Chapter 26 - His Creed: Three Cardinal Truths

Table of Contents

His View Concerning the Word of God - What to do With Difficult Passages - Don't Cut Anything Out of the Bible - Christ Referred to the Old Testament - The Second Coming of Christ - Will the World Grow Better or Worse? - The Work of the Holy Ghost - The Holy Ghost, A Person - The Real Fruit is Love - How The Judge Became a Working Christian - The Holy Ghost Testifies of Christ - Three Classes of Christians - We Have to Be Very Humble - A Blessed Experience.

Mr. MOODY was the most faithful advocate of every truth presented in the Word of God. He seemed to have the most wonderful conception of all the great principles underlying the plan of salvation. His belief in the atonement was never to be shaken, and his uncompromising position as touching the inspiration of the Scriptures was always commented upon by those who heard him preach for any length of time, but there are three special truths with which his ministry was particularly identified in the judgment of many of his friends.


The first was his view concerning the Word of God in itself. The last time I heard him speak in Philadelphia he said: "It is always the greatest pleasure to me to speak on the subject of the Bible. I think I would rather preach about the Word of God than anything else, because I think it is the best thing in the world and we cannot 'possibly over estimate the value of Bible study. One must keep constantly drinking at this fountain if he is to be used of God. A man stood up in one of our meetings and said he hoped for enough out of the series of meetings to last him all his life. I told him, that was perfect nonsense; he might as well try to eat enough breakfast at one time to last him his lifetime. These meetings are a failure, if they do not bring you in touch with God's Word, and enable you to drink deeply there." When I was with him in Pittsburg, I took the following notes from his morning address.

"We do not ask men and women to believe in the Bible without inquiry. It is not natural to man to accept the things of God without question, and, if you are to be ready to give an answer or a reason for your faith to every one that asks you, you must first of all be a diligent student of the Word of God yourself. Do not be a doubter because you think it is intellectual. 'Give us your convictions,' said a German writer; 'we have enough doubts of our own,' and if you are filled with the Word of God there will not be any doubts. But some one will say, 'I wish you would prove to me that the Bible is true.' My answer is, the Book will prove itself if you will let it. There is real power in it. 'For this cause also we thank God without ceasing, because when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is, in truth, the Word of God, which continually worketh also in you that believe.'

"It is not the work of men to make other men believe; but it is the work of the Holy Ghost. It is an awful responsibility to have a Bible and to neglect its teachings. What if God should withdraw it and say, I will not trouble you with it longer?


"But some one else asks, 'what am I going to do when I come to a thing that I cannot understand?' I answer, ' I thank God that there are heights in it that I have never scaled, and depths in it that I have never sounded, because if I could understand it all, I would know that a man not greater than myself had written it. When it is beyond me in places, I know that God must have written it. 'It is one of the strongest proofs that the Bible must have come from God, that the wise men in all the ages have been digging down into it, and never yet have sounded its depths.'

"A man came to me with a difficult passage some time ago and said, 'Moody, what would you do with that?' I answered, 'I don't do anything with it.' 'How do you understand it?' I don't understand it.' 'How do you explain it?' 'I don't explain it.' Well, then, what do you do with it?' 'I don't do anything with it.' 'But you believe it, don't you?' 'O, yes, I believe it, but there are lots of things that I believe that I cannot understand and that I cannot make plain. I do not know anything about higher mathematics but I believe in them, with all my heart. I do not understand astronomy, but I certainly believe in astronomy.'

He was always most intense when he said, " But somebody will say, 'You surely do not believe in the story of Jonah and the whale. That's entirely out of date. I want to say most emphatically that I do believe it, and when men turn away from this story, I think it is the master stroke of Satan to try to make us doubt the resurrection, for Jesus used it as an illustration of this doctrine. The book of Jonah says, 'God prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah.' Couldn't God make a fish large enough to swallow him? If God can create a world out of nothing, I think he can create a fish large enough to swallow a million men. Don't you?


