The Inquiry Room
How To Know if You Are Born Again
Chapter 2 - HISTORY + THEOLOGY - The Enquiry Room By George Soltau
The first part of this chapter consists of quotes and news accounts from The Sword and The Trowel magazine and two books written by Charles Spurgeon regarding the New Light Calvinist orthodox view of a proper "decision for Christ" and the proper use of the after meeting and inquiry room counseling to help inquirers who made a "decision".
The second part of this chapter consists of the exact transcript (the only complete and error-free version on the internet) of a booklet published in 1884 by George Soltau (1847-1909) to teach counselors who worked especially in D. L. Moody's Inquiry Rooms in England. The booklet was entitled The Enquiry Room – Hints For Dealing With The Anxious.
About George Soltau: George Soltau came from a Plymouth, England family known for piety and evangelical missions. George's brother Henry is remembered for his work with Hudson Taylor. From The Sword and The Trowel: "Our dear friend Mr, Hudson Taylor, of the China Inland Mission, brought three of his missionaries to the Tabernacle ... and most earnest prayer was presented on their behalf ... in Bliamo, where the beloved brethren Stevenson and Soltau have gone." Spurgeon worked with Moody in England (as well as having him preach at his Tabernacle), but it is not known if Spurgeon knew Soltau through Moody or if he knew him directly. All of George Soltau's books are available at www.christianebooks.com.
PART ONE - Charles Spurgeon, D. L. Moody and New Light Calvinism
January 1865, Spurgeon recommended ministers urge “decisions for Christ” and the use of an after meeting or inquiry room for seekers
“set apart an evening in which yourself, with the Elders, should meet all those in your congregation who are as yet undecided, but seekers after salvation. The object of this meeting would be for special exhortation and prayer with these friends, urging them to immediate decision for Christ. …. That with a view of gathering in the fruit which I believe such a course of proceedings as is now suggested would certainly produce, the Elders should be appointed to see enquirers after every one of the services, both on Lord's-days and week-days."
January 1865 meetings:
"After an announcement that another central meeting will be held on the first Monday in February, a number of Christians retired into a room below with many anxious ones, several of whom received peace with God through faith in the precious Savior. Many of these have since been seen by Mr. Spurgeon, who tells us that he conversed personally with no less than seventy-five enquirers … Of this there were happy proofs on the succeeding night, when the unconverted were invited to meet the officers for exhortation. The marked, devout, and eager attention of those present was very gratifying, and the tears that were visible told the tale of soul sorrow and soul-joy. Broken-hearted ones were led to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world, and Mr. Spurgeon has seen several who are anxious to find peace, and others who wish to join the church. … On the following Sabbath, two deacons visited Mr. Hanks's classes, and also the senior classes of the Sabbath-school, with the view of arousing souls and urging an immediate decision for Christ."
February 1865 meetings:
“On the following day (Tuesday), the deacons and elders, having previously met for one hour's prayer, assembled with the undecided of the congregation. Many persons were moved to tears during this solemn service, and the deacons devoted one hour to personal conversation with those who remained behind. Mrs. Bartlett, with her usual holy zeal, was occupied with a room full of trembling seekers."
"Should there not be more frequent services and meetings for the young, specially aiming at their decision for Christ?"
"the reader's duty is to read and expound the Scriptures to the men and their families, enforcing the great doctrines of truth, and urging the necessity of decision for Christ."
January 1872, an excellent description of what happens in an after meeting or inquiry room:
"We gave notice that, the pastor would sit two whole days to see enquiring souls, and that each evening there would be A meeting at which he would speak upon the discouragements and encouragements of seekers, and any of the elders who felt moved to do so would exhort. …The number was too great for us to see all privately one by one, so we had to appoint another season to see many of them, In the evening there were more than two hundred and fifty seekers present, and they were seekers indeed. We spoke to them for an hour of their discouragements, and it was a delightful duty, for they were all eye, and ear, and heart. No need to employ attractive illustrations; the, drank in the truth, and cared nothing for the language they wanted to be saved, and listened as for life and death. … many remained behind to tell what they had felt, and to ask for more guidance and consolation. Sweet was our sleep that night ... The second day found more waiting, and still the
preponderating number were not merely convinced souls, but rejoicing converts. They told us that they had believed in Jesus, and we had but to question them as to their change of heart and life, and their renunciation of self and the world. … That evening there were from 400 to 500 present in the Lecture Hall, and the attention was almost oppressive to the pastor's soul it was intense to the utmost degree. Far more remained and our helpers, both of the sisterhood and brotherhood, had their hands more than full. There was not even the shadow of the excitement which reveals itself in noise and indecorum; all was as; quiet as usual, more so indeed, and we were rejoiced to see it, for
when intelligent people are on a life and death business, they are little inclined to bawl and shout. There is an emotion which blusters, but the deeper kind is too earnest to cause its voice to be heard in the streets. Eternity alone can know what the Lord wrought those two rights, and the secrets of how many hearts were then revealed. To us it sufficed that sixty persons were proposed for fellowship on the following evening; and these were, in every case, those who professed faith in the Lord Jesus, and were able to give a reason for the hope that is in them."
October 1872, Spurgeon appeals to ministers to be used in after meeting and inquiry room counseling:
"No one can calculate the personal influence of a beloved minister when he comes side by side with a seeker and pleads with him alone. … Ministers who hold no such meetings, and give no opportunity for private discourse, are surely unaware of their duty, or ignorant; of their power. Why is not the church-meeting utilized to a far greater extent? It might be and must be. …Every believer should be doubly on the alert in watching for souls. None in that congregation should be able to say," We attended that place, but no one spoke to us." There should be much hand to hand battling with unbelievers, for this mode of wrestling; with sin is greatly blest, and it is the duty of all who are themselves partakers of the divine life. If all members of the church became seekers of souls they would, with God's blessing, all become winners of souls. This would yield a season of increase such as our present experience has no enabled us to realize. …We need no great talents or intense excitements; with what we already have the battle may be won if the Lord will put his Spirit within us."
February 1875 , “decision for Christ”, after meetings and inquiry room work at Spurgeon’s church:
"During the month of February a series of Special Services for the revival of religion have been held at the Tabernacle, with gratifying results. The meetings extended over three weeks, and were well attended throughout. As their principal object was the salvation of souls … A very solemn feeling prevailed over all the meetings, and in the inquiry meetings, which were held afterwards on every occasion, very many persons were led to the Savior and found joy and peace in him. On Wednesday, Feb. 24th, the young converts were invited to meet Pastor J. A. Spurgeon and the elders of the church for prayer and thanksgiving. That evening was one that will, we think, never be forgotten by any person present. Eighty-two persons then stood up as a declaration that they had sought and found the Savior during the last three weeks, and between thirty and forty of them came up to the platform and made public confession of their saving faith in the Lord Jesus. It is well known to the elders of the church that many persons were not then present who also had been brought to a decision during the meetings. … Conversion work has been very clear and genuine, and in many instances which will come before our beloved senior pastor's notice on his return among us again, the change was very striking and remarkable."
March 1875, D. L. Moody is endorsed as “sent from God”. (D. L. Moody was an American evangelist who came to England and worked with Spurgeon. Moody always called on seekers to make a “decision for Christ” and examined them in the after meeting or inquiry room):
"We are very sorry that our esteemed friend, Dr. Kennedy, issued a pamphlet severely criticizing the labors of Messrs. Moody and Sankey, whom we judge to be sent of God to bless our land in an unusual degree. … Having often heard it questioned whether the work of Messrs. Moody and Sankey would stand the test of time, we requested an esteemed friend to get the opinion of one of the most calm and judicious · of the Newcastle pastors. … the writer is one of the last men to 'be carried away by popular enthusiasm, and is eminently one who thinks and judges for himself. He says, "I have no hesitation as to my answer to your question about Moody and Sankey. We here are all of us the better, and our churches in many ways, for their visit; permanently the better. More living, more aggressive; quicker to desire and bolder to execute plans of usefulness: and the converts, so far as I can judge or hear, stand wonderfully. I do not mean that there are no disappointments, it were madness to expect that; but they are, to say the least, in every respect of stability and character, equal to the converts received at other times.”
