“What are you to do in order to be saved?” was a question put by me to some one in whose spiritual welfare I was interested.
“I must do what the Bible tells me,” was his answer.
“And what is that?” said I.
“Well, I know that we all come short, and fail to walk up to our duty,” he replied.
“That is, no doubt, true, lamentably true—for God declares that man is ‘altogether become unprofitable,’ and that ‘our righteousnesses are but filthy rags’—but,” I said, “what was the answer given by the Apostle Paul to the earnest enquiry of the Philippian jailer, when, on the night of his conversion, he cried, ‘What must I do to be saved?’”
“Oh! he was told to trust in the Lord.”
“Yes,” said I, “he was told ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’ Now to trust and to believe are substantially the same, and the man who really trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ believes in Him, and is therefore saved.”
But he replied, “There is so much difficulty in this trusting; it seems to be so hard, although in another sense it is so simple; its very simplicity makes it difficult!”
“Stop a moment,” I said, “and take this illustration. Suppose that I had run into some serious difficulty, and was unable to extricate myself without legal advice and assistance, I should call on a lawyer and spread my whole case before him, and, having done this, I should tell him that I trusted it all to him. Thus I should, so far, be relieved, and my sense of relief would be proportionate to my knowledge of the skill of the lawyer. In the same way,” I continued, “is it that we are called to trust the Lord Jesus Christ. The soul learns by the Word and Spirit of God that it is hopelessly ruined, and morally bankrupt—a fearful discovery indeed—and, like the jailer, it cries out, ‘What must I do?’ and the word of God gives answer, ‘Go to Jesus’—‘to Jesus the Mediator,’—‘to Jesus the friend of the sinner’—and to Him therefore does it apply; the whole case is spread out before Him, the whole story is told, and the result is left with Him.
“That is plain, very plain,” said he.
And so it surely is, so far as the trusting goes, but then all would be uncertainty as to the result. That He would never deceive, and never play false, and never lose a case, is all Divinely sure; still the soul is destitute of assurance, if the result of its trust were only to be known in the future. What it seeks is a present knowledge and a present assurance.
But the case has been in court, and has been tried, and has been settled. Man, as a criminal, has been arraigned, has been tried, has been found guilty, and has been sentenced. All is past. Man is proven to be “ALL UNDER SIN,” and the unbeliever is “CONDEMNED ALREADY.” Such is the verdict of the Court of Divine equity. Nothing remains, therefore, but the execution of the sentence, and the consignment of the criminal to the judgment pronounced.
But could not substitution be allowed? Could not the criminal escape, by the execution of the guiltless? Yes! and oh! wonder of wonders—the Judge, in love untold, takes the place of the guilty, bears the punishment, and dies instead—
“He took the guilty culprit’s place,
And suffered in his stead,
For man—oh! miracle of grace,
For man the Saviour bled.”
And what about the culprit—the condemned and consciously undone sinner? his judgment has all been borne by Another; and HE IS FREE.
He looks back to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, and there beholds the dark judgment-cloud burst upon the soul of his Divine and precious Substitute. The load of sin, the hours of darkness, and the wrath of God, pressed their crushing weight on Him; but the Prince of life broke the bonds of death, and was raised by God, and seated at His right hand in glory; He is there without sin, and there as the measure of the acceptance of the soul that TUSTS IN HIM.
And the case is settled—Truly, “it is plain.”
“Happy they who trust in Jesus,
Sweet their portion is and sure.”