Master Sermon List
Christ Seeks Not Yours, But You!
by B. H. Carroll
"...for I seek not yours, but you..." II Cor. 12:14
"They first gave their own selves to the Lord." II Cor. 8:5
This theme is selected for an introduction to a protracted meeting. Its discussion is
intended to show why it is our business to hold such a meeting what we seek to gain
by the meeting, and to what end these objects are sought. First, why are we
seeking? Second, whom do we seek? Third, to what end or object are these
Paul says, "I seek not yours, but you." Why did Paul seek these people? What
business was it of his? What authority had he in the premises? Under whose
command did he go out and attempt to obtain the persons of people? The answer to
these questions is in the fifth chapter of the Second Letter to the Corinthians and
twentieth verse: "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by
us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."
Why do we in a meeting seek the souls of the lost? In behalf of Christ, as though
God, by us, were beseeching you. We base our actions upon no other ground than
that we are under orders from our Master, who said to us, "Go ye and make
disciples of all nations."
It is not because church-members may claim any jurisdiction over those who are
outside nor because they affect peculiar sanctity. All men start from a common
standpoint of alienation from God. By nature all are children of wrath. There is no
difference in themselves. Wherein they differ, grace is the occasion.
In seeking others, saved men have no option. A charge is laid on them. A solemn
obligation is imposed. A duty is placed by the special and direct and irrevocable
command of God upon His people to seek the salvation of men. And we cannot ask
you to do anything in our name, nor in our strength, nor to further any private or
selfish ends of ours. We stand degraded in our own sight and worthy of your
contempt if we come before you in any other attitude than this: In Christ's behalf, as
ambassadors of Christ, as though God were beseeching you through us, we entreat
that you be reconciled to God. Whenever the church of Jesus Christ plants itself
firmly on that position and never turns away from it for one moment, it goes beforethe
people in a manner to demand and to hold attention. God has a right at any time
to the audience of His creatures. God has a right at any time to seek His people.
And that is why we are seeking.
Now, let us pass to the next point. What is it we seek? If we make a mistake here, it
is fatal. Paul says, "I seek not yours, but you." Just as sure as you church-members
make the impression upon the minds of sinners that you are seeking what they have,
that you are courting them that you are soliciting their attendance upon the service at
your place of worship and manifesting an interest in their case because they may
happen to be rich, or chance to occupy a high social position, or because their
alignment with your particular congregation will give you social and financial strength
in the community as compared with other congregations, just as sure as you make
such impression on their minds, it is impossible for any right religious feeling to be
excited in their hearts.
You must by all means come before them with this thought clearly in every word and
deed upon your part: that you do not seek their money, their social position, that
your mind is not on that, that you are giving no thought to it, that you are seeking
them and not theirs, that you are seeking them as lost people, as not possessing in
themselves anything that would recommend them to you or to God, that your object
is the salvation of their souls and nothing beyond that. Until you can put it just that
way, you may never expect to obtain a fair audience of outside people.
It must be put this way: That before they can rightly do anything for the church,
before they can rightly claim the Christian name, before a dollar of theirs or any
social influence of theirs, can be regarded as worth a nickel in the sight of God, they
must first give themselves to the Lord.
I am glad to see in this congregation a continual development of that thought; that
you do not go to those who are not Christians to obtain the money with which to
build your house of worship, or with which to pay your current expenses; that you
intentionally and with fixed purpose absolutely leave them out of all of these things,
insisting as a fundamental thing in Christianity that they first give themselves to the
Lord. That must be regarded as the primary law of religion.
As long as a rich man can assume an attitude of patronage toward the Christian
religion; as long as one who occupies a high social position can flatter herself with the
thought that she is conferring some kind of a favor or obligation upon a congregation
by her attendance, it is almost impossible to make an impression on that soul that will
even start it in the direction of salvation. First, then, our seeking is in behalf of and by
command of Christ.
Second, we seek you, not yours. Now, to what end? What object have we in view
when we invite a sinner to come to Christ? That we make no mistake as to the end in
view, let us hear the Word of God. I read from the second chapter and ninth verse
of the First Letter of Peter: "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy
nation a peculiar people." Some of the old-time people say that Christians should be
peculiar, that is, odd in dress and manner. But that is not the meaning of the
Word. You are to be a people for God's own possession. That is, His possession is
to be exclusive, peculiar to God. There is to be no division of authority. "They first
gave themselves to the Lord."
Now, when as a church we commence a protracted meeting, we must let it be
understood in every song and prayer and sermon that the object that we have in
view in seeking men is that they shall become God's own possession. The one
sought must become the Lord's. God is to be his God, and he is to be God's child.
On his brain and heart and hands and feet and in the secret chambers of his deathless
spirit is to be written one name only, and is to be imprinted one image only, so that
the image and superscription will tell to angels and to men that this is God's property.
We do not ask you to give yours to us. We do not ask you to become our property.
In seeking you we seek you not for any such purpose. But we ask you to submit
yourself to God and to be unto God for a possession in body and soul and forever.