June 1875 Spurgeon describes his assisting D. L. Moody:
Tens of thousands have of late gathered to hear our beloved brethren, Messrs. Moody and Sankey, but there are other hundreds of thousands who are not moved as yet. Hundreds of preachers are needed for crowded cities and benighted villages; our own land needs nothing so much as earnest heralds of the gospel, and America feels the same lack. … May 7 and 21. — We preached at the Bow Hall, the immense area being crowded before the time appointed for beginning service. This effort is a most trying one, and we feel it for days afterwards, or we should have been glad to aid Mr. Moody oftener. We cannot too earnestly express our intense sympathy with the blessed work which our American brethren have been privileged to carry on. … It has given us much pleasure to assist our brethren Messrs. Moody and Sankey at Camberwell Hall, and we would have done far more, only our own enterprises demand our constant attention: our heart is very warm towards them for their work's sake. The fuss made about their preaching at Eton is a sad sign of the condition of Episcopalians. Among no other sect of Christians would respectable persons have been found to oppose the useful labors of our American friends; all other Protestants would have welcomed them. … I did something to help my brethren, Moody and Sankey, but not a tenth of what it was in my heart to have done.
September 1875 Spurgeon’s wife Susie describes D. L. Moody’s usefulness:
This success of the evangelists in the Emerald Isle was a fine testimony to the power of the simple gospel; for while no fierce denunciations of the apostate church were heard from the platform, the converts came alike from the ranks of Romanists as well as from the houses of the Protestants. The Romish leaders raised the voice of warning, but to no purpose; and their machinations were aided by a club of atheists, who penetrated into the inquiry rooms to endeavor to turn the whole into controversy."
May 1877 Spurgeon’s comments on effective ministry:
"God blessed him in his work that every Tuesday evening he is kept from 8:30 till 10 seeing inquirers."
January 1878 description of an after meeting:
"At the close of the service the chapel remained full to the prayer-meeting, and afterwards many enquirers came into the vestries, several of whom profess there to have closed with Christ."
January 1878 students used in after meeting:
"The College has largely shared in the visitation of grace with which the Lord has favored us. A whole day of prayer was kept by the men in preparation for the services, and then all threw themselves into the work with the utmost zest. Many of the students had the great privilege of leading individuals to Jesus by personal conversation, and nothing can better conduce to joyful encouragement than such blessed success. To be in union with a living church is a great part if a young minister's training, and to be actually engaged with enquirers is a splendid preparation for after service."
October 1878 Spurgeon wishes more people would become inquirers:
"We had a coachman once who had an invincible repugnance to asking his way, although we over and over again laid before him the maxim “Better ask a dozen times than once miss your road.” Ask he would not, and so we should have lost time in endless mazes had we not pulled him up very often, and sought direction from one and another who knew the region well. The mass of people nowadays are of our coachman’s mind, and will not ask. We have to force our directions upon them. O that they would become inquirers, and follow us with anxious questions; we should never weary of showing then, the old paths."
June 1879 description of effective ministry:
"more than once they had 2,000 people at the principal service, and 1,000 more at an overflow meeting. Messrs. Smith and Fullerton addressed both audiences in turn, and one Sunday evening conversed with more than one hundred enquirers."
June 1879 description of effective ministry:
"A lively interest was maintained throughout the week, the attendances were good, the power of God was manifested in each meeting, and anxious enquirers were conversed with at the close of each service."
August 1879 description of better result at Spurgeon’s church if seekers don’t immediately go into inquiry room:
"Results, however, are better seen after an interval than immediately after the service. So it has ever been with our ministry. The converts do not rush excitedly into an enquiry room, but they think over what they have heard, and where the arrows have entered the soul the convinced ones come forward in due time."
October 1879 description of some inquirers receiving salvation:
"Each evening there were some enquirers, 'young men and maidens, old men and children,' many of whom entered into liberty. Pastor Williams writes: 'There were, we trust, some cases of genuine conversion of those who had hitherto been quite indifferent to the claims of religion, while others in whom the good work had been begun have been brought to decision, and the members of the church have rejoiced in the times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.'"
January 1880 inquirers:
"The services were well attended, and some inquirers were spoken with at the close."
January 1880 more inquirers:
"Enquirers come forward after each service, and many are anxious to be united with the church."
February 1880 more inquirers:
"The daily noon prayer-meetings during the month have been seasons of refreshment, the gracious influences and glorious results of the enquirers’ meetings will never be forgotten; the whole town has been affected."
November 1880 more inquirers:
"At no time during my pastorate have I seen so much interest awakened and sustained as during our brother’s stay with us; the chapel was well filled every evening except Saturday; several enquirers remained to speak with us, and best of all’ souls were saved and enabled to rejoice in Christ.”
December 1880 more inquirers:
"Each evening the audience increased, and enquirers were seen after every service. On the Sunday night the chapel was packed full, and there were so many seeking souls that Mr. Burnham could not personally speak with each one. The meetings were only arranged for one week, but the interest and blessing seemed so manifestly on the increase that the services were continued for a week longer."
March 1881 a clear distinction between inquirers and inquirers that are born again:
"At the close there were many enquirers, and the hearts of all Christian workers present were made to rejoice, as they had good evidence that many were being ‘ born again.’ “The total number of enquirers who have come forward is about two hundred; but we believe even this only represents a small proportion of the good accomplished."
August 1881 Spurgeon hopes D. L. Moody will be able to preach at his church:
"We hope that on some future occasion both Mr. Moody and Mr. Sankey will conduct a series of services at the Tabernacle; at any rate, the building will be at their disposal."
August 1881 Spurgeon encourages ministers to prepare for results when they preach by providing an inquiry room:
"You must also have faith in God in the form of expectancy. Our brethren Smith and Fullerton would not have a blessing on their work if they did not expect the blessing to come; but expecting the blessing, they provide an enquiry-room, and persons to look after the converts. Shall we commence
farming and provide no barn? In many a village the Lord has saved souls under the preaching of the gospel, but the minister has never said, “I shall be in the vestry on such and such an evening to see enquirers,” or, “I shall stop after the sermon to talk with the anxious.” He has never given the
people a chance of telling what the Lord has done for them, and if he should hear that a dozen people have been convinced of sin, he would be surprised, and fear that they were hypocrites. We have not so learned Christ. We look to take fish in our nets, and to reap harvests in our fields. Is it so with you, my brethren? Let it be more so. “Open thy mouth wide,” saith the Lord, “and I will fill it.” So pray and so preach that if there are no conversions you will be astonished, amazed, and broken-hearted. Look for the salvation of your hearers as much as the angel who will sound the last trump will look for the waking of the dead. Believe your own doctrine! Believe your own Savior! Believe in the Holy Ghost who dwells in you! For thus shall you see your hearts’ desire, and God shall be glorified."
"As the services proceeded the number of enquirers increased, and the divine blessing was so manifest and abundant that our brother was induced to prolong his stay with us."
1882 a letter to Spurgeon differentiates inquirers from conversions:
"Several other cases of conversion have been reported, besides great help and encouragement to enquirers, especially from your sermon ‘Only trust Him, only trust Him’ (No. 1635)."
"…at the Mission Church that I go to every Sunday evening to preach the word there are anxious inquirers who have been impressed under the sound of the blessed gospel."
