December 14, 2017

The Day of Golden Opportunity

R. A. Torrey

“The Holy Ghost saith, Today” (Hebrews 3:7).

The day of golden opportunity is today. Opportunities of priceless worth are open to everyone of us today. But “tomorrow” has no sure promise for any of us. The faith-for-the-familyHoly Ghost says, “Today,” and Conscience also cries, “Today,” and the voice of Reason and the voice of History and the voice of Experience unite in one loud chorus, “Today.” Men in their folly are forever saying, “Tomorrow.”

When the frightful plague of frogs came on Pharaoh and his people, Pharaoh, in his terror, sent for Moses and Aaron and said, “Entreat Jehovah, that he take away the frogs from me, and my people, and I will let the people go” (Exodus 8:8). Moses replied, “Against what time shall I entreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, that the frogs be destroyed from thee and thy houses and remain in the river only?” Pharaoh, like many another king, played the fool and answered, “Tomorrow.”

Men today show a similar and often greater folly. When urged to forsake sin with its misery, degradation, and peril, and turn to Christ with the joy and peace and ennobling of our character and security that He gives, they answer, “Tomorrow.” But “the Holy Ghost saith, Today.”

A poor wretch came into my office one day. Drink had brought misery into his heart and ruin into his life. I asked, “Will you turn to Christ?” “Oh,” he exclaimed, “there is nothing else I can do. I will.” “Will you do it now?” He hung his head and murmured, “Not now, tomorrow.” But “the Holy Ghost saith, Today.” Tomorrow is the devil’s day, and the fool’s day. Today is God’s day, and the wise man’s day.

I wish to give you some unanswerable reasons why every man and woman who makes any pretensions to intelligence and common sense should not only accept the Lord Jesus as his Lord and Saviour, but should accept Him now.

The first reason is that the Lord Jesus brings peace to the tormenting conscience as soon as He is accepted, and the really wise man will not only desire that peace but will desire it just as soon as he can get it. Wherever there is sin, there will be an accusing conscience. And “all have sinned” (Romans 6:23). If any man has sinned and his conscience does not accuse and torment him, he has sunk very low. There are, of course, different degrees and different kinds of torment of conscience. With some the pain is sharp and piercing; with some it is dull and grinding; but there is pain, unrest, and no peace of heart where sin has entered until that sin has been forgiven. Jesus Christ gives peace to the most agonized Conscience.

A young man came to me one Sunday morning in Chicago in awful agony. He had sinned grievously and was reaping the harvest. He was contemplating all sorts of mad expedients to escape the inevitable consequences of his sin. I pointed him to the Son of God, and the young man accepted Him. Afterward he brought me to his companion in sin. She was fully determined on a desperate deed that was likely to land her in prison or in the cemetery. I pleaded with her and pointed her to the real cure, to the Saviour. When she left me, she was still undecided as to what she would do. She afterward decided right. One night a long time afterward, a Young, happy faced woman stopped me at Moody Church and said, “I want to thank you for what you did for me, for my husband, and for my child.” She was the woman who had contemplated the destruction of her child, and her own destruction for time and for eternity. But she had found peace in Jesus Christ. If you are wise, you will not only find it, but you will find it now. “The Holy Ghost saith, Today.”

The second reason is that Jesus Christ brings joy unspeakable and full of glory, a joy to which the joy of this world is as nothing in comparison. Any really wise man will desire this joy at once. I for one not only wish the best I can get, but I wish it as quickly as I can get it. The joy that is in Jesus Christ is the very best joy one can get. Ask anyone who has ever tried the world and has then really tried Jesus Christ. There is not one who has really put his trust in Christ as personal Saviour and has unreservedly surrendered to Him as Lord and Master, who will not tell you that the world has no joy for a moment comparable with that joy which is found in Jesus Christ.

I know the joy that comes from the catalogue of this world’s joys. But I say to you that the joy of all these put together is nothing to the joy unspeakable and full of glory that comes from a genuine acceptance of Jesus Christ as Saviour, from a whole-hearted surrender to Him as Lord, from a constant and open confession of Him before the world, and from receiving the Holy Spirit, Whom He gives to those who thus accept Him and fully surrender to Him and confess Him. Men and women, if you wish the highest, deepest, purest, and most abounding joy, immeasurably the most satisfying joy that is to be known, not only in the life which is to come, but in the life which now is, not only come to Jesus Christ, but come now. “The Holy Ghost saith, Today.”

