A Collection of the Best Sermons of R.A. Torrey
Written by: Torrey, R.A. Posted on: 04/09/2003
Reuben Archer Torrey (1856-1928) was both an evangelist and a Bible scholar.
Long associated with D. L. Moody, he became most prominent during world
preaching tours in 1902 and 1921. His preaching in Wales in 1902 has been
noted as one cause for the Welsh revivals of the early 1900s. He was the
first superintendent of the Moody Bible Institute and wrote numerous
devotional and theological books.
Spiritual awakening followed R. A. Torrey throughout his career as an
evangelist. In revivals with the popular gospel singer Charles W. Alexander,
Dr. Torrey filled meeting halls with his magnetic presence, passion, and
To help the reading of this classic work, the original Scripture references
have been replaced by the language of our time--the NIV. Also, obviously
archaic terminology and passages obscured by expressions not totally familiar
in our day have been revised. However, neither Torrey's meaning nor intent
have been tampered with.
All Scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of
Zondervan Bible Publishers.
There is nothing more important in the Christian life than beginning right.
If we begin right, we Reuben Archer Torrey (1856-1928) was both an evangelist
and a Bible scholar. Long associated with can go on right. If we begin
wrong, the whole life that follows is likely to be wrong. If anyone who
reads these pages has begun wrong, it is a very simple matter to begin over
again and begin right. What the right beginning in the Christian life is we
are told in John 1:12, "To all who received him, to those who believed in his
name, he gave the right to become children of God." The right way to begin
the Christian life is by receiving Jesus Christ. To anyone who receives Him,
He at once gives power to become a child of God. If the reader of this book
should be the wickedest man on earth and should at this moment receive Jesus
Christ, that very instant he would become a child of God. God says so in the
most unqualified way in the verse quoted above. No one can become a child of
God in any other way. No man, no matter how carefully he has been reared, no
matter how well he has been sheltered from the vices and evils of this world,
is a child of God until he receives Jesus Christ. We are "sons of God
through faith in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26), and in no other way.
What does it mean to receive Jesus Christ? It means to take Christ to be to
yourself all that God offers Him to be to everybody. Jesus Christ is God's
gift. "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that
whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John
3:16). Some accept this wondrous gift of God. Everyone who does accept this
gift becomes a child of God. Many others refuse this wondrous gift of God,
and everyone who refuses this gift of God perishes. He is condemned already.
"Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe
stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one
and only Son" (John 3:18).
What does God offer His Son to be to us?
1. First of all, God offers Jesus to us to be our sin-bearer. We have all
sinned. There is not a man or woman or a boy or a girl who has not sinned
(Romans 23:22, 23). "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and
the truth is not in us. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to
be a liar and his word has no place in our lives" (1 John 1:8, 10). Now, we
must each of us bear our own sin or some one else must bear it in our place.
If we were to bear our own sins, it would mean we must be banished forever
from the presence of God, for God is holy. "God is light; in him there is no
darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). But God Himself has provided another to bear
our sins in our place, so that we should not need to bear them ourselves.
This sin-bearer is God's own Son, Jesus Christ: "God made him who had no sin
to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2
Corinthians 5:21). When Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary He
redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse in our stead
(Galatians 3:13). To receive Christ, then, is to believe this testimony of
God about His Son, to believe that Jesus Christ did bear our sins in His own
body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24), and to trust God to forgive all our sins
because Jesus Christ has borne them in our place. "We all, like sheep, have
gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on
him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).
Our own good works, past, present, or future, have nothing to do with the
forgiveness of our sins. Our sins are forgiven, not because of any good
works that we do; they are forgiven because of the atoning work of Christ on
the cross of Calvary in our place. If we rest in this atoning work we shall
do good works, but our good works will be the outcome of our being saved and
the outcome of our believing on Christ as our sin-bearer. Our good works
will not be the ground of our salvation, but the result of our salvation, and
the proof of it. We must be very careful not to mix in our good works at all
as the ground of salvation. We are forgiven, not because of Christ's death
and our good works, but solely and entirely because of Christ's death. To
see this clearly is the right beginning of the true Christian life.
