The Lost Ticket: or is your Life insured?

The London train was just about to leave the Exeter platform, when a lady exclaimed, "I have lost my ticket." Her concern became so great, that guards and passengers searched the train, but the ticket could not be found. After the confusion had subsided, I said to my fellow passengers, "Is it not very strange that there should be such anxiety about this ticket, which is but the passport of a day, and may soon be forgotten, while so many have no concern whatever about the journey of life, or whether they have a ticket that will pass them into heaven at last? You may see a man get his insurance ticket, post it to his friends, and look as if he had done a very prudent act." "Is it not," I said again, "strange that man should be so prudent and thoughtful for present things, and yet not care to have eternal life insured? Oh, that there were the same desire to have the passport of salvation, and to know it." A man in the next compartment stood up, and said, "Will you have the kindness to tell me how a person is to have eternal life insured, and how he is to know it with certainty; in other words, what is his ticket for heaven, and how is he to know when he has got it?" It was evident from the man's manner, that he felt the question to be of the utmost importance. I said, "We will take the case of a life insurance for illustration: — A man insures his life in a certain office; he believes the large figures, stating the amount of capital paid up, to be real; the policy is deposited in the safe keeping of his banker, lest he should lose it himself. Now, I ask, how does he know for certain that his life is, as it is called, 'insured?'" "Oh," said the man, "he cannot doubt it, if he have confidence in the company, and in his bankers." "Very well, to carry out the figure — when I look to God for salvation, I am assured that the capital has all been paid up. Neither gold nor silver, words nor figures, can express the priceless value of the precious blood of Christ: — and, mind you, the Cross was no instalment, leaving future calls to be met by sinful man. Oh, no! — all was paid. The price of redemption was paid to the full, and paid for ever." "But what is the life policy, and how am I to know that I have it?" "Christ risen from the dead is the life policy. God has shown His full and eternal satisfaction and joy by raising that Blessed One from the dead, and exalting Him to the highest glory. Now, as Christ thus died for our iniquities, His being raised again, declared that His death had put away our sins. Yes, His resurrection was as really for our justification, as His death was for our sins. Unless the question of sin is seen to be for over settled by Christ for us, we never can have full assurance of faith, as to final salvation. Christ having finished the great work of atonement, and having ascended up on high, the Holy Ghost came down from heaven, with the glad tidings of salvation, through the blood of Christ, and of eternal life, in Him who is alive from the dead. All who have, through grace, believed this testimony, have been saved. The illustration then holds good; just as when the capital of an insurance company is real, and a life policy deposited in safe keeping, where it can neither be lost nor stolen, even so the believer knows by faith in God's word, that the atonement for sin has been made; and that Christ is his life policy; for 'He is our life;' — 'he that hath the Son hath life.' He is at God's right hand for us, where we can neither lose Him, nor can aught possibly take Him away. Faith says, 'because He lives, we shall live also.' Christ alive from the dead — raised to glory — is the believer's life policy, — his passport to heaven. If my salvation were in my own keeping, I should be sure to lose it. 'Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.' Yes, this simple heart confidence in God removes every doubt. The love of God is shed abroad in the heart, and the Spirit bears witness that I am a child of God." "This seems very clear," said the man; "but will you allow me to state a difficulty I have had for many years?" "Oh, certainly." "Well, sir, it is this: — I read in the Epistle to the Romans, that 'justification is entirely through Christ, by faith, without the works of the law,' and this hath given me comfort, but then, I read in James, 'Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.' Now, sir, this has perplexed me for many years." "At first sight," said I, "there seems a contradiction, but it is only in appearance. In Romans the great question of justification before God is discussed; and before Him nothing short of absolute perfection can stand; and hence, Christ alone being perfect, we can only be justified by and in Him. But in James it is, justification before men: 'Ye see brethren;' and men can only judge by works. Abraham was justified before God by faith, at the birth of Isaac; but he was justified by works before men thirty years after, when he offered him up. True faith is sure to work by love, and is sure to produce fruits. If you believe the kindness of a person to you in your need, you are sure to be affected by it. We love God because He first loved us. But where so many make a fatal mistake is, in the vain attempt to produce work before justification. When you see your neighbour's chimney smoke in a morning, what do you think? Why, that the fire has been kindled. There is sure to be smoke if the fire is applied — but you don't make smoke first. One person might speak of the kindling of the fire within; another might speak of the smoke seen without. There would be a great difference — but no contradiction. The Spirit of God, by Paul, speaks of the kindling of eternal life within; by James, He speaks of its manifestation without; surely both are true. You put the seed in the earth, and with God's blessing you expect the plant, and then the fruit. If salvation were by works, then could none be saved." The man left the train with an expression of real thankfulness; his last words were, "I hope to tell to others the gospel I have heard this day — Salvation first, and works after." Reader! is your life insured in heaven? Can you look by faith at Christ Jesus, in the presence of God, and say, He is my righteousness, my passport. He has taken possession of heaven for me? Does Christ dwell in your heart the hope of glory? Or, are you gliding along the rails of life without a ticket? You may be a professor; you may be trying by self-righteousness to buy a ticket, and hope some day to get one — that is, to be saved. It won't do. If God deals with you on that ground, you are lost. However you may deny the death of Christ, God never can. No, no, He will not sell you the ticket. It must be a free gift. The gift of God is eternal life, even Christ, — God's greatest gift of love."God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life." (1 John 5:11-13.) The New Testament is full of this assurance of salvation. It is no use saying, you are doing the best you can. What I do you mean you are doing the best you can whilst seeking to be saved in some other way than by God's free gift to lost sinners? — eternal salvation, in, through, and by Christ? Oh, but you say, "my frames and feelings." Ah, you will never be saved by looking at frames and feelings. Look away from your feelings — simply to Christ. A person does not say, "I feel nice and happy — so it's all right — I dare say I have my ticket." No; he first finds his ticket, and then feels happy. So, my reader, may you never rest till you have found Christ to be the all-sufficient passport to the haven of eternal rest.

C.S.