The third reason every man and woman who has not already accepted Jesus Christ should accept Him today is that Jesus Christ brings deliverance from the power of sin, and any wise man or woman not only wishes deliverance from the power of sin, but wishes it as soon as he or she can get it. There is no other form of slavery known to man so degrading and so wretched as the slavery of sin. But there is freedom right at hand, right now. Jesus Christ sets men free from sin in all its forms. He sets men free who have been slaves for years. He sets them free in a moment. Any sinner can find deliverance in Christ from any sin, can find it now. What Jesus said when He was here on earth is just as true today. “Everyone that committeth sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34). But thank God, it is also as true today as when He said it that “If, therefore, the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). Any man or woman who has a spark of intelligence left will not only wish deliverance from sin and its awful bondage, but will wish it at once. Oh, men and women, listen, “The Holy Ghost saith, Today.”

The fourth reason is that Jesus Christ brings beauty of character, and every wise man and woman will not only desire beauty of character, but will desire it just as soon as they can get it. I sometimes notice advertisements in the papers that read, “The Secret of Beauty.” I can tell you the secret of permanent, indestructible beauty. It is Jesus Christ in the heart. He not only beautifies the face; He also beautifies the soul. I have seen some of the foulest men and women made over into the fairest; and it was Jesus Christ who did it.

Sam Hadley of the Water Street Mission, New York, was always on the lookout for an opportunity to lead Some man to Christ. One day a man said to Mr. Hadley, “I have a friend in whom I wish you would take an interest.” “Who is he?” Sam asked. “Bowery Ike,” the man replied. “He is a crook. He is on Blackwell’s Island, serving a term there.” Sam Hadley went over to Blackwell’s Island and found Bowery Ike. Bowery Ike had no use for Sam Hadley, except that when he got out, he came around to get a little money to get a new suit of clothes. But soon he was off to the Island again. Every time he would come out of confinement he would go around to see Hadley; but as soon as he got on his feet again he would go back to his crooked work.

Sam Hadley followed Bowery Ike for seven long years. One day at the end of the seventh year, Bowery Ike was thoroughly sick and tired of sin, and this time not only came to Sam Hadley, but came to Jesus Christ; and Jesus Christ opened His arms and took Bowery Ike in. After about a year, Sam wrote me, saying, “I have a man who wants to study at your school. They used to call him Bowery Ike. His name is Ira Snyder. We believe in him. He has been a hard case. But he is saved and we believe God wants to use him. Will you take him?” I replied, “I will take anybody you recommend.” And Ira Snyder came.

Listen, men, though that man had been a crook most of his life, he became one of the most beautiful Christians I have ever met. He came to Chicago and stayed with us a little over a year. One night he said to me, “I made a little visit down in New York a few weeks ago. I think they need me there. I have loved it in Chicago, and I would like to stay on. But I believe they need me in New York. I have written Mr. Hadley that I am ready to go back to New York and help in the work.”

A few days after this Ira Snyder was taken with influenza. They did not think he was very ill But he died. When we went to the· undertaker’s and I looked down into that face, one of the noblest faces I have ever seen, I broke down; and, leaning over, I kissed his beautiful face. Yes, friends, Bowery Ike had been a crook before he became a Christian, but Jesus came into his heart and transformed him into His own likeness. The Lord Jesus is doing that sort of thing every day.

The Lord Jesus is also taking others who are not so foul; who, indeed, the world thinks fair; and He is making them immeasurably fairer. It is Jesus and Jesus only who makes truly lovely character. Ah, men and women, do you not wish to be fair? Not only fair in the eyes of man, but fair in the eyes of God? You may be. It is Jesus’ work to make you so. Let Him begin it at once. Let Him begin it now. “The Holy Ghost saith, Today.”

The fifth reason every man and woman who has not already accepted Jesus Christ should accept Him now is that Jesus Christ fills our lives with highest usefulness; and every wise man and woman desires not only to be useful, but also desires to begin being useful as soon as possible. The Christian life is the only really useful life. We look at the life of many a one who is not a Christian, and say, “There is a useful life”; but God looks at it in all its bearings, and writes on it this verdict, “Useless.” Whether you and I see it or not, the man or woman who is not with Christ is against Him (Matthew 12:30), and the man who is against Jesus Christ is against God and against humanity. His life is worse than useless. But the life that is fully surrendered to Jesus Christ becomes at once a useful life. It may be the mere wreck of a life, but it becomes at once a useful life.

