"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Cor. 5:17)Sydney Harbour Bridge about 0:00am 2000 A.D.
When the word Eternity was electronically emblazoned across the bridge of our Olympic city after a spectacular display of more than twenty tons of fireworks that were let off from fifteen different points (at a cost of a cool $5.8 million), it was welcoming and ushering in not just a new year of A.D.2000 but a new decade, century, and millenium.
As the Sydney siders celebrated the biggest party in town and the best in the world, the show was not only witnessed by more than a million people who crammed around the Harbour, but was also beamed around
the world to more than two billion viewers.
However long before the giant single word Eternity, was mechanically sparkled on the Harbour Bridge of our Olympic city of Sydney; it was first written, over 500.000 times, manually & by a small hand of one solitary man, on the pavements of its streets, and the footpaths of its suburbs & beyond .
This one-word sermon appeared, in perfect elegant copperplate style, all over the place…..
from the Cross to Campbelltown…… from Woolloomooloo to Woolongong….. from Newtown to Newcastle & from Marrickville to Melbourne.
Wherever this word appeared it mystified some and fascinated others. The mystery was," who wrote it?"
When the mystery writer was finally discovered the Sydney press nicknamed
but his real name was Arthur STACE.
Where did Arthur Stace come from? ….
How was he raised? ….
What was so special about him?…...
And why did God use him?…..
Let's trace the life & pay tribute to the legacy of Mr. Eternity in the light of his personal & dynamic relationship with Christ the Lord of Eternity.
We'll take his surname, STACE &tell his story of sin,
salvation, surrender &sweet victory.
Arthur Malcolm STACE entered this world in 1884 to a drunken, dysfunctional and desperate couple in the Balmain slums of Sydney. As a direct result of his parent's addiction, young Arthur and his two sisters and two brothers, were brought up neglected and needy in a hopeless and shameful atmosphere of poverty. Judging by just the first quarter of his 83 earthly years, & according to his very own words, he seemed destined for failure by all accounts &the very lowest of standards.
As a very young child, a day in his wretched & miserable existence consisted of:
By the time he entered the turbulent teenage years he was such a heavy drinker, he often said, "I drank metho not milk ". His first pay was spent and wasted in the pub & year later by the tender age of 15 he was sent to jail.
In his adolescence he became a cockatoo and worked as "a look out" for police for those who ran two-up schools and illegal gambling joints. Later in his twenties, he was employed as a scout for his sisters' brothels in the seedy inner Surry hills.
In his thirties there seemed to be a temporary relief in his criminal activities when he enlisted and served as a stretcher-bearer between 1914and 1918 in the First World War.
However as soon as he returned to Sydney and his hands and feet rejoined his heart, he resumed his wretched lifestyle of crime and returned to his usual old bad habits of gambling and drinking.
Few years later Arthur described in his own words what he had become
" a petty criminal, a bum and a metho drinker." He deteriorated so bad
and so low that he went from beer to wine to plonk
( i.e bad wine) to plink ( i.e bad plonk ).
Question? How on earth did Arthur Stace survive all that
and was also spared the inevitable early grave & the horrible eternal loss
that awaited his father, mother, brothers &sisters before him?
Answer - It was the power of GOD from heaven
that saved, strengthened and sustained his needy soul,
which we'll see next as we continue
with this marvelous demonstration of God's grace and mercy
in The Life & Legacy of Mr.Eternity.
The new birth, of turning from sin to trusting the Saviour, took place on the night of the August 6th,1930.
The conception commenced when the Holy Spirit of God used, the seed &truth of the word of God preached by Rev.R.D.S .Hammond the servant of God, and the sweet testimony of the men of God present in the house of God at the St Barnabas church in Broadway on that magnificent & memorable evening.
The conviction continued for Arthur Stace who is, like his first parent Adam, created in the image of God & as in Adam his federal head he is now dead in sin & separated from God. As he listened to the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God, he realized that he was a sinner before God & recognized that the saving grace is the gift of God.
The conversion concluded, shortly after, as he left the meeting in St Barnabas, (following a cup of tea and a rock cake) walked across the road to University Park, and under an old big Morton Bay fig tree he repented of sin towards God, received Christ Jesus, as his sin bearer, who is the only way to God and became a child of God. At last he has experienced peace with God, and now can exercise the peace of God.Arthur used to often testify:" I went in to get a cup of tea and a rock cake but I met the rock of ages".
The reality of this great & gracious salvation brings with it automatically & always an exchange of heart and a change from death to life, from darkness to light & from the dominion of Satan to the liberty in Christ, to all that call upon the saving name of the Lord in sincerity and truth.