2. God offers Jesus to us as our deliverer from the power of sin. Jesus not
only died, He rose again. Today He is a living Savior. He has all power in
heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). He has power to keep the weakest sinner
from falling (Jude 24). He is able to save not only completely, but
"completely," all that come to the Father through Him ("Therefore he is able
to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives
to intercede for them." -Hebrews 7:25) "If the Son sets you free, you will
be free indeed" (John 8:36). To receive Jesus is to believe this that God
tells us in His Word about Him, to believe that He did rise from the dead, to
believe that He does now live, to believe that He has power to keep us from
falling, to believe that He has power to keep us from the power of sin day by
day, and just trust Him to do it.
This is the secret of daily victory over sin. If we try to fight sin in our
own strength, we are bound to fail. If we just look up to the risen Christ
to keep us every day and every hour, He will keep us. Through the crucified
Christ we get deliverance from the guilt of sin, our sins are all blotted
out, we are free from all condemnation; but it is through the risen Christ
that we get daily victory over the power of sin. Some receive Christ as a
sin-bearer and thus find pardon, but do not get beyond that, and so their
life is one of daily failure. Others receive Him as their risen Savior also,
and thus enter into an experience of victory over sin. To begin right we
must take Him not only as our sin-bearer, and thus find pardon; but we must
also take Him as our risen Savior, our Deliverer from the power of sin, our
Keeper, and thus find daily victory over sin.
3. But God offers Jesus to us, not only as our sin-bearer and our Deliverer
from the power of sin, but also as our Lord and King. We read in Acts 2:36,
"Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you
crucified, both Lord and Christ." Lord means Divine Master, and Christ means
anointed King. To receive Jesus is to take Him as our Divine Master, as the
One to whom we yield the absolute confidence of our intellects, the One whose
word we believe absolutely, the One whom we will believe, though many of the
wisest of men may question or deny the truth of His teachings; and as our
King to whom we gladly yield the absolute control of our lives, so that the
question from this time on is never going to be, What would I like to do or
what do others tell me to do, or what do others do? but "What would my King
Jesus have me do?" A right beginning involves an unconditional surrender to
the Lordship and Kingship of Jesus.
The failure to realize that Jesus is Lord and King, as well as Savior, has
led to many a false start in the Christian life. We begin with Him as our
Savior, as our sin-bearer and our Deliverer from the power of sin, but we
must not end with Him merely as Savior; we must know Him as Lord and King.
There is nothing more important in a right beginning of the Christian life
than an unconditional surrender, both of the thoughts and the conduct, to
Jesus. Say from your heart and say it again and again, "All for Jesus."
Many fail because they shrink back from this entire surrender. They wish to
serve Jesus with half their heart, and part of themselves, and part of their
possessions. To hold back anything from Jesus means a wretched life of
stumbling and failure.
The life of entire surrender is a joyous life all along the way. If you have
never done it before, go alone with God today; get down on your knees, and
say, "All for Jesus," and mean it. Say it very earnestly; say it from the
bottom of your heart. Stay on your knees until you realize what it means and
what you are doing. It is a wondrous step forward when one really takes it.
If you have taken it already, take it again, take it often. It always has
fresh meaning and brings fresh blessedness. In this absolute surrender is
found the key to the truth. Doubts rapidly disappear for one who surrenders
all (John 7:17). In this absolute surrender is found the secret of power in
prayer (1 John 3:22). In this absolute surrender is found the supreme
condition of receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32).
Taking Christ as your Lord and King involves obedience to His will, so far as
you know it, in each smallest detail of life. There are those who tell us
that they have taken Christ as their Lord and King who at the same time are
disobeying Him daily in business, in domestic life, in social life, and in
personal conduct. Such persons are deceiving themselves. You have not taken
Jesus as your Lord and King if you are not striving to obey Him in everything
each day. He Himself says, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do
what I say?" (Luke 6:46).
To sum it all up, the right way to begin the Christian life is to accept
Jesus Christ as your sin-bearer and to trust God to forgive your sins because
Jesus Christ died in your place; to accept Him as your risen Savior who ever
lives to make intercession for you, and who has all power to keep you, and to
trust Him to keep you from day to day; and to accept Him as your Lord and
King to whom you surrender the absolute control of your thoughts and of your
life. This is the right beginning, the only right beginning of the Christian
life. If you have made this beginning, all that follows will be
comparatively easy. If you have not made this beginning, make it now.
