By: REUBEN ARCHER TORREY—1856-1928
having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye
rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: — 1 Peter 1:8
have here a beautiful text, a text that you all know, but I wonder how many of
you have ever pondered it enough to take in all its wonderful wealth of meaning.
WOMAN IN ENGLAND many years ago always wore a golden locket that she would not
allow anyone to open or look into, and everyone thought there must be some
romance connected with that locket and that in that locket must be the picture
of the one she loved. The young woman died at an early age, and after her death
the locket was opened, everyone wondering whose face they would find within. And
in the locket was found simply a little slip of paper with these words written
upon it, "Though I have not seen Him, I love." Her Lord Jesus was the
only lover she knew and the only lover she longed for, and she had gone to be
with Him, the one object of her whole heart's devotion, the unseen but beloved
But it is to the last
part of the verse that I wish to call your particular attention tonight,
"Even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with
an inexpressible and glorious joy."
This text informs us
(and many of us do not need to be informed of it, for we know it by blessed
experience) that one, who really believes on Jesus Christ, our unseen, but ever
living Lord and Savior, rejoices with "inexpressible and glorious
joy." The Greek word translated "joy" is a very strong word,
describing extreme joy or jubilant joy. The word "inexpressible"
declares that this jubilant joy is of such a character that we cannot, by any
possibility, explain it adequately to others. Everyone who really believes on
the Lord Jesus does rejoice with a jubilant joy that is beyond all description.
And those who do truly believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are the only ones who
rejoice this way. Others may have a certain amount of joy, a certain measure of
gladness, but the only people who really know "inexpressible and glorious
joy" are those who really believe on Jesus Christ.
Who is there among us
who does not wish to be happy? Happiness is the one thing all men are seeking.
One man seeks it in one way, and another man seeks it in another way, but all
men are in pursuit of it. Even the man who is "happy only when he is
miserable" is seeking happiness in this strange way of cultivating a
delightful melancholy by always looking on the dark side of things. One man
seeks money because he thinks that money will make a man happy. Another man
seeks worldly pleasure because he thinks that worldly pleasure will make a man
happy. Still another seeks learning, the knowledge of science, or philosophy, or
history, or literature, because he thinks that learning brings the true joy; but
they are all in pursuit of the one thing, happiness.
The vast majority of
men who seek happiness do not find it. You may say what you please, but for the
majority of men this is an unhappy world. I go down into the houses of the poor;
I do not find many happy people there. I go into the homes of the rich; I do not
find many happy people even there. Study the faces of the people you meet on the
street, at places of entertainment, or anywhere else, how many really radiant
faces do you see? When you do see one it is so exceptional that you note it at
once. But there is a way, and a very simple way, a very sure way, and a way that
is open to all, not only to find happiness, but also to be unspeakably happy.
Our text tells us what that way is. Listen, "Even though you do not see him
now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious
This statement of
Peter's is true. How do I know it is true? In the first place, I know it is true
because the Word of God says so. Whatever this book says is true. In the second
place, I know it is true because I have put the matter to the test of personal
experience, and found it true. A good many people say, "I do not believe
the Bible." Well, I do. I believe the Bible for a good many sufficient
reasons; but there is this one reason why I believe the Bible that I wish to
mention tonight: I believe the Bible because I have personally tested scores and
scores of its most astonishing and apparently most incredible statements and
found every one of them true in my own experience. Don't you think that if I
knew a man who made very many statements that I could test for myself, some of
them apparently incredible, and I tested these statements one after another
through a long period of years, and found every one of them true, and never one
single statement failed, don't you think that I would believe that man after a
while? Well, that is just my experience with the Bible, and I believe it. I
would be a fool if I did not. The statement of the text is one of those that I
have tested, and I have found it true.
I was not always happy.
Indeed, I was once unspeakably miserable. I had sought happiness very earnestly.
I had sought happiness in amusement and sin, and found, not joy, but
wretchedness. In my pursuit of happiness I had tried study, the study of
languages, science, philosophy and literature, but I did not find happiness in
these things. At last I turned to Jesus Christ and believed on Him, and I found
not merely happiness, but something better, joy, "inexpressible and
glorious joy." Whatever heaven may be or may not be, I know that on this
earth he who really believes on Jesus Christ, who puts himself in Christ's
hands, to be led, and taught, and guided, and strengthened, puts himself in the
hands of Jesus Christ for Jesus Christ to do all He will with him, I know that
such a person finds "inexpressible and glorious joy."
friends, what a joy it is to know that there is not one single tiny cloud
between you and the Holy God whom we call Father and who rules this universe.
