"What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?"- Matthew xxvii. 22.
You will remember that it was the Roman governor Pilate who asked this question, and he answered it wrongly, and brought eternal ruin and infamy down upon his own head. I trust that many in this great audience will answer it right to-night, and bring to themselves eternal life, eternal joy, and eternal glory. That question is the most important question that any man ever asked or answered, for if you do the right thing with Jesus Christ you will get everything that is worth having for time and for eternity; and if you do the wrong thing with Jesus Christ you will lose everything that is worth having for time and for eternity.
1. SOME THINGS THAT DEPEND ON WHAT WE DO WITH JESUS CHRIST
I want to call your attention first of all to some of the the things that depend on what we do with Jesus Christ.
1. In the first place, our acceptance before God depends upon what we do with Jesus Christ. -If you accept Jesus Christ God will accept you; if you reject Jesus Christ God will reject you. We read in John iii. 18 and 19: "He that believeth is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God; and this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil." Our acceptance before God does not depend on the good works we perform. In order to be accepted before God on the ground of our good works, our good works must be perfect; and no man's works are perfect. For it is written in the Law of God., "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the Law, to do them"; and no one has kept the whole law, and therefore no man can be accepted on the ground of his works. Again, our acceptance before God does not depend on the character we have built up. In order to be accepted before God on the ground of character, our character must be absolutely holy, for God is an infinitely holy God; and there is no one who has not sinned.
Our acceptance before God depends upon our acceptance of Him who lived a perfectly holy life Himself, and then died as the substitute for those who have led unholy lives. If the vilest man or woman in London should come into this gathering to-night and should here and now accept Jesus as their Sin-bearer and Saviour, the moment they did it God would blot out every sin they ever committed, and their record would be as white in God's sight as that of the purest saint in Heaven.
I remember preaching one morning in my own church in Chicago on Romans viii. 1, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus"; and I was led to make this remark: "If the wickedest woman in Chicago should come into Chicago Avenue Church this morning, and should here and now put her trust in Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour, the moment she did it God would blot out all her sins, and her record would be as white in God's sight as that of the purest woman in this building." Now quite unknown to me a true Christian woman, a member of my congregation, had gone out that morning, and had gone into one of the lowest dens of infamy in the city, and there she had asked a woman living in sin to come and hear me preach. But the woman answered: "No I never go to church; church is no place for a person like me." But the good woman replied: "Our church is; the vilest sinner is welcomed at our church." "No, no," this outcast woman said, "I could never go." "But I will go with you:" "No, that will never do," said the woman; "the people on the street know me; the policemen know me; the very boys on the street know me, and sometimes they throw stones at me when I go down the street; and if they saw you walking with me they would take you to be like me." But the lady replied, "I don't care what they think about me; you come along with me, and I will go with you to the, House of God." But the woman still refused, and said, "I cannot do that; but," she added, "you go a little way ahead, and I will follow you up the street." So the lady consented, and this woman who was a sinner followed her. They came to the corner where my church stands, and mounted up the steps at the entrance into the vestibule, and when they got inside the church this poor woman who was a sinner dropped down into the very last seat, at the back of the church. I was preaching when she entered, and just as she got to that seat I uttered the words, "If the wickedest woman in Chicago should come into the Chicago Avenue Church this morning, and should here and now put her trust in Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour, the moment she did it God would blot out all her sins, and her record would be as white in God's sight as that of the purest woman in this building." My words went floating down over the heads of that audience and dropped down into the heart of that woman. She believed it, and accepted Christ, and God met her and blotted out all her sins, and washed her record white right then and there. And after that service the woman came down the aisle of the church to me, the tears streaming down her face, and told me how God had blessed her that morning.