Looking To Jesus
R. A. Torrey
If we are to run with patience the race that is set before us, we must always
keep looking to Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-3). One of the simplest and yet one of
the mightiest secrets of abiding joy and victory is to never lose sight of
1. First of all, we must keep looking at Jesus as the ground of our
acceptance before God. Over and over again, Satan will make an attempt to
discourage us by bringing up our sins and failures and thus try to convince
us that we are not children of God, or not saved. If he succeeds in getting
us to keep looking at and brooding sins, he will soon get us discouraged, and
discouragement means failure. But if we will keep looking at what God looks
at, the death of Jesus Christ in our place that completely atones for every
sin that we ever committed, we will never be discouraged because of the
greatest of our sins. We shall see that while our sins are great, very
great, indeed they have all been atoned for. Every time Satan brings up one
of our sins, we shall see that Jesus Christ has redeemed us from its curse by
being made a curse in our place (Galatians 3:13). We shall see that while in
ourselves we are full of unrighteousness, nevertheless in Christ we are made
the righteousness of God, because Christ was made to be sin in our place (2
Corinthians 5:21). We will see that every sin that Satan taunts us about has
been borne and settled forever (1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:6). We shall always
be able to sing,
Jesus paid my debt,
All the debt I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
If you are this moment troubled about any sin that you have ever committed,
either in the past or in the present, just look at Jesus on the cross;
believe what God tells you about Him, that this sin which troubles you was
laid upon Him (Isaiah 53:6). Thank God that the sin is all settled, be full
of gratitude to Jesus, who bore it in your place, and worry about it no more.
It is an act of base ingratitude to God to brood over sins that He in His
infinite love has canceled. Keep looking at Christ on the cross and walk
always in the sunlight of God's favor. This favor of God has been purchased
for you at great cost. Gratitude demands that you should always believe in
it and walk in the light of it.
2. In the second place, we must keep looking at Jesus as our risen Savior,
who has all power in heaven and on earth and is able to keep us every day and
every hour. Are you tempted to do some wrong at this moment? If you are,
remember that Jesus rose from the dead, remember that at this moment He is
living at the right hand of God in the glory; remember that He has all power
in heaven and on earth, and that, therefore, He can give you victory right
now. Believe what God tells you in His Word, that Jesus has power to save
you this moment "completely" (Hebrews 7:25). Believe that He has power to
give you victory over that sin that now besets you. Ask Him to give you
victory; expect Him to do it. In this way, by looking unto the risen Christ
for victory, you may have victory over sin every day, every hour, every
moment. "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead" (2 Timothy 2:8).
God has called every one of us to a victorious life, and the secret of this
victorious life is always looking to the risen Christ for victory. Through
looking to Christ crucified we obtain pardon and enjoy peace. Through
looking to the risen Christ we obtain present victory over the power of sin.
If you have lost sight of the risen Christ and have yielded to temptation,
confess your sin and know that it is forgiven because God says so (1 John
1:9), and look to Jesus, the risen One, again to give you victory now, and
keep looking to Him.
3. In the third place, we must keep looking to Jesus as the One whom we
should follow in our daily conduct. Our Lord Jesus says to us, His disciples
today, as He said to His early disciples, "Follow me." The whole secret of
true Christian conduct can be summed up in these two words "Follow me."
"Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did" (1 John 2:6). One of
the commonest causes of failure in Christian life is found in the attempt to
follow some good man whom we greatly admire. No man and no woman, no matter
how good, can be safely followed. If we follow any man or woman, we are
bound to go astray. There has been but one absolutely perfect Man on this
earth--the Man Christ Jesus. If we try to follow any other man we are surer
to imitate his faults than his excellencies. Look to Jesus and Jesus only as
If at any time you are in any perplexity as to what to do, simply ask the
question, What would Jesus do? Ask God by His Holy Spirit to show you what
Jesus would do. Study your Bible to find out what Jesus did do, and follow
Him. Even though no one else seems to be following Jesus, be sure that you
follow Him. Do not spend your time or thought in criticizing others because
they do not follow Jesus. See that you follow Him yourself. When you are
wasting your time criticizing others for not following Jesus, Jesus is always
saying to you, "What is that to you? You must follow me" (John 21:22). The
question for you is not what following Jesus may involve for other people.
The question is, What does following Jesus mean for you?
