The Son of God: His Word or Man's Word?

I had taken my seat one afternoon in a train Liverpool for Southport, when a Romish priest entered the carriage, and sat down on the seat opposite to me. Having long had a desire to speak to a priest, I felt that this was my opportunity. I said, "Sir, I have long had an impression on my mind, and I should take it as a favour if you would allow me to ask you a question." He very politely said, "I shall be most happy to answer you to the best of my ability." I said, "Well, sir, if I am rightly informed, there is a very serious question at issue, between you and the Son of God." "Indeed," he replied, and all eyes were turned towards us, and all ears were opened to know what this could be. "The question is this, sir; the Son of God says (John 5:24), 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that hears my words, and believes on Him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life;' — now, sir, I have been told that all you priests say, 'Verily, verily, we say unto you, he that hears our words, and believes on Him that sent us, can never know that he has everlasting life, — shall never in the present life know whether he shall come into condemnation or not, nor whether he is passed from death unto life or not.' Now, sir, I wish to know from you, whether there is so flat a contradiction in your teaching, to the words of the Son of God." I shall never forget the man's look. He said, "May I ask who you are?" "Oh," said I, "through the mercy of God, I am one who had heard and received the words of Christ, and I have found them words of life. I do believe that God send Him to die the sacrifice for my sins. I do believe that God raised Him from the dead. I have redemption through His precious blood — even the forgiveness of sins; yes, and His blood cleanses me from all sins. Oh, yes! I do believe these precious words, and I have everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation. I have passed, from death unto life, — hearing His words I have all this; — What should I have if I believed your words?" "Ah," says the priest, "you must be mistaken in supposing it possible in this life to know that you are saved, or what could St. Paul mean, when he said, 'No man knows whether he is worthy of favour or hatred?'" I reached the Bible which I had in my hand, towards him, and said, "Will you kindly show me where St. Paul says any such thing." "Oh," says he, "I think you know more about it than I do, you can find it sooner than I can." I replied, "Indeed I cannot find what is not in his writings — but I will gladly read what he does say. In the Acts 13:38, 39, after speaking of the death and resurrection of Christ, he says 'Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things,' &c. In Rom. 5:1, he says, 'Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.' (Col. 1:14) 'In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.' Why, my dear sir, there is nothing makes a man so happy as to know that his sins are forgiven." "But do you mean to say there is no such passage in the Bible as the one I named?" asked the priest. "On the subject of salvation there is not such a text," I replied. "Solomon, when speaking of the vanity of this life, did say, 'No man knows either love or hatred by all that is before them.' (Eccl. 9:1.) He did not mean to deny the Gospel by this passage but urged the usual mistake." "I think," said he, "that man must be very presumptuous, who thinks himself so holy and so good as to be quite sure he is saved. He may have many of the fruits of the Spirit in him, but yet it becomes him humbly to doubt." "Yes, indeed," said I, "and if that were the ground of salvation, it would become him for ever to doubt — but, sir, you make a fatal mistake in supposing that a Christian's hope is based on his goodness or holiness, or even on the work of the Spirit in him. There are thousands who are seeking peace with God this way, I know, but there never was one that found it thus. No, sir, it is not my work, or the work of the Spirit in me but the work of the Son of God for me, on which I must rely. He loved me, and gave Himself for me. Now, I ask, is it presumption to believe on Him whom God raised from the dead? He is the rock that shall never be moved. Have you never read, sir, in chapter 10 of the Epistle to the Hebrews, that the offering of the body of Jesus Christ for ever perfects, and that the Holy Ghost is to bear witness of this? (Heb. 10:14, 15.) 'For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us.' Yes, and however men may reject his witness, still it is true that we 'have boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.' This peace can never be interrupted. Now, sir, would you not be very happy if you were quite sure that God had for Christ's sake, forgiven your sins — as He certainly had forgiven the Ephesian believers, and every believer mentioned in the New Testament?" "Ah," he said, "if you will come up to my house at Birkenhead, I will teach you." He said this as he left the train. My last words to him were these: — "That would be poor teaching where all is uncertainty and darkness." Just as the priest had left the carriage, a young man who had listened with the deepest attention, said, "Will you speak to me a little further, of the difference between resting on the finished work of Christ for me, and the work of the Spirit in me?" He said, that "he had for many years been an anxious seeker of salvation, but had looked for a sufficient depth of the Spirit's work in him, to be sure he had the witness of the Spirit and was saved." A friend who was with me, from Manchester, showed him from the Word, that the Spirit did not bear witness how good we are, but how exceedingly bad, utterly ruined we are by sin; but that God Himself has sent His Son to be offered up for our sins — and that the moment we cease from our own foolish efforts to be saved by our works, and come to Christ with all our sin and misery, just as we are, then we have peace, according to His own words, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." In short, that the Spirit bears witness to the glory and worth of Christ. Light burst into the young man's soul, and at once he found peace through the precious blood of Christ.

And now, dear reader, with eternity before you, may I ask, Are you saved? If not, when and how do you expect to be saved? If not saved, you belong to that world which has rejected and put to death the Lord Jesus Christ, the son of God. The Romish priest has no salvation for you. He does not even know that that he is saved himself. If you know a priest, ask him if he knows himself to be saved, and you will find on this most important question all is uncertainty with him.

Come to Christ: all is certain. "My peace I give unto you." Oh, don't delay; to-morrow may be too late. Do you ask, What shall I do? Oh, hear the words of Christ — let no man hinder you from searching the Scriptures. "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Behold Him now, His work of redemption finished, He, has sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. As sure as you are reading this paper — so sure is it, that He who died for sin is in the glory alive from the dead, raised for our justification; — even so sure is it, that he that believes on Him who raised Christ from the dead (Rom. 4:24), is justified, is saved. Let go doubt, lot go works, lot go self, let go all; receive Christ, trust Christ — oh, is it so? is Christ your all? If so, you have life — risen life, the life of the risen victorious Christ, the Son of God, — for he that hath the Son hath life. If you be risen in Christ, seek to give body, soul, and spirit to Him, not that you may be saved, but because He so loved you as to save you by His own death. Oh, the love of Christ! the love of God! We love Him because He first loved us.

C.S.