"Then there are other people who say, 'I believe in the Bible, but not in the supernatural side of it.' They go on reading the Bible with a pen-knife, cutting out this and that and the other thing. Now, if I have a right to cut out a certain portion of the Bible, I think my friend has the same right, and you would have a queer book, if everybody cut out what he wanted to. Every liar would cut out everything about lying. Every drunkard would cut out what he did not like. It is a most absurd statement for a man to say he will have nothing to do with the supernatural. If you are going to throw off the supernatural, you might as well burn your Bibles at once. For if you take the supernatural out of the book, you take Jesus Christ out of it.

"Then, I want to say, also, that it is absurd for any one to say that he believes in the New Testament and not in the Old. Do you not know that of the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament, it is recorded that our Lord made quotations from over twenty? Over 800 passages in the Old Testament are quoted or mentioned in the New. In Matthew there are about 100 quotations from twenty books in the Old Testament. In Luke, thirty-four quotations from thirteen books, and in John eleven quotations from six books. In the four Gospels there are more than 160 quotations from the Old Testament.


"If the Old Testament Scriptures are not true, do you think Christ would have so often referred to them, and said, 'The Scriptures must be fulfilled,' and, if He could use the Old Testament, let us use it. May God deliver us from the one-sided Christian who reads only the New Testament and talks against the Old.

"It is a great thing to study the Bible. I once heard Dr. Pierson say there are four things necessary in studying the Bible Admit, submit, commit and transmit.

"First: Admit its truth.

"Second: Submit to its teachings.

"Third: Commit it to memory, and

"Fourth: Transmit to someone else.

"And, if we are to study the Bible, there are three books which I think every Christian ought to have. First is a Bible with large print; the second, a Cruden's Concordance; the third, a topical text book; and if we have these three books, anyone of us might become successful students of this old book.

"Dr. Pierson also says, whenever we read any portion of the Bible we ought to remember the five P's:

"Place where written.

"Person by whom written.

"People to whom written.

"Purpose for which written.

"Period at which written.

"Let me indicate some suggestions:

1st. Always carry a Bible with you.

2nd. Mark it.

3rd. Set apart a portion of each day to study it.

4th. Ask God to open your eyes to its truth.

5th. Believe that God wrote this word to you, and act accordingly.

6th. Commit some portion of the Bible to memory each day.

7th. Do not be satisfied with simply reading a chapter daily; study the meaning of at least one verse in it.

"But remember this, that the Bible is every whit inspired. God has said it, and God always speaks the truth. 'Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Word shall not pass away.


The second great cardinal truth with which Mr. Moody was so closely identified in his world-wide ministry was the second coming of Christ. He firmly believed that Christ was coming before the Millennium, and not after it. He was never more eloquent than when he was speaking of prophecy and its fulfillment. "Some people tell us," he said, "that it is useless to try to understand prophecy. 'The Church is not agreed about it; better let it alone, and deal only with those things that have been fulfilled.' Paul did not say that. He said, 'All Scripture is profitable.' If these people are right, he ought to have said, 'Some Scripture is profitable, but you cannot understand the prophecies, so better let them alone.' 'And you can't understand about this second coming,' what nonsense this is! If God did not mean to have us study the prophecies, He would not have put them in the Bible. Some of them have been fulfilled. Some are being fulfilled, and all shall be. The three great comings are foretold in the Word of God. First, that Christ should come; that has been fulfilled. Second, that the Holy Ghost should come, and that has been fulfilled. Third, that our Lord should return from Heaven, and for this we are told to watch and wait.

"Whoever neglects this truth has only a mutilated Gospel, for the Bible deals not only with the death and sufferings of Christ, but also of his return to reign in honor and glory. His second coming is mentioned and referred to over three hundred times, and yet I was in the Church fifteen or sixteen years before I ever heard a sermon on it. Every church makes much of baptism, but in all of Paul's epistles baptism is spoken of only thirteen times; the return of the Lord fifty times.

"We are also told in the Scriptures just how He is to come. The angel said, in like manner as you have seen him go. We know that He went up with His flesh and bones, and we certainly know that when He comes back again, He shall come just as He went away from His disciples; but it is also true that of that day and hour no man knoweth, but it is well for us that we do not know. If Christ had said, 'I will not come back for eighteen hundred years, none of His disciples would have begun to watch for Him until the time was near. The last chapter of John gives us a text which seems to settle the whole matter. Peter asks the question about John: 'Lord, what shall this man do?' Jesus said unto him, 'If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.' Then this saying went abroad among the brethren that that disciple should not die. They certainly did not think that the coming of the Lord meant death. There was a great difference between these two things in their minds, and when any one says that the coming of Christ means the death of the Christian, he has only to put this thought into the Bible as he reads, to see how ridiculous it is. Look at that account of the last hour of Christ with His disciples. What does He say to them? 'If I go away I will send death for you to bring you to me, or that I will send an angel after you?' Not at all. He says, 'I will come again and receive you unto myself.'


