Where there’s a will, there’s a way! | Part Two
Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey | Pastor
First Baptist Church, Spanish Fort, AL
Click HERE for Part One.
Four sympathetic men carried another man on a stretcher to Jesus Christ the Lord. Someone described these four men as united, unselfish, urgent, and undaunted. In a message on Mark 2:1-12 titled, “Because We Care”, Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005) referred to the four men as “Mr. Compassion”, “Mr. Confidence”, “Mr. Courage”, and “Mr. Creativity”.
Rev. Spurgeon writes, “I dare say the four bearers in the narrative thought early in the morning, ‘We will carry this poor paralytic to the Savior, passing into the house by the ordinary door;’ but when they attempted to do so the multitudes so blocked up the road that they could not even reach the threshold. ‘Make way; make way for the sick! Stand aside there, and give room for a poor paralysed man. For mercy’s sake, give a little space, and let the sick man reach the healing prophet!’ In vain their entreaties and commands. Here and there a few compassionate persons back out of the crowd, but the many neither can nor will remove; besides, many of them are engaged upon a similar business, and have equal reasons for pressing in. ‘See,’ cries one of the four, ‘I will make way;’ and he pushes and elbows himself a little distance into the passage. ‘Come on you three!’ he cries: ‘follow up, and fight for it, inch by inch.’ But they cannot do it; it is impossible; the poor patient is ready to die for fear; the bed is tossed about by the throng like a cockleshell boat on the sea-waves, the patient’s alarm increases, the bearers are distressed, and they are quite glad to get outside again and consider. It is evidently quite impossible by ordinary means to get him in. What then? ‘We cannot burrow under the ground: can we not go over the heads of the people, and let the man down from above? Where is the staircase?’ Frequently there is an external staircase to the top of an eastern house; we cannot be sure that there was one in this case; but if not, the next door house may have had such a convenience, and so the resolute bearers reached the top and passed from one roof to another. Where we have no definite information much may be left to conjecture; but this much is clear: by some means they elevated their unhappy burden to the housetop, and provided themselves with the necessary tackle with which to let him down. The Savior was probably preaching in one of the upper rooms, unless the house was a poor one without an upper story. Perhaps the room was open to the courtyard, which was crowded. At any rate, the Lord Jesus was under cover of a roof, and a substantial roof too. No one who carefully reads the original will fail to see that there was real roofing to be broken through. It has been suggested as a difficulty, that the breaking up of a roof might involve danger to those below, and would probably make a great smother of dust; and to avoid this, there have been various suppositions—such as that the Savior was standing under an awning, and the men rolled up the canvas; or that our Lord stood under a verandah with a very light covering, which the men could readily uncover; others have even invented a trap-door for the occasion.”
Dr. Ivan LeRoy Eims (1925-2004), who served with the Navigators for over 50 years, writes, “The creativity of four nameless men who brought their friend to Jesus has long been a challenge to me. . . .
How do you gain a creative spirit? One way is to keep yourself in the proper frame of mind. Constantly be on the lookout for a better way. Train yourself to think, ‘If it works, it will soon be obsolete.’ Maintain an open and probing mind. Pray for the boldness and courage it will take to try something new when God reveals it to you. . . .
Three things, then, we must seek from the Lord. One is a sense of excellence. The means for achieving excellence, once we’ve made it our standard, is to relax in the arms of Jesus and let Him live His life through us. He’s the only One who ‘did all things well.’ The second is initiative. Here again the Lord Himself is our greatest example. To learn from Him as we seek to do His work is the most productive path we can follow. Third is a creative spirit. Again, openhearted fellowship with Jesus Himself is the best means of seeing creativity developed in our lives by the Spirit of God.”
Maybe you are thinking how does this apply to me? We must honestly answer three questions in light of this story.
How fervent is my desire to bring people to Jesus? Dr. J. C. Ryle (1816-1900) writes, “A man’s religion may well be suspected when he is content to go to heaven alone.” Dr. John Henry Jowett (1863-1923) writes, “If we do not catch men we are in danger of losing even the desire to catch them.” Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon writes, “Well, this joy, overwhelming as it is, is a hungry sort of joy—you want more of it: for the more you have of spiritual children, the more your soul desires to see them multiplied. Let me tell you, that to be a soul-winner is the happiest thing in this world, and with every soul you bring to Jesus Christ, you seem to get a new heaven here upon earth. But what will be the joy of soul-winning when we get up above!”
How firm is my decision to bring people to Jesus? Dr. Joseph D. Blinco (1912-1968), of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, writes, “You do not choose to be in the business of bringing men to Christ; you choose Christ and you are at once in the business.”
