Graham Snow - Don't Give Up

My thoughts have been on the last two verses of Hebrews 10, "The just shall live by faith, " then, "We are not of them who draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe, to the saving of the soul." Especially about this last verse here, I'd like to mention a few thoughts this morning. I'll try and condense them. It says here that we're not of those who draw back unto perdition, but through faith, we save our souls. There are three things mentioned in this verse which are very important. The saving of our souls, and then doing this through faith and as a result, we don't draw back. We don't flee. We remain in our place. This verse means much to me and I see a great depth of meaning in these few simple little words. It says here about the saving of our souls, we don't draw back, we don't give up. We don't go away. We remain steadfast to save our souls. You know, if we went back home, even today sometime, and find that our home was burning, flames shooting out of the doors and windows, the roof and so forth. The house was on fire and we realise we have time, but only sufficient time, to rush in once, grab something, save it, and rush out again, no time to go twice or three times, just time to go in once to save something from that home, some of our possessions. Many things may be there, pictures on the wall, carpets on the floor, clothes, personal belongings, all sorts of things in our home. We'd have to decide very, very quickly, "What shall I take and what shall I leave?" "Do I take this or that or the other thing? I've no time to save everything. I can only save one thing." Time is so short. The house is on fire. You know, this world's on fire. There's destruction on every hand. The flames are shooting high. Sin, unrighteousness, iniquity, and wickedness are reigning in this world. We don't have time to save everything. I hope we're amongst those who try to save our souls.


 

A number of years ago, two young people married, over there in Europe. They took the step of marriage. Both were professing in the way of God. Well, after just two or three years, the young man drew back. He read other things, other books, other philosophies, other ideas, and he lost his faith. So he drew back. He no longer came. His wife struggled on, did her best to keep on going in the way of God. The marriage began to founder. There was separation there; there were problems in the marriage, in the home-life with two small children. He said to her finally, "If you want to save the marriage, give up the meetings. Don't go any more. If you want to save our partnership, save the home, you must give up the meetings." She didn't want to, this young person. Then she came to us after a few weeks and was in tears. To the brothers in the tent mission, she said; "I'm sorry, I have to try and save my marriage. I'm giving up the meetings. I'm giving up the way of God. I'm giving up Godly things because I want to save my marriage. I don't want to lose my husband. I want to go with him." Well, just in a few short words, she lost everything. He said to her, just months later, "You can go. I've got no more time for you. Go somewhere else. I don't want you anymore." She lost her marriage. She already had lost her salvation. The workers had pleaded with her, previously, "Don't give up the meetings. Don't give up the way of God. That's the last thing to give up." Well, she did it to try and save her marriage and lost everything. That's not the end of the story. I have no time to tell you all the details this morning; that doesn't matter. It's nice to know that years later, she came back. When the children grew older and started asking questions, she came back to help her children. Today, she is a faithful soul in God's Kingdom and so are her son and his wife, and also her daughter and her husband. What I'm trying to say is there's only one thing to save and it's to save our souls. We can't save everything; it's impossible, but one thing does matter. It is our salvation and the salvation of our soul.