"Some people shake their heads and say that this thought is too deep for the most of us; such things ought not to be told to young converts. Paul wrote these things to young converts among the Thessalonians, and I believe there is no Christian to-day, whether he be young or old, but what he can get a great inspiration out of this truth. At one time I thought the world would grow better and better until Christ could stay away no longer, but in studying the Bible, I do not find any place where God says so. I find that the world is to grow worse and worse, then, after a while, Christ is to come in power and glory. Some people think this is a new and strange doctrine, but I say that it is not. Many of the most spiritual men in the world are firm in this faith. Spurgeon preached it, and I know of no reason why Christ might not come before I finish this sermon.

"There is another thought I want to bring to your attention, and that is, that Christ will bring our friends with Him when He comes; all who have died in the Lord are to be with Him when He descends from His Father's throne into the air. 'Behold, I come quickly,' said Christ to John. Three times it is repeated in the last chapter of the Bible, and almost the closing words of the Bible are the prayer, ' Even so, come, Lord Jesus.'

"The world waited for the first coming four thousand years, and then He came. He was here only thirty-three years and went away, when He left us a promise that He would come again, and, as the world watched for His first coming, so we wait for His appearing the second time unto salvation. But you also read, 'for in such an hour as we think not, the Son of Man cometh.'"


The third great truth for which Mr. Moody stood, and of which his own great life was a powerful illustration was the truth touching the work of the Holy Ghost.

"When I was first converted, I spoke in a Sabbath school, and there seemed to be a great deal of interest, and quite a number rose for prayer, and I remember I went out quite rejoiced; but an old man followed me out - I have never seen him since. I never had seen him before, and don't even know his name - but he caught hold of my hand and gave me a little bit of advice. I didn't know what he meant at the time, but he said, 'Young man, when you speak again, honor the Holy Ghost.' I was hastening off to another church to speak, and all the way over, it kept ringing in my ears, 'Honor the Holy Ghost,' and I said to myself, 'I wonder what the old man means.' I have found out since what he meant, and I think that all that have been to work in the vineyard of the Lord have learned that lesson, that if we honor Him in our efforts to do good, He will honor us and work through us; but if we don't honor Him, we will surely break down.

"The only work that is going to stand to eternity is the work done by the Holy Ghost, and not by any one of us. We may be used as His instruments, but the work that will stand to eternity is that done by the Holy Ghost; and every conversion in these meetings, that is not by the power of the Holy Ghost, will not stand. They may be impressions that will last for a few weeks or months, but then they will pass away like the morning cloud; and I firmly believe that if a man or woman be not converted by the Holy Ghost, we 'will not see them in Heaven.


"I really believe I was a Christian ten years before I believed it. I went into a church once and heard an old minister say that the Holy Ghost was a person. I thought the old man was wrong, and could not believe that the Holy Ghost was a person. I did not know my Bible then as well as I do now, but I went home and got my Bible, and went to work to study it out; and I have been thoroughly convinced ever since that the Holy Ghost is a person as much as God the Father is, and as much as Jesus Christ the Son is. Some may say that it is a mystery, and there are a good many things that are mysterious on their face. Now turn to the 14th chapter of John, 16th and 17th verses: 'And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever. Even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him; but ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.'

Now, if the Holy Ghost were not a person, Christ would not have said 'Who.' To be sure He is a spirit. but at the same time He is a person, the same as God the Father is. God is a spirit, and yet He is a person. Three times in this last verse it says 'Him' and once 'Who.' Then in the 26th verse of the same chapter: 'But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you.' Then there are a good many other verses, and I want to call your attention to one or two more, just to show this fact, that He is a person. Whenever Christ spoke of the Holy Ghost, He always spoke of Him as 'He' or 'Him,' and we won't honor the Holy Ghost unless we make Him a person, and one of the persons of the Trinity the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.