Evangelist W. A. “Billy” Sunday (1862-1935) recounts, “John Vassar [1813-1878] was one of the greatest personal workers of the nineteenth century. He never preached a sermon but that he did personal work. He was a wonder. One time he was going to help a preacher in a town. This preacher met Vassar at the Depot. Walking down to the hotel they went past a blacksmith shop. He said to Vassar, ‘There’s a blacksmith in there. He’s got a great drag with his crowd but he never comes to church. If we could only win him, then he would win scores in his class.’ Vassar asked, ‘Have you talked to him?’ ‘Oh, we are afraid. He will cuss any preacher who comes near him.’ He said, ‘Wait a minute until I take my turn.’ Vassar went in. The man was shoeing a mule — that isn’t a good time to talk religion to a man, take it from me! But Vassar had good sense and waited until the fellow was through and had disarmed his prejudice. In fifteen minutes he had him on his knees weeping like a child. He went up to the hotel where he was to be entertained. He registered, then strolled around, looking for somebody to speak to. He went into a little reception room and there sat a finely dressed lady. He walked up to her and said, ‘Lady, are you a Christian?’ She said, ‘Yes, I am.’ ‘I beg your pardon,’ he said, ‘I didn’t mean that kind. I mean, have you been born again?’
‘Oh,’ she said, ‘we’ve gotten over that here in Boston.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘lady, you’ve gotten over Jesus Christ in Boston, too. You’ve gotten over God.’ He talked with her until her prejudice was disarmed and tears trickled down her cheeks; then he said, ‘May I pray for you?’ She said, ‘I wish you would. God knows I need it, although I’m a member of the church.’
He prayed. She wept and he slipped out. Her husband came in and noticed that her eyes were red. He said, ‘Has anybody insulted you?’ She said, ‘The [strangest] little man was here a little while ago and he talked so nice to me about Jesus.’ He said, ‘If I had been here I would have told him to go along and mind his business.’ She said, ‘I wish you had been here. You would have thought he was minding his business. His business was a mission for his King, to bring people to Jesus Christ.’
Vassar distributed tracts in the army. He worked with the American Bible Society. When the chaplain died, they wanted Vassar to take the place of the chaplain. He wasn’t ordained and the government law does not allow anybody to be a chaplain who hasn’t been ordained. He came up to Poughkeepsie and they were examining him. One fellow with cinders all over his back, said, ‘Mr. Vassar, your duty now is to distribute tracts. Your salary is three hundred dollars a year, and you wish to be ordained?’ ‘Yes, sir.’ ‘Does that mean an increase of salary?’ ‘Yes, sir, fifteen hundred dollars a year.’ Then he said, ‘The increase of salary has allured you and brought you here for us to ordain.’ Vassar said, ‘Stop where you are! I don’t want it; I won’t take it if you give it to me’, and he wouldn’t. He went back to distributing tracts for three hundred dollars a year, to do something for Jesus Christ. He was a wonder. God did marvelous things through him.”
How forceful is my determination to bring people to Jesus? [Am I determined in spite of the crowd and in spite of the critics?] Frederick Ponsonby Wood (1884-?), author of Studies in Soul Winning (1940) writes, “To bring souls to Christ should be our master passion.” David Brainerd (1718-1747) writes, “I cared not when or how I lived, or what hardships I went through, so that I could gain souls for Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 reads, “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Duke University Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski [sh?-SHEV-ski], also tweeted: “When your passion and purpose are greater than your fears and excuses, you will find a way.” That applies to basketball and bringing people to Jesus. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Spurgeon, Sermons, 463-464.
LeRoy Eims, Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be: Growing Into the Leader God Called You to Be. WORDsearch Corp.
J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, St. Luke, Vol. 2 (London: Wertheim, Macintosh & Hunt, 1859), 38.
John Henry Jowett, The Passion for Souls (New York, NY: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1905), 71.
Exploring the Mind and Heart of the Prince of Preachers: Five-thousand illustrations under one-thousand topical headings from the works of C.H. Spurgeon, ed. Kevin James Allen, 455. (Oswego, IL: Fox River Press, 2005). Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.
John Blanchard, The Complete Gathered Gold (Darlington, UK: Evangelical Press, 2006), 609. Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.
W. A. “Billy” Sunday, “He That Winneth Souls is Wise” (Proverbs 11:30) Sermon Notes, Preached at Richmond, Indiana, 1922).Blanchard, Gold, 610.
Blanchard, Gold, 690.
Coach K (@CoachKWisdom) May 16, 2015 Accessed: 09/05/15 https://twitter.com/coachkwisdom .