A friend of mine found one of the most hopeless wrecks of womanhood in New York City and brought her to Jesus Christ. I think this poor creature lived less than two years after her conversion, and many months of that time were spent on a sick bed. But that woman was used to the eternal salvation of more than a hundred persons while she lay there dying, and the story of the transformed life of “the Bluebird of Mulberry Bend” has gone around the world and saved thousands.

Come to Christ. He will make you useful. Come at once, that your usefulness may begin at once. I am glad I came to the Lord Jesus when I did, but oh, if only I had come sooner. How many precious years were wasted! How many golden opportunities were lost. Come, men and women. “The Holy Ghost saith, Today.”

The sixth reason every man and woman who has not already accepted Jesus Christ should accept Him today is that the sooner we come to Christ, the fuller and richer will be our eternity. The eternity of each one of us will be just what we make it in the life that now is. You are constructing your eternity every day. Every day of true service for Christ makes our reward so much the greater and our eternity so much the fuller and richer. Come to Christ next Sunday and you will be behind for all eternity by as much as you might have wrought this week. You may cry in coming years, “Backward, turn backward, O Time, in thy flight,” but Time will not turn backward in its flight. Time cannot turn backward. Time is flying by every moment and never returns. Today is hurrying by us at express speed. Tomorrow will soon follow. And as I turn around and peer after Yesterday and Today as they plunge into the unfathomable depths of the Past, I cry, “Yesterday, where art thou?” Out from the fathomless abyss of bygone days comes the answer, “Gone forever.” And I hear the Holy Ghost crying, “Today! Today! Today!”

I will give you one more reason, and that is that if you do not come to Jesus Christ today, you may never come at all. Tens of thousands have been as near to an acceptance of Jesus Christ as you are this moment and have said, “Not today”; and now they have passed without Christ into that world in which there is no hope for repentance, no matter how “diligently with tears” they may seek it, into that world in which there is no opportunity to change their mind or eternal destiny.

One night when I was preaching in Bradford, England, a man and his wife sat side by side in the meeting and were deeply moved, but they made no decision. As they walked away from the meeting, the wife said, “Would it not have been nice if you and I both had risen tonight and gone forward together and accepted Christ?” He answered, “Yes, it would.” They reached home and retired. About two o’clock the following morning his wife awakened him and said, “I feel strange.” In a few minutes she had passed into eternity. After he had laid his wife’s body away in the cemetery, the husband came back to the meeting and told us this story and accepted Christ; but he came alone. Oh, men and women, listen! Do you not hear the Holy Spirit crying, “Today!”?

There are so many things besides death that may make this the last opportunity you will ever have and make a refusal now final and fatal. Loss of opportunity may come. “The Holy Ghost saith, Today.”

A hardened heart may seal your doom. When a human heart is moved on by the Spirit of God, as some of your hearts are, and the heart continues to resist the Holy Spirit, it is likely to become very soon hardened and hopeless.

Men and women, listen! You cannot trifle with God, with your own souls, or with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not only saying in our text, but He is saying in your hearts, “Today! Accept Christ right now.” Will you do as He bids you?

Dr. Reuben Archer Torrey, at one time pastor of Moody Church and Superintendent of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, was hailed as one of the foremost evangelists and educators of his day. He was a well-trained man, a graduate of both the college and the theological seminary at Yale, and he took advanced work at Leipzig and Erlangen. At Moody Bible Institute he set up a training program of theory plus practice, a formula which richly proved itself.

The Torrey-Alexander meetings were well known throughout the Christian world. G. T. B. Davis, who observed many of their meetings abroad, reported: “In a three years’ evangelistic tour of Australia, New Zealand, India, and Great Britain, more than 100,000 people publicly confessed Christ as their personal Saviour. To Torrey, every sinner was an involuntary client for whose soul he must do battle. Many people say that it was the Torrey-Alexander meetings in Cardiff that kindled the flame of the great Welsh revival.”

In addition to his accomplishments in education, Bible teaching, and personal witnessing, Dr. Torrey was noted as a man of prayer. He attributed to prayer the spiritual awakening that accompanied his meetings in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. It is said that 20,000 people banded in prayer groups throughout Great Britain and that there was intensive private prayer on the part of Christians in every city the team visited.

This article was published in Faith for the Family, November/December, 1973. It is republished here by permission.

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