A Gospel Message of Hope
By: G.T. Haywood
Elder G. T. Haywood at the Apostolic Faith Assembly, Indianapolis, Ind., delivered this sermon during a Sunday morning service in April, 1922.
We wish to call your attention to the third chapter of Romans, beginning at verse I, "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God." That is, the first opportunity to know God. The law of the Ten Commandments was given to them. God had committed unto their trust the oracles of God, and gave them that they might bring the light of God to the world. And although they failed their God, yet His purpose went forward. Even though some did not believe, "shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?" Man's unbelief does not change God's word, nor stop Him from working out His purpose.
The word of God is true whether the people believe it or not. God will bring Salvation near. It makes no difference what you say, or what I may say, "God hath said." Our God can work while we are sleeping. And when we are folded away like a garment in our graves, God will still be working. If one man or one people fails God, He will take up another and move on. God brought Israel out and made them a great people, through a man who was only a shepherd of the plains of Midian and not a warrior, but could speak words of wisdom by the spirit of God words, which even to this day have astonished the world. God sent His Word from heaven unto this people, arid walked in the midst of them with mighty signs and wonders showing His mighty arm. And yet they failed God through their unbelief.
The Lord had no people He could trust. So He declared He would "take a people who are not a people and make them a people of God." He did this to prove that He does not have to depend on any nation or individual. God Himself never failed" and could not fail. Even the prophets He ordained became weak along the line and were filled with fear, or took honor to them- selves. "The priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment." (Isa. 28:7.)
What if man does not believe the Gospel as it is laid, down in the Book ? The Gospel is true regardless of his unbelief. I believe in the Blood of JESUS CHRIST, and that without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. But the question is: how shall I get the remission ? One may say, "I will just believe." But to "believe" means more than to just say "I believe," Matt. 26 :28 says.
If any people start out with the power of God in their midst and become full of pride and lose their spirituality, God will put them aside and take up another. And if the latter fails, He will set them aside and take up still another. I am satisfied that God does not depend upon any of us to carry His work through, but we are compelled to depend upon Him for without Him we can do nothing.
"For this is My blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Jesus was the greatest preacher the world has ever known, and turned the preaching of the Gospel over to Peter as though He said, "You are next, Peter. You shall begin where I leave off." And that preacher in Acts 2:38 said: "Repent, and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." That is the way the Holy Spirit gave it out on the day of Pentecost. In those days the people were always baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins that they might receive the Holy Spirit, which was God's witness to their faith.
What is the Holy Ghost ? He is a witness to your having received remission of sins. That is what the Apostle said: "There are three that bear witness in the earth, the Spirit, the water and the blood." He did not say one was any greater than the other. All three of them are required to make one witness. Many people look at water alone, but the proper thing to do is to see the name in which it is administered. Take away the blood, and you have nothing but faith. Take away the water and you make Jesus a liar. The Bible, in the first epistle of John, tells us plainly, "This is He which came by water and blood; not by water only, but by water and blood." And that, "it is the Spirit that bearth witness." I do take notice of this much: there was so much authority in the command of JESUS to baptize, that neatly all the churches (with a few exceptions) try in some way to administer it, if it only be the dipping the finger in the water. But if it is worth doing at all, it is worth doing rightly. However, a man's failure to believe does not change the Word of God. You can scarcely join a church in the city without some mode of baptism. There are about as many ways as there are human minds, and all for the lack of following the mind of the Spirit.
The reason some people do not live holy is because they have not been taught it and have been brought up wrongly. But you start a man or woman believing the Word of God, and you can bring them out on the Word. Our experiences are so varied that it does not pay to attempt to tell others about it, for they will try to get our experience instead of what is written in the Book. I do not want anybody to be able to rise and say the Word of God is not true. There has always been some- body filled with the Spirit, ever since the day of Pentecost. God has never left Himself without witness. No doubt some did not know just what they had. Luther had it. Wesley, Finney and Fox had it; and they had a hard, severe trial in their days.
We want God to be justified. We have not a thing to boast of this day. There is false holiness and true holiness. The true, is the Holy Ghost in you; and the false, is human efforts without God; self-righteousness. If we acknowledge our own failures God will give us His power to overcome day by day. God does not get behind a man 'with a whip and drive him to heaven, but He fixes it up so you "will" follow Him because you love Him.
