Graham Snow - The Saving of our Souls - Mudgee, New South Wales, Australia - 2017

It’s special to hear the older ones and their appreciation for God’s way as they get older. In Germany, we have an old man of 103. In January, he will be 104, if he lives till then. He sits in the front row. He said, “You know, Graham, I am a slow learner.” He was still appreciating what he learns from the Gospel.

Two verses from Hebrews, 10:38-39, “Now the just shall live by faith but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”

There are three important matters in these two verses:

1.         The saving of our soul,

2.         How do we save our soul? — it is through believing,

3.         Warning: we are not amongst those who draw back.

The saving of our soul that is why we are at Convention, why we listen to the Gospel; that is why God has touched our hearts, because He wishes to save our soul. In this body, we have a soul, invisible. The Bible tells us, “Those things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are unseen are eternal.” It cannot be seen with the naked eye, it is eternal. The body can be seen, just a passing thing for a number of years on the face of the earth. The spirit which lives in our soul is a very important thing.

We are all born with a human spirit which is often not very nice, lots of jealousy, pride, bitterness, and envy in this human spirit which inhabits our soul. It is our desire to end life with a different spirit. In lifetime, we are doing our best to die to our human spirit and its ugliness and nature, and doing our best to obtain the spirit of God. We “believe to the saving of the soul.” If only we could realize better and better there is only one thing we can save: our soul. We lose everything else we may obtain many, many things, but the only thing we can do is to save our soul.

If we return home and the house is on fire and we arrive to see our house is being destroyed by fire and in the house are important things, important documents, furniture, maybe antique furniture, good memories and yet we realise we have time to just grab one thing and rush out again.

We have this possibility to go in amongst a burning house and rush out again. I wonder what would we try and save from that fire which is there at home? You know what is there: antique furniture, ornaments, documents, important business matters; what will it be? It will be quite individual, what choice we would make. Our life is being destroyed. There is only one thing we can save and that is the saving of our soul.

There is one person, things were not going very well in the marriage, she was a true soul, but her husband had given up serving God and there were arguments, life was not easy. He said, “When the Workers come to the home for a meal, we won’t give thanks.” He had become so bitter and against the way of God. As time passed by, he said, “The problem is, it is those meetings. If you want to save our marriage, you give up serving God.” She said, “I cannot, that is the purpose of life, I cannot give up the meetings.” Things went from bad to worse. They had two small children. One day, she came to the Brothers and said to them, “I am sorry, I have got to stop serving God. I have to save our marriage ...” Soon she was left alone with no husband and no father and no future for the children. She lost her salvation and lost her marriage. There were years of bitterness and disappointments afterwards, very difficult years. The end of the story is that we were able to bury her as a person believing and serving God. It is not worthwhile to save anything else at the cost of losing our salvation. Do our very best to save our souls.

I think of one person in some mountain areas where we have no Friends to stand by us. We had a portable hall, with between five and ten people coming to the meetings. Sometimes, a lady came alone and told us, “This is my experience. A year or two ago, I was seriously ill. I knew full well, it was very serious, that I might not survive the operation.” It was her thought, “I have to come home again because my young sons need me.” She realized, those boys without a mother will be left destitute. She was God-fearing, but not professing. She said, “I went off to hospital and the thought in my mind was, ‘I must go home ... I am between life and death, which way will it go survive or die?’ ” Her only thought then was, “Am I ready to meet my Maker?” “Am I saved?” A year or two later, she came to meetings She is now alone, now in an old people’s home, ninety years of age. She realized that only one thing matters in life, her soul’s salvation. In spite of her unbelieving husband, her sons not wanting it, she had that thought in all her years, “I must do all I can to save my soul.”

Paul’s voyage on the ocean is in Acts 28. It was a warm and pleasant wind and they thought, “We can risk it,” against the advice of Paul. They left, with passengers on board, soldiers and prisoners, wheat. The ship was laden. I am sure the captain thought, “We must arrive at our destination intact. The boat has a high value and the cargo is not ours. We must arrive completely intact, with everyone and everything on board at our destination.” The storm came and they threw the cargo overboard, the thing that mattered least to them. But it was not sufficient, the boat was still too heavy.

“What can we throw overboard to lighten the ship?” Then they threw overboard the ship’s instruments, trying to reach the safety of land. They realized in that storm, the wheat, the instruments didn’t matter, but that no one drowns, only that one thing matters. They lost everything, but they were able, through the grace of God, to save their lives. We are inclined to load up our lives. They were taking on board cargo, loading up the boat, but out in the storm, they realized that it was not so important, and they threw it overboard.

I’m glad to be in the Work for a number of reasons. You have a lot of occupations, a home to build and keep, children who are a blessing, different possessions, but it’s so easy to load up our lives with all sorts of important things. Getting older, we realize, we have to lighten up our lives from many obligations that, after all, aren’t so important. Only one thing matters, it is saving our soul. Wasn’t it a wise thing they threw the cargo overboard, and the instruments? A wise thing to do in the storm because they wished to save their lives and reach their destination. If, after the second day, the sun was shining and they had started to take the cargo and throw it overboard, what would happen? People would say, “That’s stupid - it belongs to someone else.” Even in younger years, we are willing to throw certain things overboard, to lighten up our lives, have the things that really matter. Our soul is the only thing we will be able to save at the end.

Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” You shall find rest for your soul. This is very valuable, that we have rest in our soul; quietness, satisfaction, peace in our soul. A number of years ago, summer time, it was hot, and in Geneva, tramping the streets of the city, I became tired and looked to find a bench to sit down and rest for a while. I went to Friends, sitting at the table for the evening meal.

I said, “I am just so weary and tired, this chair is hard, I would like to sit in the armchair,” but then I said, “I have to go to bed.” If we are really tired, there is nothing better than a good old bed. There is nothing better for rest in the soul than to learn of Jesus and take His yoke upon ourselves.

A meek, humble, lowly person doesn’t fight for his right, doesn’t get upset about matters unjust, even when things become difficult and life’s a problem. If we are meek, we will have rest in our soul. Jesus said, “Come unto Me all ye who are burdened, take My yoke upon you. You take up My burden.” But first of all, we have to unload ourselves. The burden has become too heavy for us and it is up to us to unload it. Things have been burdens in the past year. “You come to Convention to unload all that on Me and don’t take them up again, take My yoke upon you and you will find rest for your soul.” That is the most wonderful promise in the Word of God

There is a verse in Psalm 106:15, “And He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” They had manna six days a week, God’s provision. They needed nothing else, had strength to pull down tents, strength to march. But they complained, “We want the menu changed, not manna every day.” In certain countries, it’s rice three times a day. I can understand the human element of the people. They asked for meat. God granted their request and sent leanness into their soul. If we want too much of things that aren’t eternal, we might end up with leanness in our soul

My mind goes to someone 15-20 years ago. There was a young couple, the young man was on the brink of a very promising career; doors opening wide in the business world, climbing high, making good money. They both sat in Convention. The young man grabbed the notebook from his wife and started writing furiously. Obviously, the message was very clear to him. After the meeting his wife came to me and said, “He now understands what he has to do as far as his career is concerned, as far as his future is concerned.” One thing I do know, he didn’t obey that advice given by God. He just went as fast as possible into that career and climbed very high indeed. Just in the last week or two, he has texted me a number of times, “I have lost my love for the truth, my soul has a lack of life.” He could have used those words, “leanness in my soul.” He said, “I have got to change. If I lose my career, it doesn’t matter, my soul has to be saved.” God answered prayers, the prayers of his own wife and my own prayers. Now, he is unloading, setting himself free. He realizes: only one thing matters, “I must save my soul.”

Another man, I appreciated his open home, his support for the Workers and Friends. He had an ambulance, he gave his life to do good. Half way through the Sunday morning meeting, he had to leave because there had been an accident. He was admired and appreciated in the town, a good man with a very good job, a man who lived for others. He did that for a number of years. It may have been his last testimony at Convention for he had Parkinson’s Disease. He said, “I look back on thirty wasted years. This is my first full Convention in thirty years because I always had to be somewhere else, helping other sick or injured, or people who had died.” Doing good can be a hindrance to doing the better thing, the right thing, saving our soul. It is so easy that leanness can enter into our soul.

Lot was a rich man, there with Abram. They had to separate because they had so much cattle, herdsmen, the land was too small for them. Lot was a very rich man. Then those cities were destroyed and Lot had to flee. Where were those riches, his cattle, his sheep, his camels? He lost them all. He had to flee from that city a pauper, a beggar, with nothing. I don’t judge him, but there were some mistakes that Lot made that brought that poverty into his life. When God called Abram, we never ever read that God called Lot or God spoke to Lot or that Lot had the same relationship with God as Abraham had. He just belonged to the crowd without this personal contact with God. That was the first mistake he made. Abraham sacrificed, built an altar, sacrificed the best of his flock to God. We never ever read that Lot sacrificed, he just went with Abraham. It is possible to be living with the people of God and the sacrifice is missing. Where is my sacrifice?

Abraham lived his whole life in a tent. He looked for a city whose builder and maker is God. He was a pilgrim, remained a stranger on the earth and a pilgrim. What did Lot do? He lived in a house, he had lost the spirit of being a pilgrim, a stranger, unlike his Uncle Abraham. For those different reasons, there was poverty, no contact with God, no signs of sacrifice and he had lost the spirit of sacrifice. Leanness came into his soul. “We are not amongst those who draw back unto perdition.”

Naomi, with Ruth, was coming back years later. When she came back she said, “I went out full and I came back empty...” Why did Elimelech leave? It was hard going. Perhaps, he had lost in the harvest, maybe, as a poor person, felt there is a lack here and he left Israel to go to Moab, “I am going to get ahead.” Here was Naomi saying, “When we left I was full. I have come back and I am empty.” That is what happens when we draw back.

Proverbs 27:8, “As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.” She builds her nest to lay eggs, hatch them out and the bird remains on the nest. As the bird leaves the nest, walks away, is absent for a certain time, it comes back to its nest, except in the meantime, there has been a visitor to the nest, the eggs are gone or the young ones. The enemy has come. Who has suffered? Not the mother bird, but the young ones left in the nest.

There was a family over the other side, they got upset and said, “Such happening doesn’t belong in the way of God. We want justice.” I am so glad that Jesus, when they arrested Him, that He didn’t say, “I want justice.” He accepted the wrongness and unfairness. This man said, “We want justice.” They had two teenaged children who had made their choice to serve God. After a couple of years he said, “I must come back to the meetings,” and they both came back and both are in eternity. Where are the young ones? They are lost. Those who left their place in the Kingdom, that couple lost their children and they are far, far away.

“We are not amongst those who draw back.” There is nothing more important than going ahead, do our very best to save our soul.