By Charles H. Stalker
Message Delivered at Penn, Sunday Morning, January 19th, 1919
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward to mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
These words have specially impressed my mind this morning, they are so expressive and so comprehensive. I trust that God will speak to our hearts some living truth which is the need of the hour.
"This one thing I do." That is the secret in every life of sacrifice and service. It is very impressive that after this man was saved and sanctified he saw more in this one thing than in anything else. A real supernatural change had taken place. Before, he was bringing death and destruction, but afterwards he was bringing life and instruction. He carried the message of life, the greatest message that this world has ever heard and that God has ever spoken. We can see the need of a real supernatural change. Although he learned a great deal at the feet of Gamaliel, if he had never had a real change of heart we should never have heard of this character.
"This one thing I do." We are not giving our time and our energy and our money to a failing cause, we are not making an investment that will fail to bring real dividends. These things have been tried and tested in the fiery furnace, and the lion's den, and under the most extreme circumstances, and they have never failed, and never will.
One particular thing is, that when people get this experience, they give their lives willingly to the work. You can make your own choice, and no one is responsible but you. When it comes to these things, which are of such great worth, all are left to make their choice. A person does not have to read the Bible, or pray at the family altar, there is no compulsion. How glad I was to see that man raise his hand last night; divinity and humanity were united together, and no one can explain it. It goes into the realm which is only revealed by the Holy Ghost. That is the whole secret of it. The act which has staggered the brainiest is that it is revealed in simplicity to the babes. "Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes."
I was going down a street in Columbus one day, and I noticed a large board. It was painted in an attractive way, and on one side was written: "We have no competition, we are in a field of our own." How true that is. The Holy Ghost says: "You have no competition on this line." You can weep and pray, and live and die, and only a few will care after all. Only a few will ever know you, but you can live for ever when you live in the Holy Ghost.
A great many people would like the results, they would like the dividends, but they will not make the investment. If you are having a hard time to get a place, fall in the mud and trust the blood. Nobody ever wanted Paul's place, and they will never want your place.
They are very particular when they choose men to be soldiers, but when God makes a call, He silences all the calls of man. He will take the scrap iron pieces and the dust and ashes of a mis-spent life, and He will use it for His glory, and the salvation of souls. He will take a body that has been wrecked by sin and He will make a monument that will stand through time and eternity. I have heard people say they have tried it once, they have started once. What did they try? Just think of experimenting with God. God never thought of thirty or forty years, He never made a sacrifice that would last only for a day, it was a sacrifice that will last for ever. He has made a covenant that is everlasting. I want to say, beloved, that when you get in the thought of God you can be a blessing to somebody, and they will never forget it as long as they live, and they will remember you in their dying hour.
Here was a man that had the highest authority, his pockets were full of papers, but his heart was filled with stuff. Just as soon as his heart was changed the papers went and he trusted God, He took him through. I am glad that God has such characters.
This is an hour of extreme need, we cannot open our eyes without seeing the need. We cannot live selfish lives and be clear. The heart of man is craving for something, and it can never be satisfied until it finds God. We were created to be filled with the knowledge of God and with the Holy Ghost.
At one time it was thought very peculiar and very strange for people to leave the country and go out indefinitely. Single ones took the gangplank and went to the fields far away, but during the past few months the gang-plank has been crowded, bringing the blood and the sacrifice from afar. The single missionary used to go to the field and death was faced as a matter of fact. The people said nothing, and they were willing to go. Oh, we are so far behind in making the sacrifice for God and a lost world. We have been so selfish and we have been so secluded that we have let millions go without hearing the name of Jesus. You can see there is a great work to be done. There is no compulsion, but you can just give your life.
Christianity does not live on what people say, but upon what it does, and when a thing is done God and man can see it. Say all you please about what God cannot do, but when God does it in the heart, wisdom and brains are staggered.
I remember a little girl who came to the altar. She was under deep conviction, and God begun to talk to her. She lifted up her little face and said she was the worst sinner that ever lived, and she prayed and cried. Some people say, "I would not do that." Yes you will. "Every knee shall bow." And "Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven" After a while she said: "I know I am saved and all my sins are forgiven," and the tears soon dried on her face. We saw it, but we did not understand it. That testimony will live for ever. You can get around tradition, you can explain away education, but the work of God will stand.
One special thing that has impressed me is, that this work has a foundation that the devil can never move or remove. After all has been said and done there are no words that can give expression to the gratitude of the heart that has been changed by the power of God.
We are glad this morning that we can read of one man of God who said "This one thing I do." It was an hour of need then, it is an hour of need now, and there is nothing that brings such reward as a life of sacrifice and service for others. When you begin to see these things God will bless you wonderfully.
