. I was cleared of this charge but I began to accuse myself of being a murderer. Then I really went to pieces.”
How thankful I was that I could tell him of One who said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” We can roll our burdens and heartaches on Him when He becomes our Lord and Saviour and Friend. When we reached Roseburg, Oregon, we pulled over and stopped and I had the joy of pointing this young sailor to the Lord. It is wonderful to know that we are laborers together with Him who said, “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.”
There have been times when it has not been easy for me to witness for my Lord. In fact, it never is easy. I recall leaving Miami a few years ago, when a man picked me up going to West Palm Beach. If the devil himself had been sitting between us, it would not have been harder to talk to him about the Lord. I prayed and asked the Lord to help me reach him with the gospel. He told me that he was a bartender in a hotel in Miami, but his heart seemed hungry for something, so I told him about the living water that alone could satisfy his thirst. Right in front of the post office in West Palm Beach he trusted Christ as his Saviour and Lord.
A Clean Story?
There are never two cases quite the same. Though they all need the same Lord, yet you must deal with each one in a little different way. Sometimes you have to be real frank and right to the point.
I recall leaving Denver one day and a man stopped to pick me up. I hardly was seated beside him, when he leaned over and said, “Let me tell you a story I heard in a tavern last night.”
“Is this a clean story?” I asked. “I’m a Christian, and I never listen to any suggestive stories.”
He got a little pink in the face and said, “Perhaps I had better not tell you this story.”
Then I told him how the Lord Jesus had transformed my life and had made me a new creation in Christ— that old things had passed away and all things had become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Before we parted he told me he was a deacon in a certain church; I told him all he got when he was baptized was soaking wet.
“You went down in the water a dry sinner and came out a wet one.” He was like so many in our churches today—baptized candidates for hell, who know nothing of what it means to rise and walk in newness of life and live worthy of the name Christian.
Knowledge Without Schooling
Soon after I was converted I found myself in the deep South. One night in a little town in Mississippi there was a bad storm. I ran to shelter in the doorway of a store. A young colored lad sheltered there with me and I recall taking a Gospel of John out of my pocket and giving it to him.
“Son, when you get home where you have a better light, I want you to read this.”
“But I can’t read,” he replied, “I have never been to school a day in my life.”
“Well, have you ever been to Sunday school?”
His face lit up as he said, “Yes, Sir, I’se goes to Sunday school every Sunday.”
I wanted to see how much the little fellow knew, so I said, “Tell me something. Who is the Lord Jesus Christ?” As long as I live I shall never forget how he looked up at me and spoke with a voice of certainty.
“I believe the Lord Jesus Christ is God.”
“Son,” I said, as I put my hand on his shoulder, “you have never been to school but you have more wisdom than some college professors I know.” God hides these things from the wise and prudent and reveals them unto babes. I believe this lad could see more on his knees than some college professors can see on their tiptoes.
Occupied and Empty Tombs
Going into Toronto one day I was given a ride by a young engineer from India. After we became acquainted, we talked for quite some time about Christianity.
“We of the Mohammedan faith,” he said, “can take you to the place where our great religious leaders are buried, and we know they are still there, but you Christians can’t do that.”
“Why that is just the thing we glory in,” I replied. “No one would ever dream of going to Jerusalem expecting to find a tombstone and on it the words, ‘Here lies the body of Jesus of Nazareth.’ For only the Lord Jesus could say, ‘I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live’ (John 11:25). We don’t go to church on Sunday to honor a corpse but to hail a Conqueror, a risen, glorified Saviour, who one day is coming back to rule and to reign.” We can say with Peter, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Paul could say, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins… If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:17, 19).
Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!
The Unequal Yoke
It was a terribly hot day in Benson, Arizona, and it seemed that so many cars went by but no one would stop. Then this young man came along and after a few words I knew this was God’s man for me this day. He told me he had just been to Tucson to see his former wife.
“We were married about ten years ago, just kids out of high school, and in less than three years we were divorced. I can’t give you a good reason for it except we were both young and foolish.” Then he began to tell me about his son, what a fine boy he was.