"It is the work of the Holy Ghost to impart love. Just turn to Romans V. 5: 'And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.' The real fruit that we look for in a young convert is love, and I think it is one of the strongest proofs that this religion of Jesus Christ is divine, that it is the same all the world over. Even in the heart of China you will find, if a man is converted, he will love his enemies. The love of God is in that man's heart. What do we as Christians feel and want to-day? What is the great lack of the Church? Why are so many complaining about the coldness of the Church? It is because we have not got this love. If the Holy Ghost is a power in the Church, shedding abroad love in our hearts, there won't be any complaint.

"A great many Christians are like Lazarus when he came forth he was bound hand and foot; but Christ said, 'Loose him and let him go.' And so Christians want to feel that liberty they should feel when Christ calls them to be His disciples. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Many think to themselves before they get up to speak: 'Now, what will Mrs. B. say when I get up, if I don't talk as well as the minister?' and 'Oh, if I could talk as well as Brother A., wouldn't I give my testimony quickly! But I haven't any eloquence, and cannot speak like an orator.

"Don't you know, my friend, it is not the most fluent man that has the greatest effect with a jury? It is the man who tells the truth. And in speaking of your experience, God will help you if you trust in Him, and you will find after a simple trial that you have perfect liberty. The trouble is we have a great many Christians who have only got as far as the 3d chapter of John, and so far as liberty to come out and speak up for God is concerned, they don't know anything about it. We want this spirit of liberty so as to be qualified for God's work. A friend of mine told me once that when he went to a boarding-house he could always tell who the boarders were, for they never alluded to family matters, but sat down to the table and talked of outside matters; but when the son came in, he would go into the sitting-room to see if there were any letters, and inquire after the family, and show in many ways his interest in the household. It doesn't take five minutes to tell that he is not a boarder, and that the others are. And so it is with the Church of God. You see these boarders in church every Sunday morning, but they don't take any interest. They come to criticize, and that is about all that constitutes a Christian nowadays. They are boarders in the House of God, and we have got too many boarders. What we want is liberty.


"A friend of mine asked a judge in his church to go out to a schoolhouse in the country with him one day, where he was going to preach. He said to the judge that he would like to have him go, and the judge said he would like to go along. He told the judge he would like to have him speak to the people. The judge said, 'Oh, I could not do that.' 'Why can't you? You can speak in your court well enough without any trouble. Why cannot you speak here? Suppose you just try it?' When they got out there, the judge refused to do so, but the minister said, 'I want to put the judge into the witness box and question him.' And the judge got his lips open at last, and told how he was converted, and how the Spirit of God came down upon him. And there was a mighty power in what he said, and the result was that many were converted, and the judge has been a working Christian ever since. I think there are hundreds bound, as he was, by station.

"A man who had been a professing Christian for three years I met at a meeting, and I knew he had been a professing Christian, and I supposed, of course, he had prayed in public. I noticed that he hesitated when I asked him, but he rose, and as soon as he opened his lips, the words came easily. I heard him tell a friend afterward that that night he felt as if he had been converted a second time.


"I believe the world would have forgotten Christ's death as soon as they forgot His birth, if it had not been for the Holy Ghost. It had only been thirty years since His birth, and all those wonderful scenes had happened in Bethlehem and it was well known in Jerusalem; yet, it seems to have been forgotten until Christ came. And they would have forgotten His death if it had not been for the Holy Ghost. He came to testify for Jesus Christ that He had risen. He saw Him in Heaven, and He came to tell us that He was there at the right hand of God. He convinced men on the day of Pentecost, three thousand of them. He does not talk of Himself, but of Christ. In the 15th chapter of John, the 26th verse, it says, 'But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of me. "A man came to me the other day and said he was going where my wife and family are, and wanted to know if I had any message to send. Well, I sent them a message; but suppose when that man went down there, that he should go and see my wife and should begin to talk about himself, and not say a word about me. That would not cheer their hearts; they would want to hear about me. That would make their hearts warm. The Holy Ghost teaches us this lesson of self-forgetfulness. Every one of us Christians wants more of the Holy Ghost. Let us all give ourselves up to the influence of His Spirit, who will lead us on to liberty and life and peace and joy.


