Dear Brother P: I see by your letter that you are in a state of unbelief, questioning whether there is hope in your case. As Christ's ambassador I would say to you: Hope thou in God." He so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Now cannot you take courage from this gracious promise? Satan may tell you many times that you are a sinner; but you can answer: True, I am a sinner; but Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."'
Said Jesus: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." And again: I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." Will you not believe these precious words? Will you not receive them into your heart? Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." Is not this promise broad and deep and full? Can you ask more? Will you not allow the Lord right here to erect a standard for you against the enemy? Satan is ready to steal away the blessed assurances of God. He desires to take every glimmer of hope and every ray of light from the soul; but you must not permit him to do this. Exercise faith; fight the good fight of faith; wrestle with these doubts; become acquainted with the promises.
When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousness shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; . . . he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him; he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live."
"Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" When Satan comes in to tempt you to give up all hope, point him to these words. Pray with David: "Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to Thy mercy remember Thou me for Thy goodness' sake, O Lord. Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will He teach sinners in the way. The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way."
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." Here are the promises, plain and definite, rich and full; but they are all upon conditions. If you comply with the conditions, can you not trust the Lord to fulfill His word? Let these blessed promises, set in the framework of faith, be placed in memory's halls. Not one of them will fail. All that God hath spoken He will do. "He is faithful that promised."
The work which you have to do on your part is plainly set before you: "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." "If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die." The Lord declares: "The children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal." "Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not My way equal? are not your ways unequal?" "Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God; and not that he should return from his ways, and live?" "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, everyone according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye."
Here the Lord has plainly revealed His will concerning the salvation of the sinner. And the attitude which many assume in expressing doubts and unbelief as to whether the Lord will save them is a reflection upon the character of God. Those who complain of His severity are virtually saying: "The way of the Lord is not equal." But He distinctly throws back the imputation upon the sinner: "'Are not your ways unequal?' Can I pardon your transgressions when you do not repent and turn from your sins?" The character of God is fully vindicated in the words of Scripture I have placed before you. The Lord will receive the sinner when he repents and forsakes his sins so that God can work with his efforts in seeking perfection of character. The promises are not yea and nay, but if man complies with the conditions, they are, in Christ, "yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us." The whole purpose in giving His Son for the sins of the world is that man may be saved, not in transgression and unrighteousness, but in forsaking sin, washing his robes of character, and making them white in the blood of the Lamb. He proposes to remove from man the offensive thing that He hates, but man must co-operate with God in the work. Sin must be given up, hated, and the righteousness of Christ must be accepted by faith. Thus will the divine co-operate with the human.
We should beware that we do not give place to doubt and unbelief, and in our attitude of despair complain of God and misrepresent Him to the world. This is placing ourselves on Satan's side of the question. "Poor souls," he says, "I pity you, mourning under sin; but God has no pity. You long for some ray of hope; but God leaves you to perish, and finds satisfaction in your misery." This is a terrible deception. Do not give ear to the tempter, but say: "Jesus has died that I might live. He loves me, and wills not that I should perish. I have a compassionate heavenly Father; and although I have abused His love, though the blessings He has graciously given me have been squandered, I will arise, and go to my Father, and say: 'I have sinned, . . . and am no more worthy to be called Thy son: make me as one of Thy hired servants."' The parable tells you how the wanderer will be received. "When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." Thus the Bible represents God's willingness to receive the repentant, returning sinner.
But even this parable, tender and touching as it is, comes short of expressing the infinite compassion of the heavenly Father. The Lord declares by the prophet: "I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee." While the sinner is yet far from his Father's house, wasting his substance in a strange country, the Father's heart is yearning over him; and every longing awakened in the soul to return to God is but the tender pleading of His Spirit, wooing, entreating, drawing the wanderer to his Father's heart of love.
With the rich promises of the Bible before you, can you still give place to doubt? Can you believe that when the poor sinner longs to return, longs to forsake his sins, the Lord sternly withholds him from coming to His feet in repentance? Away with such thoughts! Nothing can be more dishonoring to God than these ideas. Nothing can hurt your own soul more than to entertain such thoughts of our heavenly Father. Our whole spiritual life will catch a tone of hopelessness from such conceptions of God. They discourage all effort to seek God or to serve Him. We must not think of God only as a judge ready to pronounce sentence against us. He hates sin; but from love to sinners He gave Himself, in the person of Christ, that all who would might be saved and have eternal blessedness in the kingdom of glory.
The Lord Himself declares His character that Satan has malignantly set in a false light. He has revealed Himself as "The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin." What stronger or more tender language could have been employed than He has chosen in which to express His love toward us? He declares: "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee."
In the plan of redemption, "mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." The all-wise, all-powerful God, He who dwells in light unapproachable, is full of love, of goodness. Therefore give glory to God, ye that are doubting and trembling; for Jesus lives to make intercession for us. Give God the glory for the gift of His dear Son and that He has not died for us in vain.
Brother P, you ask if you have committed the sin which has no forgiveness in this life or in the life to come. I answer: I do not see the slightest evidence that this is the case. What constitutes the sin against the Holy Ghost? It is willfully attributing to Satan the work of the Holy Spirit. For example, suppose that one is a witness of the special work of the Spirit of God. He has convincing evidence that the work is in harmony with the Scriptures, and the Spirit witnesses with his spirit that it is of God. Afterward, however, he falls under temptation; pride, self-sufficiency, or some other evil trait, controls him; and rejecting all the evidence of its divine character, he declares that that which he had before acknowledged to be the power of the Holy Spirit was the power of Satan. It is through the medium of His Spirit that God works upon the human heart; and when men willfully reject the Spirit and declare it to be from Satan, they cut off the channel by which God can communicate with them. By denying the evidence which God has been pleased to give them, they shut out the light which had been shining in their hearts, and as the result they are left in darkness. Thus the words of Christ are verified: "If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" For a time, persons who have committed this sin may appear to be children of God; but when circumstances arise to develop character and show what manner of spirit they are of, it will be found that they are on the enemy's ground, standing under his black banner.
My brother, the Spirit invites you today. Come with your whole heart to Jesus. Repent of your sins, make confession to God, forsake all iniquity, and you may appropriate to yourself all His promises. "Look unto Me, and be ye saved," is His gracious invitation.
The day will come when the awful denunciation of God's wrath will be uttered against all who have persisted in their disloyalty to Him. This will be when God must speak and do terrible things in righteousness against the transgressors of His law. But you need not be among those who will come under the wrath of God. It is now the day of His salvation. The light from the cross of Calvary is now shining forth in clear, bright rays, revealing Jesus, our Sacrifice for sin. As you read the promises which I have set before you, remember they are the expression of unutterable love and pity. The great heart of infinite Love is drawn toward the sinner with boundless compassion. "We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." Yes, only believe that God is your helper. He wants to restore His moral image in man. As you draw nigh to Him with confession and repentance, He will draw nigh to you with mercy and forgiveness. We owe the Lord everything. He is the author of our salvation. As you work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."