This is the really simple life, the life of simply following Jesus. Many
perplexing questions will come to you, but the most perplexing question will
soon become as clear as day if you determine with all your heart to follow
Jesus in everything. Satan will always be ready to whisper to you, "Such and
such a good man does it," but all you need to do is to answer, "It matters
not to me what this or that man may do or not do. The only question to me
is, What would Jesus do?" There is wonderful freedom in this life of simply
following Jesus. This path is straight and plain. But the path of him who
tries to shape his conduct by observing the conduct of others is full of
twists and turns and pitfalls. Keep looking at Jesus. Follow on trustingly
where He leads. This is the path of the righteous, shining ever brighter
till the full light of day (Proverbs 4:18). He is the Light of the world,
anyone who follows Him shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light
of life all along the way (John 8:12).
The Personality of the Holy Spirit
R. A. Torrey
Before one can correctly understand the work of the Holy Spirit, he must
first of all know the Spirit himself. A frequent source of error and
fanaticism about the work of the Holy Spirit is the attempt to study and
understand His work without, first of all, coming to know Him as a person.
It is of the highest importance from the standpoint of worship that we decide
whether the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person, worthy to receive our adoration,
our faith, our love, and our entire surrender to Himself, or whether it is
simply an influence emanating from God or a power or an illumination that God
imparts to us. If the Holy Spirit is a person, and a Divine Person, and we
do not know Him as such, then we are robbing a Divine Being of the worship
and the faith and the love and the surrender to Himself which are His due.
It is also of the highest importance from the practical standpoint that we
decide whether the Holy Spirit is merely some mysterious and wonderful power
that we in our weakness and ignorance are, somehow, to get hold of and use,
or whether the Holy Spirit is a real Person, infinitely holy, infinitely
wise, infinitely mighty and infinitely tender, who is to get hold of and use
us. The former conception is utterly heathenish, not essentially different
from the thought of the African fetish worshiper who has his god whom he
uses. The latter conception is sublime and Christian.
If we think of the Holy Spirit, as so many do, as merely a power of
influence, our constant thought will be, "How can I get more of the Holy
Spirit?" But if we think of Him in the Biblical way as a Divine Person, our
thought will rather be, "How can the Holy Spirit have more of me?" The
conception of the Holy Spirit as a Divine influence or power that somehow, we
are to get hold of and use, leads to self-exaltation and self-sufficiency.
One who so thinks of the Holy Spirit and who at the same time imagines that
he has received the Holy Spirit will almost inevitably be full of spiritual
pride and strut about as if he belonged to some superior order of Christians.
One frequently hears such persons say, "I am a Holy Spirit man," or "I am a
Holy Spirit woman." But if we once grasp the thought that the Holy Spirit is
a Divine Person of infinite majesty, glory and holiness and power, who in
marvelous condescension has come into our hearts to make His abode there and
take possession of our lives and make use of them, it will put us in the dust
and keep us in the dust. I can think of no thought more humbling or more
overwhelming than the thought that a person of Divine majesty and glory
dwells in my heart and is ready to use even me.
It is of the highest importance from the standpoint of experience that we
know the Holy Spirit as a person. Thousands and tens of thousands of men and
women can testify to the blessing that has come into their own lives as they
have come to know the Holy Spirit, not merely as a gracious influence
(emanating, it is true, from God), but as a real Person, just as real as
Jesus Christ Himself, an ever-present, loving Friend and mighty Helper, who
is not only always by their side but dwells in their heart every day and
every hour, and who is ready to undertake for them in every emergency of
life. Thousands of ministers, Christian workers and Christians in the
humblest spheres of life have spoken to me, or written to me, of the complete
transformation of their Christian experience that came to them when they
grasped the thought (not merely in a theological, but in an experimental way)
that the Holy Spirit was a Person, and consequently came to know Him.
There are at least four distinct lines of proof in the Bible that the Holy
Spirit is a person.
1. All the distinctive characteristics of personality are ascribed to the
Holy Spirit in the Bible.
What are the distinctive characteristics, or marks, of personality?
