The Door of Salvation

I have heard of a dream that a man had. It was night, and a great storm raged fiercely about him, and he had neither home nor shelter. Presently he saw a light shining in the darkness, and struggling against the tempest he reached the door from which it shone, only to find that that light spelt in letters of fire the stern and forbidding word JUSTICE over the portal within which he had hoped to rest. Now he was not just, but unjust, a guilty, godless sinner, so that there was no welcome at that door for him, and he shrank from it in terror, for the storm outside was less to be feared than the justice within. He found another door standing open, but its name was TRUTH, and from this also he turned, for he felt that truth could only convict and condemn him. From still another door there radiated a light, but it was the light of HOLINESS, and he was sure that there could be neither shelter nor blessing inside that door for so vile a wretch as he, and so he turned away into the night and the storm a hopeless man. Then upon his weary eyes there shone another light, and he stumbled on towards it, fell almost fainting before it, but found a hand stretched out to save him and to draw him across the threshold that the light illuminated, and he found himself within the house of MERCY.

That was the dream, and it has been used as an illustration of the gospel, and has passed current as a very good illustration of the gospel too; but I want to say plainly and emphatically that it is not a true illustration of it, that instead of illustrating "THE GOSPEL OF GOD CONCERNING HIS SON" it falsifies it, utterly and miserably. Let us suppose that things are as the dream put them, that the guilty man is harboured in the house of mercy; but justice has claims upon him and he has sinned against truth and holiness. Can they allow their claims to be flouted and the man to escape the judgment he deserves? Impossible. These great attributes of God must be maintained unsullied whatever else may happen. Then suppose they seek the door of mercy and demand, as they must, the extradition of the guilty man that had taken refuge there, can mercy refuse their righteous demand? If it does, then there is conflict between mercy and justice; yet if it yields the man whom it has commiserated to his just deserts it is itself saddened and defeated. This is the dilemma into which such a mis-presentation of the gospel throws us.

Thank God the true gospel involves us in no such difficulty. It tells us that there is one door of refuge, and it stands wide open for all, and from it there shines into the darkness a light — kindly, attractive and inviting; and the goodness of God is abroad in the night and the storm to lead weary wanderers to its friendly threshold. It is the door of mercy, truly, but justice, truth, and holiness are also inscribed upon it, and they join with mercy in welcoming the sinner to rest and peace.

The gospel tells that "mercy and truth are met together"; it declares "God's righteousness that He might be just and the justifier of him that believes in Jesus." The gospel makes plain that every attribute of God is for the sinner who draws near, nay that God Himself is for us, and that without sacrificing His glory in one iota. Mercy and truth, righteousness and grace, justice and love — all these, impossible of reconciliation by any means known to men, are upheld and proclaimed in the gospel of Christ to the glory of God and the blessing of men.

But only through the cross of Christ could this be; it was there and by it that all came into full evidence, and was told out as one harmonious whole — God's full character revealed.

"And in the cross of Christ we see
  How God can save: yet righteous be."

It was there that the dread demands of justice against sinful men were revealed, and it was there that those demands were fully satisfied by Him who, according to the unmeasured grace of God, was "delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification."

"Stern Justice can demand no more
  And Mercy can dispense her store."

Mercy can do this righteously, in full accord with the eternal justice of God, so that never for ever can the blessing that mercy bestows upon the sinner who believes be taken from him.

It is the knowledge of this gospel that gives stability to the soul and lasting peace to the conscience; it is when this is known that we are able to advance thankfully and without fear into those deeper things that may be known by the Holy Ghost by all those who are in Christ Jesus; but until this is known there is neither peace nor progress.

"Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin has reigned to death, EVEN SO MIGHT GRACE REIGN THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS UNTO ETERNAL LIFE BY JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD" (Rom. 5:21).