November 1882 D. L. Moody preaches at Spurgeon’s church:
"If you have twelve thousand people all eager to get into a building which cannot hold more than six thousand, what can you do? Our seat-holders in the evening most commendably lent their tickets to others, and thus gave a second set of people the opportunity of hearing the great evangelist; but this, of course, did not lessen the heavy pressure of the eager multitude."
"The gospel has been faithfully and earnestly proclaimed by them, and the good hand of our God has been upon them, so that our churches have been quickened, the halting led to decision, and indifferent ones to enquiry. “We have much reason to thank God for their labors."
"At the end of the first week’s services Pastor T. W. Medhurst reported that each night the attendance had increased, and there had been many anxious enquirers."
"She begs Mr. Spurgeon to accept her warmest thanks for his earnest and true words preached from week to week, words whose fruits he can never know in this world. How many times they have cheered the faint, encouraged the desponding, shown the true path to the enquirer, none can tell."
"We have had very much of the Lord’s presence, many Christians have been quickened, and many souls saved; We have heard of nearly a hundred who have been in the enquiry rooms, and we are every day hearing of others who did not wait to be spoken with."
"There has been throughout an entire absence of anything approaching sensationalism, and certainly there has been no such thing as an attempt to get up an excitement or to force persons into the enquiry rooms."
"The prayer and enquiry meetings, after the ordinary services, have been well attended, and a large number of people have remained to be spoken to as to the way of salvation. The evangelists have been assisted in this work by many Christians in the town … The hall was densely crowded, and the word was blessed to the immediate decision of several who heard it."
From Spurgeon's Lectures to My Students:
"In addition to earnest preaching it will be wise to use other means. If you wish to see results from your sermons you must be accessible to inquirers. A meeting after every service may not be desirable, brat; frequent opportunities for coming into direct contact with your people should be sought after, and by some means created. It is Shocking to think that there are ministers who have no method whatever for meeting the anxious, and if they do see here and there one, it is because of the courage of the seeker, and not because of the earnestness of the pastor. From the very first you should appoint frequent and regular seasons for seeing all who are seeking after Christ, and you should continually invite such to come and speak with you. In addition to this, hold numerous inquirers’ meetings, at which the addresses shall be all intended to assist the troubled and guide the perplexed, and with these intermingle fervent prayers for the individuals present, and short testimonies from recent converts and others. As an open confession of Christ is continually mentioned in connection with saving faith, it is your wisdom to make it easy for believers who are as yet following Jesus by night to come forward and avow their allegiance to him. There must be no persuading to make a profession, but there should be every opportunity for so doing, and no stumbling-block placed in the way of hopeful minds. As for those who are not so far advanced as to warrant any thought of baptism, you may be of the utmost benefit to them by personal intercourse, and therefore you should seek it. Doubts may be cleared away, errors rectified, and terrors dispelled by a few moments’ conversation; I have known instances in which a life-long misery has been ended by a simple explanation which might have been given years before. Seek out the wandering sheep one by one; and when you find all your thoughts needed for a single individual, do not grudge your labor, for your Lord in his parable :represents the good shepherd as bringing home his lost sheep, not in a flock, but one at a time upon his shoulders, and rejoicing so to do."
From Spurgeon's The Soul Winner:
"Lay aside such numberings of the people, such idle pretence of certifying in half a minute that which will need the testing of a lifetime. Hope for the best, but in your highest excitements be reasonable. Enquiry-rooms are all very well; but if they lead to idle boastings, they will grieve the Holy Spirit, and work abounding evil."
"You must also believe in the power of that message to save people. … Now, if this is how you feel, what will be the result if souls are not saved? Why, you will call special prayer-meetings, to seek to know why the people do not come to Christ; you will have enquirers' meetings for the anxious; you will meet the people with a joyful countenance, so that they may see that you are expecting a blessing, but, at the same time, you will let them know that you will be grievously disappointed unless the Lord gives you conversions."
Notice here Spurgeon’s advice to ministers that if they ask for a "decision", they should have personal counselors ready in the inquiry room.
"… the Lord blessed them in bringing men to decision for Christ. It is a grand thing when a man has the faculty for the
precipitation of decision but it is an equally grand thing when he
has a number of people around him who say to each hearer,
after every service, "Well, friend, did you enjoy that discourse?
Was there something in it for you? Are you saved? Do you know
the way of salvation?"
Always have your own Bible ready, and turn to the passages you want to quote to the enquirers. I often noticed that friend of mine, of whom I spoke just now, and he seemed to me to open his Bible at most appropriate passages, he appeared to have them all ready, and handy, so that he would be sure to hit on the right texts. A third obstacle in the way of winning souls is that fatal delay which men so often make. I do not know whether this evil is not on the whole more widespread and mischievous than the indifference and lethargy and unbelief of which I have spoken.
… There is nothing like pressing men for a speedy decision, and getting them to settle at once this all-important question. Never mind if they do find fault with your teaching; it is always right to preach what God says, and His word is, "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
This leads me to mention another obstacle to soul-winning,
which is the same thing in another form, viz., carnal security. Many men fancy that they are quite safe; they have not really
tested the foundation on which they are building, to see that it is
sound and firm, but they suppose that all is well. If they are not
good Christians, they can at least say that they are rather better
than some who are Christians, or who call themselves by that
name; and if there is anything lacking in them, they can at any
time put on the finishing touch, and make themselves fit for
God's presence. Thus they have no fear; or, if they do fear at all,
they do not live in constant dread of that eternal destruction
from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power,
which will certainly be their portion unless they repent, and
believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Against these people we ought to thunder day and night. Let us plainly proclaim to them that the unbelieving sinner is "condemned already", and that he is certain to perish everlastingly if he does not trust in Christ. We ought so to preach as to make every sinner tremble in his seat; and if he will not come to the Saviour, he ought at least to have a hard time of it while he stops away from Him. I am afraid that we sometimes preach smooth things, too soothing and agreeable, and that we do not set before men their real danger as we should. If we shun in this respect to declare all the counsel of God, part at least of the responsibility of their ruin will lie at our door."
AUTHOR"S NOTE: This last statement sounds a lot like Finney’s “Christians, never tell a sinner anything or direct him to do anything that will stop him short of absolute submission to God. Suppose you tell an unbeliever to pray or to read or to do anything less than saving repentance, and that night he falls and breaks his neck. Whom will God blame? It makes the hearts of the faithful bleed to see how many people delude anxious sinners.”
I think that’s enough quotes from Spurgeon to illustrate that he called people to make a decision for Christ and used inquiry rooms to help them understand repentance and pray that God would save them.
Before I understood the context of what Spurgeon was saying, I disagreed with his approach of trying to get a “quick decision”. I didn’t understand he was pressing people to commit to serve God to the best of their ability until God deigned to save them. Spurgeon’s salvation paradigm was one hundred and eighty degrees opposite from the modern heresy of decisional regeneration.
The modern minister tells people they are saved by virtue of their decision for Christ. Spurgeon told people that making a decision for Christ was the only thing they could do while they waited on God to save them. This was the essence of the New Light Calvinist's "decision for Christ".
To the modern minister, making a decision for Christ represents a spiritual marriage between Christ and a convert. To Spurgeon and virtually all evangelical ministers before Billy Sunday, Making a decision for Christ was merely a declaration of intent to marry Christ if and when Christ chose to consummate the marriage.
PART TWO - The Enquiry Room
This was one of many advertisements selling the booklet, The Enquiry Room: Hints for Dealing with the Anxious. This particular ad was in a February 22, 1884 London Methodist newspaper, illustrating that Inquiry Rooms were used by Arminian ministers as well as New Light Calvinists. In fact, Spurgeon considered many Methodists to be more orthodox in their salvation theology than many of his Baptist associates that had succumbed to the "Downgrade".
