Rightly Dividing The Word of Truth
Timothy was commanded to rightly divide the word of God. Every Christian preacher must do the same if he is to make the most of his ministry and be clear of the blood of his hearers at the judgement (see Ezekiel 3:17-21). Of all the years of my ministry, I can honestly say that this has been my goal -- to rightly divide the word of truth. To the point I have succeeded it's all to the glory of the Lord, where I have failed I grieve for my weakness. And now, one more time, I will try again and may the Holy Spirit (without whose power nothing can be done right) help us to rightly divide the word of truth.
This phrase is a noteworthy one because there are so many ways it can be understood. I don't think any of the examples I will use to illustrate it are farfetched -- because they have also been used by many great theologians. At the least, it would be fair to accept them as honest observations (even where they might be challenged as correct interpretations of this passage).
"Rightly dividing the word of truth" is how this passage reads in the King James Version, but we need to leave this wording for a while and consider other translations. Timothy was not to mutilate, twist, torture, or break in to pieces the word. Nor was he to stay on the edges of it, like some do who never get to the heart of a passage. No, Timothy was to correctly divide, like one taught by God for the purpose of teaching others.
#1. The Revised Standard Version translates it (and with a fair degree of accuracy) -- "Rightly HANDLING the word of truth." So what is the right way to handle the word of truth? It's like a sword (see Hebrews 4:12), and like any weapon its not meant to be played with. Rather, playing with it is the wrong way of handling the gospel. The sword of the word must be used in earnest and thrust home. Friends, are you saved? Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Which is it, lost or saved? The purpose of a sword is to cut and hack, wound, and kill with. In the same way, the word of truth is for pricking men in the heart and killing their sins.
God's word is not entrusted to his servants to amuse people with it's glitter, or to wow them with the jewels decorating its hilt, rather it is to conquer their souls for Jesus. Remember, reader, if the preacher does not push you to this -- to the point that you would be converted or that you would know the reason why not; if he does not drive you to this -- that you will either willfully reject, or gladly accept Christ, that minister does not yet know how to rightly handle the great "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). So then, where do you stand at this moment? Are you an unbeliever -- one who is still under God's wrath (see John 3:36) -- or are you a believer, who can claim God's gracious assurance, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 6:47). I pray that the Lord would, by his word, even now convict every conscience and reveal the condition of every heart by it's great power (see Hebrews 4:12).
Anyone who rightly handles the word of God will never use it to defend people in their sins, but rather to slay their sins. If there's a professing Christian reading who is living in known sin, shame on them; and if there's a non-Christian living in sin, let their conscience convict them. What will that one do on the day when Christ comes to judge the hearts of men, and the books are opened (see Revelation 20:12-15), and every thought will be read out before an assembled universe? (see Romans 2:15) It's my desire to handle the word of God in a way that no one will ever find an excuse in my ministry for living without Christ, and living in sin, rather that they would know clearly that all sin is truly evil, and unbelief is a guaranteed destroyer of the soul. The one who plunges the word, like a double-edged sword, into the very heart of sin is indeed one who has learned to handle the word properly.
The gospel should never be used for frightening sinners from Christ. I believe it's sometimes used in this way. Deep doctrines are rolled like rocks into the sinner's way, and dark experiences set up as a standard of horror which must be reached before someone can believe in Jesus. No! To rightly handle the word of life is to frighten people to Christ rather than from Him, yes, to entice them to Him by the sweet assurance that He will cast out no one that will come (see John 6:37), and that He asks no self-reformation of them, but if they come at once -- as they are -- He has promised to receive them. Is this not the way I have handled the word of truth hundreds of times before? Has not the gospel been a great a magnet attracting sinners? Just as a magnet has two poles, one of which repels, so, with-out-a-doubt, the truth of God repels the close-minded, rebellious heart, and in this way becomes an "aroma of death leading to death" (2 Corinthians 2:16) -- but our goal is to handle it so that the attractive pole will operate through the power of the Holy Spirit so that people will be drawn to Christ.