2. In the second place, our finding peace of conscience depends entirely on what we do with Jesus Christ.-In Romans, v. 1, we read, "Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
We can never get peace of conscience by good works; we can never get peace of conscience by prayers and penances. How many have tried to get peace that way and have failed! Martin Luther, after his wild university life, roused to the sense of the fact that he was a sinner, tried to find peace by good works, by long nights of prayer, by penances, but failed! At last he went to Rome, and started to climb up the steps at St. Peter's on his knees, hoping to find peace that way, but failed. At last, the words of God came ringing in his ears, "The Just shall live by faith," and Martin Luther, put his faith in the finished work of Christ, and found peace instantly. I have a friend over in America, and in the days before I made his acquaintance he was a very vicious man. He was a professional gambler, one of the most desperate gamblers on the Mississippi River in the old days of the Mississippi gamblers. One night he was at the gaming table, and a man across the table accused him of dishonesty at cards, and Stephen Holcombs, who is now my friend, drew his revolver and shot at his accuser. The bullet went into the man's neck, and when he saw what he had done Stephen Holcombe sprang to the man's side, lifted his head on to his knee, and tried to staunch the flow of blood in the gaping wound; but the man bled to death then and there. Stephen Holcombe was arrested for murder; he was tried, and was acquitted on the ground that he had shot the man in self-defense. But, though acquitted by a human court, he was not acquitted before the bar of God, nor before the bar of his own conscience. He tried every way to find peace. He gave up gambling, and he gave up all his evil ways to find peace, but he did not find it. He even united himself to a church, and went to the Communion table, but he did not find peace. Two years after that awful night he was in his room alone in misery, his face buried in his hands, and the memory of that day was haunting him, and as he knelt there he cried: "O God, can anything blot out the awful memory of what I have done and give me peace?" And the strains of the old familiar hymn came singing through his heart-
What shall wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus; What shall make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
And then and there Stephen Holcombe saw Christ on the Cross for his sin. He saw all his sins, the murder and all, laid on Christ. Then and there Stephen Holcombe found peace, and from that day he has gone up and down our country preaching Christ and the atoning blood that gave him peace.
Is there some man or woman here to-night haunted with the memory of the evil you have done? Men and women, there is a way to find peace, only one way-by simple faith in a Christ that was crucified on the cross of Calvary for your sin.
3. In the third place, finding deep and abiding joy depends on what we do with Jesus Christ.-As the Apostle Peter says in 1 Peter i.8., "Though now ye see Him not, yet, believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." A man can never get joy through the accumulation of wealth. Many have tried it, but no one has ever succeeded. A man cannot get joy through seeking the world's honours; many have tried it, but no one has ever succeeded. A man cannot get joy through indulging in the worlds -pleasures. millions have tried it, but no one has ever succeeded. But, friends, the wretchedest heart in this world can find joy to-night through believing in Christ crucified and risen.
Some years ago I remember a noblewoman of your country was studying at our Bible Institute in Chicago, and on the day she left the Institute she told us these two incidents that I appened over here in England. She said, "I had a letter from a dear friend of mine, a lady, and she asked me to come at once to see her. I hurried to her home, and, as I went up the elegant marble stairway and saw the costly paintings on the walls and the magnificent statues that lined the hall, I said to myself, 'I wonder if all this wealth and splendour makes my friend happy.' I did not have to wait long to find out, for presently the lady came hurrying into the room, and, after greeting me, dropped into a seat and burst into tears. All the wealth, honour and dignity of her position had not given her joy. After this I went to visit, a poor blind woman in an humble cottage. It was a dark rainy day, and the rain was dripping through the badly thatched roof, gathering in a pool before the chair where the woman sat. When I saw the poverty of that blind woman I was driven to turn to her and say, 'Maggie, are you not miserable?' 'What, lady?' and she turned her sightless eyes to me in surprise. 'What, lady? I miserable; I, the child of a King, and hurrying on to the mansion He has gone to prepare for me? I miserable? No, no, lady, I am happy!'" Wealth had not brought joy to the one, but a living faith in Jesus Christ had brought joy to the other in the midst of her overly and misfortune.
