Prince Harry’s new book, “Spare,” is a good example of what Christians shouldn’t do: telling the world about the sins people have committed against you.
March 8, 2023
In the late 1970s, I began to get invitations to speak in churches. This was because I wrote a book that, to my delight, became a bestseller almost overnight. It was called My Friends Are Dying (now called Out of the Comfort Zone). The book was about five friends who had dramatically died through drug abuse. In those days that was big news.
Since then, I have had the honor of speaking in over one thousand churches from almost all denominations, and I’ve learned that itinerating has a predictable routine. I would arrive at an airport, be met by a friendly stranger, and be driven to a hotel. After I had freshened up, I would be picked up and taken to dinner, and then I’d be dropped back at the hotel. In the morning, I would be picked up and taken to the church. That’s when I would meet with the pastor and his leadership team and have a short time of corporate prayer.
“You don’t give a man a cure to a disease he doesn’t believe he has. We must first address the disease so that he will appreciate and appropriate the cure. The moral Law diagnoses the disease of sin, and the gospel is the cure.”
Around that time, the pastor would invariably ask me this question: “What would you like to do in-between services?” And that’s when I would ask him this question: “Where is your library?” His face would light up, and he would proudly take me into his inner sanctuary and show me his treasure house.
A Special Secret
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. If you have read any of my books, you may get the impression that I am well read. This is because of the wealth of quality quotes I have from men like Spurgeon, Wesley, Whitefield, Luther, etc.—particularly about the importance of preaching the moral Law before the gospel. This is what we see consistently done in Scripture. The biblical principle is “Law to the proud and grace to the humble.” We see this when we study how Jesus spoke to the rich young ruler using the Ten Commandments (Mark 10:17–19) and how differently He spoke to Nicodemus (John 3:1–5). The rich young ruler was proud and self-righteous, and he needed to be humbled by the moral Law. But Nicodemus was a humble and godly Jew (who was therefore thoroughly versed in the Law), and he instead needed to hear the message of grace. You don’t give a man a cure to a disease he doesn’t believe he has. We must first address the disease so that he will appreciate and appropriate the cure. The moral Law diagnoses the disease of sin, and the gospel is the cure.
During speaking engagements, in-between the services, I would excitedly rush into the library and search through the pastor’s many books. And here’s the key to finding those quotes: I would use my nose to sniff them out. When books are over 100 years old, they have a certain smell, and they were the ones for which I was looking. I would carefully pick them up and go to the chapter-heading page, looking for anything that sounded like keys to reaching the unsaved—“How to see true repentance” or “How to awaken the ungodly.” I would open up that chapter, and there they were. Precious gems! They were quotes that had been underlined in pencil many years ago. This consistently happened. The long-gone owners of these books had been excited by the same words that excited me, because the same Spirit that dwelt in me dwelt in them.
“If you have a library of Christian books, proudly treasure your treasury. Keep reading. Share their wisdom with your friends.”
I would then go to a photocopier and copy that page. Thus, I was able to take with me pearls of great wisdom from the lips of the cream of preachers and include them in my books.
I still handle those precious gems I took from those libraries with great reverence. Here are a few that I found. I hope you see them as being as valuable as I do.
This one is from Charles Spurgeon:
“Lower the Law and you dim the light by which man perceives his guilt. This is a very serious loss to the sinner rather than a gain, for it lessens the likelihood of his conviction and conversion.…I say you have deprived the gospel of its ablest auxiliary [most powerful weapon] when you have set aside the law. You have taken away from it the schoolmaster that is to bring men to Christ.…They will never accept grace till they tremble before a just and holy law; therefore the law serves a most necessary and blessed purpose, and it must not be removed from its place.”
A.B. Earle said,
“I have found by long experience that the severest threatenings of the law of God have a prominent place in leading men to Christ. They must see themselves lost before they will cry for mercy. They will not escape from danger until they see it.”
Martin Luther warned,
“The first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God’s law and to show the nature of sin.”
So, dear Christian, if you have a library of Christian books, proudly treasure your treasury. Keep reading. Share their wisdom with your friends. Let the dead speak. And, whatever you do, guard your library. Be careful when lending them out. Many a treasury has disappeared because books weren’t returned.
I was once left a library of precious books, and instead of keeping them to myself, I took a risk and allowed people to borrow them. But I had a plan. I had a special stamp made and stamped each book on the title page. It worked for me, and it will work for you. The books were always returned. The stamp showed the power of the moral Law and its ability to stir the human conscience. The stamp simply read, “Stolen from Ray Comfort.” (If you do this, though, you may like to use your own name).