As well, if we rightly handle the word of God we will never preach it so as to send Christians into a sleepy state. This is easily done. We could preach the comforts and cheer of the gospel till each professing Christian feels "I am safe enough; there is no need to watch (see Mark 13:35), no need to fight (see 1 Timothy 6:12), no need for any effort at all. My battle has been fought, my victory has been won, I only need to fold my arms and go to sleep." No! No! People, this is not how we handle the word of God, our cry is, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation (Matthew 26:41). Don't consider yourselves to have attained perfection, but forget what is behind and reach toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13), ever looking unto Jesus (Hebrews 12:2)." This is handling the word of God in the right way.
And friends, there is one thing I fear above all else -- that I would ever handle the word of God in a way that would persuade some of you that you are saved when you are not. To gather together a large number of "professing" Christians is one thing; but to have a large number of true saints joined together in Christ is quite another. To stir up a frenzy of excitement, and to have people influenced by that excitement, so that they become convinced that they are converted, has been done many times before; but always the bubble bursts. The weak balloon expands until it breaks. God save us from that. We want our work to be certain, a lasting work, a work of God's grace in the heart. If you are not converted, what ever you do, don't pretend you are. If you have never experienced being humbled to the point of seeing your own nothingness, and then being built up by the power of the Spirit -- built on the only true foundation of Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 3:11) -- then remember whatever is built on quicksand will fall with a crash in a time of trouble or trial (see Matthew 7:26). Don't be satisfied with anything short of a deep foundation, cut in the solid rock of the work of Jesus Christ. Pray for real living godliness, because nothing else will matter on the day of judgement. Now, this is rightly handling the word of God, using it to push home His truth for the conversion of people, for the striking down of their sins, for drawing men and women to Christ -- convicting sinners -- and to produce not a mere profession, but a real work of grace in their hearts. I pray that the Holy Spirit would teach all ministers of Christ to use the double-edged sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, in this manner.
#2. Continuing, the text has another meaning. It coveys an idea that can only be expressed by example. "Rightly dividing, or STRAIGHT CUTTING." A farmer plows from one end of his field to the other -- in a straight line -- making a straight furrow. In the same way, Paul wanted Timothy to make a straight furrow through the word of truth. I believe that God will never accept preaching that doesn't really go through the whole line of truth from beginning to end. Acceptable preaching must be thorough, honest, undiluted and clear. Even as truth is a straight line, so too our handling of the truth must be straightforward and honest, without deceptions or trickery. As a field has many furrows, there are some furrows which I have worked hard to plow. One is the furrow of free grace. "Salvation is of the Lord" -- He begins it, He carries it on, and He completes it. Salvation is not from or accomplished by mankind, but completely by God's grace. Grace in His choosing, grace by His sacrifice, grace by His calling, grace in persevering to the end, grace in finally giving us perfection in heaven -- it's all grace from start to end. If we say anything, at any time, which opposes this revealed fact that salvation is of grace, don't believe it (see Galatians 1:8). This furrow must be plowed truthfully, plainly, and without error. Sinner, you cannot be saved by any merit, work, or feeling of your own. The Lord alone must save you as a result of His free mercy, not because you deserve it, but because He has chosen to do it to magnify His great love. This is the straight furrow of the Word.
We endeavor to always make a straight furrow in regards to human depravity -- to preach that mankind is fallen, that all of his nature is perverted, that all people have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6), and that mankind is corrupt before God from head to toe -- dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). "There is no one who does good, not even one" (Psalms 14:3, 53:3; Romans 3:12). I have noticed some preachers who plow this furrow far from straight. They say, "There are still some very good points about the human race -- good things in mankind which only need to be developed or educated." Years ago, a preacher named Mr. Whitfield created a great outcry because he said that man was half animal and half demon. I don't think he ever got nearer to the truth when he said that, except I would ask the animal's pardon, for any animal would hardly become so evil and vile as human nature does when it is left alone to fully develop itself. All human beauty, or supposed merit, must be shown to be a painted Jezebel (see 2 Kings 9:30), and all human pride and self glorification a bursting bubble. God is everything, mankind is nothing. God in His grace saves people, but we through our sin completely ruin ourselves until God's grace intervenes. I like to plow a straight furrow on this.