That is the object of our service.
And being sought as a peculiar possession of God's, to what uses are you to be
placed, being so given over and surrendered to God? Let us notice the next
Scripture to show what we mean by it. You will find it in the eighth chapter of
Hebrews, where is cited a promise from the thirty-first chapter of Jeremiah: "Behold,
the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of
Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with
their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of
Egypt... for this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel... I will put
my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God,
and they shall be to me a people." Notice, if you please, that in becoming God's
own possession it is not meant in any external sense, as "the Jewish nation was
God's people," for here is a contrast between God's ownership and the Jewish
nation as a people and God's ownership of the people we seek for Him, and the
distinction consists in this, that inside of the man, in the inner man, in his spirit, the law
of God is to be put in his mind and written on the tables of his heart, and there is to
be in the inward part a conformity to the nature and holiness of God.
You will see at once, then, in conducting a protracted meeting, that when we invite
people to take an interest in it, or invite them to come out from the world and join the church,
it cannot be that they are to unite with the church in any external way merely;
that no church of Jesus Christ has any authority, has any command, to lead into its
membership, by any rite or ceremony, an unconverted, unregenerated, and unsaved
man, but that we are to seek them for God's people, in that God shall reign in their
souls and dominate their secret thoughts. That is what we mean.
This is further evident by another Scripture, the twelfth chapter of Romans, where
they are commanded by the Apostle Paul to be not conformed to this world but to
be transformed in the renewing of their mind, and thus transformed, to present their
bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God. In reality it is presented in
the Scriptures: "Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost? For He
dwelleth in you. Therefore yield not your members unto unrighteousness." Therefore,
in asking any sinner to come to Christ, to come out from the ranks of the world and
to take a position with the people of God, we ask him to come only in the sense that
is presented in these Scriptures.
Let us take yet another Scripture. In the fourteenth chapter of Romans, commencing
with the seventh verse, we have the following which I wish to read, so that you may
get it clearly before you: "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to
himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto
the Lord; whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord's."
Many times that Scripture has been interpreted to refer to our influence over other
men. By a deduction it may be so used, but it has a primary and almost exclusive
reference to another thought, and that is that when one has been sought by the
people of God to become God's own possession, to become God's possession
inside, become God's possession by the transformation of his mind, that
henceforward that man so belonging shall not live unto himself, but unto God, his
owner, and that when he dies he shall not die unto himself, but unto God, his owner;
that in every act of his life and in the hour of his death, never for one moment shall
sight be lost of the supreme and fundamental thought that he is God's property. "The
Lord knoweth them that are His." Upon His property He has set His seal, a seal man
nor devil can break, and His property, purchased by the blood of the everlasting
covenant, is to be used for His glory and to accomplish His purposes, and not the
private wishes of the saved man. Thus in outline I have presented all that it was my
purpose to say today as to the object of a protracted meeting.
Now let me apply the thoughts thus outlined, and then leave the case with you. Every
one of you who is a member of this church, I take it, holds yourself ready, with some
degree of consecration, to do what you can in this meeting. I would have you
therefore definitely settle, by putting it upon an unshaking and unshakable foundation,
what you mean; that you are not to speak for yourself; that you are not to speak in
your name; that you are to speak in behalf of Christ; that your sole office consists in
representing Him here upon this earth in His absence; that what He did upon the
earth with tears and entreaties and persuasion in endeavoring to lead men to Christ,
you, in His behalf, in His stead, are now to do. Your model, therefore, is the record
concerning our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. What was His attitude toward sinners?
What earnestness did He manifest? What zeal, what persistence? What sacrifices did
He make? In what discrimination did He hold men's persons? Did He look to the
riches of a man or to his poverty? Did He look to the position of a man, whether
king or peasant, or did He look upon all men as fallen, lost men, who were to be
sought with a love undying and unquenchable, and by that love attracted to
salvation? Now, that is to be our position. We can stand on no other.
Moreover, I would have you do now as I have seen you do in times past, make no
discrimination in going out among the people; consider the rich and the poor as just
alike, as standing upon a common platform; that the cultured and the uncultured,
those higher in social position and those who are the dregs of society, are just one
with you; that no matter what moral taint a person has inherited or has incurred by
personal disobedience; no matter how far any woman has fallen, as lost sinners you
are to seek them all. In Christ's stead seek them for a possession of God. Seek them
for the salvation of their souls.
Continuing the application, I charge that you never allow the lost ones to rest one
single moment in the thought that they can do anything before they first give
themselves to God. Drive them away from that position. Do not let them occupy it
one moment. Say to them in word and in deed, "Not yours, not yours, not your
money, not your position, not your patronage, but yourself; give yourself first to God.
You make no start in religion at all until you do that thing. You cannot buy salvation;
you may not say, 'I will give the half of my goods to feed the poor.' You may not
say, 'I will help to endow a college.' You may not say, 'I will help to pay the
preacher.' You may not say, 'I will help to build churches.' No, that position is
sinking sand. Yourself, yourself, to God, or you are lost."
