EXCUSES - Part 2
EXCUSES PART II
by Dwight L. Moody
ONE METHODIST VOL. 1 NO. 6 January 1999

The next excuse I want to take up is "election." I meet a great many in the inquiry-room who tell me they are very anxious to be saved, but they do not know if they are elected. "If I were only sure that I were elected," they say, "I would soon be in earnest about salvation. But then I don't know that I'm one of the elect, so I have a very good excuse." Now! I want to give no uncertain sound upon this point. I want to say that an unconverted person has nothing whatever to do with the doctrine of election. After you have become children of God, then we can talk about election -- then we can talk about how sweet and beautiful the doctrine is. But those who are not God's children have nothing at all to do with it. You do not like anyone to read your private letters, do you? Well, the doctrine of election was written, in a private letter, to the children of God. No wonder the world puzzles over it. No wonder they cannot understand it. It was never meant for them. What they have to do with is the "Whosoever" and the "Him that cometh," of the free invitations of Christ.

Suppose I am taking a walk near this hall tonight, and say to the policeman at the door, "Who is invited to this meeting?" "Those who have tickets," he replies. I have no ticket, so it is not for me. I walk on further, and come to another meeting. "This is only for those who belong to the -- Society," I am told, so I know it is not for me. I go on further, and come to a large public building -- a club. "Only members admitted," I read at the door. It is not for me either. I go further still and come to another building, and over the door this is written: "Whosoever will, let him come in." Ah! it is for me this time. Whosoever -- that means me -- and in I go. My friends, God puts it just like that. All are invited to come to Christ. What have you to do with Paul's epistle about election? Why, you have nothing to do with it -- not till you become a Christian. You have no business with the private letters of other people, and the "whosoever" comes before election. If you learn to read, you commence with the alphabet, don't you? You don't learn to read all at once. And if you come to Christ you must come in God's way; and then you can talk about how you came.

Yes, but, you say, there is another side to that. Christ said, "No man can come to Me except the Father, which hath sent Me, draw him." Well, I say Christ is drawing men. "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me." He is drawing men, but they will not come. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, and drawing men unto Him. That drawing is going on now, but many a heart is fighting against the strivings of the Spirit. God is drawing men heavenward, and the devil is drawing them hellward.

Supposing a man, wishing to go to Boston, should say, "I don't know if God has decreed it. If I am to be there, I will be there. Anyhow, it is no use my taking the train. What is the use of my paying the fare and taking trouble about it? If I am elected to get there, I will get there somehow." Who would use such language as that? Or suppose a farmer were to say, "I am not going to plant; if God has decreed that I am to have a crop, I shall have it. I am not going to trouble myself tilling the ground or working hard; if God has decreed that I will have a good harvest, why, I shall have it without any tilling." Or suppose you are sick, and do not send for the doctor. Suppose you say, "If God has decreed it, I shall get well," so you refuse to take the medicines. You say, "There is no use in it; if God has decreed that I am to get well, I will get well without it." Whoever talks in that way? Yet a good many people carry out that very doctrine with regard to spiritual things.

I have an idea that the Lord Jesus saw how men were going to stumble over this doctrine, so after He had been thirty or forty years in heaven, He came down and spoke to John. One Lord's day in Patmos, He said to him, "Write these things to the churches." John kept on writing. His pen flew very fast. And then the Lord, when it was nearly finished, said, "John, before you close the book, put this in: 'The Spirit and the Bride say, Come; and let him that heareth say, Come.' But there will be some that are deaf, and they cannot hear, so add, 'Let him that is athirst, Come;' and in case there should be any that do not thirst, put it still broader, 'Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.'" What more can you have than that? And the Book is sealed, as it were, with that. It is the last invitation in the Bible. "Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." You are thirsty. You want water. I hold out this glass to you, and say, "Take it." You say, "If I am decreed to have it, I am not going to put myself to the trouble of taking it." Well, you will never get it. And if you are ever to have salvation, you must reach out the hand and take it. "I will take the cup of Salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord." Will you take it tonight? It is simple enough; it is a gift. "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life." My dear friends, do not stumble over the doctrine of election any longer. You will not be able to stand up before God and say, "I did not accept the invitation because I was not one of the elect." That excuse will fade away in His presence. God invites every man and woman to the gospel feast when He writes, "Whosoever will, let him take."

I can imagine there is a man down there who says, "That is not my difficulty. I know a man who belongs to the professing Church of Christ, and he cheated me out of ten dollars some years ago. There are hypocrites in the Church. and I am not going to have anything to do with it. No! you don't catch me going into company with hypocrites."