Another straight furrow is that of faith. We are commanded, and it is
our duty, to tell mankind that "he who believes and is baptized
will be saved" (Mark 16:16). This gospel furrow can never by
presented as salvation based on works or even on feelings. It has
nothing to do with self-reformation, trying to prepare yourself or
make step-by-step changes -- but it's completely by faith in Jesus
Christ. Anyone that believes in Him is not condemned (John 3:18). As
we begin this new life by faith, we must remain in it by faith. We
are not being saved by faith only for a while and then to rely upon
ourselves. Rather, "the righteous will live by faith"
(Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). We live by faith at the
beginning, we live by faith until we enter into our eternal rest.
Believe! This is the great truth of the gospel, and we trust that we
have never left this furrow. This straight plowed furrow, from
beginning to end, cries, "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends
of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other" (Isaiah 45:22).
Another furrow which some do not like to plow, but must be clearly done by all, is that of repentance. Sinner, you and your sins must part. You have been married long, and may have even had happy times together, but you must part. You and your sins must separate, or you and God will never come together. You can't keep even one sin. You must give them all up, not even a cherished one may be spared. You must leave them, hate them, loathe them, and ask the Lord to give you the strength to overcome them. Aren't you aware that this furrow of repentance runs right through a Christian's life? When you sin, and you will, you must repent of that sin. All children of God cannot love sin, we must despise it for as long as any of it still exists.
Another furrow in this field is that of holiness, for "without holiness no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). We have preached salvation by grace, but we do not preach salvation to those who willfully continue in sin. The children of God are a holy people, washed, purged, sanctified, and made zealous of good works. Anyone who talks about having faith and has no good works to prove that their faith is alive, lies to themselves and lies before God. It is faith that saves us, not works, but the faith that saves us always produces good works. This living faith renews the heart, changes our character, influences our motives, and is the means by which God makes us a new creation in Christ Jesus. Let's get it straight, you can be baptized and re-baptized, you can perform religious duties and ritual, you can believe an orthodox statement of faith; but you will be damned if you live in sin. You can become a deacon, or an elder, or a pastor (if you dare); but there is no salvation for anyone who still holds on to sin. "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23) -- death to professed Christians as well as non-Christians. If they held on to their sins in secret, God will reveal those sins in public, and condemn them according to the unchangeable justice of His law. This, also, is a furrow we have tried to plow -- deep, sharp cut, and straight. Oh that God might plow these Himself in all your hearts and minds, that you would experience His rightly divided truth.
#3. Some consider a third meaning of the phrase, "Rightly dividing the word of truth", to be an expression taken from the time when priests divided the sacrifices. Whether lamb, sheep, ram, or bull, after it was killed it was neatly cut into pieces -- an act requiring great skill, needing to know where the joints are located. God's word also needs to be cut into pieces wisely, not torn apart like attacked by a wild animal. There must be a DISCERNMENT and DISSECTION. It's a major part of every minister's duty to be able to dissect the gospel -- laying one piece here and another there -- always preaching with clearness, distinction, and discernment.
Every gospel teacher must clearly divide between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, or they will cause many problems and great confusion. There is the covenant of works which says, "This do and you will live (Luke 10:29), which is not the same as the covenant of grace which says, "Hear and your soul will live (Isaiah 55:3). God's covenant of grace is a pure promise (from Him) free from terms and conditions. Some try and tie it to the covenant of works by saying, "God will love you, if you...". The moment any "if" is added it becomes a covenant of works and the gospel has disappeared. Oil and water could mix easier than any human merit can mix with His grace. As children of God's free-grace promise, don't allow legalism and worldly hope to live in your house (see Galatians 4:30) -- have nothing to do with them. The law and gospel each have their proper places. The law was given as a tutor to bring us to Christ, but after we have come to Him we are no longer under that tutor. Let the law (with it's requirements) continue to convict sinners, and destroy all hope in saving themselves, but you continue to live in Christ Jesus in the same way you received Him. If you are saved by grace, it was not by any human merit or goodness. If any works could help to save you, it could not be called grace. Keep this clear, many people have been destroyed by legalism.
