Professor Drummond once described a man going into one of our meetings and saying he wanted to become a Christian. “Well, my friend, what is the trouble?” He didn’t want to tell us. He is greatly agitated. Finally, he says, “The fact is, I have overdrawn my account” — a polite way of saying he has been stealing.
take your employer’s money?”
“I don’t know. I have never kept account of it.”
“Well, you have an idea of the amount. Would you say you stole $1,500 last year?”
“I am afraid it is at least that much.”
“Now, look here, sir, I don’t believe that a person can change suddenly once they are saved.. So, here is my advice. Don’t steal more than a thousand dollars this next year, and the next year not more than five hundred, and in the course of the next few years, you will get so that you won’t steal any. If your employer catches you, tell him you are being converted; and soon, you will get so that you won’t steal any money by and by.”
My friends, that approach and teaching is a perfect farce! “Let him that stole, steal no more,” that is what the Bible says. The Bible is right! A convicted and converted sinner who truly meets Jesus will do an about face because he has been transformed. He is a new creation! “Old things are passed away. Behold all things have become new.”
Take another illustration. Here comes a man, and he admits that he gets drunk every week. That man comes to a meeting and wants to be converted. Shall I say to him, “Don’t you be in a hurry. I believe in doing the work gradually. Don’t you get drunk and knock your wife down more than once a month?” Wouldn’t it be refreshing to his wife to go a whole month without being knocked down? Wouldn’t it be an improvement if he only got drunk and beat her up once a month, only twelve times in a year! Wouldn’t she be glad to have him converted in this new way! Only get drunk after a few years on the anniversary of your wedding, and at Christmas, and then it will be effective because it is gradual!
Oh! I detest all that kind of teaching. Let us go to the Bible and see what that old Book teaches. Let us believe it, and go and act as if we believed it, too. Salvation is instantaneous. I admit that a man may be converted so that he cannot tell when he crossed the line between death and life, but I also believe a man may be a thief one moment and a saint the next. I believe a man may be as vile as hell itself one moment and be saved the next. Christian growth is gradual, just as physical growth is; but a man passes from death unto everlasting life quick as an act of the will – and the work of the power of God- “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” (Moody’s Anecdotes, pp. 99 – 100.)
I can fully agree with John Newton who said, “I am not what I might be, I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be. But I thank God I am not what I once was, and I can say with the great apostle, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”