Hold him right there. Impale him on the point of self-surrender to God. Shoot it into
his heart as a burning arrow. Transfix him with it as with a dart hurled from a strong
hand, that in bringing himself he must bring himself to be renovated by the power of
God; that there must be an internal, spiritual change; that there must be regeneration;
that the power of the Holy Ghost must brood over the great deep of his inner nature
and bring life where darkness and chaos ruled; that he must he transformed into the
renewing of his mind before he becomes God's possession. Stand right there
yourself and hold him there.
If he says, "I do not swear; in morals I am better than a great many people in the
church; I am a good husband to my wife and a good father to my children; I am a
good citizen; may I not present myself to the Lord to be His possession in that
capacity?", do not let him rest in that position one moment. Say to him with a
voice that never relaxes its pungency and emphasis, "You must be born from above,
for not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but born of the Spirit of God,
must be every child of God." If you would see a church that God will not bless, look
at one that makes a breach in its walls where God made no gate, that over the ruins
of that demolished wall may be introduced into the precincts of God's sacred camp
unregenerated men and women.
Indeed, brethren, we must stand squarely and firmly on these points: That he first
give himself to the Lord for the Lord to make him over; that he give himself to the
Lord henceforward not to live unto himself; henceforward not to die unto himself; to
be God's own possession; that from the time he gives himself to the Lord, then the
Lord must be King in his heart. When this King says, "Go," he must go; when He
says "Stay," he must stay, and it is no concern of his what hazard attaches to the
going or the staying. It is no concern of his what suffering is entailed upon him,
staying or going. It is no concern of his what alienation of family or friends follows his
going or his staying. That is God's business. Let him say, "I am living unto God,
dying unto God," and the Lord will take care of the consequences that ensue from
yielding absolutely to His will. That is the true conception of a conversion.
I told you before to pray only and fervently that the will of God might be done. Are
you willing to go into a meeting that way? Are you willing to take hold of it with the
end in view that any sinner in this town, without any thought as to whether he is
worth one dollar or a million; without any thought as to whether he is cultured or
uncultured; without any thought as to his social position, in the upper crust or in the
mud sills; without any thought as to anything that he could confer upon the church or
detract from it; that you will go out as an ambassador of Jesus Christ, beseeching
them to be reconciled to God?
Then this must be our voice: "We seek you. Jesus told us to seek you. We seek you
not for ourselves. We seek you that you may be God's property. We seek you that
you may be a temple of God. We seek you that you may live unto God. We seek
you that you may die unto God. We seek you not that good may come from you to
us, but for your present and eternal good: your salvation in time and eternity, and
above all, for God's glory."
Suffer yet a few words of exhortation. There be some here today who are not
God's, not God's own possession. They have not God's Spirit in them. They have not God's
seal upon them. God would not claim them if they were to die. And after
their death, should the devil come to take possession of their bodies, God would not
send the angel Michael to beat back the devil as He did from the body of His
servant, Moses, saying, "That is Mine. Touch it not. O Satan, that body is Mine! The
soul of Moses is Mine and the body of Moses is Mine. He lived unto Me. He died
unto Me. Touch it not."
Sinner, if you were to die, what barrier could rise up between your cold, rigid body
and Satan coming to fix his stamp upon it? By what right could anybody intervene
when your spirit leaves the crumbling house it had discarded? By what right could a
convoy of angels come down and bar the path of your lost soul in its downward
flight to the pit? They could not do it because it is not God's, not God's own
possession. No name of God on it; no seal of God's on it. Alienated from God,
banished from God, you are of your father, the devil.
Remember the case of Judas! Jesus said, "He is a devil." And when he died it is said
"that he fell from his office of an apostle that he might go to his own place." See how
ownership governed here. He was in the office of an apostle, but not saved; not right
inside; not transformed in the renewing of his mind; not an internal child of God, but
occupying an external office. And the time came when Judas died and by his death
fell; fell from his office that "he might go to his own place." That place down there
had called him. Its chambers were prepared for him. They waited for his coming. His
home, his eternal home, had sent an appeal to Judas, "Come home, Judas. Come
down here. Come quickly to thine own place." Did God intervene? Did any angel
leave the court of heaven to put himself between that man and Satan? As he passed
out of sight, the words ring like a knell, like the sad notes of a dirge, "Better for that
man that he never had been born."
Remember Judas while I press the question, Are you God's? If not, I seek you. I
seek you in behalf of Christ. I seek you in tears. I seek you for God, to be His
possession; that you may live unto Him and die unto Him; to be claimed by Him
when the harpies of the pit, with beak and talon, would rend you in your dying hour.
I want on you God's seal that will frighten them away and say to Satan himself,
"Stand back, thou accuser of the brethren! Take thy shadow off of their hearts. Take
thy beak out of their souls. Take thy shadow away from their dying bed, and let the
spirit go home to God, whose it is."
Sinner, I seek you, not yours; you, and you for Jesus. May I find you?