4. In the fourth place, our obtaining eternal life depends entirely on what we do with Jesus Christ.- We read in 1 John v. 11, 12, "God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." What stranger ideas even Christian people have about how to obtain eternal life. If I could come to some of you to-night and say, "How do you think people get eternal life?" some of you would answer something like this, "If a man leads a very good life, and fights against sin, and overcomes it, and is faithful in his service to God, at the end of a life of struggling and victory and service perhaps God will give him eternal life." Thank God, that is not the doctrine of that Book. The doctrine of that Book is, that when God sent His Son Jesus Christ down to this world, He sent eternal life in Him, and the moment you take Christ you have the eternal life that is in Him; and if the worst outcast in London should here and now take Christ, the moment he did it he would have eternal life.
II. WHAT WE MUST DO WITH JESUS CHRIST.
Now, I want to call your attention to a second line of thought, and that is, What we must do with Jesus Christ; and let me say at the outset that every one of us will have to do something with Jesus Christ tonight. You don't want to. Many a man here tonight does not want to do anything with Jesus Christ. You do not want to accept Him or reject Him. You do not want to confess Him or deny Him. You just want to get Him off your hands. You can't do it! Pontius Pilate, who asked the question of our text, tried to get Christ off his hands; first he turned to the Jews and said, "Judge Him according to your law"; but they said, "We can-not do it; by our law He ought to die, but we have not the power to put Him to death." Pilate then sent Him to Herod, and said, "You take Him and judge Him," and then Pilate said to himself, "I have got rid of Him now; I have put the responsibility on Herod." But look, what is that coming down the street? They are the returning soldiers of Herod, and Herod has sent Christ back to Pilate; so Pilate has Him on his hands again. Then Pilate says, "What shall I do? I do not want to crucify this Man, because I know he is innocent, and I do not want to release Him, because it will make the Jews angry. I know what I will do," and he went to face that great Jewish mob, and said to them, "This is the time of Passover, and you know we have a custom at this time of the year that there should be released to you one of the criminals in custody, whosoever you may choose. Now I am disposed to be gracious to-day, and I will let you have whom you like; which will you have, Jesus or" - (and he put up against Jesus the meanest criminal he had, a murderer and a robber, and he said to himself, they will never choose him, in the world) "will you have Jesus or Barabbas?" But the men of Jerusalem were like you men of London, and they cried, "We will have Barabbas"; and Pilate had Jesus on his hands again. He could not get Him off his hands-neither can you. Every man and every woman in this building will do something with Jesus Christ to-night. Now let me tell you what you must do.
1. You must either accept Him or reject Him. Jesus Christ is here, and now offers Himself to every man and every woman in this building as Your Saviour and Lord and Master, and unless you definitely accept Him as such you definitely reject Him. Every man and woman will go out of this building to-night either having definitely accepted Christ or definitely rejected Him.
I said to a gentleman going out of a meeting like this one night, "Mr.--, are you going to accept Christ to-night?" He replied, "I am not going to accept Him to-night, but I want you to understand that I do not reject Him." I said, "I understand nothing of the kind; Jesus Christ offers Himself to you, and if you do not accept Him, your refusal to accept Him is to reject Him." and every man and woman in Mildmay Hall will go out of the building to-night either having accepted Jesus Christ or having rejected Jesus Christ.
2. Secondly, we must either confess Him or deny Him. He Himself said so in Matthew x. 32, 33: "Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in Heaven; but whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in Heaven." You will do one or the other. There are just two parties in the world to-day, the confessed followers of Christ and the deniers of Christ, and you belong to one or the other. Which do you belong to? Are you a confessor of the Son of God, or are you a denier of the Son of God?