We also need to make a clear distinction between natural efforts and the work of grace. We can praise people for doing all they can to improve themselves, and truly everything that causes people to be made more sober, honest, and decent -- better citizens, better husbands and wives -- is a good thing. But this is all natural human effort and not grace. Reformation is not regeneration, or in other words, self change is not a new life. "You must be born again (John 3:7)" is for the "good" as well as the bad. To be made a new creation in Christ Jesus is just as necessary for the morally upright as it is for the one in perverted evil. The bottom line on human effort is, "that which is born of the flesh is flesh (John 3:6)" and people must be born of the Spirit, or they can't understand spiritual things or ever enter heaven. I've tried to clearly make this distinction and I hope that none of you will ever mistake natural human efforts for the works of God's grace.
All Christians need to be able to distinguish one truth from another. Let the knife cut between the work of Christ for us and the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Justification, the legal act by which we are declared to be righteous because of Jesus Christ, is one blessing; sanctification, the process by which we are personally made righteous, is another. Some get this backwards, putting sanctification first as a foundation, or at-the-least in support of justification. No. No one is justified because they are sanctified, rather they are justified because they believed in the One that justifies sinners. Sanctification follows justification. It is the Holy Spirit working in the soul of a believer, who was justified first of all by believing in Jesus while still unsanctified. Give Jesus Christ all the glory for His great and perfect work, and remember that you are perfect in Christ Jesus and accepted in Him, but, at the same time, give glory to the Holy Spirit, and remember that you are not yet perfectly holy, but that the Spirit's work is a process that will continue all of your life.
Another point of rightly dividing should not be forgotten. We must
always discern the difference between the root and the fruit. It's a
poor gardener who does not know the bulb from a blossom, yet I
believe that there are some in this city who do not know the roots
from the fruits -- having seen so little growing, these theologians
hardly know which is the cause or which is the effect in spiritual
things. To "put the cart before the horse" is a ridiculous
thing, but many do it. Listen to how people say, "If I could
feel joy in the Lord I would believe." Yes, this is the cart
before the horse. Joy is a result of faith, not a reason for it.
Others say, "If I feel a great change of heart, then I will
believe". It's the exact same thing, trying to make the fruit
the root. The real root is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ
(Acts 16:31)" and your life will change and joy in the Lord will
spring up as God given fruits of faith -- not the other way around.
When will you start to be discerning?
#4. The next interpretation of the apostle's expression is, usefully CUTTING OUT the word for holy purposes. This is an idea given by one of the early church fathers. Let me explain. If a person shortens pant legs by cutting off a piece of material, they focus on the pants themselves -- not on the piece being cut off. Not that the piece being removed is not good material, useful for some other purpose, but the focus must be on the object being aimed at. A preacher also, having the whole Bible before him, must use and center on the portions having to do with his greater aim.
Every piece of the Word of God is blessed and greatly usable, but it may not be connected to the preacher's current subject and therefore he leaves it for another time. Though some may question it, he has too much sense to feel obligated to preach every doctrine of Scripture in every sermon. He wants to have souls saved and Christians strengthened, and for that reason does not forever dwell on speculations of prophecy. Some people are crazy over the mysteries of the future. And there are more than a few preachers and teachers who are continually stuck on prophecy. Listen to them if you want, but I have another task. I'll admit that I'm not sent to decipher Apocalyptic symbols, my task is humbler but equally useful, I am called to bring souls to Jesus Christ.
On the other hand, there are preachers who are always dealing with deep things -- very deep things. For them the hidden mysteries and supernatural speculations have a greater charm. That's between them and God, but I do not believe the word of God was given to us as riddles to be solved. To me the plain gospel is the part I rightly cut out of the word of God. There is a soul out there that wants to know how to find peace with God. Some other brother can tell him where predestination fits in with free will, I don't pretend to know -- but I do know that faith in Jesus brings peace to the heart. My work is to present that which will save souls, build up saints, and motivate Christians to work for Christ. I'll leave the mysteries, not because I dislike them, but because the urgent need is to first, above all else, seek to win souls. These other truths they can hear tomorrow, or some time down the road, but now is the time to escape from hell and be prepared for heaven.
