A Drop at a Time

A Drop at a Time


If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness  (I John 1:9).

Purpose of the Illustration

  1. To show that a child's heart becomes black, step by step, by committing what seem like unimportant transgressions of God's law until in the end his heart is as black as it can be.

  2. To show that there is a way by which the heart, however black it may be, can be cleansed by Christ's blood.


  1. Three glasses.


  1. Bottle of black ink.

  2. Hyposulphite of soda, sodium thiosulphate, or sodium sulphite.

  3. A small bottle of Clorox.

  4. A small bottle of iodine.

Method of Procedure

  1. Fill each glass about half-full of water.

  2. Into the first glass pour ink until the water is as black as it can possibly be. Let this stand until the end of the demonstration.

  3. To the second glass add a single drop of iodine.

  4. As your talk proceeds, indicate the slow growth of sin in a child's life by continuing to add the iodine a few drops at a time until this glass, too, is as black as possible.

  5. To the third glass add a few drops of the iodine, just enough to discolor the water.

  6. Thus you have three glasses of colored water, representing three conditions of hearts.

  7. When you come to the application, clear up all three glasses at the same time. Into glass No. 1 (made black at the beginning) put enough Clorox to return it to its original clearness. Into glasses No. 2 and No. 3 put enough of the sodium sulphite or the hyposulphite of soda to clear them.

Chemical Reactions

  1. The ink darkens the water in glass No. 1.

  2. The iodine blackens by degrees the water in glasses No. 2 and No. 3.

  3. The Clorox clears up glass No. 1, as the sodium sulphite or the hyposulphite of soda clears No. 2 and No. 3.

Cautions and Representations

  1. Make the contrast between glasses No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 very definite. Blacken No. 1 by pouring; blacken No. 2 by degrees; color No. 3 only slightly.

  2. The black glass No. 1 represents an old hardened sinner.

  3. Glass No. 2 represents the heart of a child or youth blackened by single sins until the result is a heart as black as that of the hardened sinner.

  4. Glass No. 3 represents the heart of a child who has committed only a few sins.

  5. All three have this in common: they represent unforgiven sins in the sight of God, and require the blood of Jesus to cleanse them.

  6. The cleansing or clearing chemicals—Clorox for No. 1, and hyposulphite of soda or sodium sulphite for No. 2 and No. 3—represent the blood of Jesus, or His forgiving power as applied to the heart,

  7. The process of clearing the black glasses, or hearts, stands for the forgiveness of sins.

  8. Most inks will bleach satisfactorily with the exception of India ink. Hence it is necessary to practice this at home to be sure that your ink will bleach.

Proceed with your experiment as you begin to talk. Blacken the first glass and leave it.

When you see a dark-dyed sinner you say, "Terrible. How evil he is. He needs Christ in his life." That sinner is black inside like this glass. There is nothing white or clean about him. And at once you pray that this vile sinner may be brought to Jesus. Often when you pray for such a black sinner you wonder if the blood of Jesus can cleanse his heart.

Old Born Drunk was this way. The townspeople said he was born drunk. It is true that he staggered through his childhood and at fifteen was seized with delirium tremens. As he grew older he was a totally depraved and drunken wreck. Then one day he met Jesus and was forgiven—but I will finish his story later on.

When a child or young person commits a sin, his heart looks like this glass—indicate No. 2 and add another drop or two of iodine—and you think, "They are not bad; they do not need to be forgiven as much as the blackened sinner." You are mistaken, for in God's sight sin is sin, and "all have sinned," as the Bible declares, "and come short of the glory of God." Sinners are sinners and equally vile from this standpoint: sin is sin and all sins need forgiveness.

From the viewpoint of society a child is not as black and vile as this old sinner who has gone down to the depths of sin. The child's heart is tender and young, and the days that he has done wrong are few in comparison to the many years it required to produce this man—hold up glass No. 1. Nevertheless in God's sight each needs the forgiving blood, and in each case the blood is sufficient.

The only way to keep this youth—hold up glass No. 2 —and this child—hold up glass No. 3—from becoming like this old sinner—point to glass No. 1—is to have their sins forgiven and blotted out by Jesus' blood in their early lives. No one can afford to put off the day of his salvation, for today is the day, "Now is the accepted time." The Bible charges us, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not . . ."

Strong, pure and worthy Christian lives are built by young people who early seek the Lord. The old sinner who comes to the Lord has his soul saved, but not his life, for his life has already been spent in sin and has been wasted. When a child or young person is converted their souls are saved, and their lives as well, for before them stretch many years in which they can serve God and build a Christian career.

Esther Carson Winans was such a child. Before she was five years old she had been converted, her sins were forgiven by Jesus' blood and she had learned to serve the Lord. She had not done many things that were wrong—merely childish transgressions—but the Bible says, "All have sinned," and this included tiny Esther.

Throughout her girlhood in Southern California she served God, and early the Lord indicated that He wanted her to go to South America as a missionary. Her mind was keen and she finished college early and then went to the university for more training. At the University of California she made such a brilliant record that she was offered a teaching position in the Spanish language department.

But Esther, forgiven when a child, felt God's call and gave herself to missions. Finally she was sent to Peru, where she labored in the coastal regions for a few years and then went up into the high Andes Mountains to the unconquered and head-hunting tribe of the Agarunas. Through all the centuries this tribe had defied the march of civilization, even the encroachment of the Catholic missionaries. Scientific expeditions that had been sent to study them never came back.

But Esther sang and prayed her way into the old Chief's hut, and in. the end she had the privilege of seeing this old head-hunter bow at a Gospel altar where he gave himself to the Lord and was forgiven. Today Esther's body is buried by the headwaters of the Amazon, where she died after a few years' labor for her Master, but there are many Christians among these scattered tribes of head-hunters.

Now clear the three glasses one by one. Can Jesus' blood blot out a child's sins? Clear glass No, 3. See how the blood can take a child's heart and change it—make it pure and white and clean. This was the case with Esther, the child who was called to be a missionary. Can Jesus' blood cleanse a youth? Clear glass No. 2. Yes, it can; see how this glass is purified, and the blackness taken away. Today, there are thousands of young people around the world who can testify that Christ has forgiven their sins and cleansed their hearts.

How about old Born Drunk—hold up glass No. 1—this black, vile sinner. Well here is the end of his story. One night in London, a group of Salvation Army workers were holding a street meeting, and old Born Drunk, more dead than alive, came along and listened. Old Joe, who had been saved many years earlier from a drunkard's life, was testifying how God had saved him and taken the desire for drink out of his heart. Old Born Drunk listened, and when the band started for the mission hall, and Old Joe invited them all to come and hear more of the marvelous story, old Born Drunk went with them. He entered the mission hall, listened, and then tottered to the altar, where he prayed, hands held in the air, "Make me like Old Joe—make me like Old Joe." Finally he, too, was converted, and Jesus entered his dark and vile heart.

When the testing days came—and they were serious, for the saloonkeepers literally poured whiskey into his throat—old Born Drunk was able to withstand them through the power of Christ in his life.

Yes, there is forgiveness for sin-blackened and hardened sinners. Clear up glass No. 1. This is the way a black heart becomes pure through Christ's forgiving power.

What the world needs today is the wonderful forgiveness in Christ. What the sinner needs is cleansing and forgiveness. He needs to have his sins blotted out, and to become a child of God. This experience is for each one, young or old. The old song tells the story, "If you are tired of the load of your sin, let Jesus come into your heart."

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