Conversion Sermon Illustrations

Conversion Sermon Illustrations

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The Weight of Past Rejections

A famous scientist tells of how, in the course of his experiments in the mountains, he used to be lowered over a precipice. He would step into the basket, and the men would lower him for his work; but whenever they lowered him, they would always test his weight to see whether they could lift him again. One day they let him down farther and farther than ever before, until all the rope at their command was exhausted. When his day's work was done, he gave the signal. When they took hold of the rope to lift him, they could not do so. They tugged and pulled and strained, but they could not manage it. So he had to wait until they got additional men to pull him up, and the scientist says that the reason they could not lift him was that they failed to take into consideration the length and weight of the rope. I know why a man of fifty years of age has a hard time to surrender. The reason is that he must always lift against his past refusals. You say, "No," and your heart is hardened; you say, "No." and your will becomes stubborn, and if you are finally lost, the responsibility is not with God.—J. Wilbur Chapman, in The King's Business.

Dr. H. A. Ironside's Conversion

From a very early age God began to speak to me through His Word. I doubt if I could go back to the first time when, to my recollection, I felt something of the reality of eternal things.

My father was taken from me ere his features were impressed upon my infant mind. I never have heard him spoken of other than as a man of God. He was known in Toronto (my birthplace) to many as "The Eternity Man." His Bible, marked in many places, was a precious legacy to me; and from it I learned to recite my first verse of Scripture, at the age of four. I distinctly recall learning the blessed words of Luke 19:10, "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." That I was lost, and that Christ Jesus came from Heaven to save me, were the first Divine truths impressed on my young heart.

My widowed mother was, it seems to me, one of a thousand. I remember yet how I would be thrilled as she knelt with me as a child, and prayed, "0 Father, keep my boy from ever desiring anything greater than to live for Thee. Save him early, and make him a devoted street-preacher, as his father was. Make him willing to suffer for Jesus' sake, to gladly endure persecution and rejection by the world that cast out Thy Son; and keep him from what would dishonor Thee." The words were not always the same, but I have heard the sentiment times without number.

To our home there often came servants of Christ—plain, godly men, who seemed to me to carry with them the at­mosphere of eternity. Yet in a very real sense they were the bane of my boyhood. Their searching, "Harry, lad, are you born again yet?" or the equally impressive, "Are you certain that your soul is saved?" often brought me to a stand­still; but I knew not how to reply.

California had become my home ere I was clear as to being a child of God in Los Angeles I first began to learn the love of the world, and was impatient of restraint. Yet I had almost continual concern as to the great matter of my salvation.

I was but twelve years old when I began a Sunday School and set up to try to help the boys and girls of the neighborhood to a knowledge of the Book I had read ten times through, but which still left me without assurance of salvation.

To Timothy, Paul wrote, "From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (II Tim. 3:15). It was this latter that I lacked. I had, it seemed to me, always believed, yet I dared not say I was saved. I know now that I had already believed about Jesus. I had not really believed in Him as my personal Saviour. Between the two there is all the difference that there is between being saved and lost, between an eternity in Heaven and eternal destruction.

As I have said, I was not without considerable anxiety as to my soul; and though I longed to break into the world, and was indeed guilty of much that was vile and wicked, I ever felt a restraining hand upon me, keeping me from many things that I would otherwise have gone into; and a certain religiousness became, I suppose, characteristic. Religion is not salvation.

I was nearly fourteen years old when, upon returning one day from school, I learned that a servant of Christ from Canada, well known to me, had arrived for meetings. I knew, ere I saw him, how he would greet me; for I remembered him well, and his searching questions, when I was younger. Therefore I was not surprised, but embarrassed nevertheless, when he exclaimed, "Well, Harry, lad, I'm glad to see you. Are you born again yet?"

The blood mantled my face; I hung my head, and could find no words to reply. An uncle present said, "You know, Mr. M—, he preaches himself now a bit, and conducts a Sunday school!"

"Indeed!" was the answer. "Will you get your Bible, Harry?"

I was glad to get out of the room, and so went at once for my Bible, and returned, after remaining out as long as seemed decent, hoping thereby to recover myself. Upon my reentering the room, he said, kindly, but seriously, "Will you turn to Romans 3:19, and read it aloud?"

Slowly I read, "Now we know that what things soever the Law saith, it saith to them that are under the Law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God." I felt the application, and was at a loss for words. The evangelist went on to tell me that he too had been once a religious sinner, till God stopped his mouth, and then gave him a sight of Christ. The words had their effect. From that time till I was sure I was saved, I refrained from talking of these things, and I gave up my Sunday school work.

At last, on a Thursday evening in February, 1890, God spoke to me in tremendous power while out at a gay party. Some verses of Scripture I had learned months before came to me with startling clearness. Every word seemed to burn its way into my heart. I saw as never before my dreadful guilt in having so long refused to trust Christ for myself. I went back to the parlor, and tried to join with the rest in their empty follies. All seemed utterly hollow, and the tinsel was gone. The light of eternity was shining into the room, and I wondered how any could laugh with God's judgment hanging over us.

That night, when all was over, I hurried home. There, after lighting my lamp, I took my Bible, and, with it before me, I fell on my knees. I had an undefined feeling that I had better pray. The thought came, "What shall I pray for?" Clearly came back the answer, "For what God has been offering me for years. Why not then receive it, and thank Him?" My dear mother had often said, "The place to begin with God is at Romans 3. or John 3." To both these Scriptures I turned. Clearly I saw that I was a helpless sinner, but that for me Christ had died, and that salvation was offered freely to all who trusted Him. Reading John 3:16 the second time, I said, "That will do! 0 God, I thank Thee that Thou hast loved me, and given Thy Son for me. I trust Him now as my Saviour, and I rest on Thy Word, which tells me that I have everlasting life!" Then I expected to feel a thrill of joy. It did not come. I expected a sudden rush of love for Christ. It did not come either. I feared I could not really be saved with so little emotion. I read the words again. There could be no mistake. God loved the world, of whom I formed a part. God gave His Son to save all believers. I believed in Him as my Saviour. Therefore I must have everlast­ing life. Again, I thanked Him, and rose from my knees and began to walk by faith. God could not lie. I knew I must be saved!—Dr. H. A. Ironside, in Glad Tidings.

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