From Infidelity to Christ
Some years ago a tall, smartly-dressed, intelligent-looking young fellow might have been seen for several evenings in succession, sitting amongst several hundred men in a restaurant beneath the shadow of St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
A fortnight’s gospel mission was in progress. It was my happy work to conduct the services and one evening he followed the preaching with more than ordinary earnestness.
At the close of the meeting he came forward to me and said, “I should like to have a little talk with you tonight, sir, if I may?”
Thereupon followed a most interesting conversation. It was very evident that this young fellow had become the subject of the Spirit’s gracious work.
“I am anxious, sir,” said he, “to get a few questions cleared up tonight if you can help me.” There was a ring of earnestness and sincerity about him which at once struck me.
“I might as well tell you, sir,” he continued, “I am an infidel! I have learnt all my infidelity from the Hyde Park preachers—indeed, I may say I am now one of them myself; but I have come to the conclusion that we are all of us pure theorizers, and I don’t think any of us get any real satisfaction out of our Theories—at least I don’t, that’s certain.
“How I came into these meetings at all I can hardly say, beyond this,” said he, producing a card of invitation to the meetings. “In an aimless, indifferent sort of way I strolled in the other night, but I at once found myself in an atmosphere to which I was altogether unaccustomed.
“I became interested as the meeting proceeded, and began to feel that there was considerable force in what was said, and I came to the conclusion that you at any rate seemed to possess what I desired, but knew nothing about—satisfaction!
Continuing his remarks, he said:—
“Well, I am afraid I am pretty much in the same place tonight where that young man was of whom you spoke this evening, who could not see the necessity for Christ or His death.
“I have begun to realize somewhat of my responsibility to God, but I don’t seem to see what actual necessity there is for Christ to die for me. Would you mind repeating what you said to him?”
I replied, “My object was to show him that apart from Christ and His atoning death his case was hopeless. Let me put it to you now. Suppose, by way of illustration, I owe your firm £5,000, and I am totally unable to meet even a fraction of it! Now if they cannot afford to relieve me from my liabilities, and I cannot meet their righteous demands, what is to save me from bankruptcy and ruin?”
“Nothing,” said he, “absolutely nothing, unless some one comes forward—”
“Excuse my interruption,” I said, “but you must please not introduce any third party into this business—the question is altogether between your firm and me.”
“Well, but,” said he, “if you are to be saved from ‘going down,’ some one must come to the rescue!”
“No,” I repeated, “you must not introduce any one.”
“Then in that case,” said he, “your case is hopeless!”
“That is identically your own position before God tonight!” I remarked. “As a sinner, God has passed upon you the solemn sentence of death as being His righteous judgment against sin (see Rom. 5 12): ‘So death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.’
“This sentence has never been revoked, has no equivalent, and knows no commutation.
“Nothing can substitute death! Neither repentance, reformation, tears, or prayers, nor all put together could be accepted by God in lieu of death.
“Behind you lies a history that you cannot alter; upon you lies a sentence you cannot evade; therefore, if some one is not found to step in between you and your sentence, your case is hopeless, too!
“Who could be found to do this? If a substitute is to be found, it must be one upon whom death has no claim! The whole of Adam’s fallen race could not furnish such an one.
“Listen to the heaven-sent message! Oh, what music to a sinner’s ears! ‘Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom’ (Job 33:24).
“Who is this that has been found to stand in the breach? Hearken! There is ‘one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all.’
“Thus it was in love divine Jesus—the sinless Son of God—left the throne of glory for the shameful Cross, that He might die for sinners.
“What a hum of satisfaction would fill the court if a judge, after imposing the heaviest fine the law would permit upon some guilty offender, should thereupon step down from the bench and fill in a cheque for the full amount, thus at his own expense meeting the claims of the law he had just administered.
“Would he not thereby at once put the delinquent as righteously beyond the claims of justice as if he had never been guilty at all?
“What would you have to say of the God who could righteously pass the sentence of death upon us as sinners—and did—and then, in the person of His own Son—God manifest in flesh—leave His throne, and at His own infinite personal cost meet that sentence in laying down His life for us? Is not He to be trusted? Would you not say, What a blessed combination of love and justice?”
“Yes, indeed,” said he, “that helps me a good deal; but somehow I do not seem to be able to get the benefit of it for myself! Ought I now to ask Jesus to intercede for me?”
“No,” I said, “that is not the way. Let us return to the old illustration. Suppose you had stepped in between your firm and me, and charging yourself with my liability, had offered to your firm that which they had accepted as a full settlement of all their claims on me. Should I need to go to you after that and ask you to use your good offices and intercede with your firm for me?”
“Oh, no,” replied he. “I can see that there is no need for that; if, the thing is settled, it is settled and there is an end of it.”
“Well, now,” I said, “that is exactly the position of things. The offering needed to make an atonement for sin has been made to God in the death of Christ—and better still, it has been accepted and witnessed to in the resurrection, and as a result God sends the joyous message, of salvation and peace into this world.”
Turning to my Bible, I pointed out to him those golden words, “Be it known unto you, therefore . . . that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by Him all that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:38-39). I shall never forget the effect of those words upon him!
“Oh, do let me look at that,” said he, taking out his pocket book to make a note of the place. “I’ve never seen anything so clear as that!” and as he looked the fountains broke up, and the tears fell hot and fast on the back of my hand as I held the Bible, for him to read.
Oh, those were grateful drops, my reader; more refreshing to heaven even than to me! I did not wipe them off, I assure you!
“Oh, that’s fine!” said he.
Just to test him, I said, “What is fine?”
“Why, look here,” he said. “All that believe are justified!”
“But what has that to do with you?” Iasked.
“Do with me?” he said in joyful surprise. “Why, I am there!” and overcome by emotion, he pointed out the words, “All that believe are justified!”
The thirsty ground never more readily drank in the welcome shower than that thirsty soul drank in the Water of Life that night.
He took his place there and then in the happy circle of “All that believe,” and went home with the God-given assurance that he was cleared from all things!
I have put the substance of this conversation on record in the hope that, if it should fall into the hands of any similarly troubled, they may by its means, through God’s grace, be similarly helped.
But if my reader is still unconverted and perhaps, worse still, unconcerned, let me say there is another case that should more deeply interest you than even that of this young infidel. It is your own! With life so uncertain, death so busy, and eternity so near, you have no time to lose.
“Get right with God, no longer be rebellious
Against the love that seeks thy soul to win:
Bow down, at last, and as thy Lord confess Him
Whose blood alone can cleanse away thy sin.”