Are You in Christ?
"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."
-John 17:3, emphasis added
How near is Christ? To answer that, let me share the following story that was told by Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951), who traveled for more than fifty years as a home missionary, evangelist, and Bible teacher. He was pastor of Moody Memorial Church, a visiting professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, and the author of more than sixty books and pamphlets. The following is drawn from a tract he wrote called "The Way of Peace." The essence of the story is that a pastor named Dr. Charles Berry served a congregation in Boston. He was part of the movement that denied the deity of Christ, His substitutionary death on the cross and the need of personal salvation. But he was immensely popular to the people of Boston. He could hold vast audiences with his story telling abilities, and everyone always felt better when they left the service.
Those who knew him well noted that at the height of his ministry there was a dramatic change in his life. When asked to explain the amazing changes he had experienced he told them the story. It started on a rainy Saturday night. Dr. Berry was in his study at home just finishing up a moving message for the next morning when the doorbell rang. Opening the door, he found a poor and hungry teen. She asked for the minister. Dr. Berry tried to send her to the local relief agencies and rescue missions-but she insisted that a minister needed to come with her.
Finally, at the point of embarrassment, Dr. Berry agreed to go out into the stormy night following this young lady, totally against his better judgment. It was the event that followed that the Lord used to change his life forever.
The young lady kept repeating over and over as they walked that she needed a minister to, "get her mother in." Not sure exactly what she meant, Dr. Berry followed. He wondered if she was sick or fallen or even worse in some state of intoxication that she had to be carried. When suggesting that maybe a policeman would be better to help the young lady again repeated, "No, I need a minister to get my mother in!"
At last Dr. Berry began to understand as the young lady continued by explaining that her mother was not drunk but afraid to die. She then explained that she had assured her mother that she would find a minister, and the minister would explain to her how to get in-to Heaven! At that point Dr. Berry slowed down. He asked if he could send a local inner city missionary or someone from the rescue mission. The trembling daughter looked at him so intently and begged him to wait no longer. She said again:
"Do come, sir. I want you to get my mother in before it's too late. Please, sir, do come with me."
At last he consented to go, and the girl led the way to one of the worst sections of the city. In this miserable neighborhood she took him into a tenement house and up a rickety flight of stairs to a poverty-stricken room. Downstairs many men and women were drinking and carousing, and the air resounded with horrid oaths and vile language. The minister found the poor woman lying on a miserable makeshift of a bed, evidently near to death.
"I've brought him!" exclaimed the daughter. "I've got the minister from the big church where the swells go. He'll get you in, Mother. Just do what he says."
"What can I do for you, my poor woman?" he inquired as kindly as he could.
"Why, sir, I'm dying, and I want you to get me into heaven. I've been a great sinner, and I don't know how to get in."
The minister began to speak of the necessity of a good life, of building a noble character, and how goodness always paid in the end.
"You don't understand, sir!" she cried. "That won't do! I'm dying and I've lived a bad life. It's too late for me. Oh, can't you get me in?"
He tried again and gave some good advice and endeavored to comfort her by expressing the hope that all would be well if she would only seek to lead a Christian life.
"That won't do!" she exclaimed. "I'm a poor sinner! I've no time to lead a Christian life. I'm dying and I want to go in. Oh, can't you tell me how I may get into heaven?"
Dr. Berry did not know what to say or how to comfort her. At last he thought, "Why not tell her what my mother used to tell me? Why not give her some of the simple texts and Gospel stories I learned as a child?"
With this in mind he began to repeat some of the precious Gospel verses telling of God's love for sinners and of the Savior who had died to redeem. The woman listened eagerly. "That's it! That ought to get me in, shouldn't it! Did he die for sinners? Then that should get me in."
Stirred to the depths of his own being he told the story of the cross as he had not preached it for years. Like a thirsty soul, she drank in the living water. Finally, he knelt and prayed with her.
She trusted Christ for herself. Her fears were allayed and she entered into peace.
"Jowett," said Dr. Berry years afterward, "I helped get her in that night, and while I was helping to get her in, I got myself in also!"
Are you in? If not, I exhort you to bow before Him this moment; believe on Jesus and freely receive His salvation!
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