We know the story so well of Paul in the New Testament that time when he suffered shipwreck. They went against his advice, out onto the sea, to reach their destination. Then the storm came, a violent storm that lasted for days and days. Days and nights, the days were dark as night the scripture tells us. The winds blew and the waves rolled, such a stormy sea, and the lightning and thunder. Now what did they do? They did what they could to first of all save the ship; they threw all the cargo overboard…away with the cargo, into the depths of the sea. We're trying to save the ship. That wasn't sufficient so then they threw overboard the ship's instruments, the gear on the ship, to try and save the ship. Then they finally realised, "There's only one thing worth saving." It was the saving of their own lives, their own bodies. They had only one thought in mind, "We can lose the cargo. We can lose the instruments. We can lose the ship. Only one thing matters. It's saving our lives, not going down into these waters, to be drowned in these raging waters." For the very first time, those soldiers and sailors realised what was the most important thing. It wasn't the ship. It wasn't the cargo. It wasn't the instruments. It was their naked lives.  They were prepared to lose all to save just their lives. Do you agree with me that what they did was a very wise thing? In those raging waves, in that violent storm, it was very wise to throw overboard the cargo. The cargo had a certain value; there was money and time invested. It was a precious thing, but it was very wise to take that precious thing and throw it overboard, in the hope of saving the ship. Then they took the ship's instruments, so necessary for sailing, to guide the ship to reach their destination. They took them also, and do you agree with me? A very wise thing, it was the wisest thing they could do, to throw these things overboard, to try and save the ship and save their lives. Do you agree with me on that point? BUT if we changed the picture, if we changed the scene and go back to the very first day of that voyage when they left that harbour. The sun was shining; there was a light breeze blowing, ideal weather for sailing on the waters. They left the harbour with expectation, with hope in their hearts, with joy in their hearts. We're leaving for our destination. All is going well. The weather is fine. If after just an hour out on that voyage, they had thrown the cargo overboard, what would we think? Just shake your heads. What a foolish thing! What a stupid thing to do! An hour after leaving the harbour throwing overboard all the ships instruments! That's just not done. That's foolishness. Yet in other circumstances, it was the wisest thing to do to try and save their very lives. I'm sure, at this convention, God's going to show us what we have to throw overboard to save our souls. We're not those who draw back; we're those who believe unto the saving of our souls. Something which would seem so valuable, something that would have been a great investment in our lives in past days, things that seem so vital for human life and human living, for human progress in this life, but in the light of eternity, in the storm, when facing death, the last hours of life, it's worthwhile to throw them overboard to lighten the ship, to save our souls. We're concerned about only one thing, about saving our soul. Our soul, our salvation is far more important than even our marriage, even our family life, or our business life, or our private life, or whatever it may be. Only one thing will remain for all eternity. It is our soul's salvation.


We read here in this verse, "We do not draw back unto perdition, but believe to the saving of the soul." This believing is a very important part of saving our souls. You know, there's a big contradiction in the Bible. James said, "Faith without works is dead." You can believe. You can have faith. You can be convinced and you can be persuaded. You can believe in these things, but without works, that faith is dead. That's the way he wrote. Then Paul in the letter to the Romans said that Abraham was justified by faith, without works. It seems like a contradiction. There was James stressing and underlining that there was no point in having faith if there were no works. Then there was Paul saying that Abraham was justified by faith, without works, no works. No it's not a contradiction, not at all. I hope I can find the words to explain my thought.


There was a man in the New Testament who had a son. This son was sick from an early age. He used to foam at the mouth and to tear himself. He used to cast himself into water, into fire, he tried to destroy himself. He had those terrible crises in his life. The disciples couldn't do a thing for him, so the father came to Jesus. This man said to Jesus, "Canst Thou? The situation is serious; it's a very grave situation. What can you do? Jesus, in these circumstances is the answer! He can help!" I like the way it's written in the Italian. It's much stronger than in English. It's written there in the Italian Bible that Jesus said, "What do you mean can I help? Of course I can help! There's just no doubt about it. There's no question to be asked. It's obvious. I have the power to help." That's the thought we get from the Italian Bible, when we apply it to this man. When the man, this
father, asked, "Canst Thou help?" "What do you mean, can I help? Of course I can. There's just no question about it. No doubt about it." Then Jesus said to him, "To those who believe, all things are possible." Then this man prayed a prayer that I've prayed a hundred times. I've prayed it a thousand times. How often, I do not know. I've prayed this prayer, "I believe, help Thou my unbelief." Yes, I do have a struggle, one of my biggest struggles in this life, after so many years in the work of God, so many years in His service, after so many missions and so much activity in the gospel work. When I have a struggle, it's a struggle with believing. With believing! Help Thou mine unbelief. I sat in a meeting once when an old sister worker said she felt sorry for those who didn't believe in God. She said; "I just can't understand them." Well I sat there and listened, and said to myself, "I can understand them,” because of my human mind, my human reasoning, and logic. It's often in the way. It really hinders me from believing implicitly. I have to pray that I may believe. Sure I believe, but help Thou my unbelief."


I stood once on a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, and someone stood alongside me. We looked at the sky; saw the stars, a peaceful scene. This person turned to me and said to me, "Graham, do you ever have the thought that there may not be a God?" I said, "Yes. Sometimes I do." Don't get me wrong. This human reasoning just stands in the way. "I believe. Help thou my unbelief!" This is being justified, without works. If we can just believe in God, that there is a God, that there is a Jesus Christ, that there is a way of God on the earth today; just to believe this will justify us. This father said; "Help thou, my unbelief. I believe, but there are doubts, there are questions."

