By Elizabeth Prata
The other day I was scrolling around online, and I passingly saw a quote from John MacArthur. “God is holy. We are not.” It was a simple phrase, common, a regularly spoken thing. I see that kind of sentiment frequently and it never affected me like it did at that moment. It wasn’t even scripture, just a spiritual/doctrinal concept.
But my spirit was immediately overcome. I teared up, I bent over in my chair, I whispered aloud, “Praise the Lord”. I kept praying for a while, tearing up at the sweetness of such a simple but true concept.
Where’d THAT come from? I wondered…
It had to have been the Holy Spirit in me knitting Himself to the Lord of Lords in truth. It was a mini-event. To use a trite phrase, “a God thing”. But it was a potent reminder. When we go about our daily lives in public, whether online or in real life, we never know which scriptures or which scriptural concepts will be flung into a heart and pierced with eternal truth. Especially to the lost.
If you don’t know how Spurgeon was saved…he had been wrestling with the issue of his sin and longing for redemption for a few years. But to no avail. It wasn’t until he stumbled into a small church during a snowstorm, knowing he would not make it to his intended church destination. The pastor of that church couldn’t make it either so a layman took the pulpit. Hardly knowing what to say, he simply repeated the verse several times, mispronouncing along the way, and added a bit of his own commentary in his own halting, simple manner. But the words grabbed Spurgeon with a vise-like grip and would not let go. Here was the verse-
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:22 KJV).
After that, the layman substituting for the regular pastor just kept saying, Look! Look! A simple verse, a simple man, but it did the work and the heart of the soon to be Prince of Preachers was pierced.
The Conversion of Charles Haddon Spurgeon: January 6 1850
If you don’t know of the conversion of John Bunyan…
John Bunyan…”The thing that gave Bunyan any notoriety in the days of his ungodliness,” writes his biographer, Dr. Hamilton, “and which made him afterwards to appear to himself such a monster of iniquity, was the energy which he put into all his doings. He had a zeal for idle play and an enthusiasm in mischief which were the perverse manifestations of a forceful character.” (source)
Bunyan was notorious in his raucous doings among the town. He was well known for being a rake. In fact, he was a hardened sinner – yet deeply disturbed by his own sin. He experienced a prolonged conviction of sin and tried in his own strength at various times to remove this burden from himself by reforming his character. Of course, this did not work. His sinful nature always re-emerged, to Bunyan’s despair.
One day Bunyan passed some women sitting in the doorway in the sun, talking of Godly things, the graces the Lord had afforded them, satan’s wiles and resisting temptation. Bunyan later wrote,
And methought they spake as if joy did make them speak; they spake with such pleasantness of Scripture language, and with such appearance of grace in all they said, that they were to me as if they had found a new world, as if they were people that dwelt alone, and were not to be reckoned among their neighbours (Num. 23.9). (Source)
There were actually about ten things over time that entered Bunyan’s bosom and rested there, until the appointed day they should come together and knit a glorious salvation into his soul, but the women’s plain talk was one of them, a significant point of entry on his path toward eternal glory. Regular women, salted conversation.
Augustine: a rotting, foul, fetid sinner, by his own characterization, Augustine was definitely one who by man’s eyes would seem beyond redemption. But his mother Monica prayed. And prayed. And prayed.
Augustine was tormented by his sin and inability to change the direction of his life. He had gotten to a point in his depravity it bothered even him, but more so, how he constantly lied to his mother. One day he heard a child in a garden singing simple words- Augustine later wrote,
I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo, I heard the voice as of a boy or girl, I know not which, coming from a neighbouring house, chanting, and oft repeating, Take up and read; take up and read. Immediately my countenance was changed, and I began most earnestly to consider whether it was usual for children in any kind of game to sing such words; nor could I remember ever to have heard the like. So, restraining the torrent of my tears, I rose up, interpreting it no other way than as a command to me from Heaven to open the book, and to read the first chapter I should light upon —
Romans 13:13-14, Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof
Gulp. The exact verse he needed to see himself reflected in scripture describing his flavor of sin in which he was drowning. Augustine was pierced through. He later wrote of his mother’s prayers, “whereby when I was cleansed, the streams of my mother’s eyes should be dried, with which for me she daily watered the ground under her face.”
Simple words, some, from a child. Scriptures, plainly stated. Godly conversation seasoned with salt and grace. We don’t have to be experts in nuance and knowledgeable of the Greek and Hebrew. Simple words carried by the winds of the Holy Spirit to minds and hearts will cause change in perspective unto conversion as much as a complex sermon from a seminary professor. The point is, do not be afraid to speak Godly verses, concepts, conversations. The hearers will be blessed.
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for building up what is needed, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
Any of God’s words or concepts can pierce a heart