Who is it that never did sin? Paul shows the whole human family had sinned, and if all sinned, all were condemned. But God had mercy. We could not help but sin. We were born that way. But God said, "You must be born again." And no newborn child walks perfectly at once. First they crawl, then they totter and fall. But they do not keep falling. By this I mean that a man or woman who is filled with the Holy Ghost and starts out to walk with Jesus Christ, may stumble and fall at first, but don't. get discouraged if the devil tries to trip you up. God will help you. He is able to keep you from falling, says Jude. I am talking about those who have it in their hearts to live for Christ. Do not let any failure daunt your courage. You know God is able to carry you through. Many have found it to be so.
If God brings judgment upon a sinner for his wrongdoing, some will charge Him with injustice. But how can God then judge the world? God said He would give us a light for our path, and put His angels around us, and give us a pattern in Jesus, and place His Spirit within us. Brother, I would be ashamed to tell God I could not live right with all that help! And then folks will try to tell you, "You can't make it, Brother!" So we are going to commend the righteousness of God, by acknowledging-"O Lord, we are all failures."
It is the grace of God that is able to sustain and up- hold any man or woman who desires to be kept by the Power of God. There are people who desire to boast of themselves and never have had a change of heart. And some even go so far as to say, "1 am all right. I am good enough. 1 don't need that Holy Ghost." I don't care if you did not steal, drink, or commit adultery--it is in your heart anyhow! Everybody needs the power of God. Good works never did save anybody. It takes the "power of God unto salvation." I am not telling a moral man to get worse in order to get saved. No! I am telling him there is no condition so bad but that God has grace to save us from it.
You cannot make men righteous by legislation. "Yes must be born again." God says to the church "preach the word" and make a fertile spot in the terrible desert of sin, that men may see the water of life along the side of the road. No law can make you live right. God Almighty tried it Himself with the children of Israel, and the Word says, "What the law could not do, Christ did." (Rom. 8:3.) But do you know when a man be- comes saved he will keep the spirit of the law? There is no law against attending to your own business, paying all your debts, and no law against praying. Do right, and bless God, and pray without ceasing. No law is against doing that which is just and good. (Gal. 5:22,23.)
Many homes have been torn asunder. Sorrow and mourning drapes the human heart because of sin. I dislike to hear some people talk because of their disgraceful utterances. But let God get into their hearts and then note the change. Everybody without Christ is guilty. Had God Almighty demanded justice, every living person would have been dead, and brought before the judgment bar to give an account of their misspent lives. The only thing that is going to save a man in the power of God. I am talking about genuine salvation, too! You can go any place and hear everything else but the Gospel of salvation. But men shall be saved. That is our whole service-to "save men." The church is ordained for that purpose.
God sums up the whole human family and declares that it is "full of wounds, bruises and putrefying sores." To tell a man he should not steal, or covet, or commit adultery is not enough. Tell him how to get saved so he will not do those things. The power of God can save anybody that will believe, The god of carnality has certainly got some folks fast. But 0, I am so glad I am saved! Saved by the power of God! It is wonderful to be God's free man, delivered from the power of the pride of life, the lusts of the eye, and the lusts of the flesh, It does not make any difference whether a man is old or young, rich or poor, black or white or bro\,n, just so he believes. If you have never been to school] to learn a letter, you can "believe." I am satisfied that you do not have to have eyes to believe. You do not have to be able to speak to "believe." You may have both hands cut off, but still you can "believe." If you cannot hear, somebody will write, or make signs and you can "believe." You do not have to weigh so many hundred pounds or write letters, or understand the Bible to get saved. All God said was to "believe." Why, Jesus paid it all! The people that are saved to- day are people that "believed" the Gospel. And you do not believe God if you do not obey Him! I will prove it to you, too. "Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith (without saying a word) by my works!" It is not merely saying, "I believe" it is proving your belief. If you actually believe then you know what Jesus was talking about when He said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," and prove it by your actions. Jesus declared, "except a man be born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." (John 3:5-7.) If you do not obey, then you do not believe.
God has fixed the matter so you need make no mistake about it, either. Too many jump over the fifth verse of the third chapter of John's Gospel. Moreover, Jesus stated emphatically that He "testified of that which He had seen; and spake that which He did know" (John 3:11), and this is what He spoke: "I know that if a man be not born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." If you have never been baptized in the name of JESUS CHRIST, you have never been immersed properly. This is the only name under heaven given among men whereby they must be saved. If you repent deeply enough in your heart, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, I will guarantee that you shall receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost as you "come up out of the water."* If people do not believe God's Word they never get His best. Even if you do not understand, you must believe, before you can "see" the Glory of God.
*At the end of this sermon seven persons accepted the word, came forward immediately for baptism. Four of them received the Holy Ghost while coming out of the water, and another soon after changing clothes.