Knowledge, feeling, or emotion, and will. Any entity that thinks and feels
and wills is a person. When we say that the Holy Spirit is a person, there
are those who understand us to mean that the Holy Spirit has hands and feet
and eyes and ears and mouth, and so on, but these are not the characteristics
of personality but of bodily existence. All of these characteristics or
marks of personality are repeatedly ascribed to the Holy Spirit in the Old
and New Testaments. We read in 1 Corinthians 2:10, 11, "But God has revealed
it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things
of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's
spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except
the Spirit of God." Here knowledge is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. We are
clearly taught that the Holy Spirit is not merely an influence that
illuminates our minds to comprehend the truth but a Being who Himself knows
In 1 Corinthians 12:11, we read, "All these are the work of one and the same
Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines." Here will is
ascribed to the Spirit and we are taught that the Holy Spirit is not a power
that we get hold of and use according to our will but a Person of sovereign
majesty, who uses us according to His will. This distinction is of
fundamental importance in getting into right relations with the Holy Spirit.
It is at this very point that many honest seekers after power and efficiency
in service go astray. They are reaching out after, and struggling to get,
possession of some mysterious and mighty power that they can make use of in
their work according to their own will. They will never get possession of
the power they seek until they come to recognize that there is not some
Divine power for them to get hold of and use in their blindness and
ignorance, but that there is a Person, infinitely wise, as well as infinitely
mighty, who is willing to take possession of them and use them according to
His own perfect will.
When we stop to think of it, we must rejoice that there is no Divine power
that beings so ignorant as we are, so liable to err, can get hold of and use.
How appalling might be the results if there were. But what a holy joy must
come into our hearts when we grasp the thought that there is a Divine Person,
One who never errs, who is willing to take possession of us and impart to us
such gifts as He sees best and to use us according to His wise and loving
We read in Romans 8:27, "He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the
Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's
will." In this passage mind is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. The Greek word
translated "mind" is a comprehensive word, including the ideas of thought,
feeling, and purpose. It is the same that is used in Romans 8:7, where we
read that "the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's
law, nor can it do so." So, then, in this passage we have all the
distinctive marks of personality ascribed to the Holy Spirit.
We find the personality of the Holy Spirit brought out in a most touching and
suggestive way in Romans 15:30, "I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus
Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to
God for me." Here we have "love" ascribed to the Holy Spirit. The reader
would do well to stop and ponder those five words, "the love of the Spirit."
We dwell often on the love of God the Father. It is the subject of our daily
and constant thought.
We dwell often on the love of Jesus Christ the Son. Who would think of
calling himself a Christian who passed a day without meditating on the love
of his Savior, but how often have we meditated on "the love of the Spirit"?
Each day of our lives, if we are living as Christians ought, we kneel down in
the presence of God the Father and look up into His face and say, "I thank
You, Father, for Your great love that led You to give Your only Son to die on
the cross of Calvary for me." Each day of our lives we also look up into the
face of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and say, "Oh, glorious Lord and
Savior, Jesus, Son of God, I thank You for Your great love that led You not
to count it a thing to be grasped to be equal with God but to empty Yourself
and, forsaking all the glory of heaven, come down to earth with all its shame
and to take my sins upon Yourself and die in my place on the cross of
But how often do we kneel and say to the Holy Spirit, "Oh, eternal and
infinite Spirit of God, I thank You for Your great love that led You to come
into this world of sin and darkness and to seek me out and to follow me so
patiently until You brought me to see my utter ruin and need of a Savior and
to reveal to me my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as just the Savior whom I
need"? Yet we owe our salvation just as truly to the love of the Spirit as
to the love of the Father and the love of the Son. If it had not been for
the love of God the Father looking down on me in my utter ruin and providing
a perfect atonement for me in the death of His own Son on the cross of
Calvary, I would have been in hell today.
If it had not been for the love of Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God,
looking on me in my utter ruin and in obedience to the Father, putting aside
all the glory of heaven for all the shame of earth and taking my place, the
place of the curse on the cross of Calvary and pouring out His life utterly
for me, I would have been in hell today. If it had not been for the love of
the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in answer to the prayer of the Son (John
14:16), leading Him to seek me out in my utter blindness and ruin and to
follow me day after day, week after week, and year after year, when I
persistently turned a deaf ear to His pleadings, following me through paths
of sin where it must have been agony for that Holy One to go, until at last I
listened and He opened my eyes to see my utter ruin and then revealed Jesus
to me as just the Savior that would meet my every need and then enabled me to
receive this Jesus as my own Savior; if it had not been for this patient,
long-suffering, never-tiring, infinitely tender love of the Holy Spirit, I
would have been in hell today. Oh, the Holy
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