The Enquiry Room: Hints for Dealing With The Anxious by George Soltau
A desire having been expressed by many that the Addresses given at Exeter Hall and the Conference Hall, Mildmay Park, to “Workers,” on the subject of dealing with ENQUIRERS, should be printed in a compact form, this little book has been prepared. It is now issued in the hope that it may prove of use in guiding many into a wise and efficient way of leading Anxious Ones to Christ.
Already the tide of blessing has begun to flow in upon London; and at the Missions held by our brethren from America, a large number of awakened souls have been let to the Savior. We believe that, as a permanent outcome of their labors, the Churches will be stirred, and the preachers of the Gospel freshly anointed for their service, so that to deal with Enquirers will be more the rule than the exception.
Let us be careful in this Work to be ourselves Living much in communion with the Lord; waiting on Him in prayer for the necessary guidance in His work. We need more of his sympathies and compassions, that with words of tenderness and power we may win many to the narrow way.
Many Enquirers will be found trusting in their feelings, and continuing in a condition of trouble and uncertainty through failing to take God at His word. We need to show such very distinctly that God requires FAITH in His declaration of the Gospel, and that feelings of peace and joy can only follow the act of faith in His Word.
“What Aileth Thee?”
As a company of Workers desiring to engage in the solemn and important work of dealing with the Anxious in the Enquiry Room, we all are agreed at the very outset that the Holy Spirit alone can lead a sinner to the Savior; that each of us must look to Him for the right word, the fitting text, the wise counsel; and that we are to be but the mouthpieces through whom He will speak. Our constant attitude must be one of communion with God; our memories and minds must be well stored with Scripture, that we may be ready for the Master’s use.
Before entering into the details of our subject, the following general suggestions will be found worthy of consideration.
Let us compare the Enquiry Room to the out-patient ward of a large hospital, in which are gathered a multitude of sick folk, afflicted with various diseases and complaints, waiting to be dealt with by the physician. Each case must be attended to by him personally; the special malady enquired into; and the fitting treatment prescribed. Were the physician only an empiric he might prescribe one medicine as a specific for all his patients, regardless of the variety of their diseases. The Great Physician here is the Lord Jesus: the workers in the Enquiry Room are like the assistants and nurses in the hospital, receiving from Him directions for the treatment of each wounded and suffering one.
Let us suppose we had before us these different cases.
The First might say, “I cannot see my way at all.” That is a case of blindness.
The Second: “I am afraid to die; my sins are so many.” That is like one suffering from severe pain
The Third: “I cannot break off my sinful habits; and I want to be a Christian.” That is like a case of crooked limbs and distorted joints.
The Fourth: “I do not feel very bad; but I know I am not all right.” That is like numbness produced by paralysis.
The Fifth: “I have fallen into awful sin: and I am afraid God cannot save me.” That is the case of one who questions the skill of the surgeon.
An inexperienced worker, having a few favorite texts, would probably speak to each person in this way, “You must just believe that the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth form all sin. You know He said, ‘Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out.’ Cannot you believe that ‘Now is the accepted time,’ that ‘Now is the day of salvation’? ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.’ Just kneel down, and say from your heart, ‘Take me as I am’” We would not say that none of those thus addressed would get any blessing though such treatment: but what we ought to do is to – First ascertain the cause of this blindness; and lameness; and numbness, etc.; and then by God’s help apply the right remedy. Our first questions then should be, “What brings you into the Enquiry Room?” “What do you think you need?”
The answer may be, “I want to be saved,” or “I want to become a Christian,” or “I don’t feel I am quite right,” or, “I think I ought to turn.” In none of these replies is there any very definite statement concerning sin, or any apparent consciousness of sin. Therefore the first thing to be arrived at is to convict deeply of SIN. The Gospel is not designed primarily to make people happy, and give them peace; but to deliver them from sin, its presence, power, and penalty; and to bring them into communion with a Holy God. Sin is not an accident or a misfortune, but a disease. Active in its principle, permeating every fiber and tissue of mind and body; hideous and loathsome as a foul leprosy; abominable and irremediable; not to be dealt with piece-meal, (14) but to be attacked at this root. All the restlessness of soul, the craving for excitement, the love of the world, the dislike of holy things, the reluctance to come forward for Christ, are the effect of SIN dwelling in the heart. What, then, is the state of the heart of a sinner?
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. (Jer. xvii. 9.)
Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man. (Mat. xv. 19.)
When did sin begin? At birth.
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. (psa. li. 5.)
What are the characteristics of sin?
There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes. (Rom, iii, 10-18.)
A true definition of a sinner is found in the following passages:
Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Gen. vi. 5.)
The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God; neither indeed can be. (Rom. viii. 7.)
The seat of sin is the heart: hence the injunction of Prov. iv. 23:
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
As in the physical nature, so in the spiritual, a diseased heart impairs the functions of all the members of the body. A heart sending forth diseased blood propels poison throughout the whole system. What is needed? A CHANGE OF HEART, according to Psa. Li. 10:
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
And with a change of heart will come change of mind; followed by sound speech, sound judgment, and sound thoughts.
Again, what is the Scripture definition of SIN?
Turn to Romans v. 6-10, and the following expressions will be found: -
How helpless then is the disease! What can Religion, Reformation, Self-improvement, or aught else, do in such a case? Such Scriptures as the foregoing should be used as the surgeon’s knife to cut deep into the heart and conscience of the slightly-awakened Enquirer; open up the abscess of sin to the consciousness of the sinner. Do not be afraid of hurting an Enquirer’s feelings and causing pain, any more than a skilful surgeon would fear to use the knife when he sees it necessary. Let Enquirers know as fully as possible “what ails them,” that they may be ready to accept the remedy to be offered to meet their case.
“Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth.”
In the previous chapter we dealt specially with the subject of SIN, its irremediable nature and permeating power; the cause of all the sorrow and suffering to the soul. Further; we saw the necessity for ascertaining what form sin had assumed to the consciousness of the Enquirer, in order to apply such portions of Scripture as would meet the need of the soul.
We now enter upon the consideration of the various ways in which the Gospel is presented and symbolized in Scripture, so as to select from these symbols the one best suited to the difficulty of the Enquirer.
It is very essential, in dealing with Enquirers, to avoid, as far as possible, mixing these symbols; otherwise the mind gets confused, and is less able to grasp intelligently what the Gospel sets forth. We have not unfrequently heard a worker in the Enquiry Room begin with the allusion to the Good Shepherd seeking the lost sheep; then suddenly quote a portion of the parable of the Good Samaritan; following this with some reference to the story of the Prodigal Son; and concluding with an allusion to the blood “cleansing from all sin.” Such a method of applying the Scripture will bewilder, rather than instruct, the mind; and possibly fail in leading the Enquirer to Christ.
The following may be taken as amongst the simplest and most useful symbols of the way of salvation.
“Sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John iii. 4.) The penalty of the law breaking is death. God can only forgive the sinner by transferring the guilt and penalty of sin to another, able and willing to take it.
Jesus Christ offered Himself as the sin-bearer; took upon Himself the penalty of the broken law; suffered and died under it. God, being satisfied, raised Him from the dead: and now He presents to the sinner His Blood, token of His Life poured out, to accomplish these two things, namely; to blot out the record of sin from God’s Book of Remembrance in Heaven; and to remove and guilt of sin from the convicted conscience and heart of the sinner.
When therefore an Enquirer says, “I am a great sinner, I need the pardon of my sin, I am verily guilty,” &c., take a line of teaching similar to this, using such texts as the following.
Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree; that we, being dead
to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
(1 Pet. ii. 24.)
Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him
stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah liii.4, 5.)
Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Rom. Iv. 25.)
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath though Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be save by His life. (Rom. V. 6-10.)
I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. (Isa. xliii. 25)
I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions; and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto Me; for I have redeemed thee. (Isa. xliv. 22.)
