Great Men with Great Texts – W. T. P. Wolston (Acts 16:31)

Dr. W. T. P. (Walter Thomas Prideaux) Wolston was born at Brixham, Devon, on September 6, 1840. Although his parents were Christians, he was, as a young man, only interested in the world, and became deeply immersed in its pleasures and pursuits. He did his utmost to banish from his mind thoughts of God and eternity. On December 4, 1860, he left his country home in Devonshire for the city of London to further pursue his studies. On the first Sunday he was there, a friend suggested that they should go to hear Richard Weaver, the collier preacher, in Surrey Theatre. Weaver’s stirring and earnest preaching of the gospel was attracting thousands. That night, Walter was convicted of his sin. Those impressions deepened the following Sunday as he listened to Charles Stanley, (author of the well-known “C. S.” gospel tracts), preach the gospel.

Walter remained behind hoping to receive some help. He spoke with a Mr. Miller, who asked him if he were a Christian. Walter replied, “No, I am not, and cannot profess to be what I am not.” Eventually Miller quoted Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Walter apparently was expecting some feeling to assure him of salvation. Miller told him, “Man, never mind your feelings; fling them overboard as useless. If you trust in your feelings you will waken up in Hell some day, and then you will know what your feelings were worth. You are not told to feel; you are told to believe. You must take God at His Word.” At that point, Walter suddenly thought of the band he sang in, concerts at which he had agreed to perform, and parties he planned to attend. He felt it was the devil saying to him, “Stop! Do not be in a hurry. Do not decide to-night … If you become a Christian you cannot sing those songs! Then you have that dinner party and ball … Put it off for a fortnight. Go and fulfill your engagements and then come back to London and become a Christian. ‘No man can serve two masters’” (Matt 6:24). Suddenly Walter’s mind cleared. As though rebuffing the devil’s deceitful ploy, Walter said, “You are right. You have been a bad master, and I will serve you no longer. Henceforth, Christ for me.” Just then, Miller again quoted: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”Walter asked, “Have I only just to believe that Jesus died for me on the Cross, bearing my sins, and if I believe I am saved? Could I believe in Him still feeling nothing? Lord, I believe.” As he often said when recounting his conversion, “I was saved on the spot.” From that point on, W. T. P. Wolston belonged to and served the best of Masters, the Lord Jesus. He was a prolific author, edited various Christian magazines, and preached the gospel whenever and wherever possible. It is said that for many years he preached the gospel somewhere every day. He entered heaven on March 11, 1917, at the age of 76.

“You must take God at His Word” – what sound advice that was to a seeking soul! In Exodus 9, when God warned that a mighty hail storm would sweep through Egypt, Moses wrote, “He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: And he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field.” In that day, life or death depended on one’s attitude and response to the word of the Lord. Those caught unsheltered in the open fields perished in the storm that Moses had foretold. Those who understood the veracity of God’s word, and His power to perform it, took shelter and lived.

Today, heaven or hell depends on your attitude and response to God’s Word. Which will your endless destiny be? Your peril is infinitely more solemn than the danger the Egyptians faced. The storm of judgment you will experience will never cease. The shelter that is available is indescribably more secure than the hiding places where Egyptians cowered in fear. Safety is found in Christ and in Christ alone. His death provides the safe haven, the refuge that guilty sinners need. It is God’s Word which points you, as it did W. T. P. Wolston, to the place of safety: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Take God at His Word!