Found by Jesus, and Finding Jesus
"The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."—John 1:43-45.
FOR a soul to come to Jesus, is the grandest event in its history. It is spiritually dead till that day; but it then begins to live, and a saved man may reckon his age from the time in which he first knew the Lord. That day of first knowing Christ is important in the highest degree, because it affects all the man's past career; it sheds another light on all the years that have gone by If he has lived in sin, as no doubt he has, the transaction of that day blots out all the sin. The day in which a man comes to Christ, that very day his transgressions and iniquities are blotted out, even as the thick clouds are driven from the sky when God's strong wind chases them away. Is not that a grand day in which our sins are cast into the depths of the sea so that henceforth it can be said of them, "They may be sought for, but they shall not be found; yea, they shall not be, saith the Lord"? I say that the day in which a soul comes into contact with Christ is the greatest day of its history, because all the past is changed by it; and as for the present, what a different life does a man begin to live on the day in which he finds the Lord! He commences to live in the light instead of being dead in the darkness; he begins to enjoy the privileges of liberty, instead of suffering the horrors of slavery; he is started on the way to heaven, instead of continuing on the road to hell. He is such a new creature that he cannot tell how changed he is. One said to me, "Sir, the change in me is of this kind; either the whole world is altered, or else I am." So is it when we are brought to know Christ; it is a real, total, radical change. With many, it is a most joyous alteration; they feel like the man who had been lame, and who, when Peter spoke to him in the name of Jesus, and lifted him up, so that his feet and ankle bones received strength, was not satisfied with walking, for we read, "He leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God." He was walking, and leaping, and praising God; do you wonder at it? If you had lost the use of your legs for a while, you would feel like leaping and praising God when you had them all right again; and thus is it with a soul when it first finds the Saviour. Oh! happy, happy day, when the miraculous hand of Christ takes away the infirmities of the soul, and makes the lame man to leap as a hart, and causes the tongue of the dumb to sing!
The day in which a man comes to Christ is also a wonderful day in its effect upon all his future. It is as when the helm of a ship is put right about; the man now sails in a totally different direction. His future will never be what his past was. There may be faults; there may be infirmities and shortcomings; but there will never be the old love of sin any more. "Sin shall not have dominion over you." This is God's own promise to us, given through his servant Paul. When Christ comes to our soul, he so breaks the neck of sin, that though it lives a struggling, dying life, and often makes a deal of howling in the heart, yet it is doomed to die. The cross of Christ has broken its back, and broken its neck, too, and die it must. Henceforth the man is bound for holiness, and bound for heaven.
Now, dear friends, have any of you come to Christ? I know that you have, the great mass of you, and I bless God, and so do you, that it is so with you; but if there are any of you who have never come to the Saviour, I wish that this might be the night when you should find him. I am but a poor lame preacher; you are not often troubled with the sight of one sitting down and preaching; yet I think that if I had lost my legs, and had always to lie on my back, I would like even then to preach Christ crucified, and to—
"Tell to sinners round,
What a dear Saviour I have found."
I do pray that some of you to-night, made to think all the more by the infirmity of the preacher, may be led to seek and to find the Saviour, and then it shall be a happy day indeed for you, as it has been for so many more.
I am going to talk to you about Philip's conversion, and first, I ask you to notice, in our text, the convert's description of it: "Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." That is Philip's description of it: "We have found Jesus." It was a true description, but it was not all the truth; so, in the second place, we will notice the Holy Spirit's description of it: "The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip." Philip's account of the incident is that he found Christ; but the Holy Spirit's record of it is that Christ found Philip. They are both true, however; although the latter is the fuller. We will talk a little about both descriptions of Philip's conversion.
I. First then, THE CONVERT'S DESCRIPTION OF HIS COMING TO CHRIST is given in these words, "We have found...Jesus," and what he says is perfectly true.
If any one of you is saved, it will be by finding Christ, by your personally making a discovery of him, as that man did who found the treasure that was hid in the field. There must be a search after Christ; but if there be a search after him, we may be certain of this one thing, that there will first be a consciousness of needing him.
Philip had sought Christ, or else he would never have said that he had found him; but, before that, Philip knew that there was need of a Messiah. When he looked round about on the world, and on the church, he said to himself, "Oh, that the promised Messiah would come! There is great need of him. The people need him, the church needs him, the world needs him." When Philip looked into his own heart, he said, "Oh, for the coming of the Messiah! I feel that I want him; I have urgent need of him." Dear hearer, do you feel that you need a Saviour? You never will seek him until you do feel your need of him. You must recognize that there is sin in you, sin for which you cannot make atonement, sin that you cannot overcome. You must realize that you need another and a stronger arm than your own, that you need divine help, that you need One who can be your Brother, to sympathize with you, and be patient with you, and yet who can be the Mighty God to conquer all your sin for you. You do need a Saviour; that is the first thing that will prompt you to search for him.