For illustrations point to the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus. (Luke vii. 48) The man sick of the palsy. (Matt. ix. 2.) Refer also to the Book of Remembrance.
I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and other book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Rev. xx. 12.)
(2.) Jesus Christ redeems from the Slavery of Sin by paying the Ransom.
“Ye were slaves of sin.” (Ron. Vi. 17.) The condition of the Israelites in Egypt illustrates the slavery and bondage of sin. They were unable to free themselves. Life, liberty, property, were in the power of another. God says “I will deliver them from this bondage. Let them slay the lamb, and sprinkle the blood outside the door where I can see it.” This blood was the price of the transfer of the people from Pharaoh to God. It meant: “We acknowledge our life is forfeited; we lay it down.” It also meant: “We are not our own; we are bought with a price.”
Now the Lord Jesus comes to earth to lay down the price of redemption. The sinner accepts the fact, and acknowledges, “I have no liberty, no life, no power to free myself. The Lord frees me from the bondage of sin. I am transferred to Him as my new Master: my life is in His keeping by right of purchase.”
Sold under sin. (Rom. vii. 14.)
Thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord. (1 Kings xxi. 20.)
Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves. (Isa. l. 1.)
Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purity unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Tit. Ii. 14.)
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers: but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Pet. i. 18, 19.)
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the boo, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood. (Rev. v. 9)
Who redeemeth thy life form destruction. (Ps. ciii, 4.)
In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. (Eph. i. 7)
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (Heb. Ix, 12.)
Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom. (Job xxxiii, 24.)
The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Matt. xx. 28.)
Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1 Tim. ii. 6.)
When an Enquirer says, “I have tried to give up my sins: but I cannot; I am held down by them: I long to be free,” select this line of illustration for him.
(3.) Jesus is the Great Physician, healing the disease of sin.
All the miracles recorded in detail in the Gospels were wrought on incurables. They are types of the various effects of sin, producing blindness, paralysis, infirmity, leprosy, deformity, and death. The cures were instantaneous, not gradual; perfect, not partial; painless, not agonizing. Healing depended on faith in the Lord’s power and will, and in obedience to His word. When all means (26) have failed, the Lord can heal. Give up “trying” and “trust Jesus.”
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you. (Exek. xxxvi. 26.)
For the Lord as HEALER, see the following passages:
I said, Lord be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against Thee. (Psa. Xli. 4.)
O Lord, heal me, for my bones are vexed. (Ps. vi. 2.)
I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord. (Jer. Xxx. 17.)
I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely. (Hosea xiv. 4.)
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed. (Jer.xvii.14.)
I am the Lord that healeth thee. (Ex. Xv. 26.)
Who healeth all thy diseases. (Psa. ciii. 3.)
HE CURED BLINDNESS. How? See the narratives in Matthew ix., Mark x., and John ix. And now He cures spiritual blindness.
If an Enquirer says, “I cannot see my way; I cannot see these things,” give him the questions and commands recorded in these narratives. Bid him rely upon the wondrous promises of God. Entreat him to trust the ability of Christ to make him see. The result will be, he will “follow Jesus in the way.”
JESUS CURES LEPROSY – a type of the outward foul manifestations of sin. He sees the sores, and touches the leper. Does an Enquirer say, “I have been an awful sinner; I have committed every kind of abominable sin; and I cannot get rid of sinful thoughts and desires”? Point him to the narratives in 2 Kings v., Matthew viii., and Luke xvii. Bid him uncover his sin to Jesus; bid him show himself to the Great High Priest; or go wash, burying himself, in all his loathsomeness, in the waters of judgment that rolled over Christ’s soul for him, and he shall rise to “walk in newness of life.”
Does the Enquirer say, “I have lost all hope.” Show him the story of the hopeless man in Luke x. 30-34.
Does he say, “I have tried all I know and am no better”? Bid him try Jesus according to Luke viii. 43-45.
“I fear I am lost.” To be lost means to have “gone astray;” and, like a sheep, to be unable to find the way back.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way. (Isa. liii. 6.)
Exhort the Enquirer to confess this to God at once.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep. (Ps.cxix.176.)
For ye were as sheep going astray. (1 Pet. ii. 25.)
Then explain the Lord’s words in Luke xix. 10.
The Son of Man is cone to seek and to save that which was lost.
“But I am afraid He has given up seeking me; I am such a lost sinner.”
“No, that cannot be the case,” is the reply, “as He seeks ‘until He finds’” (Luke xv. 4.) When He has found the lost one He takes him up and lays him on His shoulders rejoicing; that is, Jesus undertakes the sinner’s case now, and will be responsible for the safety and welfare of body, soul, and spirit, if only the lost one will let Him. He is able and willing to do so, because He laid down “His life for the sheep” (John x. 11.) Now He says, “Let Me lay you on My shoulder.”
It is noteworthy that in Matthew xviii. 11, where the Lord’s words have reference to the salvation of children, He omits the words “to seek,” and only says “The Son of Man is come to save that which was lost.” The children have not gone far away; they are still in sight and are quickly reached.
(5.) The Lord Jesus is the Friend and Brother – to receive back the wanderer; to hear the outpouring of the heart; and to give the welcome into the Father’s presence.
There will be not a few in the Enquiry Room crushed in spirit, lonely in heart, and longing for sympathy and comfort. To many of these the power of temptation is very strong, and they realize their weakness to resist it. Those bruised spirits may be tenderly led to such Scriptures as these:
For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted. (Heb. ii. 18)
We have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Heb. iv. 15.)
Let them realize that the very sympathy and help they need is such as the Lord offers them.
“He knows what sore temptations mean For He has felt the same.”
Bid them confide their sorrows with a trustful heart to Jesus, pointing out such texts as the following:
Like as a father pitieth His children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remembreth that we are dust. (Psa. ciii. 13, 14.)
There is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. (Prov. xviii.24.)
They need a friend to love them always, one who is “born for adversity;” and whose help can be relied on in every dark moment. But they may ask, “Does God want me?” For the answer see the following:
All day I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. (Rom. x. 21.)
The Lord … is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Pet. iii. 9.)
As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live. (Ezek. xxxiii. 11.)
When they come and truly cast themselves on God the welcome will be in accordance with Luke xv. 20.
When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
And with John vi. 37.
Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.
The ground of the welcome being Isa. liii. 4.
Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, and carried our sorrows.
“Man of Sorrows!” what a name For the Son of God, who came Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
(6.) Jesus is the Life to quicken the dead soul.
What is a dead soul? One who has no connection with God, and no communication with Him: he is like a son who has left his home and friends, and gone away; leaving no address behind him, and who for years sends back no communication. Such a one is practically dead to his friends. The sinner is dead in trespasses and sins.
And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (Eph. ii, 1-3.)
Life, in its relation to God, has never commenced: hence the force of the Lord’s words:
Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Ye must be born again. (John iii 3,5,7.)
I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John x. 10.)
The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. vi. 23)
But how can I get this life?
God so loved the word that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John iii. 16.)
Christ gave up His life on the Cross for acceptance.
Who loved me, and gave Himself for me. (Gal. ii. 20.)
To be “born again” is to receive by faith the “life” of Christ; to begin all over again, reckoning the past life with (34) all its sin and ungodliness as blotted out of all existence and memory, having nothing holy and pure in it.
For further understanding of LIFE, mark all the passages in St. John’s Gospel where the word occurs; and in quoting any of them to the dead souls, remember that “it is the Spirit that quickeneth” (John vi. 63; 2 Cor. iii. 6.)
Hearing and asking them Questions
The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.” (Prov. xvi. 1.)