Suppose that you had offended the laws of the nation and had been sent to prison
on a life sentence, and a pardon were brought to you, do you not think you would
be happy? But that is nothing compared with the joy of knowing that your every
sin is blotted out. Some years ago Governor Stuart of Pennsylvania determined to
pardon one of the prisoners in the Pennsylvania State prison, so he sent for Mr.
Moody and said to him, "I have determined to pardon one of the prisoners in
our state's prison, and I want you to go and take the pardon to him. You can
preach to the prisoners if you want to while you are doing it." So Mr.
Moody went, carrying the pardon with him, and before he began to preach he said,
"I have a pardon for one of you men that the Governor has sent by me."
He did not intend to tell who it was who was pardoned until the sermon was over,
but as he looked around on his audience and saw how anxious they all were, how
eager they were, how a very agony of suspense was in their faces, Mr. Moody
thought, "This will never do, I can't keep these men in this
suspense," so he said, "I will tell you now who the man is," and
he read his name from the pardon. Do you not think that, that was a glad moment
for that one man out of those hundreds of prisoners, a glad moment for the one
man who had the Governor's pardon, and who could walk out of prison a free man?
Yes, but that is nothing to knowing that the eternal God has eternally pardoned
your sins. Every true Christian knows that, he knows that every one of his sins
is forgiven. How does he know it? Because the Bible says so in many places.
example, it says in Acts 13:39, "And by him all that believe are justified
from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” so
we know it because God says so. But no one but the believer in Jesus Christ
knows that his sins are all forgiven. If anyone who is not a believer in Jesus
Christ says, "I know my sins are all forgiven," he says what is not
true; for he does not know it, and cannot know it, for it is not a fact; but a
Christian knows it because the Word of God says so.
Christian knows his sins are all forgiven for another reason, that is, because
the Holy Spirit bears witness in his own heart to the fact. One day, when the
Apostle Peter was preaching to Cornelius, the Roman officer, and to his
household, he said, "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his
name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins."(Acts
10:43), and everyone in his audience believed it. The Spirit of God descended
right then and there and filled their hearts with the knowledge of sins
forgiven, and they "began to magnify God" with jubilant hearts and
jubilant voices. I tell you that was a joyful meeting.
king, a great king, once wrote one of the greatest songs that ever was written.
That song has lasted through the ages. It has been sung and is still being sung
by thousands. Millions have sung it, and though it was written many centuries
ago, it is just as sweet today as the day the king wrote it. The man who wrote
this song was a great king, the greatest king of his day; he was also one of the
greatest generals of his day, one of the greatest generals of any day. He had
great armies, the all-conquering armies of the day. He had a magnificent palace.
I do not suppose that any other earthly king was ever so beloved as he was. His
song was about joy and about happiness. He does not say in that song, "How
happy is the man who is a great king," or, "How happy is the man who
is a great general." What does he say? "Blessed is he whose
transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered" (Psalm 32:1,
translated literally from the Hebrew): "There is no happiness like the joy
of knowing your sins are all forgiven." Oh, what a joy thrills the heart
when a man knows that his sins are fully, freely, and forever forgiven. That is
one reason why he who believes on Jesus Christ is inexpressibly happy, and you
can have that inexpressible happiness today. I do not care how black your life
may have been in the past; I do not care how far you may have wandered from God;
I do not care how old you may have grown in sin; if you take Jesus Christ today
for your Savior and your Lord, and believe on Him, your every sin will be
blotted out, and it will be your privilege to know it.
of the dearest and most honored and most useful friends I ever had was Sam
Hadley of New York City. Sam Hadley was once hopelessly enslaved by sin. Strong
drink had utterly mastered him and undermined his character. He had committed
138 forgeries, and was being sought for by the police. One night, after having
spent the night before in a New York jail with the "shakes," in a
mission meeting a few blocks away from the jail he cried to Jesus to save him,
and Jesus saved him right then and there; and I have often heard him say that
never from that night had he ever had the slightest desire for that which had
enslaved him more than anything else, intoxicating drink. My, what a happy man
he became! All who knew him testified that he had "inexpressible and
glorious joy." I wish you could have looked in Sam Hadley's face and seen
the joy in that redeemed and radiant countenance. But we do not need to call Sam
Hadley back from heaven to testify, for there are hundreds of people right here
in this building tonight who once were complete slaves, who now are God's free
men and free women, and who could testify to the fact. That is one reason why we
are inexpressibly happy, because we are free. How the Southern Blacks rejoiced
when they came to understand they were set free. They shouted and sang,
"Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!" Why? Because once they were slaves, but
now were free. No wonder, then, that we rejoice with "inexpressible and
glorious joy" because we know that we are free, and free forever.
who truly believe on Jesus Christ are saved from all fear. They are delivered
from all fear of misfortune; they are delivered from all fear of man; they are
delivered from all fear of death; they are delivered from all fear of eternity.
