By Martin Knapp
"God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth onHim shall not perish, but have eternal life." -- John iii, 16.
Is it not strange that men should be so foolish as to listen to Satan, and forsake the delightsof the Paradise which God has planned for them, and with one accord rush down to the Land of Sinand embark upon its fatal Rivers? This seems too absurd to be true; yet, deceived by Satan, andwon by his cunning wiles, they have done and are' doing it.
When angels did a similar thing it seemed there was no salvation for them; but they were atonce arrested and confined in "everlasting chains in outer darkness, awaiting the judgment of thelast day."
But blessed, glorious, unspeakable "tidings of great joy, to us is born a Savior, who isChrist the Lord!" "Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor," and suffered on thecross of Calvary that we might be rescued from Satan's power, Sin's River, and its awful doom.
Yes, thank God! a rescue expedition has been planned and sent forth from God the Father tosave a lost world. What has been done?
The Father so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to save us. Jesus soloved the world that He freely came, and redeemed us by His own precious blood. The HolySpirit so loved the world that He comes, unitedly with the Father and the Son, to press a campaignagainst sin and Satan's power, and rescue all who will repent.
The following are some of the gifts which God bestows in our behalf:
His Son, who came from heaven, lived and suffered and died and rose again, and nowintercedes at the right hand of the Father for us.
The Holy Spirit, who takes the things of God and makes them plain to man.
The Word of God. This Word exposes the awful conspiracy of the devil to wreck people inthe Rivers of Sin, and, having put them to sleep upon its fatal floods, to rush them over the Falls ofEternal Despair to the dark dungeons of everlasting doom, where he plans to torment them forever.It tells all about the expedition from Heaven, headed by the Son of God, to defeat the devil andrescue all who will repent.
Conviction. Drugged by the devil and chloroformed by sin, spiritually weak and sick onaccount of the malaria that arises from the Swamps of Disobedience, the sinner would neverawaken to a sense of his danger were it not for conviction, such as only the Holy Spirit can bring.He applies the Word of God, rouses the sinner from his slumber, and makes him feel the pangs ofguilt because of the way he is destroying himself and treating God, until he can rest no more.
The Church and Ministry. Under the administration of the Holy Spirit Jesus organizes HisChurch, composed of rescued men and women, who, animated by the Spirit of their Savior, andmighty through His strength, co-operate with Him in the work of rescuing others. It is of them Jesussays, "As Thou didst send Me into the world, even so send I them into the world."
Repentance. Even after the victims of this River have been awakened they would not knowhow to repent nor feel like doing. so unless God should give them this gift; hence He bestows it. Itmoves them with all their might to turn away from sin with deep and godly sorrow, and cry to Himfor help. They begin to hate the currents which are ever sweeping them downward, and, movedwith fear, they stop their mad career, and escape from the death-trap into which Satan has decoyedthem. Genuine repentance embraces restitution, if one has wronged another, to the full extent of hispower to make that wrong right. If some one stole your knife, would you believe him really sorry ifhe refused to restore it, and kept right on stealing? If people keep on sinning, and refuse to maketheir wrongs right if it is in their power to do so, their repentance is 'a sham, and but sweeps themswifter toward eternal death. Real repentance means to give up, not only one sin, but all sin, withno thought of ever going back to it again.
Pardon. To all who truly repent, God offers blood-bought pardon. Jesus paid for it onCalvary, and it is free.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse usfrom all unrighteousness." -- 1 John I, 9.
Precious promise! Glorious privilege! Wonderful grace which thus forgives! Thispromise has been the plank over which multitudes have rushed from the Sin-boats of Damnation tothe Life-boat of Salvation.
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him returnunto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon."-- Isa. lv, 7.
Confession of sin. If a little boy has wronged you, and will not "own up," you know by thathe does not really repent of the wrong he has done you. The sinner, sinking in the Death-boat, mustconfess his sins to others, wherein he has wronged them, and his sin to God, wherein he haswronged Him; and will do so, if his repentance is sincere.