This significant &spiritual turn around of a monumental proportion altered Stace's present & sinful desires by 180 degrees and affected his future destiny for time & Eternity
Now the old man of sin is dead & his last will was read. The new man in Christ is delivered from the power of darkness, dressed with the robe of God's righteousness & destined for real life & great liberty.
The words of the following song perhaps may help us see into the thankful heart and sense the gratitude that this trophy of God's grace experienced.
"OH THE POWER OF THE CHRIST OF CALVARY"
MY LORD AND MY KING, I OWE YOU EVERYTHING, THE DEBT YOU FORGAVE AND THE NEW LIFE YOU GAVE ALL SELF AND PRIDE WERE CRUCIFIED, MY NEW LIFE YOU BUILT WITHOUT ANGER OR GUILT
IN GOD I'M HID, BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU DID, MAN IN SIN IS
DEAD, HIS LAST WILL WAS READ
MY MIND AND ATTITUDE YOU ALSO RENEWED, IN SUFFERING AND PAIN THERE IS NOW JOY & GAIN
ANOINTED MESSAGE- his conviction by Christ
By the grace of God & to His glory, Arthur Stace grew in his relationship with the living God as he daily read the scriptures, relied on the strength of Christ in prayer & related his salvation experience to others.
In obedience to God he had become an active member in a body of believers at the Burton St Baptist Tabernacle, Darlinghurst which is located just a few kilometers down the road from the Harbour Bridge & the fireworks of the millenium celebration.
On a Sunday night of November 14th1942, there was a special series of meetings at that church where another fiery event of the cleansing and life changing kind was in progress.
The same Eternal Spirit of God, that earlier convicted the soul of Arthur Stace of the choices & consequences of sin and converted his spirit to Christ the Saviour, employed &empowered one of His choicest servants,the late John G Ridley M.C.
This prince among preachers delivered an anointed and an appointed message entitled "The echoes of eternity"** that caught the heart of one man, changed the lives of many, and challenged the mindset of a multitude.
The gem of a text is found in the prophet Isaiah chapter 57 vs 15:." "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth Eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." (Audio available** )
Evangelist, John Gotch Ridley M.C., was himself saved in 1915 from a dead religion of man to a dynamic relationship with the living God, in the very same church building under Rev. William Lamb's powerful premillenial preaching of the second coming of Christ.
He was a purpose- driven communicator & a painter of word -pictures whose pen was mighty because of the sword of the spirit. He sowed faithfulness to the message of salvation here on earth & reaped fruitfulness in the ministry & service for time & eternity.
John G. Ridley M.C, was not only a prolific & terrific writer but also a persistent & tireless worker.
He Co- founded the prophetic & premillenial voice of the Herald of Hope, & also established the teaching &training vehicle of the Australian Institute of Evangelism, which later become the Ambassadors for Christ.
This prayer warrior & soldier of the faith, who at one time nearly lost his own life in battle, undertook faithfully to herald & understood first hand how important & imperative it is, to prepare for Eternity. The helpless sound, the hopeless sight & the horrible smell of the sting of death, surrounded him like a constant companion, in the war as a soldier of WWI & in the work as a chaplain of WWII.
John G. Ridley received a military cross for his acts of bravery & action in battle at Bellicourt 1918 for risking his own life by bringing ammunition & ration to the front line and also for rescuing the wounded. The veteran evangelist was not one to shy away from confronting his hearers with the truth of their eternal life & challenging their hearts to trust his everlasting Lord.
On that night he stood plain & unadorned in his black suit & a tie, but with the power of scripture in his hand & the passion for souls in his heart, &stressed the word Eternity, according to his preaching mandate and in his usual passionate manner. He pointed out how the echoes of Eternity are heard not only in creation and in the Christian, but also in the cross. Then suddenly, laying his prepared notes aside & seemingly in an impromptu fashion, the highly disciplined soldier-like preacher, raised his loud voice and cried: *"Eternity, Eternity, I wish that I could sound or shout that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney. You’ve got to meet it, where will you spend Eternity ? **
Arthur Stace was one of many in the large congregation that God-ordained night. This faithful, available, and teachable servant has beenobedient & active since his conversion from an old life in crime and sin to the new life in Christ and service.
As he sat listening to the eternal word of God, preached faithfully, and proclaimed forthrightly, from the heart and lips of Australia's beloved evangelist, he was yet again, confronted with sin & it's eternal punishing consequences. Oh he was not worried about his own eternal safety because his sins are under the blood & forgiven since that blessed night, where he knelt under a Morton bay fig tree and called on the name of the Lord, CRYING " Lord be merciful to me a sinner".
His burden & concern, however, was for the sake & the sins of others, so once more his sensitive heart responded to God, this time "here am I Lord send me".
