Summary: A classic sermon on effective evangelism by D. L. Moody.
1. Shake off the vipers that are in the Church, formalism, pride, and self-importance, etc.
2. It is the only happy life to live for the salvation of souls.
3. We must be willing to do little things for Christ.
4. Must be of good courage.
5. Must be cheerful.
God had no children too weak, but a great many too strong to make use of. God stands in no need of our strength or wisdom, but of our ignorance, of our weakness; let us but give these to Him, and He can make use of us in winning souls.
"And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever." Daniel 12:3.
Now we all want to shine; the mother wishes it for her boy, when she sends him to school, the father for his lad, when he goes off to college; and here God tells us who are to shine - not statesmen, or warriors, or such like, that shine but for a season - but such as will shine for ever and ever; those, namely, who win souls to Christ; the little boy even who persuades one to come to Christ.
Speaking of this, Paul counts up five things (1 Cor. 1:27-9) that God makes use of - the weak things, the foolish things, the base things, the despised things, and the things which are not, and for this purpose, that no flesh might glory in his sight - all five being just such as we should despise. He can and will use us, just when we are willing to be humble for Christ’s sake, and so for six thousand years God has been teaching men; so with an ass’s jawbone Samson slew his thousands (Judges 15:15), so at the blowing of rams’ horns the walls of Jericho fell (Joshua 6:20). Let God work in His own way, and with His own instruments; let us all rejoice that He should, and let us too get into the position in which God can use us.
There is much mourning to-day over false "isms," infidelity, and the like, but sum them all up, and I do not fear them one half so much as that dead and cold formalism that has crept into the Church of God. The unbelieving world, and these skeptics holding out their false lights, are watching you and me: when Jacob put away his idols, he could go up to Bethel and get strength and the blessing - so will it be with the Church of God. A viper fixes upon the hand of the shipwrecked Paul; immediately he is judged by the barbarians some criminal unfit to live; but he shakes it off into the fire, and suffers no harm, and now they are ready to worship him, and ready too to hear and receive his message: the Church of God must shake off the vipers that have fastened on hand and heart too, ere men will hear. Where one ungodly man reads this Bible, a hundred read you and me: and if they find nothing in us, they set the whole thing aside as a myth.
Again, a man who has found out what his true work is, winning souls to Christ, and does it, such is the happiest man. Not the richest are this - least of all those who have just got converted for themselves, and into the Church - lost what pleasure the world could give, and found none other. Job’s captivity turned away when he began praying for his friends; and so will all who thus work for others shine not in heaven alone and hereafter, but here as well, and now.
But you say "I haven’t got the ability." Well, God doesn’t call you to do Dr. Bonar’s work, or Dr. Duff’s work, else He had given you their ability, their talent. The word is, "To every man his work." I have a work to do, laid out for me in the secret counsels of eternity; no other can do it. If I neglect it, it is not true that some other will do it; it will remain undone. And if, for the work laid upon us, we feel we have not the ability or talent necessary, then we have a throne of grace; and God never sends, unless that He is willing to give the strength and wisdom. The instruments He often uses may seem all unlikely, yet when did they fail? - when once? and why not? Because He had fitted them out as well.
He sent Moses to Egypt to deliver His people - not an eloquent, but a stuttering man. He refuses a while, at last he went; and no man once sent by God ever did break down.