SEVERAL years ago, after leaving a service one Sunday evening, a lady asked me to go with her and see her husband who was very ill. On the way there, she told me he was anxious about his soul, knowing he might soon die. When I entered the room, I found him sitting in his chair, as he could not lie down without coughing. After a few words about his sickness, I asked him about his soul. Did he think that his sufferings would end when his body yielded and death came?
"Well," he said, "I think my chances for getting to Heaven are pretty good."
"Do you believe Heaven is a reality?" I asked.
He answered, "Yes."
"Is it also true that there is a hell?"
He replied, "Yes, I believe there is."
"And have you an immortal soul that may soon be in one or the other of these places forever?"
"Yes," he said earnestly.
"You just now said you thought your chances for Heaven were pretty good; you believe Heaven is a reality and hell is a reality, and your precious soul will soon be happy in heaven forever. You must have some reason for it. Would you tell me what it is?"
His voice was weak, and I waited patiently for his reply. "Well, I've always been kind to my wife and children and have never intentionally wronged my fellow man."
"That's all very good," I said, "and it is nice to be able to say that, but please tell me, what kind of a place do you think Heaven is, and what do they do there?"
"Well," he said, "I think there is no sin or sorrow there. It must be a happy place and I think they sing a lot there."
Turning to Revelation 1:5, I said, "Yes, they do sing there, and I'll read you a song they sing. It is this: ‘Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.’ You see, they are praising their Saviour, the One who loved them and died for them. Let me read it again: ‘Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.’ I want you to take notice; they don't say a word about what they have done: it is all about what He has done. He loved them and died for them. Now, suppose you were up there, and had gotten there in the way that you say, because you had been good to your family, and so on; there would be one sinner (Romans 3:23) in Heaven who had never been washed from his sins in the blood of Jesus. You could not join in the song they sing, could you?"
I waited for the answer. His head had dropped, and his eyes were fixed on the floor. I shall never forget his look as he raised his head and turned to answer me. It was as if he had awakened out of a life's dream. He was now coming face to face with eternal realities and his only reply was: "Well, I never thought of that before."
"But," I said, "God has; and He has written a verse for persons just like you who are willing to take their chances, as you said, on their good works and are deceiving themselves by the false hope of getting to Heaven that way. Listen to the fourth verse of Romans 4: ‘Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.’ Let me explain. When you were well and could work, you received your wages because you had earned them. You were under no special obligations to the man who paid you. You would come home to your wife and say ‘Here is what I made this month.’ You could talk about what you had done and what you had received, and you would not have a word to say about the man who paid you. That is just what God means by that verse. If you could get to Heaven by what you have done, there would be no grace about it. You would know nothing of God's love as shown in Jesus Christ. You could not sing, ‘Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood’; for you would be there without a Saviour, and you would have no song. Do you think you could be happy?"
He was now ready to give up his ground, and for the first time frankly owned what his wife had said, and wanted to settle the question. He fully confessed that in spite of all the good he claimed, he was still a sinner (Rom. 3:10) and needed a Saviour. It was with joy I read to him this Scripture (1 Timothy 1:15): ‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’ He repeated, "To save - sinners!"
"Yes," I said, "to save sinners - not to help sinners to be saved, but to save sinners. He is not a helper, but a SAVIOUR, and God's Word is, ‘But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.’ (Romans 4:5). ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,’ (Acts 16:31)."
He did believe. I left him that night, after reading other Scriptures to him, with a new hope, not based on what he had done, but believing what God says about what Christ had done.
I called the next morning to see him. As I entered he looked up with joy in his face, and said, "Oh, I'll have a new song! It will be, ‘Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood’." He was with us about a week more, and then fell asleep happy in the Lord.
Reader, will you be able to sing that song, or will you have to say, "I am tormented in this flame?" It will be one or the other.
"He that believeth and
is baptized shall be saved;
but he that believeth not shall be damned."
"He that believeth on
the Son hath everlasting life:
and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life;
but the wrath of God abideth on him."