Well, I will find you two hypocrites in the world for everyone you will find in the Church. Besides, I am not asking you to come to the Church -- not but that I believe in churches -- but I am asking you to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Come to Christ first, and then we can talk to you about the Church. There always have been hypocrites in the Church and always will be. One of the twelve apostles turned out to be a hypocrite, and there will be hypocrites in the Church to the end of time. But there will not be one hypocrite at this feast, and if you want to get out of the company of hypocrites you had better make haste and come to Christ. If you do not accept the invitation you will have to spend eternity with them. Suppose everyone here were a black-hearted hypocrite, what has that to do with you? "Follow thou me," says Christ. You are not to be looking to John, or Peter, or Paul, this man or that, but straight to Christ. You may find many flaws in our characters, but you will find none in Christ's. We find a good many in ourselves, and you may too. But we do not ask you to follow us, but Christ. There will be no hypocrites at the marriage supper of the Lamb; they will all be in the lost world. And if you do not accept the invitation you will have to spend eternity with hypocrites. So if you really object to them, you had better make sure of a place at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

But there is a self-righteous Pharisee here who says, "Well, I don't understand all this talk about conversion; I'm good enough as I am. My excuse will stand, if the others won't. I am not going into that inquiry-room to talk with these people, and beg them to pray for me; I don't need it." And he draws his filthy rags of self-righteousness about him and thinks he is pure in the sight of God and man. My friend, the Word of God says, "There is none righteous, no, not one." If you're found with your own garment on, you will be cast out from this feast. He will furnish you with a robe of spotless white if you will accept it, but you need not think you can stand in the presence of the King with these miserable rags of self-righteousness about you. Oh, may the Holy Spirit show you how vile you are in the sight of a holy God. The nearer a man gets to God, the more he abhors himself. You know when a man is getting near to God, he begins to loathe himself. Like Job, he says, "I abhor myself." Like Isaiah, when he saw the holy God, he cries out, "Woe is me, I am undone." Like that holy man Daniel, his comeliness is turned to corruption. May God strip you of your self-righteousness today!

But here is another excuse. If the devil cannot make a man believe he is good enough without being saved, then he will tell him he is so bad the Lord will have nothing to do with him. A great many in the inquiry-room have that excuse. "I would like to be saved," they say, "but I am too bad." That is another lie. Why, what does the Scripture say? "Christ died for the ungodly." Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. What did Christ say to his disciples? "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." "That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." The very men whose hands were dripping with the blood of the Son of God, had salvation offered to them! Paul said he was the chief of sinners, and if he was saved, surely there is hope for every man on the face of the earth. If you are so bad, you are the very one He wants to save. During our war, I remember the doctor used to go after a battle to look at the wounded men, and he would find out the most desperate cases and attend to them first. That is the way the great Physician does now. He saves the worst men He can get. I know a great many people who are anxious to come, but they are waiting until they grow a little better. They think God will not take them till then.

Now, notice, my friends, the Lord invites you to come just as you are, and if you could make yourself better you would not be any more acceptable to Him. Do not put these filthy rags of self-righteousness about you. God will strip every rag from you when you come to Him, and clothe you with glorious garments. When our war was going on, we would sometimes go to the recruiting office and see a man come in with a silk hat, broadcloth coat, calfskin boots -- his suit might be worth $100; and another man would come in whose clothes were not worth 5 dollars; but they both had to strip and put on the uniform of the country. And so when we go into Christ's vineyard we must put on the livery of heaven and be stripped of every rag. So, however bad you are, come just as you are, and the Lord will receive you.

I have read of an artist who wanted to paint a picture of the Prodigal Son. He searched through the madhouses, and the poorhouses, and the prisons, to find a man wretched enough to represent the prodigal, but he could not find one. One day he was walking down the streets and met a man whom he thought would do. He told the poor beggar he would pay him well if he came to his room and sat for his portrait. The beggar agreed, and the day was appointed for him to come. The day came, and a man put in his appearance at the artist's room. "You made an appointment with me," he said, when he was shown into the studio. The artist looked at him, "I never saw you before," he said; "you cannot have an appointment with me." "Yes," he said, "I agreed to meet you today at ten o'clock." "You must be mistaken; it must have been some other artist; I was to see a beggar here at this hour." "Well," says the beggar. "I am he." "You?" "Yes." "Why, what have you been doing?" "Well, I thought I would dress myself up a bit before I got painted." "Then," said the artist "I do not want you; I wanted you as you were; now, you are no use to me." That is the way Christ wants every poor sinner, just as he is. I think I can hear someone say. "Oh, but my heart is so hard." Well, that is just the very reason you ought to come. If you had not a hard heart you would not need a Savior. Do you think you can soften your heart? Can you break your heart? Did not God invite the hard-hearted? Did not Christ come to seek and to save that which was lost? It is just because men's hearts are hard that they need a Savior. So that is no excuse at all. God invites you, and you cannot stand up and say to the Great King you did not accept the invitation because you had a hard heart. He invites "whosoever," and you can come along with your hard heart just as it is.