"It seems to me that we have got about three classes of Christians. The first class in the 3d chapter of John, were those who had got to Calvary and there got life. They believed on the Son and were saved, and there they rested satisfied. They did not seek anything higher. Then, in the 4th chapter of John, we come to a better class of Christians. There it was a well of living water bubbling up. There are a few of these, but they are not a hundredth part of the first class. But the best class is in the 7th chapter of John, 'Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.' That is the kind of Christian we ought to be.

"When I was a boy, I used to have to pump water for the cattle. Ah, how many times I have pumped with that old right hand until it ached! and how many times I used to pump when I could not get any water, and I was taught that when the pump was dry I must pour a pail of water clown the pump, and then I could get the water up. And that is what Christians want--a well of living water. We will have plenty of grace to spare; all we need ourselves and plenty for others. We have got into the way now of digging artesian wells better. They don't pump now to get the water, but when they dig the well they cut down through the gravel and through the clay, perhaps one thousand or two thousand feet, not stopping when they can pump the water up, but they cut to a lower stratum, and the water flows up abundantly of itself. And so we ought, every one of us to be like artesian wells. God has got grace enough for every one of us, and if we were only full of the Holy Ghost what power we would have! The influence of these meetings would be felt through the whole country. A learned doctor said once, speaking of Christ's holiness, 'You fill a tumbler of water to the brim and then just touch it, and the water flows out; and so Christ was so full of truth that when the woman touched Him, virtue flowed out and healed her.' Every one of us should be as full of the Holy Ghost as this, and then men will see that we have an unseen power. We must not be satisfied with just having life, but we want this power. How many times we have preached and taught, and it has been like the wind! And why? Because our hearts were not full, and we did not have that anointing.


"Some one asked a minister, if he had ever received a second blessing since he was converted. 'What do you mean?' was his reply, 'I have received ten thousand since the first.' A great many think because they have been filled once, they are going to be full for all time after; but O, my friends, we are leaky vessels, and have to be kept right under the fountain all the time in order to keep full. If we are going to be used by God we have to be very humble. A man that lives close to God will be the humblest of men. I heard a man say that God always chooses the vessel that is close at hand. Let us keep near Him. But we will have to keep down in the dust; God won't choose a man that is conceited. The moment we lift up our head and think we are something and somebody, He lays us aside. If we want this power, we have to give God all the glory. I believe the reason we do not get this power more than we do, is because we do not know how to use it. We would be taking all the credit to ourselves and saying, 'Don't I do a great work?' and begin and boast about it. There are hundreds and thousands I believe that God would take up and use and give us a great baptism if we would only give Him the glory. We have not learned the lesson of humility yet, that we are nothing and God is everything."


In the city of Glasgow, some years ago, Mr. Moody related an incident which is given here in his own words, from which we get a glimpse of his superior life, and from which we are led to believe that in this, as in everything else, he was a great illustration of the truths he taught to others:

"I can myself go back almost twelve years and remember two holy women who used to come to my meetings. It was delightful to see them there, for when I began to preach, I could tell by the expression of their faces they were praying for me. At the close of the Sabbath evening services they would say to me, 'We have been praying for you.' I said, 'Why don't you pray for the people?' They answered, 'You need power,' 'I need power,' I said to myself; 'why, I thought I had power.' I had a large Sabbath school and the largest congregation in Chicago. There were some conversions at the time, and I was in a sense satisfied. But right along these two godly women kept praying for me, and their earnest talk about 'the anointing for special service' set me thinking. I asked them to come and talk with me, and we got down on our knees. They poured out their hearts, that I might receive the anointing of the Holy Ghost. And there came a great hunger into my soul. I knew not what it was. I began to cry as I never did before. The hunger increased. I really felt that I did not want to live any longer if I could not have this power for service. I kept on crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit. Well, one day, in the city of New York - O, what a day! I cannot describe it; I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to me. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say, God revealed himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand.

"I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you would give me all Glasgow. It is a sad day when the convert goes into the church, and that is the last you hear of him. If, however, you want this power for some selfish end, as for example, to gratify your ambition, you will not get it. 'No flesh,' says God, 'shall glory in my presence.' May he empty us of self and fill us with His presence.

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