3. In the third place, you must either let Him into your heart or shut Him out. The Lord Jesus Christ says in Revelation iii. 20: "Behold I stand at, the door and knock; if any man hear My voice and open, the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with Me." The Lord Jesus is in Mildmay Hall to-night, knocking, knocking! Who is it knocking? The Son of God-knocking at your heart and mine. Will you throw your heart wide open and say, "Come in, Lord Jesus?" or will you shut your heart and bar it and say, "Stay out, Lord Jesus"? Every one of us will say one or the other to-night.
4. In the next place, we must either be for Christ or against Him. He Himself says so. In Matthew xii. 30, He says, "He that is not with Me is against Me." Every man that is not with Him is against Him. Every man that is not openly, decidedly, confessedly, out and out for Christ is against Christ. You either have to take your stand with John, the Beloved Apostle, and Peter the warm-hearted, and Paul the heroic, and all the noble band of confessors and martyrs and servants of the Son of God, or you have to take your stand with Pontius Pilate, with Herod, with Annas and Caiaphas, with Judas Iscariot. Where do you take your stand to-night? I could run a line through this building, and, if I knew you all to-night as God knows you, I could put every man and woman in the building on one or the other side of the line. On one side those who are for Christ, whole-heartedly for Christ; on the other side, those who are against Christ. Suppose I did it; which side would you be on?
III. WHO THIS JESUS IS WITH WHOM WE HAVE TO DO.
Now one other line of thought, and that is who this Jesus is with whom we have to do. Who is He?
1. In the first place, He is One whom God hath appointed and anointed to be your King. We read in Acts ii. 36, "This same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, God bath made both Lord and Christ" (that means "anointed King"). You have a way of saying here in England that King Edward is your divinely appointed king, and I believe it. I believe he is, but in an infinitely higher sense Jesus of Nazareth is your divinely appointed and divinely anointed King. If you reject Jesus Christ you reject your divinely appointed King; if you deny Jesus Christ, you deny your divinely appointed King; if you shut Jesus Christ out of your heart, you shut your divinely appointed King out of your heart; and if you take your stand against Jesus Christ, you take your stand against your divinely appointed King. And you are guilty of -listen- high treason! There closed a trial in London the day before yesterday in which a man was tried and convicted of high treason, and sentenced to death. Whether or not they will carry out the sentence into execution I do not know; but I do know that if the man was guilty, as the jury found, then according to the English law, and the law of any well-organized government, he is worthy of death. But, men and women, I charge every man and woman in this building to-night -I care not what position in society you hold- I charge you, I indict you, every man and woman, every man and woman in the building out of Christ, of high treason against Heaven's King, and if you got your just deserts you would die.
One day in Maryborough, over in Australia, a fine looking man came to see me, an unusually fine-looking man, with splendid physique and dome-like forehead. He said, "I want a talk with you," and I said, "Very well, take a seat, sir." He said, "I don't know about your preaching. Now I am a moral, upright man, and no one can deny it. Now." he said, "I would like you to tell me what you have against me." I said, "Are you a Christian?" "No, sir," he replied. "Have you taken Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, and surrendered your life to Him as your Lord and Master, and confessed Him as such before the world, and given your life to Him?" "No, sir," he replied. "Then," I said, "I charge you, sir, with high treason against your King. Jesus Christ is your King; God made Him so; and I charge you sir" -and I looked him right in the eye- "I charge you, sir, with the crime of high treason against your King." And a dark cloud came over the man's face as he got up, and, going out of my room, he said, "Good afternoon," and walked away.
Months passed away; we had been over to Tasmania and conducted a mission there, and had returned, and I was preaching in Ballarat, about forty miles away from Maryborough. After the service, a fine-looking man came to me, and said, "Do you remember me?" I knew his face, hut I could not remember where I had seen him. I said, "I have seen you somewhere, but I cannot place you." He said, "Do you remember ever charging a man with high treason?" I said, "I have charged many a man with high treason." "Yes." he said; "but do you remember charging any specific man with high treason?" Then he began to tell me his story, and I commenced to gather who he was. He said, "I am the man, and I have come to Ballarat, sir, to tell you that you will never charge me with high treason again;" and he held out his hand, and I held out mine, and he took mine in his mighty grip -and it was a mighty grip- and he said "Down!" and he dropped on his knees, and I dropped on to mine, and he said, "Lord Jesus, I hand in my allegiance; I give up my treason' I take Thee as my King."
