Life Sermon Illustrations

Life Sermon Illustrations

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Eternal Life

This world's a city with many a crowded street:
Death is the market place where all men meet.
If life were merchandise that gold could buy,
The rich would live, the poor alone would die.

(John 5. 39, 40)


The following incident was told concerning the ministry of Lord Adalbert Cecil, so greatly used of God in Canada and elsewhere.

It was evening and 'the Chief' had paid an unusually late visit to the ward. He had just quitted it, accompanied by the House Surgeon and the 'Sister', when, pausing a moment at the open door of the sitting-room, he said to her, 'It is a pity, Sister, about that splendid young fellow at the top of the ward. We have done our very best for him, but he will be dead before morning.'

Startled out of her usual calm, the Sister answered, `Ohl Is that possible, Doctor? But you told him he was doing fine, and he is expecting to live.'

`Well, he has put up a grand fight for life, and there was no use in depressing him. He will probably be unconscious in a few hours and never know he is dying.' With these words the great Surgeon moved on.

The Sister stood for a moment, hesitating. Then she said to the House Surgeon, Will you not tell him, Doctor? His friends are all far away in the north, and there has been no time for anyone to come down, and he may have something to settle, or some last message to send. It is hard for them that he should not know. Do tell him.'

`No, no, I will not tell him. It is easier for him not to know,' said the House Surgeon. Then, as he also passed on, he looked back and said, 'You can tell him if you like.'

The night Nurse was already at her post, and the lights had been turned down in the ward when the Sister took her seat by the side of the one who was dying.

`This is kind of you to come and pay me another visit, Sister,' he said. `You heard what the doctor said—"I am doing fine". Does he think it will be long before I can be moved?'

`You will write to my mother, won't you, and make the best of it to her?'

The Sister was silent a moment or two. Then she said gently, 'I am afraid the doctor made you think what is not true. Andrew, You are very gravely hurt. There is more danger than was thought of at first.'

It was Andrew's turn to be silent for a full minute; then, as a look of fear and dismay came into his eyes, he said, 'You do not mean I am dying, Sister.' Again there was a pause. It was night, all was quiet, there was nothing to distract and to take off the solemnity of knowing he had God and Eternity to face. Presently, with quivering lips, he asked, 'How long, Sister?'

She dare not hide from him the stern truth. And then came a long, despairing cry, 'But I can't die, Sister. I can't die. I am not ready to die.' And then the momentous question was eagerly asked, 'What must I do to be saved?' She had said to the doctor, 'He might have something to settle,' but she had thought of earthly things, the things of time. He had indeed something to settle, and it meant for all eternity, but all she could say was, 'I don't know, Andrew; I am not saved.' Then a pleading voice, now very low, said, 'Won't you pray for me? Do pray.' And the sad answer came, `I can't. I don't know how to pray.'

At last surely a Spirit-given thought came to her, as she said, 'I will tell you what I can do, Andrew, if it will be of any comfort to you; I will sit up with you tonight and read the Bible to you.' Andrew caught at the suggestion as a drowning man might catch at a rope thrown to him, and said, 'Oh! do, do.'

She took up a Bible that was lying quite near. She hardly knew where to begin, but the Bible fell open at the Gospel of St. John, and she read in a low, clear voice of one who came to the Lord Jesus by night and got his questions answered. She read of the need of man, and of God's love and His promise to meet that need. She read slowly, distinctly, and he listened eagerly, trying to grasp something to answer the now all-absorbing anxiety of his soul.

Pausing a moment, she read on of the woman who got her thirst quenched, and her heart satisfied. Still there was no word from the suffering man, and a grey look was stealing over his face, and yet his eyes besought her to go on. Finally she came to John 5. 24, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My Word and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation but is passed from death unto life.' She looked up as she finished reading it, and saw a change in his face: the haggard look of agony—the struggling to grasp something that was unattainable—was fast disappearing as he said, 'Stop there, Sister, Light is coming in. I see—I see!' Very weak was the voice as he said, 'Leave me alone, Sister, but come back soon. Thank you, oh, thank you.'

She left him for half-an-hour—alone with God. When she returned his face was radiant. `I have heard His Word—I believe the Lord Jesus Christ bore my sins when He was lifted up, and He has received me—just as I was—all guilty, all unprepared. It is not death for me, Sister, it is Everlasting Life—He has given it to me. I have passed from death unto life.'

After a minute or two's rest he spoke again : `Sister, promise me you will meet me in Heaven. You can never say again that you do not know the way. Promise me.'

`I promise, Andrew,' she said, 'not to rest until I know, but I cannot grasp it as you have. It is not clear to me.'

`Thank God it is settled and you have been the means. Thank you—thank you. Tell my mother Christ saved me at the eleventh hour. Peace! Peace!' These were his last conscious words. Very soon, as the Surgeon had said, he sank into profound unconsciousness, only to awaken 'with Christ', with the Good Shepherd Who had sought and found His lost sheep.

And what of the Sister? The arrow of conviction had entered her breast. Four dreary years, a ray of hope coming sometimes, to be quickly followed by darkness and despair. She accepted an invitation to hear Lord A. P. Cecil preach. She waited behind afterwards while prayer was going on. Lord Adalbert asked her into a side room, trusting to be given the right message for this troubled soul. At first nothing seemed to touch her. Finally, he turned to John 5. 24. Suddenly the light broke in, and like Andrew, she, too, said, 'I see! I see!' She went away a new creature to praise and thank God that for her also, all was settled.—Arthur Mercer (slightly abridged)

(John 5. 24, 25)


Life—for a Look

An obscure man preached one Sunday to a few persons in a Methodist Chapel in the South of England one snowy day. Among them was a lad of fifteen years, driven in by the snowstorm. 'Look unto Me and be ye saved' was the text.

'Young man!' he said, 'you look miserable. Only look!' The young man looked and was saved, and received eternal life. He was Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

(Isa. 45. 22; Num. 21. 8, 9; John 3. 14, 15)  

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