Many workers find some difficulty in knowing how to begin a conversation. It may not always be wise to commence with such a question as - “Are you a Christian”? “Is your soul saved”? “Have you found the Lord?” as such a method is somewhat abrupt, and may have the effect of repelling the Enquirer. When a medical man calls to see a patient, he leads up to the special enquiries as to the state of health, etc.,
by more general questions; and so with tender sympathy the Christian Worker should lead up to the close enquiry as to the state of soul of the Anxious One.
It will be found a good plan to commence with questions suggested by the text of the address, or by the closing appeal of the preacher; of by an allusion to the closing hymn.
Amongst the replies to the pointed questions as to the safety of the soul, the following will probably be frequent:
Instead of at once attempting to show that the hope is vain, and that noting has to be done for salvation, it may be well to ask such questions as these; -
How long have you been hoping to be saved?
What first aroused your mind as to the necessity of being saved?
When did you begin to do your best?
How have you been getting on?
Are you satisfied with yourself?
How many sins have you overcome?
Who told you to do your best?
Have you any text that enjoins it?
When will you have attained to the standard of holiness God requires?
Do you know what God requires?
God requires a perfect likeness to Jesus, His beloved Son. Here is the description of Him: He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” (Hebrews vii. 26.) Are you like him?
The Enquirer may reply –
“But you admit that you owe a certain amount to God that you are unable to pay? – that a debt of sin has been contracted?” “Yes.”
With this admission turn to Luke vii. 41, 42, and explain the parable of the two debtors. Let the five-Hundred-pence debtor represent the Christian Worker, the fifty-pence debtor the Enquirer, and point out the meaning of the words - “NOTHING TO PAY”
If the Enquirer brings up Phil. Ii. 12, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” as an argument for “doing his best,” turn to the passage and read on – “For it is God which worketh in you” – and show how it is impossible to work out what God has not worked in; that He gives forgiveness of sin, and the Holy Spirit for this very purpose, thus enabling the sinner to work for Him, and manifest the salvation received.
Another line of conversation may be found useful. Put the question, “ How much time do you spend in religious exercises, and in the interests of your soul during the week? And how much time in business or family affairs?” Suggest the desirability of reversing the order of things, and devoting to the interests of the soul for the next month the time hitherto spent in business, etc., and to the affairs of ordinary life the time hitherto spent in spiritual things; pointing out how such a process would lead to bankruptcy and confusion, seeing that the number of hours spent in business affairs would be less than the number otherwise occupied. If the soul be of more importance than the body, how utterly futile must all efforts be for its eternal salvation! Do not encourage the Enquirer to “keep trying,” as is so often done. Note carefully Romans x. 3.
They being ignorant of Gods righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Having knocked away all the props of self-righteousness, and convinced the soul of its need, put God’s way of dealing with sin before the Enquirer.
2. “I put my trust in the Almighty. He is very merciful.”
When you hear the expression “the Almighty” thus introduced, you may be almost sure the person using it knows little or nothing of the character of God, or of the heinousness of sin. Enquire “In what promise of God are you trusting?” “What do you know of His mercy?” “Has He forgiven your sins?” “Has He accepted you?” Answers in the negative to these questions will enable you to point out that the Enquirer is trusting to his feelings, prayers, good character, or something in himself, rather than the mercy of God.
“But I should not like to presume to say I was saved. None can tell that till they come to die.”
To such a observation reply, “Suppose when you come to die, after doing your best, and putting your trust in the Almighty, you find you have made some great mistake, and you are all wrong, and that there is no time to get anything put right, what will you do?” It is presumption to flatly contradict what God declares; and He plainly says that we may know that we are saved, and that we have eternal life. (1 John v. 13.)
God so love the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John iii. 16.)
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. (John iii. 36.)
He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life. (John v. 24.)
Turning to Romans iii. 12, “They are all gone out of the way,” ask the Enquirer “Is this true”? “Yes.” “Then you have gone out of the way”? “Yes.”
Again in Isaiah liii. 6, “‘All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.’ Is that true.” “Yes.” “Then you have gone (42) out of the way?” “Yes.” “And you have turned to your own way”? “Yes.” “How far have you gone from God in your own way? – as far as you could get?” “Yes.” Now change the words ALL WE, for I, and read the verse again, concluding “and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of – WHOM?” “Did Jesus die for you?”
It is important with this class of Enquirers to put very clearly before them that the Lord knew whose sins He was bearing on the Cross; that His eye looked forward down the future, as well as backward on the past; and that He there was fully aware for whom He was suffering. “Neither pray I for these alone; but for them also which shall believe in Me through their word.” (John xvii. 20.)
3.“How can I tell whether I am one of the Elect?”
The adversary of souls skillfully uses the most precious doctrines to hinder the (43) sinner from coming to Christ. He uses the doctrine of God’s free grace to lull the conscience by persuading the soul there is plenty of time. He uses the doctrine of Election to frighten timid souls, lest they press forward and accept the gift of God.
To such an enquiry as the above it may be well to reply, “Are you anxious to know whether you can be saved?”
If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. (John vii. 37.)
“Did He mean this invitation for ANY ONE?”
“I don’t know. How can any one come except the Holy Sprit draw him?”
“Who set God’s people arranging these meetings? And who induced you to come to this meeting? Was it not the Holy Spirit? And having brought you here and given you this desire for salvation does He purpose to disappoint you, and leave you in darkness and difficulty, mocking your heart’s sorrow and trouble? The Holy Spirit now submits to you the decision of the matter. The question really is – What do you choose? What ever you choose God will ratify. Then choose life by accepting the Lord’s invitation, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.’ God will ratify that choice to you for ever.”
It has been very wisely said that the great invitations of the Gospel, such as
God so loved the word that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life: (John iii. 16.)
Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely: (Rev. xxii. 17.)
Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the Waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat: yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price: (Isa. lv. 1.)
are the outside texts for all, who will, to read. Those who believe and accept the invitation, step inside the door of mercy to find a set of inside texts inscribed on the walls for their comfort and assurance, such as
All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, &c. (Rom. viii. 28, 29.)
He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world…having predestinated us unto the adoption of children (Eph. i. 4, 5.)
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. (1 Pet. i. 2)
5. “I am afraid I have committed the unpardonable sin.”
This difficulty haunts the minds of a certain number of persons, who are naturally morbid and given to introspection. If such a remark is made by an Enquirer, ask him, “Does this fear haunt you? How long have you been thus troubled? What first gave rise to it?” Then ask “Do you honestly desire salvation? Who produces this desire salvation? Who produces this desire? Satan, or the Holy Spirit? If the Holy Spirit has thus stirred you to earnest enquiry it is clear that you cannot have committed the unpardonable sin. Had you done so He would have left you forever, and would no more have troubled you with such questions. Take your very anxiety of mind as the best proof that the Lord desires your salvation, and that He has guided you here for that very purpose.”
To meet this difficulty it is important to make clear the work of the Holy Spirit. The two great gifts of the Gospel are “Remission of sins” and “the Holy Spirit.” (Acts ii. 38.) The first deals with the past; the second with the future. The Holy Spirit SEALS the Believer.
Point out the work of the Holy Spirit from the following texts
In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (Eph. i. 13.)
Grieve no the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Eph. iv. 30)
Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Sprit in our hearts. (2 Cor. i. 22.)
HE GIVES LIFE.
The Sprit is life because of righteousness. (Rom. viii. 10.)
HE DWELLS IN THE BELIEVER.
Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. (Rom. viii. 9.)
He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; … He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John xiv. 16, 17.)
HE WILL TEACH AND GUIDE.
The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, … He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John xiv. 26.)
When the Comforter is come… He shall testify of Me. (John xv. 26.)
When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth. (John xvi. 13.)
HE HELPS OUR INFIRMITIES.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Sprit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Rom. vii. 26.)
He who saves us from sin is also able to keep us.
Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory. (Jude 24.)
I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him. (2 Tim. i. 12.)
God is able to make all grace abound toward you. (2 Cor. ix. 8.)
Moreover this great gift of the Holy Spirit is the power for surmounting difficulties, and overcoming temptations. Ephesians i. 18-21 teaches us that this power is in us; that as the Holy Spirit raised up Jesus, and set Him “far above” (not just above) all principality and power, etc., we, too, may expect to be raised up above the power of evil, and the trail of circumstances, and thus be kept from falling.
7. “I cannot accept a God as my Saviour, or submit to Him, who sends sinners to eternal punishment.”
In the Enquiry Room we have no business with the discussion of the deep mysteries in connection with the punishment of sin; and those who may raise these questions there will probably do so more out of curiosity than anxiety, or else to fortify themselves with fresh arguments for refusing to submit to the Lord Jesus. We must set forth clearly that God has given a law – holy, just and good; that He has attached to that law the penalty for the breach of it, equally holly, just, and good; that He, as the Righteous Judge, will cause the execution of the sentence of the law to be carried out; and that this also will be found to be holy, just and good. He has given us in the Cross of Jesus a view of the punishment of sin. Immeasurable was the weight of God’s wrath on the person of His Holy Son; equally immeasurable by us the weight of our guilt, incurring such weight of wrath. And, “shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Gen. xviii. 25.)
It is our work to warn sinners to flee from the wrath to come, not to discuss what that wrath may be.
“But what about the heathen?” may be asked. The best reply will be, “As you are not a heathen?” may be asked. The best reply will be, “As you are not a heathen, but a nominal Christian, you have no present concern with God’s purposes in relation to them. God commands you to forsake you sin, and accept His Son as your Saviour and Lord.”
“All sorts and conditions of men.”
“The kingdom of Heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind.” (Matt. xiii. 47.)
(1.) THE DEEPLY CONVICTED will, we trust, be the most numerous kind enclosed in the net, and to be “gathered in!” With these the essential thing is to ascertain how the Spirit of God is working in their hearts, and then to select such Scriptures as may most fitly apply to their expressed need. The various groups of texts for this purpose were given under the title “TIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF T RUTH.”* See page 18.
(2.) THE AWAKENED CONSCIENCE must not be confounded with the convicted heart. There is a common expression, “If I act up to my conscience I shall be accepted of God.” Conscience never leads a man to God, but makes him realize his distance from God.
Adam and Eve had an awakened conscience in the Garden of Eden; and they hid themselves from God, doing their best to conceal from each other and from God their shame and sin. God called out, “Where art thou?” Mark the answer, “I heard Thy voice – I was afraid – I was naked – I hid myself.” There was no confession of sin. And this was followed by an attempt to shift the responsibility of sin on another. Between God and the serpent stood the guilty ones. They listened to the voice of God as He addressed the serpent, “The seed of the woman shall bruise thy head.” This was the Gospel for them, to lead them to step over to the side of God, who would thus vanquish their foe.
But to step over to God involves being stripped of all covering made by oneself. See Zechariah iii. 3–5.
Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.”
And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee; and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by.
God must clothe and cover the sinner. To explain this, note the following group of texts.
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. (Prov. xxviii. 13.)
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. (Psa. xxxii. 1.)
Love covereth all sins. (Prov. x. 12.)
How does Love cover sin?
God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. v. 8.)
The death of Christ covers the sin that would be death to the soul.
(3.) THE ROUSED FEELNGS.
They which when they hear, receive the word with joy: and these have no root, which for awhile believe, and in time of temptation fall away. (Luke vii. 13.)
This class of persons assents to everything you say, and tells you how beautiful the meetings are; how happy they feel, &c. If you suspect them to be unconvicted hearers, give them no encouragement; but ply them with a few pointed questions about sin; whether they think they have fallen as low as others; whether they have realized the deceitfulness of the heart as described in Jeremiah xvii. 9.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.
Enquire how much punishment they think they deserve from God, and then ask them how they expect to withstand temptation; they will probably reply, “As long as I feel all right, no doubt I shall get on.” Feelings do not alter facts. On the one hand happy feelings do not remove the wrath of God from an unpardoned soul; nor on the other hand do the unhappy feelings and doubts of the trembling believer alter the fact of his security in Christ.
(4.) THE BACKSLIDER is described in 2 Peter i. 8, 9.
If these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
And also in Luke xv. 11–21.
It is impossible for us to decide who are really backsliders, and who have never receive life at all, but have fallen away in time of temptation as described in Luke viii. 13. God alone can see the heart; and all who are born again will most assuredly be kept by His power, and fully know the meaning of the blessed words –
He restoreth my soul. (Psa. xxiii. 3.)
A soul once saved can never be lost. The Good Shepherd said,
No man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. (John x. 29.)
We cannot say positively to any one “You are saved,” but can only judge by the outward life and character.
By their fruits ye shall know them. (Matt. vii. 20.)
If therefore a person says to a worker, “I am a backslider,” ask for an account of his or her conversion, time, place, circumstances, and so forth; and then put a few questions based on 2 Peter i. 1–9. The two principal causes of backsliding will be found to be, - trusting to feelings instead of the “precious promises;” and lack of boldness in confessing Christ: “virtue” or courage has not been added to faith.
In verse 9 the words, “cannot see afar off” are in the marginal reading of the revised version rendered “he closed his eyes,” denoting the voluntary shutting up of the heart, and indulging in sleep, thus preventing watchfulness. If there seems to be real godly sorrow for sin, and a consciousness of departure from God, use the following:
I will heal their backsliding: I will love them freely. (Hos. xiv. 4.)
Return, thou backsliding Isreal, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord; and I will not keep anger for ever. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God …. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord. (Jer. iii. 12-14.)
Impress on him that he must return as a sinner, making no excuses for his wanderings: that the language of his heart must be –
“Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me.”
Deal with a mistaken backslider as with an ordinary Enquirer convicted of sin for the first time, and impress on all such that the power to keep from backsliding in the future consists in the laying hold of the truths concerning the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, revealing a present Saviour. Full surrender to the Lord must be insisted on, and the thorough searching of heart as to the causes of previous failure, that these may be honestly dealt with, and confessed in the Lord’s presence.
There are two Scriptures that often trouble the minds of uninstructed Christians, namely –
Christ is become of no effect unto you whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. (Gal. v. 4.)
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1 Cor. ix. 27.)
In the one expression, “Ye are fallen from grace,” has reference to the error into which the Galatian Church had fallen, of supposing that they were in the first instance saved by grace, but had to maintain their salvation by the observance of Jewish ritual and legal ceremonial; losing sight of the truth that the God who pardons sin through grace, also through grace, also through His divine grace keeps the feet from falling. The glory of salvation must be His from the beginning to end.
The other Scripture, where the Apostle Paul says, “Lest I myself should be a castaway,” is an allusion to the practice at the annual games held at Corinth. He is saying, “I keep under my body.” I am still in training, lest “when I have preached to others” – that is, acted as herald in summoning the competitors for the start, - I myself, when my turn comes to compete, should be disqualified for running, and be rejected as an unfit competitor.
(5.) THE FORMALIST may stroll into the Enquiry Room to see what is going on, unable to understand all the stir about “being converted,” “being saved.” John Bunyan has well described him as saying, “I was born in the land of Vain Glory; and I am going for praise to Mount Sion.” His speech will betray him. He will tell you that he does not believe in this sort of thing at all; that people who are regular in their attendance at church or chapel do not need any such religions excitement. As a rejoinder ask him to explain the meaning of the words:
There is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Rom. iii. 22, 23.)