You men ought to do it to-night. He is your King, and every man and woman among you that does not accept Him and acknowledge Him as such to-night I charge you with high treason against Heaven's King.
2. But He is more than your King-He is the Son of God. He is a divine Person, and if you reject Him you are guilty of rejecting the Son of God; if you deny Him you are guilty of denying the Son of God; if you shut Him out of your hearts you are guilty of shutting the Son of God out of your hearts; if you take your stand against Him you are guilty of taking your stand a against the Son of God.
"Oh, but," some may say, "we don't believe He is the Son of God. Don't you know there are some people in these advanced days that don't believe that Jesus is the Son of God?" I, know it just as well as you do; and I know something else that you will know in a minute -that is, that denying a fact does not alter the fact. In this superficial twentieth century we have a very easy way of disposing of the facts we don't like to believe. We say, "I don't believe this," and we think that does away with the fact. Men who do not want to believe in hell say, "I don't believe in hell" and they think that the have shut the gates of hell by saying that. Men who don't want to believe in the Bible say, "I don't believe in the Bible," and they think that they annihilate the Book that has stood for nineteen centuries by saying that. Men who do not want to believe in Christ say, "I do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God," and they think by their not believing it He ceases to be the Son of God. Has it never occurred to you that a fact is a fact whether you believe it or not? We have got some people in America that have become so possessed with the idea that denying a thing is quite sufficient to annihilate it, that they declare that there is no such thing as pain. They tell you not to believe there is such a thing as pain, and then you won't feel it. But when they go to the dentist's and get into the chair they jump just as much as any one else! And in this foolish belief they are dying by the score; by the miserable madness of Christian Science, that dares to deny sickness ,which exists all the same, and sweeps them into premature graves. Denying a fact does not alter a fact, and denying that Jesus is the Son of God does not alter the fact that He is the Son of God. It only makes you guilty of robbing a divine Person of the honour that is His due. Listen: There are five indisputably divine testimonies to the deity of Jesus Christ. In the first place, there is the testimony of the divine life He lived, for He lived as never man lived. Napoleon Bonaparte said, "I know men, but Jesus Christ was no (mere) man." In the second place, there is the testimony of the divine word He spoke, for he spoke as never man spoke. In the third place, there is the testimony of the divine works He wrought, for He wrought as never man wrought; not merely healing the sick, but cleansing the lepers, stilling the tempest, raising the dead, and feeding the five thousand by a creative act with five small loaves and two small fishes. In the fourth place, then, is the divine attestation of the resurrection from the dead. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is the best proven fact of history; it is proved by such indisputable evidence that I wish I had time to do in London what I did in Sydney, meet the skeptics and agnostics of the city, and prove to them that Jesus rose from the dead; and I believe I should see in some of your agnostics and skeptics the honesty which some of the Sydney skeptics showed, in owning their arguments beaten and coming right out and acknowledging the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus did rise from the dead. Before they crucified Him He said, "You will crucify Me, but God will set His seal on My claims by raising Me from the dead." They did not believe Him; the Unitarians of the day crucified Him for cla iming to be the Son of God. They laid Him in a sepulchre, and put the seal of the Roman Government on the stone, which no one dared to break. But on the third day the Spirit of the living God breathed through the sleeping clay, and the crucified Christ rose from the dead, and God proclaimed in unmistakable tones to all ages, "This is My beloved Son." In the fifth place, there is the testimony of His divine influence upon all subsequent history. There is no question that Jesus Christ claimed to be divine; no competent student will deny that He claimed to be divine. Well, then, He was one of three things; He was either divine, a He claimed to be, or else He was the most audacious impostor the world had ever seen, or else He was the most hopeless lunatic the world has ever seen. He must have been one of the three. Of all the irrational systems of philosophy that of Unitarianism is the most irrational. It says that Jesus Christ was not divine, but was a good man, perhaps the best man that ever walked the earth. I say if He was not divine He was not good, for He was an impostor. You had a man in this city a few months ago who claimed to be divine, and you all decided that he was either an impostor, or most of you, perhaps, took the more charitable view that he was a lunatic. Jesus Christ was either divine, as He claimed to be, or else He was the most audacious impostor the world has ever seen, or else He was the greatest lunatic. Take your choice. Is there any man here to-night that will say that Jesus Christ was a lunatic, and that His influence on history has been the influence of a lunatic? Nobody but a lunatic will say so. Will any man here dare to say that the influence of Jesus Christ on the history of the world has been the influence of an impostor? No one but an impostor would say so. Then if not a lunatic or an impostor, what? The Son of God! Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and every man or woman that goes away from here to-night rejecting Christ will go away rejecting the Son of God. Every man or woman that goes away from here to-night denying Christ will go away denying the Son of God. Every man or woman that goes away from here to-night shutting Christ out of his heart will go away shutting the Son of God out of his heart. Every man or woman that goes away from here to-night taking his stand against Christ will go away taking his stand against the Son of God. Men, if you were not blinded by sin to the thought of your awful guilt, you would fall on your faces now and cry, "God be merciful to me, so awful a sinner!" I trust some of you will do it before you go away.
3. Jesus Christ is not only your King; He is not only divine; He is something more yet. You say, What? Your Saviour, the One who was wounded for your transgressions, bruised for your iniquities, upon whom the chastisement of your peace was laid; and oh, men and women, if you reject Him, if you deny Him,, if you take your stand against Him, if you shut Him out of your hearts, you will be guilty of the most awful ingratitude. Never mother loved her son, never mother suffered for her child, as Christ has loved us and suffered for us. "Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might become rich. Being in the form of God, He thought it not a thing to be grasped to be equal with God, but He emptied Himself and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man, and became obedient unto death, yes, the death of the Cross." For you and me! Will you, will you reject Him, will you deny Him, will you shut Him out of your hearts, and will you take your stand against Him? Oh, men and women, what are you made of ?
A man came to me one night and said: "I don't believe in your Christianity." I said, "Why not?" He said,- "It is irrational." I asked why. "Why," be said, "you teach, don't you, that if a man leads a moral life and does his duty by his neighbour and in business, treating his employees fairly, he will be lost for ever for nothing worse than the one thing of rejecting Jesus Christ. That is not just," he said. I said, "Hold on a minute; suppose you have a mother who is one of the purest women who ever lived. Suppose your mother loved you even as few mothers loved their sons. Suppose your mother if necessary was ready to lay down her life for you to save yours." He said, "She would." "Suppose you should do your duty," I said, "by your wife and children and by your neighbour, and in your place of business, and treat everybody honestly; suppose you were upright in all the relations of life, and treated every person right but one, and that one your mother, who, you say, is so good, who, you say, would be ready to die for you, who, you say, loves you so. Suppose you should turn her out of doors on to the street, leaving her there naked and to starve. What would you think of yourself?" He said, "I would be a scoundrel." "Well," I said, "Jesus Christ loves you more than a mother ever did, and Jesus Christ would not only die for you, but He did die for you. Jesus Christ has done more for you than any mother ever did for her child. And now, while you say you are doing your duty by everybody else, you are trampling under foot Jesus Christ." I said, "What do you think of yourself?" He saw it, that he was a scoundrel. And he was. And so are you, and so are you, every one of you, that is rejecting Jesus Christ. Supposing you had a man here in London who did his duty to his wife and children, who did his duty by his neighbour, who did his duty in politics, in business, and by every person but one, and that one his mother, who loved him and brought him up, who had wasted her life upon him, and was now feeble and decrepit simply because she poured her life out for him. And while he did his duty by everybody else, he turned that mother, to whom he owed everything, out into the street to starve. Would his doing his duty towards his wife cover the infamy of his treatment to his mother? Would his doing his duty towards his neighbour cover the infamy of that treatment; would the doing of his duty in politics, in business, cover the infamy of his treatment of his mother? Never! And will your doing your duty by your wife, mother, father, children, brothers, sisters, and neighbours, cover the infamy, the hideous black ingratitude of your treatment of the Christ who gave up Heaven and died on the Cross for you? Never! You are rejecting the one that was wounded for your transgressions, bruised for your iniquities, upon whom the chastisement of your peace was laid; you are denying every day of your lives the One who was wounded for your transgressions, bruised for your iniquities, upon whom the Chastisement of your peace was laid; you are shutting out of your heart the One who was wounded for your transgressions, bruised for your iniquities, upon whom the chastisement of your peace was laid; you are taking your stand against the One who was wounded for your transgressions, bruised for your iniquities, upon whom the chastisement of your peace was laid.
