IV. LOOKING FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO SAVE MEN
Not only should we seize opportunity, we should also not give any opportunity for the flesh to make provision for itself, and we should not give any place to the devil. Besides this, we should also seek for opportunities to save men. There was a man from England who was well-known for saving souls. When he was dying, he spoke the following words, "I can see that not everyone will go to hell. If I did not see this, I would not be able to sleep in peace." The time is late. Brothers and sisters, may we see that if a sinner passes by, he is gone forever. The Bible teaches us to do good to all men, that is, to do good to those we meet.
There was a preacher who spoke a certain message in his first year of preaching, and in his fiftieth year he spoke the same message. However, there were only five men who had heard his message fifty years earlier. Perhaps the people you meet in a train will not see you again. If you do not give out tracts and do not testify, your opportunity will pass away.
Mr. Moody was preaching at one time in a chapel in Chicago. At the end of the meeting he said, "Friends, if there is anyone here who has not believed in the Lord today and has not repented, I hope that you will come again." That same evening, there was a big fire in Chicago. Even the chapel was burned down. Afterward, Mr. Moody preached again in a rebuilt wooden house. At the beginning of his speaking, he wept because those who were there that day were not the same ones who had attended the previous meeting. From then on, Mr. Moody always exhorted the people to believe immediately and not wait for another time because there might not be another time.
We still have fifty-one weeks before us this year. May we not lose the opportunity to love God, to love man, and to save souls.
V. A FEW WORDS TO THE SINNERS
To those who are here and have not believed in the Lord, let me say a few words. I advise you not to say that there is still much time, that there are many opportunities, and that you can take your time to consider. Have you not suffered enough from sins? In the Bible there is a record of a king called Pharaoh. He hardened his heart, and God caused frogs to enter into his house. He went to plead with a servant of God called Moses that God would cause the frogs to depart from him. The servant of God asked, "When shall I entreat for thee,...to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses?" He said, "Tomorrow" (Exo. 8:9-10). Are you not surprised with his answer? He still wanted to stay with the frogs another night and smell the bad odor another night. He said, "Tomorrow"; he wanted to wait until the next day. Many people think, "I have sinned; I do not have peace, but I think that I still have the opportunity. I still want to suffer another night and commit sins another day." But I tell you that such a matter cannot wait till the next day. Whenever there is an opportunity, you must plead with God. Salvation is a matter of this life, and salvation is a matter for today. If you wait for another day, you may not have the opportunity anymore. If you have already heard the gospel and know that Jesus has died for you and has resurrected for you, and if you still want to wait a while before you believe, I advise you to believe now because you may not have another opportunity.
Once I was preaching in a certain girls’ school in Nanking. A student whose father worked for the government held strongly to her anti-Christian thoughts. After I had spoken for a few days, I invited those who had questions to ask them. She stood up and said, "I know that I must believe in Jesus, and I also know that Jesus is my Savior. But a minute ago, you told us that a robber believed right before he died. I want to wait until I am about to die before I believe." I replied, "Certainly, a man can be saved if he believes in the Lord right before he dies. However, I have three questions to ask you. First, do you know when you will die? How do you know at any time if you are going to die and that you should believe in Jesus then? Can you say that you will believe today and that you will die tomorrow? Second, can you say that you will die slowly, and that there will be sufficient time for you to believe? Will you never be killed by a car or by a stray bullet? Can you guarantee that your death will be a slow one and that you will have opportunity to believe in the Lord? Third, you can say today that you should believe in Jesus and that you have indeed sinned, but can you be sure that on the day you die you will still have this intention? Even if you knew that the time of your death was near, can you say that you would surely believe and that you would surely want to believe? If you are waiting for the right opportunity, I am afraid that the time will pass you by. You have sinned, and the Lord Jesus has already borne your sins; He has died for you on the cross and has already resurrected and ascended. I hope that you will not wait for tomorrow. I know what I am talking about because I have been at the side of dead men. I have seen many people who have said in the morning that they were not ready to die yet, but in the same afternoon they were not afraid anymore because they had already believed in Jesus."
Let me come back to the friend whom I mentioned earlier, who gave out tracts at the park. When an unbeliever saw the tract and despised it as being nonsense, her reply was very good. She said, "From my childhood my temper was very bad. After I believed in the Lord, I changed. Not only does my family say that I am a good person, even my teacher says the same thing. Sir, is this also nonsense? When my mother died, I saw that she passed away peacefully and joyfully. Sir, is this also nonsense? Many of my brothers and friends, like you, believe neither in eternity nor in heaven or hell, but they are not satisfied. They sinned; they fell sick; they are sorrowful. Sir, is this also nonsense? If there is such a big difference between believing and not believing, I am willing to be deceived even if it is `nonsense’ to you. You think that this is nonsense only because you do not know God."
I hope that today no Christian would lose any opportunity. Moreover, I hope that none would give any opportunity to the flesh and the devil. I also hope that today there is not a sinner who would lose the opportunity of salvation.
To the brothers and sisters in the Lord:
This issue of Notes on Scriptural Messages contains a message released in the meeting on the afternoon of the first Lord’s Day of this year. With this, we encourage ourselves and also all the brothers and sisters who have received the same grace with us. May God bless us that we may be able to redeem our time this year.
The Gospel Book Room has published a book this year entitled Once a Year through the Bible which helps the believers to read the Bible once every year. By reading some chapters and verses every day according to the arrangement of this book, that is, by reading a portion every day, one will be able to understand the meaning of each passage. Last year many of our brothers and sisters read the Bible in this manner. If you are willing to participate, please subscribe directly to the Shanghai Gospel Book Room, P. O. Box 323. (The price is ten cents per issue.)
Our brother, Mr. Watchman Nee, has gone to Swatow in Kwangtung province to preach the gospel and may make a trip to Amoy at the end of the month. After that, he will return. Please pray for this matter.
There is another announcement which is carried over from last year. On November 8, last year, three sisters were baptized. On December 12, Brother _________ and three sisters were baptized.
All those who are hungry and who love the Lord are invited to meet with us. Our meeting schedule is as follows: every Lord’s Day, 10:00 a.m., breaking of bread to remember the Lord; 3:00 p.m., meeting to release the word; every Tuesday, 4:00 p.m., Bible study meeting; every Saturday, 3:00 p.m., prayer meeting.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 17: Notes on Scriptural Messages (1), Chapter 9, by Watchman Nee)