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A Collection of the Best Sermons of R.A. Torrey

Written by: Torrey, R.A.    Posted on: 04/09/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN


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 earnestness.

To help the reading of this classic work, the original Scripture references  have been replaced by the language of our time--the NIV.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. 

                                                      Tony Capoccia


                              Beginning Right                                     by                                 R.A. Torrey                                 (1856-1928)

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                                     by                                 R. A. Torrey                                 (1856-1928)

        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 Jesus.

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 your Guide.

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                                     by                                 R. A. Torrey                                 (1856-1928)

        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 the truth.

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 will.

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 Calvary."

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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