Do you know, friends that to a true believer in Jesus Christ “eternity” are
one of the sweetest words in the English language? Oh, how it makes our hearts
swell, that word, "eternity." But "eternity" is not a sweet
word to the unsaved. Write these words, "Where will you spend
eternity?" on a card and hand it to a man who is not a Christian, and they
will make him mad; write these same words, "Where will you spend
eternity?" on a card and hand it to a Christian, and they will make him
glad. Why is it? Simply because a true believer on Jesus Christ is not afraid of
but delights in thoughts of eternity. Why, to him who believes on Jesus Christ
eternity is glory.
as we ride along our beautiful roads we see the stately mansions of our
multimillionaires, and one will think, "It must be very pleasant to live
there." Well, I suppose it must be, but think a moment. How long will these
people live there? Perhaps the father of the household may live there ten years,
possibly twenty years. Then where does he live? Some of the children may live
there twenty, thirty, possibly, forty years, and then what? The grave. I tell
you it is not worth much after all. But the Christian looks on, and on, and on,
to a life that has no end, to a life that is eternal. Glory!
was never a royal pageant sweeping through the streets of London at any
coronation comparable in glory to the glory that awaits you and me just over
yonder. "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also
appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4). We may be poor today. That does not
matter. This life will be over in a moment and the other life begun, and that
life is eternal.
I entered the room she arose and hurried toward me, and said, "Mr. Torrey,
I knew you did not see anybody on Monday, but I had to see you. Last night after
I went to bed I was filled with the Holy Spirit right there in my bed, and I was
so happy I could not sleep all night, and this morning I had to come and tell
somebody. I could not afford to give up a day's work to come around and tell you
about it, but I knew I must tell somebody and I did not know anybody I would so
like to tell as you. I know you won't be angry." Indeed, I was not angry. I
was glad she had come, and rejoiced with her, that old washerwoman filled with
the Holy Spirit and so full of joy that, poor as she was, she had to give up a
day's work to go and tell somebody she loved all about it.
I came to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ I was one of the bluest men who ever
lived. I would sit down by the hour and brood. I have never known what the blues
mean since the day I really became a Christian, absolutely surrendered to God. I
have had troubles. I have had losses. There have been times in my life when I
have lost pretty much everything the world holds dear. I know what it is to have
a wife and four children, and to lose everything of a financial kind I had in
the world, and not know from meal to meal where the next meal was coming from. I
was absolutely without resources, living from hand to mouth —from God's hand
to my mouth. I have known what it is to be with a wife and child in a foreign
country where they spoke a strange language, and for some reason or other
supplies did not come, and I did not know anyone in the city well enough to turn
to for help; but I did not worry. I knew it was all in God's hands, that it
would all come out right somehow, and of course it did come out right.
first time I ever visited London, thirty-nine years ago last September, I was
planning to spend two weeks in England, and then start for America. I expected
to find money waiting for me I when I reached London, and I reached London with
a wife and child, and not a letter and no money. But I said, "The letter
and the money will come tomorrow or the next day." My wife made some
purchases, taking it for granted we would have money when the purchases came
home; but the money did not come. Day after day passed, and the dresses came
home and it was about time for the landlady to come with her board bill. It came
to be the very last day before our boat started, and not a penny in sight. I
went down to the bank. I did not know a soul in London. There were three or four
million people there then—a stranger amid three or four millions of people,
money absolutely gone, three thousand miles from friends. I did not worry. I
knew the money would come. I did not know how it would come, for the source I
expected to receive it from seemed utterly cut off; but yet I was happy. Why?