 

If we could just change the picture a little bit. We know that in New Testament times, that illness, that disease or sickness went hand in hand with sin. Usually it was the result of sin, when someone was ill or diseased. Let's just change the picture. This father comes to Jesus with his son, and he says to Jesus, "You know, Jesus, my son is such a sinful boy, he's such a wicked boy, he's such a disobedient boy, he's such a horrible person, he's got terrible traits of human nature, he tells lies, and he steals, and he does this and he does that. His life is just full of sin, full of wrongdoing. He's an evil boy. He's the worst of the worst. Jesus, can you help him? Can he be forgiven?" "What do you mean? Can I forgive him? Can I help him? There's just no question about it. There's no doubt about it. He can be. In one sense the sickest boy in the whole country, or the most evil boy in the whole country. There's just no question about it! Of course I can help him! I have the power. I have the might. I am the Son of God. I can do it." "Help Thou my unbelief." Is there someone sitting here this morning and thinking, "Well, I'm so weak, I've gone so far astray, I've done so much wrong, there's so much evil in my heart, can He help me? Can He forgive me? Can I be reconciled with Him? Can I experience salvation?" This is the first thing we have to do, believe in Him, believe in His works, not our works. Abraham was justified by faith. We do believe, to the saving of our soul.


Just this little story about faith. You know the story about Jericho. They walked around Jericho for six days, seven days, once a day for six days, and seven times on the seventh day. They walked and they kept quiet, they said nothing and then came the thirteenth time. The seventh time on the seventh day. Then a great shout, a blowing of the trumpets, and those walls just crashed down. They were perhaps the strongest walls, the highest walls, the thickest walls, the best walls in the whole country, but they just crashed down when the people shouted and blew the trumpets. But, you know, to do that...walk around the first day…nothing happens, walk around the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth day, and nothing happens. Go out again on the seventh day. Go around the city once, and there's still not one loose stone on the wall. There's not one crack which appears. It's still intact, it's still strong. Just as high as ever it was, just as strong as ever it was. Then to keep on going and to believe that on the thirteenth time, when we shout with a loud voice, and the trumpets are sounded, those walls are going to crash down. When you see nothing to encourage your faith and belief that it will happen, not one loose stone, not one stone falls to the ground even after twelve times, not one crack appears, to keep on going and to keep on believing, when we see nothing, that's having faith. We're not amongst those who draw back, but we believe. We believe to the saving of our soul.


Now I must just mention a thought about this third aspect. We do not draw back. We read here that we're not of them who draw back unto perdition. There's a verse in Proverbs which reads, Proverbs 27, "As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place." What happens when the bird leaves her nest? Usually there are eggs or young birds in the nest. When the bird wanders away from this nest, what happens? Along comes the cat or a wild animal, and destroys either the eggs or the young in that nest. The bird may come back, the bird may be safe and sound, in good health, but the young are gone. The eggs are gone. They've been destroyed! That's what happens when a bird leaves the nest. We heard this morning about that very same thought. A number of years ago, a couple became offended, a couple in the family of God. They felt, "It's just not right, what's happening. What's being said is unjust." They became offended. They were hurt. They said, "We're not coming anymore." They didn't come for a couple of years. She said, "I want justice! This matter has got to be put right. I want justice and when justice is meted out, then we'll come back to the meetings." You know that's just completely wrong to want justice. If our Lord Jesus had prayed, "I want justice!" in the garden, He would never have gone to the cross. Would never have died and shed His blood for our sins. We are here today, and we enjoy salvation because He was willing to suffer injustice, suffer wrongly. He wasn't offended. He wasn't hurt. He went to the cross.


Just to mention quickly, the story back there. That couple, when they went out, when they left the meetings, offended and hurt, they took with them two teenage children. Today those parents are grandparents. They came back, but those children and grandchildren are still outside. The young were destroyed, the eggs, the young in the nest. It doesn't pay to wander from our place, but to keep our place.