Wanting a Messiah, Philip read the Scriptures concerning him. He speaks about Moses and the prophets, and of what they had written concerning the promised Deliverer. O my dear hearers, if you want to find Christ, you must search the Scriptures, for they testify of him! Oh, that you did search the Scriptures more, with the definite object of finding the Saviour! Probably, the great majority of unconverted people never read their Bibles at all; or they read only just enough to satisfy their curiosity, or their conscience. Perhaps they read the Bible as a part of literature which cannot be quite ignored; but they do not take down the Holy Book, and read it carefully and prayerfully, saying, "Oh, that I might find holiness here! Oh, that I might find Christ here!" If they did, it would not be long before they found Jesus. Well does Dr. Watts sing,—
"Laden with guilt, and full of fears,
I fly to thee, my Lord,
And not a glimpse of hope appears
But in thy written Word.
The volume of my Father's grace
Does all my griefs assuage;
Here I behold my Saviour's face
Almost in every page."
He who reads the Bible with the view of finding Christ, will not be long before some passage of Scripture will seem to leap up, to attract his attention, as though it were set on fire, and then it will speak to him of Jesus, whispering to him of the great sacrifice on Calvary, and speaking to his heart of divine love and mercy. Philip was a searcher after Christ in the place where Christ loves to be,—in the pages of Scripture,—and you must be the same if you desire to find Jesus.
But then Philip also gave himself to prayer. We are not told so, but we feel sure of it. He asked the Lord to reveal Christ to him, to guide him to where the Christ would be, to let him know the Christ. Oh, if you want to be saved, be much in prayer! I do not mean merely saying prayers; what is the good of that? I do not mean simply saying fine words of your own, merely for the sake of uttering them. Prayer is communing with God; it is asking the Lord for what you really feel that you need. What waggon-loads of sham prayers are shot down at God's door, as if they were so much rubbish thrown away! Let it not be so with your prayers; but speak to the Lord out of your very soul when you come to the throne of grace. I cannot give you a better prayer than the one we have been singing,—
"Gracious Lord, incline Thine ear,
My requests vouchsafe to hear;
Hear my never-ceasing cry;
Give me Christ, or else I die.
"Lord, deny me what Thou wilt,
Only ease me of my guilt;
Suppliant at Thy feet I lie,
Give me Christ, or else I die.
"Thou dost freely save the lost!
Only in Thy grace I trust:
With my earnest suit comply;
Give me Christ, or else I die.
"Thou hast promised to forgive
All who in Thy Son believe;
Lord, I know Thou canst not lie;
Give me Christ, or else I die."
With the open Bible before you to guide your understanding, kneel down, and say, "O God, graciously reveal Christ to me by thy Holy Spirit; bring me to know him, bring me this day to find him as my own Saviour!"
It is certain, also, that Philip realized that he might claim the Messiah for himself. One of the things that every man, who would find the Saviour, must do, is to make sure of his right to come and take the Saviour. The question that puzzles many is, "May I have the Saviour?" My dear friends, every sinner in the world is permitted to come and trust the Saviour, if he wills to do so. "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." "But," asks some troubled soul, "will Christ have me?" That is not the question; the question is, "Will you have Christ?" He says, "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." It is you who cast out the Saviour, not the Saviour who casts you out. The bolt to the door is on the inside; it is you who have bolted it, and it is you who must undo the bolt, and invite the Saviour to enter your heart. He is willing enough to come in; wherever there is a soul that wants him, he comes at once; therefore, do not raise any quibbling questions about whether a sinner may come to Christ, or may not come. Is he not bidden to come? We are told to preach the gospel to every creature, and he who gave us our great commission also added, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
Philip accepted Christ as the Messiah. Do you ask, "What am I to do that I may find the Saviour?" Well, what you have to do is practically this, accept him. If you were sick, and the doctor stood before you, with the medicine ready prepared, you would not say, "What am I to do with this medicine, sir? Am I to rub my hand on the outside of the bottle?" You know very well that there are certain directions as to how much is to be taken, and how often. What you have to do with the medicine is to take it. "But I cannot make that medicine work for my restoration." Who said you could? All you have to do is to take it. It is just this that you have to do with Christ; take him, accept him, receive him. Remember the twelfth verse of this chapter out of which our text is taken: "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." That is it, you see, receive him, believe on his name. "But surely I am to do some good works." Certainly, you will do good works after you have received Christ; but for your soul's salvation, you are to do no good works, but simply to receive Christ. "Oh, but I must lead a holy life!" Yes, and you will lead a holy life after you have received Christ; but in order to the leading of a holy life you must have a new heart, and to get a new heart, you have to receive Christ. He will change you, he will renew you, he will make you a new creature in himself. What you have to do is to receive him, and to believe on his name. O my dear hearers, I do trust that I am speaking to some this evening who will understand what I am saying. I fear that I am addressing many who will not believe, though I may put the truth as plainly as it can be preached. You know that you may hold a candle right against a blind man's eyes, and yet he will not see even then. The Holy Spirit must open your eyes to see what is meant by this receiving Christ, or else you will not understand what you are to do. You are not to give anything to Christ; you are to take all from him. You are not to give anything to Christ; you are to take all from him. You are not to bring anything to Christ; you are to come to him just as you are, and he will bring to you everything that you need. Then, when you have accepted him by the simple act of faith, you will say with Philip, "We have found Jesus." That is the convert's description, and a very good one, too: "We have found Jesus." (Please click here to continue reading, "Found by Jesus, and Finding Jesus")