Because I was a child of God; I had the promises of the Bible; I knew they were
absolutely certain. I never lost an hour's sleep. I never worried. I just
trusted. It seemed as though I would have to be fed somewhat as Elijah was, but
I knew I would be fed. I knew my wife and child would be provided for. The money
came, and I sailed on the steamer I expected to sail on, with every penny due
paid, and money in my pocket. Friends, a Christian is happy at all times and
under all circumstances. We rejoice with "inexpressible and glorious
joy" every one of the twenty-four hours of the day that we are awake, and
sometimes in our sleep. You, too, can have that joy.
arises the question, "What must anyone here tonight who does not have this
inexpressible and glorious joy do to get it?" I have really answered that
question several times in what I have already said, but to be sure that we all
really understand it, let me answer it again, or rather let my text answer it,
"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see
him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious
joy." The text tells us that the way to obtain this "inexpressible and
glorious joy," the way to be inexpressibly happy at all times and under all
circumstances, is just by believing on the unseen Christ Jesus. What does it
mean to believe on Jesus Christ? There is no mystery at all about that. It
simply means to put confidence in Jesus Christ to be what He claims to be and
what He offers Himself to be to us, to put confidence in Him as the One who died
in our place, the One who bore our sins in His own body on the cross, and to
trust God to forgive us all our sins because Jesus Christ died in our place; to
put confidence in Him as the One who was raised from the dead and who now has
"all power in heaven and on earth," and therefore is able to keep us
day by day, and give us victory over sin, and to trust this risen Christ to give
us victory over sin day by day; and to put confidence in Him as our absolute
Lord and Master, and therefore to surrender our thoughts and wills and lives
entirely to His control, believing everything He says, even though every scholar
on earth denies it, obeying everything He commands, whatever it may cost; and to
put confidence in Him as our Divine Lord, and confess Him as Lord before the
world, and worship and adore Him. It is wonderful the joy that comes to him who
thus believes on Jesus Christ. But one must really believe on Jesus Christ to
have this joy.
being a member of a church is not enough. Merely being baptized is not enough.
Merely reading your Bible is not enough. Merely praying is not enough. Merely
going to church is not enough. Merely going to the Lord's Table and partaking of
the Lord's Supper is not enough. But if you are a real believer on Jesus Christ,
if you have put all your trust in the Lord Jesus as your atoning Savior and your
risen Savior, and your risen Lord and Master, and surrendered your thoughts and
life to Him utterly as your Lord and Master, and are confessing Him as such
before the world, if you have thrown your heart's door wide open for the Lord
Jesus to come in, and live, and rule, and reign there, you will have
"inexpressible and glorious joy" at all times and under all
anyone has to do, then, to be inexpressibly happy at all times and under all
circumstances, is to believe on Jesus Christ. It does not make any difference
what his circumstances may be: he may be rich or he may be poor; he may be
highly educated, or he may be ignorant; he may be in good health or he may be a
hopeless invalid; he may have been a moral, clean, upright man, or he may have
been the vilest of sinners, it matters not. Everyone who believes on the unseen
but living Christ will find "inexpressible and glorious joy." I can
bring scores, hundreds, thousands of witnesses to prove that. You cannot bring a
single witness on the other side. Col. Robert Ingersoll delighted to say;
"It doesn't make one happy to be a Christian." How did he know? He
never tried it. You can search the earth through and you cannot find me one
single man or woman who was ever an out-and-out believer in Jesus Christ, a real
wholehearted believer in Jesus Christ, one who had surrendered all to Jesus
Christ; I say you cannot find me even one such man or woman who will deny that
Jesus Christ gives "inexpressible and glorious joy" to those who thus
believe on Him. Here, then, is the way the case stands: Every single competent
witness, that is, every witness who has ever tried it, testifies that believing
in Jesus Christ does bring "inexpressible and glorious joy," and these
witnesses number thousands, tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands, people
from every rank of society and culture, and not one witness on the other side.
Is it demonstrated or not? It certainly is.
I take it that I am
speaking tonight to reasonable men and women. You desire "inexpressible and
glorious joy." I have told you how to get it. There can be no doubt about
it. The evidence is overwhelmingly convincing. There is, then, but one rational
thing for you to do, believe on Jesus Christ tonight. Will you do it?
Once a man who was
utterly miserable came to me. He was a rarely gifted man, a brilliant scholar,
but utterly miserable. If ever I saw a man in hell he was the man. He had
attempted suicide at least four times. He had been so near succeeding in his
attempts that on two occasions it had been necessary to pump out of him the
poison he had taken and thus bring him back to life. I urged him to believe on
Jesus Christ. He replied, "I cannot, I have sinned away the Day of
Grace." Day after day I talked with the man and always I had but one
message, and that was, "Come to Jesus Christ. Believe on Jesus
Christ." At last, one day the man did come to Jesus Christ. He found
"inexpressible and glorious joy." Sometimes I have seen that man when
his face was radiant. Out of hell into heaven by just believing on Jesus Christ!
Will you take that same step now?