Imagine the angels sitting down with Lot and his daughters inside Sodom (see Genesis 19:12-13), and discussing predestination with them, or explaining the limits of free will. No! Their cry was "hurry," and then they took them by the arm and led them out, saying, "Flee, for fire will fall from heaven, and this city is to be destroyed." This is what a preacher has to do, leaving certain parts of truth for another time. The one who teaches what is of pressing importance, is the one who even now rightly divides the word of truth. In the Bible there are some things which are essential, without which a person cannot be saved at all. There are other things, which though important, people can be saved without hearing. Is it not clear that the essentials must have first place? Every truth should be preached in its turn and place, but we must never give first place to a second truth, or push to the front what was meant to be in the background. The apostle Paul simply put it, "We preach Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23)," and I believe that if we are to rightly divide the word, we will say to the lost, "Sinner, Christ died, Christ rose again, Christ intercedes, look to Him. As for the difficult questions and finer points of scripture, leave them for a while. You'll get to them in time -- as much as they are useful to you -- but right now believing in the Lord Jesus Christ is what matters." In this way, to rightly divide the word of truth, a teacher must separate the vital from the secondary, the practical from the speculative, and the urgent and immediate from that which may be legitimately delayed."
#5. Moving on, one thing a preacher has to do is to GIVE TO EACH ONE HIS PORTION; and here the example changes. By one theologian of the reformation, the intention of the Spirit here is to represent one who is the steward of the house. The steward being the one who has to provide proper portions of food to all the different members of the family. He can't give babies steak, or strong men milk, nor does he throw out the families' perfectly good food to the dogs. Each needs to get what is proper for them. Let me try and do this now.
Child of God, your portion is the whole word of God. Every promise in it is yours. Take it and feed on it. Christ is yours, God is yours, the Holy Spirit is yours, this world is yours, and the world to come. Time is yours, eternity is yours, life is yours, death is yours, glory forever is yours. This is your portion and it's a blessing to give you your royal food. May the Lord give you a good appetite. Feed on it. Sinner, you who have not believed in Jesus, none of this is yours. While you remain in unbelief all the threats of scripture are yours. If you refuse to believe in Jesus, neither this life or the next is yours -- not time or eternity. You have nothing good. How miserable is your portion now, for God's wrath is on you. I wish you were wise, that your life was changed, for until it is we dare not wrongly encourage you. There is not one good promise for you, not even one sentence showing approval. You get your food to eat and clothes to put on, but even that is given to you out of the patience of God and it will become a curse to you unless you repent. I'm sorry to present you a portion like this, but I have to be honest with you. This is all I can give you. God, Himself, has said it, "I will curse their blessings (Malachi 2:2)." Remember sinner, the curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked.
We must also divide a portion for the mourners, a pleasant task, to tell them God will give them beauty for ashes. "Blessed are those that mourn, for they will be comforted (Matthew 5:4)." The Lord will return peace to His mourners. Don't fear, or be alarmed, for God will help you. But when we have given God's mourners their delicious food, we have to turn around to the hypocrites and say, "You many bow your heads, tear your clothes, pretend to fast, but the Lord who knows your heart will come without warning and unmask you. If, then, you are found to be insincere before Him -- weighed in the balances and found wanting -- He will give you what you deserve forever. For His mourners there is mercy, but for all deceivers and hypocrites there is judgement without mercy (James 2:13)." It's a joy to give a portion to a seeker -- when we say, "Whoever seeks will find, and to the one who knocks the door will be opened (Matthew 7:8; Luke 11:10)", and "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). Take your portion and be glad.
We also have to say to others, who think they are seekers, but are stalling, "How long will you waver between two opinions? (1 Kings 18:21)." How is it that you continually hesitate and refuse to believe in Jesus -- staying in unbelief -- when the gospel mandate is, "believe now and live!" In this way we have to comfort some and counsel others; correction to one, encouragement to another; to one an invitation, to another a warning. This is rightly dividing the word of truth.