Suggest to him that very probably he is described in John x. 1 by the Lord Jesus as one who has not entered in by the door, but has climbed up some other way, and is therefore a thief and a robber, come to steal away men’s faith and confidence in the Good Shepherd. So question him about Scripture as to make him feel his ignorance of the Word of God, and then take him to 2 Timothy iii. 5. (61)
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. (2 Tim. iii. 5.)
Alas for those who are still more fully described in verses 7 and 8 as–
Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth;..reprobate (or of no judgment) concerning the faith.”
(6.) THE INQUISITIVE TALKER will be full of foolish and vain questions, trying to appear really anxious for information. His picture is given in 1 Timothy vi. 4, 5.
He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings…. Supposing that gain is godliness.
The Apostle Paul then gives his advice as to how to deal with him: “From such withdraw thyself.” There is no better plan that we can adopt
(7.) THE SCEPTIC. – We shall probably meet with many skeptical minds, of various shades of unbelief. We may find that some have become skeptical through the inconsistency of nominal Christians, amongst whom they have been thrown. Such will need much patience and tenderness, as they must be won back.
Another class will have been brought up under skeptical influences from childhood, and will therefore be thoroughly ignorant of the Scriptures. They will need instruction in the elementary truths of the Gospel.
A third class will have renounced all faith in God’s revelation, in order to give unbridled rein to their lusts. They will need stern rebuke.
An Atheist will probably be a rare individual in the Enquiry Room. Most men believe in God in some way or other. Argument will not avail much with an Atheist, but the sharp sword with two edges is as effectual as ever. It divides asunder the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews iv. 12.) Let it be wielded with precision and held in the firm grasp of faith; and it will again work wonders.
At the outset of the conversation it will be desirable to ascertain what has induced the skeptical frame of mind; and so to be guided as to the line of truth to advance. For the first class mentioned, point out that the very existence of nominal Christians having the form of godliness, though with out the power, indicates the existence of true Christians somewhere. Satan always makes counterfeits of God’s realities, and tries to pass them off as current coin. Enquire what the HEART is needing, what causes dissatisfaction and unrest, and then simply point out God’s resting-place for weary hearts, God’s provision for hungry and thirsty ones.
In Hebrews xi, 6, it is declared –
Without faith it is impossible to please Him.
In Hebrews ix. 22 –
Without shedding of blood is no remission.
In Hebrews xii. 14 –
Follow holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
These are the three requisites for the soul. Faith is “the gift of God” (Phil. i. 29); Remission of sin is the gift of the Lord Jesus (Acts ii. 38); Holiness is the gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter i. 2). Thus, and thus only, is the soul’s need fully met.
With the second class adopt a line of questioning that shall elicit from them their definition of God. Endeavour to get them to define their own ideas of what God requires; what are His laws and principles: and then ask whether they have acted up to the light they profess to have; or whether they have not transgressed times without number?
Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you. (Acts xvii. 23.)
Let such be led to see that God, who knows them, has described them in His Word, and that He has also set forth the only deliverance from the power of sin, and the only source of knowledge of Himself, namely, the Lord Jesus.
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. (John xiv. 6.)
Keep the conversation as much as possible to the question of deliverance from sin: and so not be drawn into discussions on the punishment of sin.
With the third class of unbelievers, who “glory in their shame,” discussion is unnecessary. Read them solemnly such passages as Jude 10, 12, 13:
These speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. ... These are spots in your feast of charity, when they feast on you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
2 Peter ii. 9 – 19, is a similar passage dealing more fully with the character and practice of such darkened hearts. Unveil by these Scriptures the private life and thoughts. Let such persons realize the authority of a book that throws light upon their conduct and character; and that, with equal clearness, shows them their doom. The mere brag of infidelity will be silenced by the majesty of the word of God.
It will be desirable also to enquire how much these persons have read their Bibles. In most cases their ignorance of the Scriptures will be an effectual barrier to a prolonged discussion on their part, and God may in His mercy give them a teachable spirit, so that they will listen to His word.
8. THE JEW must not be shut out from the place of blessing, but be heartily welcomed, having a special claim on the mercy of God. To him point out that the character of the God of Abraham and of Israel is unchanged and unchangeable (67). His name is still Jehovah. He declared –
It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Lev. Xvii. 11.)
And He has ordained that the High Priest alone shall enter into the holiest of all with the blood of atonement. Remind him that he has neither preist nor sacrifice now; and that therefore the way to God is effectually closed. The promises of Isaiah xliii. 25, 26, and xliv. 22, are true for the Jew to-day as for the Gentile, if only he will believe the “report” of Isaiah liii., and see how all is fulfilled in the Cross of Jesus of Nazareth.
The prophecies of the Old Testament set forth two great events: the first; the coming of a suffering Messiah, to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. The second; the coming of a glorious Messiah, to take His kingdom and reign in righteousness. The two prophecies point to the same person – IMMANUEL, born in Bethlehem, wounded for our transgressions, whose soul was not left in Hades, and who now sits at the right hand of God, until His enemies be made His footstool. (Psa. xvi. 10; Acts ii. 27; xiii. 35; Psa. cx. 1; Matt. xxii. 43 – 45; Mark xii. 35 – 37; Luke xx. 41-44; Acts ii. 34, 35; Heb. i. 13.) The Jew believes the second prophecy; but rejects the first. The majority of Christians believe the first; but reject the second.
8.THE LISTLESS ENQUIRER, whose eye wanders all round the room while you are talking to him, and who is more curious than I anxious, will need to be warned of his state from such texts as these:
We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation? (Heb. ii. 1 – 3.)
Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. (Heb. iv. l.)
The effect of these Scriptures may be to deepen the work of conviction, and so lead the soul to real earnestness in seeking salvation.
10. THE PROUD ENQUIRER, who is thankful he is not as many others are, should be taken to such Scriptures as these:
These six things doth the Lord hate… A proud look, a lying tongue, etc. (Prov. vi. 16, 17.)
Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord. (Prov. xvi. 5.)
There is a generation, oh, how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up. (Prov. xxx. 13.)
Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (James ii. 10.)
So long as such an one thinks more highly of himself than he ought to think, it will not be wise to give him any encouragement in the Gospel.
11. THE RETICENT ENQUIRER is more difficult to deal with. Emphasize the necessity of confession of sin, fully and frankly, to God.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John i. 9.)
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. (Prov. xxviii. 13.)
I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. (Psa. xxxii. 5.)
This should be followed by obedience to James v. 16.
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.
Then will come the confession of Christ, as in Romans x. 9.
If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Explain how unconfessed sin must prevent the blessing sought being obtained.
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. (Psa. lxvi. 18.)
Then again the indulgence in secret sin keeps the Lord out of the heart; for He must have full possession. If this sin be not now dealt with solemnly in His presence, it must be hereafter to the soul’s condemnation.
In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my Gospel. (Rom. ii. 16)
There is nothing hid which shall not be manifested; neither was anything kept secret, but that it should come abroad. (Mark iv. 22.)
Then again a favorite pastime, of occupation, or some strong friendship, may prevent the soul from surrendering fully to the Lord. To any laboring under this difficulty, though slow to admit it, point out that the Lord Jesus is most tender and compassionate, and will not take away anything that He knows will cheer or be a help. Exhort the Enquirer to surrender all to the Lord and trust Him to give back, accompanied by His own blessing, what He knows will be helpful, and to withdraw what He knows will be baneful.
In conclusion let us remember the command given by the Lord to His disciples (Mark ix. 19), when they had amongst them the lad afflicted with the dumb spirit,
“Bring him unto Me.”
This is our great work. As true disciples, may we be enabled faithfully and wisely to bring unto the Master all with whom we may come in contact, that He may speak the word of healing power and pardoning love, and thus send thousands of their way rejoicing.
GO TO: Chapter 3 - Revivals of the Century by Lyman H. Atwater
TABLE OF CONTENTS