And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. (Revelation 19:9)
Another of “the true sayings of God” is this. He has said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” We have done as he bade us, and so we have proved the efficacy of prayer. It is all very well to sneer at answers to prayer, as some have done, and to propose various tests, which none could accept unless they were idiots; but the question cannot be disposed of in that way. There are honest people about by thousands who aver that God does hear their prayers. Not hear prayer? If any man were to say to me, “You have no eyes, you have no head, you have no arms, you have no legs,” I should say to him, “I don’t know how I can convince you that I have all these parts of the human body if you look at me, and then repeat your assertion; but I am absolutely certain that I have all these things; and if anyone says to me, “God has not heard your prayers,” I answer, “Why, he hears them every day. I receive answers to prayer so constantly that I cannot doubt the fact any more than I can doubt my own existence.” And I am not a solitary one in this matter. I am less than the least of all God’s servants, and there are many men who are mighty in prayer, men who have their will of God, who go to him in secret, and ask what they will, and it is given unto them. I could mention their names, but I will not; but even we, who are amongst the feeblest of the Lord’s people, can tell of many answers to prayer that we have received. Many persons write to ask me to pray for certain special cases. I do not know why they should do so, for my prayers can have no more effect than their own; and I often receive letters containing grateful thanks for answers that have been given to prayers that I have thus put up for others, and all these people are not fools. Some of them are such intelligent persons that they are regarded as leaders in their various circles, and others of them have at any rate managed to lead honest, sober, consistent Christian lives, and they believe that, if they can join their prayers with those of another brother in Christ, the Lord will grant their requests, and he does so constantly. They are not deceived by their own fancies or imaginations. Some people say, “They are mere coincidences which you call answers to prayer.” Well, call them coincidences if you like; but to us they are no such thing whatever they may be to you; and while we pray, and the answer comes, whether by a coincidence or not, it will not signify much to us so long as we do really receive the answer, and are made to rejoice in our souls, and to bless God for hearing our supplications. We have again and again proved that there is a God that heareth prayer, and the promise to hear and answer prayer is among “the true sayings of God.”
Once again, we know that it is according to the teaching of God’s Word that faith will sustain his people in the time of trouble and trial. This truth we have ourselves proved, and we have seen it illustrated in other Christians. That same sustaining power is promised to us in the hour of death. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.” David said, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” Now, if there is ever a time when a man is honest, one would think it is when he lies face to face with death. People cannot usually play the hypocrite then, though there have been some daring enough to do even that; but, for the most part, men are startled out of mere fancies when they come to the reality of departure out of this world. How fares it with Christians when they are about to die? Why, beloved, we are not speaking about dreams, but of solid facts that we daily verify in our visitations of our flock, when we say that they die joyfully. One of our dear sisters, who was known to some of you, has just been called home. Through a long period of acute pain, which rendered her condition unusually distressing, her joy and peace were almost too seraphic to be talked about. When I met some of her friends in the house, they said to me, “Well, sir, we have derived more spiritual benefit in sitting here talking with our friend than we have got from any sort of religious exercise.” Words have fallen from that humble woman’s lips that would read like poetry, joyous words between the gasps fro breath; and wonderful anticipations of the glory-land have been given to her in the midst of much physical weakness. And when we speak thus of one of our members, we may say the same of hundreds of them, for it is the usual experience with them on their death-beds. I wish more of you could see them die, and learn the way in which a Christian can expire. I always think, when I come away from the death-bed of a child of God, that I have added to my previous stock of facts proving the faithfulness of my God. I would believe the Bible without a single fact to back it up, but there is a vast quantity of external as well as internal evidence of the truth of Scriptures. I would believe my God if he never gave me anything to see with my eyes or to hear with my ears. His own Word should be enough for me; but these blessed sounds and scenes, these cheering sights and holy triumphs make it not merely a matter of faith to believe the gospel, but also a matter of common sense. It seems impossible to doubt when you see the evident power there is about true godliness, and the majestic might that dwells in faith to strengthen the weak against the last grim foe. Yes, we have proved many of these things to be “the true sayings of God.”