A well known minister was talking to a man in the inquiry-room. "My heart is so hard, it seems as if it was chained, and I cannot come," said the inquirer. The minister said to him, "Come along, chain and all;" and he just came to Christ, hard-hearted, chain and all, and Christ snapped the fetters, and set him free just there. If you are bound hands and feet by Satan, it is the work of God to break the fetters; you cannot break them. But, thank God, He can snap the fetters of every sin-bound soul tonight, and set each captive free.

Then comes another excuse. "I should like to come, but somehow or other I do not know that I feel just right." That is a very common excuse, -- Feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling! I have heard that cry till I am sick of it. Suppose a friend invites me to dinner today, and I say, "Well, I would like very much to take dinner with you. There is no man I would rather dine with than yourself; but I do not know that I feel just right." "Are you sick?" he might ask. "No, I never felt better in my life." "Well, what do you mean?" "I don't know that I feel just right. I do not know that I will be in a right state of mind." "I do not understand you," he would say. "What do you mean?" "Well, I would like to go very much, but I don't feel right." And that is the way men are talking now. "I would like to go to heaven, but I don't know that I have got the right kind of feeling." But, my friends, if you really want to, God invites you, and that is all about it. My friend urges me to come, but I keep on saying, "I do not know that I am in the right state of mind." "Why," he would say, "I think Mr. Moody must have gone out of his mind. I invited him to dinner, and instead of giving me a plain answer he kept talking about feeling all the time!" You may smile at it, but that is just the way people talk in the inquiry-room -- hundreds of them. My friends, does God invite you? If He does, why don't you accept the invitation? If you want to come, just come along, and don't be talking about feeling. Do you think Lazarus had any feeling when Christ called him out of the sepulcher?

My friends, God is above feeling. Do you think you can control your feelings? I am sure if I could control my feelings, I never would have any bad feelings; I would always have good feelings. But bear in mind Satan may change our feelings fifty times a day, but he cannot change the Word of God; and what we want is to build our hopes of heaven upon the Word of God. When a poor sinner is coming up out of the pit, and just ready to get his feet upon the Rock of Ages, the devil sticks out a plank of feeling, and says, "Get on that," and when he puts his feet on that,

down he goes again. Take one of these texts -- "Verily I say unto you, he that heareth My word and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life." My friend, that is worth more than all the feeling that you can have in a whole lifetime. I would a thousand times rather stand on that verse than all the frames and feelings I ever had. I took my stand there twenty years ago. Since then the dark waves of hell have come dashing up against me; the waves of persecution have broken all around me; doubts, fears, and unbelief in turn have assailed me; but I have been able to stand firm on this short word of God. It is a sure footing for eternity. It was true 1800 years ago, and it is true tonight. That rock is higher than my feeling. And what we need is to get our feet upon the rock, and the Lord will put a new song in our mouths.

But I hear someone in the gallery say, "He has not touched my case at all. None of these things ever trouble me; but the fact is, I cannot believe. I would like to come, but I cannot believe." Not long ago a man said to me, "I cannot believe." "Whom?" I asked. He stammered and said again, "I cannot believe." I said "Whom?" "Well," he said, "I can't believe." "Whom?" I asked again. At last he said, "I cannot believe myself." "Well, you don't need to. You do not need to put any confidence in yourself. The less you believe in yourself the better. But if you tell me you can't believe God, that is another thing; and I would like to ask you why!" If a man says to me, "I have a great respect for you; I have a great admiration for you; but I do not believe a word you say," I say to myself, "I certainly do not think much of your admiration." But that is the way a good many people talk about God. They say, "I have a profound reverence for God; the very name of God strikes awe to my heart; but I do not believe Him." Why don't you be honest and say at once you won't believe? There is no real reason why men cannot believe God. I challenge any infidel on the face of the earth to put his finger on one promise God has ever made that He has not kept. The idea of a man standing up in the afternoon of the nineteenth century and saying he cannot believe God! My friend you have no reason for not believing Him. If you say you cannot believe man there would be some reason in that, because men very often say what is not true. But God never makes any mistakes. "Has he said it and shall He not make it good?" Believe in God and say as Job says: "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!" Some men talk as if it were a great misfortune that they do not believe. They seem to look upon it as a kind of infirmity, and think they ought to be sympathized with and pitied. But bear in mind that it is the most damning sin of the world. "When He, the Holy Ghost is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment; of sin, because they believe not in Me." That is the sin of the world -- "because they believe not on me." That is the very root of sin; and the fruit is bad, for the tree is bad. May God open our eyes to see that He is true, and may we all be led to put our fullest trust in Christ.