I went to New York a few years ago to see some missionaries sail. Some had come from a distance, and some had friends to see them off, but there was one young lady who seemed to have more friends and more presents than any of them. When she went up on the gang-plank her arms were just filled. Some had gone away without a carnation, but she seemed to have more than her share. It was all right, because her friends had a right to do it. She disappeared for a little while and then she came back. You would think that she would have placed them in the state room where she could have enjoyed their fragrance, but she came back with her arms full of flowers, and she begged to distribute those flowers along the steamer. It made an impression that will never leave me. They had been given to her, but she saw more in giving them away. I watched her closely. I did not receive a flower, but I got such a blessing by watching. How different it was from selfishness. She might have put them in a vase in the state room, or she might have given them to the stewardess to keep fresh for the voyage, but she passed them on to others.
The heart of God broken on Calvary gives to everyone who comes in surrender, salvation from sin and the abiding presence of the Comforter. As soon as they are filled with the flowers of divine grace, then they can pass them on to others.
Beloved, what did God save you for? What did Jesus shed His blood for? What was Gethsemane for? For you and me to enjoy ourselves? Never! What does it matter how I feel for twelve months? What does it matter if ecstasy and emotion never possess me again, if I am conscious that I am in the will of God and giving somebody a flower, or putting something in somebody's life that will never cease to glorify God and bless others.
While Jesus was walking this earth He did some good things, and He displayed His power, but if He had stopped there we would have been lost for ever. He walked on and stood in Gethsemane alone, He sweat when others would have been shivering and freezing. He did not stop there, He went on and carried His cross and His broken heart. That is the foundation upon which Christianity is based. That is why Ingersoll and Voltaire and Russell cannot come within ten million miles of the first edge of the corner of the foundation-stone of Christianity.
If there was no future, the presence of God in the human heart is a divine guarantee for all time, and it can satisfy humanity at every turn. I am so glad that things are offered to us and revealed to us. God is God, and there is none else.
Another reason that you have to do one thing is because you have no time for anything else. It is surprising how much time it takes to do one thing and to do it well. The man who built Brooklyn Bridge was counted strange and peculiar, but thousands are going over that bridge who never thought of it. There was a man who used to stay out on the ocean so long in going to India, and he suggested making the Suez Canal. People said it could not be done, but he did it. When I saw the monument of that man I was so thankful that he finished it and made it possible for people to go that way and miss the rolling sea. And when you think of it, Jesus Christ takes us from the rolling sea of life and the turmoil of sin, and all His ways are pleasantness and all His paths are peace. But He never found sympathy.
A man said to me the other day, "I don't understand this," and I said, "You never will until you get it." It is still a mystery, you can hear the brightest and the richest and deepest thought from the word of God, but it is still a mystery.
How staggering are those things that were written by John. While others would have starved, he laid his head on the sand and he looked up and wrote a book that has staggered people for twenty centuries. He saw and believed God, and God told him to write at the end that the curse of the Almighty would fall upon those who take anything from that book.
It is the last inspiration, the last word that humanity will have from Divinity, and it says: "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst, come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." Think about thirty or forty years being divided, starting here and stopping there. Never! Give every drop of blood in your veins, give all the strength of your body, and all your faith. What is money? What is place? It will be very small when you step into the realm. of the supernatural.
That was the reason why Paul did the one thing, he had no time for anything else, he was in the biggest thing in the universe, and the greater always includes the lesser. Someone says, "I do not see much in a meeting like this, I see more in. the crowds." I see more in the supernatural, wherever it is, whether it is in the child or in the hungry heart. "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
Another very impressive thing about this is that it satisfies for ever. That which satisfies the world today will not satisfy it tomorrow, but that which satisfies your heart now will also satisfy tomorrow and for ever. "Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." What is time for? The taking of wages and the movement of the hands of the clock? Time is just a little spot between two eternities, and just think of spending time for anything but the glory of God. the brevity of our opportunity increases our responsibility and we must not shirk it.
You say God is just the God of the whole world, but He is the God of the individual, and He will save whosoever will let Him. I say this morning, let others give their lives to what they will, let others make their choice, I have made mine. There has never been an hour of regret. There has never been a moment of disappointment since the Holy Ghost came to my heart.
I could scarcely speak my name so that you could understand it when I was sixteen. I was a disappointment to my friends, but God was talking to my heart, and He saved me from sin and the Holy Ghost came. Then I spoke as plainly as I am speaking to you now. It was a supernatural work, and I left the plow handles and have been preaching the gospel ever since. I have traveled over five hundred thousand miles, and it is none of the devil's business. I have asked for no favors and no support. I have asked for nothing but the privilege of telling out what the Lord has done for my soul.
And so, beloved, I give you this message this morning. It has not been gleaned as a pastime, but I give it to you as the testimony of the faithfulness of the Holy Ghost since He came to my heart. What I covet for you this morning is that you should know something of the supernatural. A person asked me the other day how I got into this work. I do not know. How do I travel? I do not know. How did I get to this country when so many hundreds are waiting to come? Prayers went up to God, and He touched the hearts of some people. I give Him all the glory; and, beloved, when you live in the realm of the supernatural, you have something to live on every day, three meals a day, and lunches between. There is always something to strengthen you when the Holy Ghost abides.