Before I leave this point, I want to urge all believers always to treat the Bible as if it were all true. Do not let any of it seem to be a romance to you, but regard it all as real and true. I wish people were more business-like in dealing with the Bible, and that they would use more common sense with regard to it; we sometimes really fail to use it as if we believed it. Some persons appear to imagine that the excellence of their prayer consists in its length; but if they had more real belief in prayer, it would probably not be so long. Whenever I go to a bank with a check, I pass it to the clerk at the counter, take up the cash he gives me, and go about my business. That is how I like to pray. I take to the Lord one of his promises, and I say to him, “Lord, I believe thy promise, and I believe that thou wilt fulfill it to me;” and then I go my way knowing that I have the answer to my petition, or that it will come in due time. To kneel down for a certain specified period, and pour out a long string of selected sentences, would seem to me a mere performance, and I should get nothing by it. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Do not let your praying be a mere ecclesiastical or religious engagement; go to God as your Father and your Friend, fully convinced that your prayer will be answered. Thousands of prayers are never answered because those who present them do not expect that they will be answered. If a man prays to God, and does not believe that God will answer him, he will not answer him. We must, without wavering, unstaggeringly believe that God will hear us, and then he must hear us. Note that I say “must.” But “must” is for the King! Yes, but he has bound himself by his own Word: “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” These are Christ’s own words, not mine; and their meaning lies upon the very surface. Let the Christian pray in faith, and then he will find that God will never run back from his word, but will keep his promise to all his believing people.
II. My second point was to be that THERE ARE SOME THINGS WHICH WE CANNOT PROVE JUST YET, BUT THEY ARE TRUE, FOR ALL THAT.
Now let me tell you what will come true one of these days. Jesus Christ will come back to this earth. That same Jesus, who went up from the top of mount Olivet, will so come in like manner as he was seen to go up into heaven. He will come with a mighty blast of the archangel’s trumpet, and in amazing pomp and splendor, attended by myriads of angels and vast hosts of the redeemed; but he will surely come. When he does come, remember that, if you are alive, you will have to stand before his judgement seat; but if you die before that time, your body shall rise again, and your soul shall return to it, and there in your flesh shall you see the Son of God. That very Savior whom tonight I preach to you, who will save you if you believe in him, will then come to sit upon his throne; and if you have lived and died without believing in him, he will come to judge you, and to pronounce upon you that dreadful sentence, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Christ will come, and you will all rise, and either be accepted or condemned by him. “These are the true sayings of God.”
Further, there will be a heaven for all those who are found believing in Jesus. Christ will take them there to be with him where he is, that they may behold his glory. They shall enter into most blessed fellowship with him in all his joys and glories, and that world without end. If you do not believe in Jesus, you will miss all that, and where he is you will never come. The door will be shut against you, and the outer darkness where there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth must be your portion forever, for this is another true saying of God, that there is a hell for all who do not believe in Jesus. As surely as there was a place of bliss for Lazarus, so surely was there a place of woe for Dives. As certainly as there is a heavenly fold for the sheep of Christ, so is there a hell for the goats. “These are the true sayings of God.” Do not despise them; do not doubt them. Some of you, who are unconverted, may be within a few minutes of death. I was struck, the other Monday night, when I was coming to the prayer-meeting here, by the appearance of a poor man, one of our church-members, who was sitting by the fire in the room behind looking very sickly. It was bitterly cold, but I soon saw that death was making him colder still. I felt that, in a short time, he must die however much care we might take of him. We took him home in a cab, and in a few hours he was gone. He was an old disciple, so he had entered into his rest, but I thought, “It is strange that there should so often be deaths in this Tabernacle.” Every now and then, while I am preaching the Word here, there comes to me a message, “There is a person dying here.” Beside that, death makes havoc continually among our thousands of members; sometimes, three or four die in one week. And out of this vast congregation, I do not know how many will die this week; probably we shall not all of us see next Sabbath, but certainly we shall soon depart out of this world. We shall fly away, and whither, whither, whither shall we go? I do not want to seem to be fanatical, but I will solemnly put this question to everyone here, as you do not believe that you will die like a dog, and as you do believe that you will live in another state, are you prepared for it? And as most of you, at any rate, believe that faith in Jesus is the only preparation for the future state, have you believe in him? Have you sought God by prayer? Is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior? If you are obliged to say, “No,” I cannot hold your hand, (there are too many for me to do that,) nor can I take you by the buttonhole, and detain you for a while, but I would fain detain you as that ancient mariner detained the wedding guest, and say to you, “Are you wise to live in danger every day of death and judgement, and yet to remain unprepared? Ought it not to be the first business of your life, by faith and prayer, to make your calling and election sure?” If you are wise men and wise women sure a word will be enough for you; and if you are not wise, may God make you so! May he lead you, this very hour, to confess your sins, and to seek his mercy, and may every one of us be found in Christ in that great day! Then shall we rejoice for ever in “the true sayings of God.” The Lord grant it, for Jesus’ sake! Amen. (Charles H. Spurgeon, The True Sayings of God)
O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. (Psalm 119:97-101)