But you say, "I do not know what it is to believe." That is another excuse. Well, let me put it differently. Suppose I say trust Him -- just take Him at his word. Believe that He really invites you -- that He wants you to come. If you do not know what it is to believe, will you not just trust God?

But here is another one who says, "I would like to come very much, but I am afraid I would not hold out." Now, I have had a rule for a number of years that has been a great help to me -- never to cross a mountain until you come to it. You trust Christ to save you tonight. The devil throws a little straw across your path, and then tries to magnify it and makes you think it is a great mountain. Never mind the mountains; trust Him tonight to save you. If He can save you tonight, He can keep you tomorrow. When you have sat down at the banquet and had one good feast -- when you have had one interview with Christ, you will not want to leave Him. I accepted this invitation twenty years ago, and I have never wanted to go back. I have not had to keep myself all these years. I would have been back in twenty-four hours if I had. But thank God, we do not have to keep ourselves. The Lord is my Keeper -- my Shepherd, I shall not want. He keeps us. It takes the same grace to keep us that it does to save us. And God has told us that "My grace is sufficient for you."

But some people are not at all afraid of falling away. They are sure that God is quite able to save them, and quite strong enough to keep them. But when you ask them if they are Christians, they say, "Well, you know, I would like to be, but I have no time." If I were to go to the door tonight, and take you by the hand and say, "My friend, why not accept of the invitation tonight?" some of you would say, "Please just excuse me tonight. I have really no time. I have got some very pressing business to attend to tomorrow morning, and I have to go home as fast as possible to get my night's rest. You must really excuse me." And the mothers would say, "We have to run home and put the children to bed; you must excuse us for this time." So thousands and thousands say they have no time to be religious. But, my friends, what have you done with all the time that God has given you? What have you been doing all these months and years that have rolled away since He gave you birth? Is it true you have no time? What did you do with the 365 days of last year? Had you no time during all these twelve months to seek the Kingdom of God? You spend twenty years getting an education to enable you to earn a living for this poor frail body, so soon to be eaten up of worms. You spend seven or eight years in learning a trade, that you may earn your daily bread; and yet you have not five minutes to accept of this invitation of Christ's! My friend, bear in mind you have yet to find time to die; to stand in the presence of the Judge. And when he calls you to stand before that bar, will you dare to tell Him that you had no time to prepare for the marriage supper of his Son? You have no time? Take time! Let everything else be laid aside until you have accepted of this invitation? Do you not know that it is a lie? If you have not time, take it. "Seek first the Kingdom of God." Let the children sit up a little late tonight. Let your business be suspended tomorrow. Suppose you do not get so much money tomorrow. What matter it if you get Christ? Better for a man to be sure of salvation than to "gain the whole world and lose his own soul."

But you say "I would like to become a Christian, but I have a prejudice against these special meetings, and against Evangelists, and against a layman too. If it was a regular ministry, and it was our regular minister, I would accept the invitation." If that is your difficulty, I can help you out of it. You can just get right up, and go out of the hall, and walk straight over to your minister, and have a talk with him. And if you say you don't want to be converted in a special meeting, there are regular meetings in all the churches throughout the town, and your minister would be heartily glad to talk with you about your soul. But if you say, "There is a great awakening in this city, and I do not like to be converted in the time of a revival," you can step into a train, and go to some town where there is no revival. We can find you someplace where there is no revival, and some church where there is not much of the revival spirit, without very much difficulty. If you really want to go, pray don't give that for an excuse. How wise the devil is! When the church is cold, and everything is dead, men say, "Oh, well, if there was only some life in the church I might become a Christian; if we could only just have a wave of blessing from heaven, it would be so easy then." Then when the wave does come they say, "Oh, no, we are afraid of excitement, and afraid of these special meetings. We are afraid something will be done that won't be just in accordance with our ideas of propriety." Oh, my friends, do not listen to these subtle lies. Just come as you are to Christ, and accept the offer which He makes you now.

