Dwight L Moody (1837-1899) was one of the greatest evangelists of all time, preaching the gospel to vast crowds on both sides of the Atlantic. We present this edited version of his sermon on the text, “Adam, where art thou?” from Genesis 3:9, as an example of his urgent calling of sinners to repentance.
The very first thing that happened after the news reached heaven of the fall of man, was that God came straight down to seek out the lost one. As he walks through the garden in the cool of the day, you can hear him calling: “Adam! Adam! Where art thou?” It was the voice of grace, of mercy, and of love.
Adam ought to have taken the seeker’s place, for he was the transgressor. He had fallen, and he ought to have gone up and down Eden crying, “My God! My God! Where art Thou?” But God left heaven to seek through the dark world for the rebel who had fallen – not to hurl him from the face of the earth, but to plan him an escape from the misery of his sin. And he finds him. Where? Hiding from his Creator among the bushes of the garden.
The moment a man is out of communion with God, he wants to hide away from him. When God left Adam in the garden, he was in communion with his Creator, and God talked with him; but now that he has fallen, he has no desire to see his Creator, he has lost communion with his God. He cannot bear to see him, even to think of him, and he runs to hide from God. But to his hiding place his Maker follows him. “Where art thou, Adam? Where art thou?”
Six thousand years have passed away, and this text has come rolling down the ages. I doubt whether there has been anyone of Adam’s sons who has not heard it at some period or other of his life – sometimes in the midnight hour stealing over him – “Where am I? Who am I? Where am I going? And what is going to be the end of this?”
So ask yourselves this question: am I in communion with my Creator, or out of communion? It was the first question put to man after his fall, and it was a very small audience that God had – Adam and his wife. But God was the preacher; and although they tried to hide, the words came home to them. Let them come home to you now. You may think that your life is hid, that God does not know anything about you. But he knows our lives a great deal better than we do; and his eye has been bent upon us from our earliest childhood until now. “If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
Sinner, what is to become of you? Is it true that you are living without God and without hope in the world? Did you ever stop to think what would become of your soul if you should be taken away by a sudden stroke of illness – where you would stand in eternity?
I read that the sinner is without God, without hope, and without excuse. If you are not saved, what excuse will you have to give? You cannot say that it is God’s fault. He is only too anxious to save you. I want to tell you tonight that you can be saved if you will. If you really want to pass from death to life, if you want to become an heir of eternal life, if you want to become a child of God, make up your mind this night that you will seek the kingdom of God.
I tell you, upon the authority of this Word, that if you seek the kingdom of God you will find it. No man ever sought Christ with a heart to find him who did not find him. I never knew a man make up his mind to have the question settled, but it was settled soon.
This last year there has been a solemn feeling stealing over me. I am what they call in the middle of life. I look upon life as a man who has reached the top of a hill, and just begins to go down the other side. How short life is! Yonder there is a grave; you cannot tell how many days, or weeks, or years it is away; you are hastening towards that grave. My friend, is it not the height of madness to put off salvation?
Why put off the question another day? Why say to the Lord Jesus again tonight, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee?” Why not let him come in tonight? Why not open your heart, and say, “King of Glory, come in?”
Will there ever be a better opportunity? Did not you promise years ago that you would serve God? Some of you said you would do it when you got married and settled down; some of you said you would serve him when you were your own master. Have you attended to it?
You know there are three steps to this lost world; let me give you their names. The first is ‘Neglect’. All a man has to do is to neglect salvation, and that will take him to the lost world. Some people say, “What have I done!” Why, if you merely neglect salvation, you will be lost. I am on a swift river, and lying in the bottom of my little boat. Down yonder, ten miles below, is the great cataract. Everyone that goes over it perishes. I need not row the boat down; I have only to pull in the oars, and fold my arms and neglect. So all that a man has to do is to fold his arms in the current of life, and he will drift onwards and be lost.
The second step is ‘Refusal’. If I met you at the door and pressed this question on you, you would say, “Not tonight, Mr. Moody, not tonight.” And if I repeated, “I want you to press into the kingdom of God,” you would politely refuse: “I will not become a Christian tonight, thank you. I know I ought, but I won’t tonight.”
Then the last step is to ‘Despise’ it. Some of you have already got on the lower round of the ladder. You hate Christ, you hate Christianity; you hate the best people on the earth and the best friends you have got; and if I were to offer you the Bible, you would tear it up and put your foot upon it. Oh, despisers! You will soon be in another world. Make haste and turn to God.
Now, on which step are you, my friend; neglecting, refusing or despising? Bear in mind that a great many are taken off from the first step; they die in neglect. And a great many are taken away refusing. And a great many despise salvation.
A few years ago they neglected, then they got to refuse; and now they despise Christianity and Christ. They hate the sound of the church bell; they hate the Bible and the Christian; they curse the very ground that we walk on. But one more step and they are gone.
Oh ye despisers, I set before you life and death; which will you choose? When Pilate had Christ on his hands, he said, “What shall I do with him?” and the multitude cried out, “Away with him! Crucify him!”
Is that your language tonight? Do you say, “Away with this gospel! Away with Christianity! Away with your prayers, your sermons, your gospel sounds! I do not want Christ?” Or will you be wise and say, “Lord Jesus, I want thee, I need thee, I will have thee?” Oh, may God bring you to that decision!