Romans 4:5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
Years ago in the city of St. Louis, I (WRN) was holding noon meetings in the Century Theater. One day I spoke on this verse,—Romans 4:5. After the audience had gone, I was addressed by a fine-looking man of middle age, who had been waiting alone in a box-seat for me.
He immediately said, “I am Captain G—,” (a man very widely known in the city). And, when I sat down to talk with him, he began: “You are speaking to the most ungodly man in St. Louis.”
I said, “Thank God!”
“What!” he cried. “Do you mean you are glad that I am bad?” “No,” I said; “but I am certainly glad to find a sinner that knows he is a sinner."
“Oh, you do not know the half! I have been absolutely ungodly for years and years and years, right here in St. Louis. I own two Mississippi steamers. Everybody knows me. I am just the most ungodly man in town”’
I could hardly get him quiet enough to ask him: “Did you hear me preach on ‘ungodly people’ today?”
“Mr. Newell,” he said, “I have been coming to these noon meetings for six weeks. I do not think I have missed a meeting. But I cannot tell you a word of what you said today. I did not sleep last night. I have hardly had any sleep for three weeks. I have gone to one man after another to find what to do. And I do what they say. I have read the Bible. I have prayed. I have given money away. But I am the most ungodly wretch in this town. Now what do you tell me to do? I waited here today to ask you that. I have tried everything; but I am so ungodly!”
“Now,” I said, “we will turn to the verse I preached on.” I gave the Bible into his hands, asking him to read aloud: “To him that worketh not.”
“But,” he cried, “how can this be for me? I am the most ungodly man in St. Louis!”
“Wait,” I said, “I beg you go on reading.” So he read, “To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifies the ungodly.”
“There!” he fairly shouted, “that’s what I am,—ungodly.” “Then, this verse is about you,” I assured him.
“But please tell me what to do, Mr. Newell. I know I am ungodly: what shall I do?” “Read the verse again, please.”
He read: “To him that worketh not,”—and I stopped him. “There,” I said, “the verse says not to do, and you want me to tell you something to do: I cannot do that.”
“But there must be something to do; if not, I shall be lost forever.” “Now listen with all your soul,” I said. “There was something to do, but it has been done!”
Then I told him how God had so loved him, all ungodly as he was, that He sent Christ to die for the ungodly. And that God’s judgment had fallen on Christ, who has been forsaken of God for his, Captain G——’s, sins there on the cross.
Then, I said, “God raised up Christ; and sent us preachers to beseech men, all ungodly as they are, to believe on this God who declares righteous the ungodly, on the ground of Christ’s shed blood.”
He suddenly leaped to his feet and stretched his hand out to me. “Mr. Newell,” he said, “I will accept that proposition!” and off he went, without another word.
Next noonday, at the opening of the meeting, I saw him beckoning to me from the wings of the stage. I went to him, “May I say a word to these people?” he asked. I saw his shining face, & gladly brought him in.
I said to the great audience, “Friends, this is Captain G——, whom most, it not all of you, know. He wants to say a word to you.”
“I want to tell you all of the greatest proposition I ever found,” he cried: “I am a business man, and know a good proposition. But I found one yesterday that so filled me with joy, that I could not sleep a wink all night. I found out that God for Jesus Christ’s sake declares righteous any ungodly man that trusts Him. I trusted Him yesterday; and you all know what an ungodly man I was. I thank you all for listening to me; but I felt I could not help but tell you of this wonderful proposition; that God should count me righteous. I have been such a great sinner.”
This beloved man lived many years in St. Louis, an ornament to his confession.
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