Oh, men and women of London, in the light of what depends on your choice, in the light of what Jesus Christ is what are you going to do with Christ to-night ?
It was an awful Crisis in the life of Pontius Pilate when he asked the question of the text. There sat Pontius Pilate in all the dignity and power of a Roman governor; and there stood Jesus Christ in all the beauty of His perfect manhood, in all the dignity and glory of His perfect Deity, in all the wondrousness of His matchless love; and there sat Pontius Pilate deep in thought, deciding what to do. There were two kinds of voices speaking in Pilate's heart -higher voices and lower voices; heavenly voices and infernal voices. Listen to the higher voices. The voice of reason said, "Pilate, release Him; He is innocent." One voice of conscience said, "Pilate release Him; He is innocent." The voice of the Spirit of God, whispering in Pilate's heart, said, "Pilate, release Him." The voice of common decency said, "Pilate, release Him; He is innocent." Everything that was noble and true and just in Pilate's heart said, "Release Him." But, alas, there were other voices, infernal voices, speaking, and Pilate is listening to them. There was the voice of cowardice, of fear of what the Jews will say, that whispered, "Pilate, crucify Him." There was the voice of avarice, the greed for gold, saying, "Pilate, crucify Him." There was the voice of low political policy whispering, "Pilate, crucify Him." And Pilate sits there deep in thought. At last, he decides, and he decides wrong; and his name has come down to everlasting infamy.
It is a more solemn moment and a more awful crisis for you to-night, for you know better who Jesus is. There you sit, and there stands Jesus again, unseen, but there He surely stands, in all the dignity and beauty of His perfect manhood; there He Stands in all the glory of His perfect Deity; there He stands in all the wondrousness of His matchless love, crowned with thorns, and with pierced hands. And there you sit, trying to decide what to do with Him. In your heart there are higher voices and lower voices. There is the voice of the Spirit of God which says, "Accept Him; confess Him; take your stand on His side tonight." Here is the voice of conscience which says, "Accept Him." There is the voice of gratitude which says, "Accept Him." Everything that is noble and good and true in you says, "Accept Him; confess Him; let Him into your heart; take your stand on His side." But, alas, there are lower voices in your heart to-night. There is in your heart the voice of cowardice, the fear of what people will say, which says, "Reject Him to-night; take your stand against Him." There is the voice of avarice, the greed for gold that might slip through your fingers if you became a real Christian and that says, "Reject Him." There is the voice of lust, low and beastly that says, "Reject Him." There is the voice of low political trickery, which says it will rob you of influence in your political party if you become a Christian, and that says, "Reject Him." Everything that is low and base and mean and devilish in your heart says, "Reject Him; deny Him; shut Him out of your heart; take your stand against Him."
Men and women, which are you going to listen to? What are you going to decide? God help you to decide right to-night.