I wish I had time to go on with these excuses, but they are as numerous as the hairs of my head. And if I could go on, and tried to exhaust them all, the devil would just help you to make more. The best thing you can do is to tie them all into one bundle, and stamp them as a pack of lies; not a single one of them is true. And God will sweep them all away someday if you do not do it now. It is a very solemn thought that God will excuse you if you want to be excused. He does not wish to do it, but He will do it: "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel." Look at the Jewish nation. They wanted to be excused from the feast. They despised the grace of God and trampled it under foot, and look at them today! Yes, it is easy enough to say, "I pray Thee have me excused," but by-and-by God may take you at your word, and say, "Yes, I will excuse you." And in that lost world, while others who have accepted the invitation sit down to the marriage supper of the Lamb amid shouts and hallelujahs in heaven, you will be crying in the company of the lost, "The harvest is past; the summer is ended, and we are not saved."

And remember, it is the King of kings, the Lord of glory who invites you to this feast. Come just as you are, and accept the invitation. Let the plough stand in the furrow until you have accepted it. Let the shop be closed till then; let business be suspended until you have accepted it. Let the land rest; yes, let the ox stand in the stall, until you have accepted that invitation. Make sure, whatever you do, that you will not be missing from the marriage supper of the Lamb. That sainted mother of yours will be there. That little child who died a few months ago will be there. Young lady! do you want to be excused? He will excuse you. Do you want to be excused, young man? He will excuse you. You may make light of it tonight, if you choose. "Oh no," you say, "I never do that; whatever I have been guilty of, I have never done that!" Have you not? Suppose I get an invitation to dinner tomorrow; I take it and tear it up; I do not answer it; I pay no attention to it. Is not that making light of it? How many of you will go away tonight paying no attention to this invitation? Everyone who goes home in a careless spirit, won't he be making light of it? The Lord has invited you to the gospel feast. Are you going to spend this evening in accepting or in making light of the invitation? God does not want you to die; He wants you to accept this invitation and live. If you have a good excuse, one that will stand the light of eternity, hold on to it. Do not give it up for anything. Take it down with you into the grave. Hold it firm, take it to the bar of God, and tell it out to Him. But if you have got one that won't stand the test of eternity, give it up. If you have an excuse that will not stand the piercing eye of God, I beg of you as a friend, give it up tonight. Let it go to the four winds of heaven, and accept the invitation to be at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Do not let the laughing, scoffing, mocking world laugh your soul into eternal death. Do as the pilgrim, whom John Bunyan describes, who started out from the City of Destruction, crying, "Life, life, eternal life!" Set your face like a flint towards that blessed land and say, "By the grace of God, I will be at the marriage supper of the Lamb."

Supposing we should write out here tonight this excuse. How would it sound? "To the King of Heaven. While sitting in the _____ Hall, city of _____, July _____, 1880, I received a very pressing invitation from one of your servants to be present at the marriage supper of your only-begotten Son. I PRAY THEE HAVE ME EXCUSED." Would you sign that, young man? Would you, mother? Would you come up to the reporter's table, take up a pen and put your name down to such an excuse? You would say, "Let my right hand forget its cunning, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I sign that." I doubt if there is one here who would sign it. Will you then pay no attention to God's invitation? I beg of you do not make light of it. It is a loving God inviting you to a feast, and God is not to be mocked. Go play with the forked lightning, go trifle with pestilence and disease, but trifle not with God.

Just let me write out another answer. "To the King of Heaven. While sitting in the_____ Hall, July _____, 1880, I received a pressing invitation from one of your messengers to be present at the marriage supper of your only-begotten Son. I hasten to reply, BY THE GRACE OF GOD I WILL BE PRESENT." Who will sign that? Is there one who will put his name to it? Is there no one who will say, "By the grace of God I will accept the invitation now?" May God bring you to a decision just now. If you would ever see the kingdom of God, you must decide this question one way or the other. What will you do with the invitation? I bring it to you in the name of my Master; will you accept or reject it? Be wise tonight, and accept the invitation. Make up your mind you will not go away till the question of eternity is settled. May God bring hundreds to a decision tonight is the prayer of my heart.


QUOTE UNQUOTE

Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and myself founded empires on force, and they perished; Jesus of Nazareth alone, a crucified Jew, founded His kingdom on love, and at this hour millions of men would die for Him. -- Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)


The first lesson in Christ's school is self-denial. -- Matthew Henry (1662-1714)


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