“Do you know, something has happened to my wife. Why, she talks like you do about being saved and knowing the Lord as her Saviour. Why, she even tried to get me to go to prayer meeting last night. I believe she still loves me but she said the Bible says, ‘A Christian should not be yoked together with an unbeliever, it just wouldn’t work out.’”
We stopped for a meal and while we sat there I showed him how he too could know from the Scriptures that he was saved. After the meal we went out to the car and sat there for quite some time, talking about his need of a Saviour so that he could be a real husband, and father to his son. Before we pulled away from the curb I believe he trusted the Lord as his Saviour. The last thing he said to me was, “I’m going back to Arkansas and get everything in order, and then I’m going right back to Tucson to see my wife.”
Priests and Saints
One day on my way up the west coast to Canada I was forced to take a train because of a bad storm. As soon as I entered the coach, I noticed a young priest sitting in the front seat. My first inclination was to sit alongside of him, but I noticed he had some books opened and spread out beside him, so I knew that was not the ethical thing to do. I believe we should be tactful—but some Christians are so tactful they never attack. So I prayed and asked the Lord to make it plain to me how to speak to this young priest. Just at the same moment that I got up to go to the men’s lounge, he started there also. We met in the lounge and I introduced myself and it wasn’t long until we were having a real good conversation. Whenever the opportunity presented itself, I would bring in verses of Scripture. After we had been talking for about fifteen minutes, he said, “What do you do? What are you?”
“Oh,” I said, “I’m a priest.”
He looked me over for a few minutes, and said, “Did you say a priest?”
“I realize I’m not wearing a black suit or a clerical collar,” I replied, “but nevertheless my Bible says that everyone who has been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ is a king and a priest.” I opened my New Testament to Revelation 1:6 and I had him read these words, “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.”
Not long afterward I had the privilege of telling him that I was a saint. This was almost more than he could take, so I told him that I knew that his church made saints out of people after they are dead a few hundred years.
“But do you think that Paul wrote letters to dead saints when he wrote to the saints at Ephesus, and to the saints at Corinth, and to the saints at Rome? Weren’t they men like you and me? Imputed sanctification makes you a saint; progressive sanctification makes you saintly.
“Every time the word saint is found in the New Testament (and it is found only once in the Old Testament), it is always in the plural, never in the singular. Paul called all the Corinthians saints even though they were living far below the standard. We are saints because of what we are in Christ, but not always saintly.” Before we parted he reached over and took the New Testament out of my hand.
“Let me read that for myself.” I had it opened to the first chapter of 1 Corinthians. He read for a few minutes and exclaimed, “Why it says ‘to be saints.’”
“My friend, can’t you see the words ‘to be’ are in italics? They are supplied, for it isn’t a question, ‘to be’ or ‘not to be,’ with God. You are either trusting in what Christ did on the cross for your salvation and your only hope of Heaven, or you are trusting in the church or good works or your own righteousness—that God calls filthy rags.” Before we left he took all I gave him to read, saying he would surely read it, and he gave my hand a squeeze.
Riding with a friend one day I noticed something out in the field that was white, so I asked what it was. He replied, “Why, that’s wheat.”
“Wheat!” I exclaimed. “I thought wheat was a golden color.”
“Yes, it is,” he said, “when it’s ripe; but when it’s overripe, it begins to turn white.”
“Oh,” I said, “now I know why our Lord said, ‘The fields are white.’ They are overripe, but the laborers are few.”
“He that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame” (Proverbs 10:5).
Every believer will one day stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and our lives will be examined and appraised. Every unbeliever comes to the Great White Throne. They are a thousand years apart. There will be those who will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and all they will have is wood, hay, and stubble (that is what is used to build huts). Others will stand there and have gold, silver, and precious stones (that is what is used to build palaces). Wood—dead trees. Hay—dead grass. Stubble—dead stalks. A whole armful isn’t worth a quarter.
But Paul says there is a better way. You can have gold, silver, and precious stones. Gold in the Bible speaks of righteousness; silver, redemption; precious stones, glory.
What we do, clothed in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ on redemption’s ground and for His glory, are the only things that will stand the test at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Must I go, and empty-handed? Must I meet my Saviour so?
Not one soul with which to greet Him; must I empty-handed go?
May the Lord stir us all to be about our Father’s business while it is still day, for “the night cometh when no man can work.”