*"Eternity went ringing through my brain" was Stace's own statement" and suddenly I begun crying & felt a powerful call from the Lord to write Eternity. I had a piece of chalk in my pocket and outside the church I bent down right there and wrote it…. The funny thing is that before I wrote it I could hardly write my own name. I had no schooling and I couldn’t have spelt Eternity for a hundred quid. But it came out smoothly, in a beautiful copperplate script. I couldn't understand it, and I still can't."* (The passing of Mr. Eternity JG Ridley p.9)
We commenced with…. The SINFULPAST -i.e. his condition before Christ
We closely looked at… The TURNING POINT -i.e. his conversion to Christ
We continued with ….. The AN NOINTED MESSAGE -i.e. his conviction by Christ
We considered …….. The CALL TO WRITE -i.e. his consecration for Christ
Let's now conclude with : ETERNITY - your choice to receive Christ
God has personally written to you to prepare you forEternity. This most important two-fold message must be read and received by all from his creation in Adam to his children in Christ.
The first part of God's message is aimed at his creation in Adam:
1.YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN
"Jesus.. said,..…Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must
be born again."(JN 3:3a, 7)
To be born again, you need to:
A. Repent of sin - This scriptural & spiritual exercise is as simple as A.B.C
ETERNITY, ETERNITY, THE LIFETIME
OF THE ALMIGHTY.
YOU'VE GOT TO MEET ETERNITY, WHERE WILL YOU SPEND ETERNITY?
WHERE WILL IT BE WHERE WILL IT BE? WILL HEAVEN OR HELL BE YOUR DESTINY?
CALL ON GOD’S GRACE AND MERCY, IN THE LOVE OF CHRIST ON CALVARY
Your decision here and now on earth Will determine Your destiny there
and then in Eternity.
If you refuse and reject The Lord Jesus Christ you are choosing to spend Eternityin hell,
If you receive HIM you will spend Eternity in heaven and rejoice evermore.
The Bible clearly & consistently declares:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans10: 13)
Let me encourage you to bow your heart before your Maker &
creator right now, and believe on The Lord Jesus Christ as your
own personal Lord and Saviour & become his child for time &
eternity. It only requires 3 simple yet heart believed expressions
I am sorry that I have sinned against you and I turn away from my sins.
Please forgive me and be merciful to me a sinner.
Thank you for saving me and giving me a new life. In Jesus Name, Amen
Whilst the first part of God's message YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN is aimed at his creation in Adam, the second part of HIS message is aimed at his children in Christ and that is:
2. WE MUST ALL APPEAR
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Cor.5:10).
This is one appointment that will not be neither forgotten, nor postponed but will be kept & arrival will be on time as per God's schedule & diary. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God (Rom14: 12) You see the issue is not one of ability, but of availability and accountability, nor is it a question of fantastic results but of faithfulness.
God is not asking you, for what you can or cannot do for Him, but what HE can and will do for you, in you, and through you. Jesus said in John 15:5, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."
When we, as God's children, discover here on earth what the Heavenly Father has entrusted us with in talents and time, then decide willingly and happily to give that back to HIM in dedication and with devotion, then God who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us," (Eph 3:20) takes what we have in our hands and uses it as we trust HIM whether it is:
By the time he was called to exit this world into Eternity on July 30,1967,this gray-haired man had left behind a legacy of an enormous value in the copperplate writing of one word - Eternity which was witnessed first by many thousands in Sydney, Woolongong & Newcastle then by millions all over the world on the eve of the new millenium celebration.
So go ahead and give what is in your hand to God today, right now.
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:"(Mat 6:19-20)
Text ©Peter Rahme AD 2000. - 40 Cardigan Rd Greenacre
NSW 2190 Australia Tel (+61 2) 9742 5716; Fax (+61 2) 9742 5715
For further information contact Email: email@example.com
*Oh the power of the Christ of Calvary -Words & Music by Peter Rahme **The messenger &message behind Mr Eternity 60min Audio Tape is available
The life & legacy of Mr. Eternity is also available in a glossy/colorful abridged gospel tract.
For more copies or for the Gospel tract version or the 60 minutes audio tape, contact the writer.
Resources: The Crooked Made Straight- Rev Lisle M Thompson; The Passing of MrEternity- J G Ridley; The Story of Arthur Stace- Keith Dunstan Photos supplied by: Ramon Williams; A scene from the film "Mr Eternity" by Liz Hughes - RoninFilms; Eternity on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, -C. Kirton and W. Cardwell Eternity Production Design;Arthur Stace-Rex Beaver; St Barnabas’ Church, - Rev R Forsyth