God sometimes enables His servants to give the message in a very special way to some people. You wouldn't believe some of the things that have happened to people who have heard the word preached over the years -- people to whom I have spoken the exact word they needed to hear, without my knowing anything about them. God knows how to guide His servants to speak the word necessary to bless people. He helps His servants to rightly divide the word, or in other words, to give a special portion to each individual case -- in such a way that the listener feels as if everything was known about them. Years ago, a man met me one Sunday, in a fantastic state of rage. He vowed he would beat me for picking on him from the pulpit. I asked what I had said. He responded, "What have you said? You looked me in the face, and said, 'What more can God do for you? Will He give you a good wife? You've had one: you got rid of her by treating her bad: you've just got another, and you're likely to do the same to her.'" I asked him if he had done so to his first wife. "Everyone says I did", he answered, "and I was just married again on Saturday. And you knew about this, didn't you?" I assured him I did not, and had no knowledge of his family matters, and wished him well with his new wife. He left cooled down a lot, but I believe that I'd struck the nail on the head that time. Likely he had eliminated his first wife through unkindness and certainly didn't want to bring his new wife to a church to be told about it. The shoe fit, and if the shoe fits any of you, wear it as well. In truth, I don't fear being to personal, rather I pray that the word would hit home to every person's conscience and convict them so that they may bow before God and confess their sin and turn away from it.
#6. I'll quickly cover one more point, although there could be many. Rightly dividing the word of truth means TELLING EACH PERSON WHAT AWAITS THEM IN ETERNITY. Just as when Canaan was conquered, it was divided by lot among each of the tribes, in the same way the preacher has to tell of Canaan, the wonderful land -- and he has to tell of the land of darkness and death -- and let each hearer know where they will spend eternity. And you do know which is for you. Do I really need to repeat the story we have gone over and over a thousand times? Everyone who believes in Jesus, and are given a new heart, and are kept by the grace of God through saving faith, will inherit eternal life; but for those who don't believe, who reject the Son, who stay in their sins, there is nothing left for them but, "a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God (Hebrews 10:27)." "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God (Psalms 9:17)." "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matthew 25:46)" God says, "Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with none to rescue. (Psalms 50:22)" Oh, the wrath of God to come!
Believer, there's your inheritance -- in the holy land. Sinner, unless you repent, there's your inheritance -- in the land of darkness and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth (see Matthew 13:41-42). I subscribe to an Christian newsletter from the United States and the last copy of it had these words on the back page. "If you no longer want to receive this newsletter, cancel it NOW. If you want to receive it this next year, send your reply NOW. If you have any complaints about it, send them NOW. If you have moved, send your change of address NOW." There was a big "NOW" at the end of each line. As I read it I thought that this was proper and made common sense. It struck me that I would say to you this last night of the year, if you would turn from your sins, turn NOW. If you want mercy from God through Jesus Christ, believe in Him NOW. As this year comes to an end, is there any better time -- than NOW?
In that same newsletter, I read a story about D.L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey illustrating this exact point. The account goes on to say that while they were preaching in Edinburgh, England, there was a man sitting in the audience who was very interested and drinking it all in. During a pause in the service the man went out with his friend, who encouraged him to leave. He resisted and said we wanted to return, which he did. As he sat and listened, the Lord blessed him and he found Christ and salvation. Being a miner, he went to work the next day and a ledge of rock fell on him. As he was being taken, mortally wounded, from the mine, he said to the man helping him out, "Oh, Andrew, I'm so glad it was all settled last night. It was all settled last night." Now, I hope that all the people killed in that train accident last year could say -- "It was all settled the night before." What a great thing for you, if you were to have an accident tomorrow, to be able to say, "Praise God, it was all settled last night. I gave my heart to Jesus, I surrendered myself to His perfect love and mercy, and I am saved." I pray that it would happen and You, Holy Lord, will have all the praise. Amen.
Editor's Note: Preached over one hundred years ago, "Rightly Dividing The Word of Truth" is a message for today. I read this message just after Christmas and it struck me how it was still so fitting for today. Charles Haddon Spurgeon spoke this message on December 27, 1874, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in Newington, England. I updated this version to remove period language and illustrations, replacing them with modern wording on a thought-for-thought basis.
I made every effort to retain all the meaning and substance of the original message, completely removing only one brief illustration, which does not easily carry into a modern context. Additionally, I have added numerous scripture references not originally identified, yet clearly alluded to. For comparison we have provided, on our Web site, the complete text of his message as it was originally published.
Edited by Brent MacDonald of Lion Tracks Ministries. (c) 1998. This electronic version is formatted different than the original. Feel free to duplicate as long as the source is cited.