Do you know why I'm here in the work today?  It is because I was just too proud to go home after my first year in the work. My father told me when I was sixteen years of age, "You've got no perseverance," or "You can't just sort of hang in there, as they say in America. You haven't got any stick-ability." He was right. Then came the time to leave to go into the work. We had to catch the ferry boat to go to the South Island of New Zealand, and father was there. He just shook my hand and he never said a word - man of few words. He didn't say, "Good-bye." He couldn't, I guess. There was something just blocking the words from coming out of his mouth when I left to go into the work of God. But, if he had said to me, "Graham, if you find it too hard, if you find it's not your place in the work, you just come home. The door is always open." If he had said that, I would have gone back the first year in the work. I said, "I'll show him. I can stick it out. I'll persevere." Many years have passed since then. I would have missed just so much in life, even this privilege to be amongst you in this country of South Africa. I can just thank God that He gave me the strength not to wander, not to draw back, not to go away, but to stay on the altar of sacrifice. Aren't we all glad today, when those voices cried out, "Jesus, come down! Leave the cross." Even the pain in His hands and the pain in His feet, the body wracked with pain, the voices were saying, "Don't remain there. Leave this place of suffering. You don't have to stay here. It's not for your salvation. You can leave the cross. Come down! Come down!" Aren't we glad that Jesus stayed in His place? He didn't wander. He didn't draw back, didn't flee. He stayed on the cross till death came to bring us salvation, to bring us hope for the future.


We know the story of Ruth and Boaz in the Old Testament - Elimelech and Naomi and the whole family there, we know it so well. Elimelech thought, "Oh well, in this kingdom there's a famine. There's not enough bread and we have to live. I've got children here; well, we'll just go down to Moab for a while. We'll live down there for some time." That's what he did. He went away, thinking it would be better outside the kingdom. We know the story. He lost his life and also his two sons lost their lives. Then two came back, Ruth and Naomi, back to the land of Israel. Later on, just to make the story short, Ruth became the bride of Boaz, the master of the harvest. The lord of the harvest was Boaz. She became his bride. I thought it was just such a lovely picture of the master, of the lord of the harvest and of us as the bride of Christ. I want just to say this. Elimelech left Israel; things were bad, conditions were wrong, a famine in the land. There's no blessing there. They were ploughing, and sowing; they were planting; they were working and they were sacrificing, and no results for it. "Well, let's go somewhere else. It's better elsewhere." It seems to me that Boaz stayed. He didn't leave the land. He must have lived under the very same conditions, the very same famine, the very same trying times. It seems to me that he became a very rich man in Israel, perhaps one of the very richest in the whole country, because he stayed in the land. He didn't wander from his place.


I heard a story once. It was concerning South Africa. I won't mention any names. It happened many, many years ago. It might even have been in Durban where it happened. An old worker, an old servant of God, came to this country for conventions many years ago - spent time here at conventions with you good folk. It came time to leave, time to go back onto the boat to go back to his field of labour. He climbed up the gangplank and up onto the deck of the boat and looked down on the wharf there. He saw so many of the friends and so many of the workers gathered there to say goodbye. They had appreciated his ministry, his presence amongst them. He'd done so much for them. He'd brought them so much encouragement for future days. This old servant of God out there on the deck, looking down and seeing all the faithful there, he prayed this prayer, "If ever I were to disappoint these people Lord, I'd prefer that this boat goes down and takes me with it." He didn't want to leave his place, and in leaving his place, discourage others. He wanted to stay to the very end and not wander from his place, not leave his place but just to be there, to be a help and an encouragement to others.


By the grace of God, and only by the grace of God, I stand before you this morning. It is only through His help, for the way that He has helped me down through the years not to leave my place. Who was never tempted to leave the family of God? Who was never tempted to leave the work? I'd venture to say that there's not one worker in this tent who never had the thought at some time, "I just can't make it! It's just too much. It's just too narrow. There's just too much sacrifice. I'm just too human. I'm just too weak. There are just too many temptations. I just can't make the grade. I'll have to give up!" If I told you that this was not my experience, I would be telling an untruth. Only by the grace of God I continue to this day, as Paul said.


This verse tells us just so nicely just three simple little thoughts. "We are not amongst those who draw back unto perdition or destruction or disaster or catastrophe." Just think of some of those who have drawn back. Where are they today? Often they've made tremendous disaster and catastrophe as far as their lives are concerned, every aspect of it. We don't draw back. We believe, and we keep on believing and we chase every doubt far away from our hearts. It is good to be convinced about God, to be convinced about His way, about His truth, about this wonderful salvation, and to save our souls. We can't save everything but one thing we must save. We must save our souls.