“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 NKJV).
Sometime ago I found a paperback in the free bin of a used bookstore: Discovering the Power of the Cross of Christ by Charles H Spurgeon. To someone else, it was trash. To me, it was gold. What others had passed over, I was delighted to have.
I took it home, but only recently began reading it. An Easter book, in November. At first, I sighed. I’d read the Bible through how many times? taught from it, and written about it. What did I not know about the Crucifixion? But by the third morning, I was writing in my journal, “Reading Spurgeon. He’s wonderful!”
Now, my usual prayertime is morning and evening when I am alone. Sometimes the Lord talks with me in the still of the night or the early morning hours. This past Sunday morning—after spending a week with the Cross—I awoke early and found myself thinking of Rose. You don’t know Rose, of course. She was one of the converts my parents brought in. She was, well, different. She didn’t do things the way we do. She had her own way. An artistic type.
Rose and her husband, Bill, lived out in the country. In a rustic 18th-century-like log cabin, set far back on the land. No road through the pasture, but then Rose and Bill didn’t have a car either. If they wanted to come to church, we had to go get them.
It was my mother who had learned of Rose, had taken an interest in her, and had invited her to church. Who else would’ve taken an interest in so primitive a creature? Rose got saved first; not long after, her husband, Bill. Bill was a slow, silent type, who said so little that one had the impression that maybe if he’d talk a little more, he might get the hang of it.
Sometimes my mother would say, “Let’s go see Rose,” and we children would groan. My parents would drive out there anyway; and the first ones to greet us would be Rose and Bill’s little boys in their high-water-markers. Not yet thirty, thin and wiry, Rose already had five children, a wide grin, and a cheerful heart. She would be beaming when we came, because she liked company. Inevitably, during our visit, she would get around to “playing” her upright grand piano or her acoustical guitar, and “singing.” She wanted to sing in church; occasionally, if no one else was available, my dad would let her. And she liked to bake pies, which she’d bring to the house. A kind of gratitude for the transportation. The pie would set there, on the dinner table, a day or two. “Anybody want a piece?” my dad would say. We’d all shake our head no. He’d sigh. “Well, alright. I’ll eat it. Don’t want food to go to waste.”
Of course, I came to love Rose. How could a person not love Rose? And I was thinking of her this past Sunday morning—after a week of reading Spurgeon. About how so many self-important “Christians” take pride in their home, their furnishings, their car, when poor, precious Rose had so little. And when my mother found her, no hope of God in this world. But Rose came to be a treasure, even to me, and I thought, If I had all the houses, all the furniture, all the bank accounts, and all the prized vehicles of some churchgoers on one side of a scale and Rose alone on the other, the worth of Rose would outweigh them all!
I began to weep. To see a picture. Of believers going into heaven; and trailing behind them, their converts.
God had said, “None shall appear before Me empty” (Exodus 23:15 NKJV). After His condescension and Crucifixion, not even Jesus appeared before God without an offering, but brought with Him into the Throne Room of heaven “His own blood” (Hebrews 9:12).* All the Old Testament prophecies, types, and symbols, including this one, were fulfilled in Christ.
What will you and I have to offer the King when we appear before Him? If we’re faithful to the call, as my parents had been, there’ll be a long line bringing up the rear. Because my parents were, above all else, soulwinners. And they didn’t care where the persons came from or how humble they were. My parents made it their duty to seek and win the lost.
And then there was that other picture: all that stuff people make over! Bragging about what neighborhood they live in and how God has blessed them and how much better they are than you! Friend, we cannot take our stuff to heaven. It’s temporal. So why are we treasuring it here? The only thing we can take to heaven is our family (if we win them) and our converts.
I already knew this was Communion Sunday at church. And what the choir was going to sing. I’d written it in my pocket calendar. So I was anticipating the service. The congregation sang a few opening numbers, then “Amazing Grace: My Chains Are Gone” (Chris Tomlin). While they were singing, a couple rows back, to my right, a man, possessed of a rich but untrained baritone voice, took up the song, heartily and poignantly, as if he’d just gotten saved last night. Again I began to weep.
A violinist brought an instrumental prelude: “There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood,” after which the choir sang “Precious Blood.”
For His blood was not just blood,
Of another spotless lamb
But His blood was precious blood
For it washed the sins of man.
The pastor said someone had asked if he was going to talk about the election. “No. I thought we’d talk about Jesus this morning.” His message, in keeping with the choir number and the Communion, was that Jesus is the only way (Acts 4:12).
The violinist brought another instrumental solo, Communion was served, after which the praise team returned to “Amazing Grace: My Chains Are Gone.” The same baritone voice, a couple rows back, to my right, was singing with emotion. On the second verse, a tall man behind me, to my left, joined in. His was a rich, trained voice, but without emotion. Though the second voice enriched the sound, it was the first voice that inspired. Perhaps he knew more about chains.
It reminded me of the song of the redeemed. “And no man could learn that song” except the “redeemed” (Revelation 14:3 NKJV). Others may be able to sing better, but only those bought back from the hellholes of sin can sing it truly.
After a week of reading Spurgeon … after seeing a line of converts trailing us into heaven … I wept through the whole service. Though this was the third service, the pastor said he’d been checking his emotion all morning. Even now his voice sometimes broke. The service was so sweet. My daughter remarked: “It was tender. That was the word that came to me. Tender.” And reverent, I thought. There was reverence.
Sunday afternoon, still teary eyed, I stumbled across, “Beloved, you and me, we’ve got to pick up the trumpet, blast the sound, loud and clear, Jesus is the only Way, ONLY ONE GOSPEL.” And there it was again. The same voice as Charles H Spurgeon, my “vision,” Chris Tomlin, the untrained baritone, the pastor … the wonder of the Cross of Jesus and His precious blood.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16 NKJV).
Copyright © 2012 Alexandra Lee
* The juxtaposition of Exodus 23:15 and Hebrews 9:12 is mine, not Spurgeon’s; but, no doubt, it is acquired. I just don’t remember from whom.