"He that covereth his transgressions shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsakeththem shall obtain mercy." -- Prov. xxviii, 13.
Faith. To all who fully submit to God, repent and confess, God gives the faith to believeHis Word, and the promise is the plank which reaches the Life-boat. Our feet represent our faith,and we must put both of them upon the plank, and thus escape for our lives.
Communion. Entering the Life-boat of Salvation the soul is welcomed by Jesus Himself,and communion is at once established between them-sweet, rich, and blessed. The bells of theLife-boat ring jubilantly with the praises of its passengers, and all Heaven is full of joy thatanother soul is rescued.
Freedom. The chains of evil habits which bound the prisoner to the world, the flesh, andthe devil when in the Death-boat of Sin, are now broken.
Healing. All sorts of physical diseases were contracted in the Rivers of Sin. In response tothe prayer of faith, these may be healed, and the body greatly strengthened through the indwellingof the Holy Spirit. A new body, free from all disease and all infirmity, even like the body of JesusHimself, is promised in the future, when "He shall change these vile bodies, and make them likeHis own most glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able to subdue all thingsunto Himself."
Full Salvation. The diseases of soul which were contracted in the River are all checked atonce, and the believer is given a valuable home up on the Plains of Regeneration; hut a completeeradication of sin from the soul is effected only through the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, whichtransfers the soul to Holiness Heights, where it lives in joyful spiritual activity, health, and plenty,until it passes into Heaven. This wonderful change is wrought through the Blood of Jesus, and fullysanctifies the soul, healing its every disease, and making it every whit whole. Not freeing it frominfirmities, nor destroying its freedom, nor exempting from temptation, but eliminating everythingwhich mars its communion with God, utterly destroying the "old man" of carnality, and thrillingwith holy zeal and freedom. This complete cure of the soul is received through faith in Jesus,dependence upon the healing Blood, and complete abandonment to His sweet will in everything,no matter how much self or others may be opposed. Without it there will be a tendency on the partof the soul to return to former bondage, and take occasional trips upon the Rivers of Sin. This cureremoves that inclination. This experience gives one the right to reside on Holiness Heights, wherethere is "select company," "celestial music, grapes of Eshcol," "honey out of the rock," breadwithout scarceness," and all the fruits of Canaan. The ascent which leads there has several steps.The name of one is Hunger for Holiness; the next, Determination to Have It; the third, AbsoluteAbandonment to the Will of God; the fourth, Appropriating Faith. The steps are carpeted withtexts, among which are the following:
"Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in ChristJesus." -- Rom. vi, 11.
"Ye shall be holy; for I am holy." -- 1 Peter I, 16.
"For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye abstain from fornication." -- 1Thess. iv, 3.
"If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and theblood of Jesus His Son cleanseth us from all sin." -- 1 John I, 7.
"Be filled with the Spirit." -- Eph. v, 18.
All who have reached the Plains of Regeneration should ascend these steps at once, astheir usefulness, safety, and enjoyment, as well as the command of their Savior, require it.
Victory. Another gift which Salvation brings is Victory. What a transformation fromSatan's victims to Christ's victors! Yet this, through Him, all may have. For He has purchased forall, through His Blood, complete victory over every foe; victory over our sins and sin; over theworld, the flesh, and the devil; over wicked men and evil spirits; over the grave, and death, andhell. Complete victory, blood-bought victory, eternal victory. Then, which shall we be -- Satan'svictims, decoyed by his wiles, trapped by his cunning, stupefied by his pleasures, stultified by hisspirit, to the grief of saints and the delight of demons, drifting down the River of Death to shameand everlasting contempt; -- or trophies of saving grace, rescued through Jesus' Blood, by Hisalmighty power, clad with celestial armor, strengthened with all might by His Spirit in the innerman, and sweeping on from victory to victory forever and forever? May you, reader, quickly walkin this light!