Let me tell you a story. I read it in a tract. It is rather long, so I am going to condense it for you. It was during the First World War. Shells were bursting all around. Presently there was a black cloud as pieces it shrapnel came whizzing past. Poor Bert fell like a log. Tiny Tim (6ft. 3 ins.) jumped down beside him and then returned to his place in the trench.
Suddenly there was a startled cry, “can you tell me the way to Heaven?” I’m sorry, Chum, I don’t know the way, but I’ll ask the other fellows.” He returned to the first-step and walked along to the next man and asked him, but he did not know. So he went on to the man beyond him, but he did not know either. Jumping down, he walked around the trench into the ext fore-bay, jumped up on the fire-step and inquired of the third man.
Then he went from one to another until he had asked seven men the same question, but none of them knew the way to Heaven.
Leaving that part of the trench, he went onto the next. His question was always the same, “Bert is dying. He wants to know the way to Heaven. Can you tell him the way?” He had now asked sixteen men, but not one of them could answer his question.
Finally, Tiny Tim reached a machine-gunner sitting alone with this gun, his eyes glued on the German lines. The gunner felt a thump on his back and then heard a voice shouting, “Gunner, there is a chap in our company who has been hit. He’s dying and he wants to know the way to Heaven. Can you tell him the way?”.
The machine-gunner turned around and a smile lit up his face as he replied. “Yes,” he said, “I know the way, but I cannot get along the trench. I dare not leave my gun. But wait.” Thrusting his hand into his pocket he pulled out a little Testament. Quickly turning over the pages, he said, “Look here, Chun, this is the way to Heaven, that verse there, John 3:16. I’ll turn the leaves back; back; you put your thumb on that verse, and tell him that is the way to Heaven.”
Quickly Tiny Tim rushed back. He jumped down beside Bert, who laid so still that for a moment he thought he had gone. He touched his shoulder. I’ve got it, Bert”, he exclaimed. Here it is, the way to Heaven, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Poor Bert’s eyed were wide open now. He was drinking in every word. What a scene it was-Tiny Tim kneeling on the ground of the trench, his great hand holding the little Testament, the tears running down his cheeks reading again and again those life-giving words in the ears of Bert.
A look of peace came over the face of the dying man as he kept gasping out “whosoever’. After a bit he quite and still again. Tiny Tim got back on the firing step. All at once he called out, “looking chaps!” And there was Bert. With one last great effort he raised himself up. He seemed to be gazing at the little piece of blue sky just visible from the trench. His hands were stretched towards it. His face lit up with angelic glory, and with one last gasp, “whosoever”, he fell back dead.
Yes, Bert had found the way to Heaven. What a change! One moment in a trench on the battlefield, the next with Christ. What about you? Have you, too, found the way? If not, read the verse again. It is the greatest verse in the Bible. Then open your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ and accept Him as your own personal Saviour. Will you do it? Do it and do it-now.
Reformation is not regeneration. You may paint up the old village pump, and make it the most beautiful in all the countryside, but if the water is bad, no amount of improvement on the outside will ever make it pure. Ah, no the trouble is within, and it is still nothing but an old, painted hypocrite. You will have to take off the planks and go down; down to the very bottom of the well and find the poison that has defiled the water. It must be cleaned out. And so away down deep in the heart of man is cesspool of sin, which no amount of outward improvement or refinement will ever affect in the least. The trouble is with the heart.
Law and education may deal with certain forms in which sins exhibits itself, such as intemperance, thieving, murder and the life, and thus, these specific forms of evil be made impossible, and the world, like the old painted pump, appear to be improving, but for sin itself there is absolutely nothing but the blood of Jesus, no other remedy. It is the inside of the cup and platter that must be cleansed. Let us go to the heart of the disease and apply the blood remedy. Nothing can for sin atone, Nothing but the blood of Jesus, Naught of good that I have done, nothing but the blood of Jesus!
No surgeon, when dealing with an abscess, is going to plaster it over so that it looks better. If he knows his business, he knows that the knife must go in and that the abscess must be opened or cut out before healing is possible. And woes betide the man who ignores the sin cancer, and seeks by reformation outward improvement to effect a cure!
The true: Having dealt with the false, now let us turn to the True. On a memorable afternoon in Palestine, for thousand year ago, two weary travelers might have been seen, slowly toiling up the side of Mount Moriah-father and son, Abraham and Isaac. “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” inquires the son. “My son,” answers the Spirit-inspired father, “God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” And now the alter has been erected and Isaac is laid upon it. Abraham grasps the knife and, with arm up lifted, prepares to plunge it into the heart of his son, when, suddenly, a voice from above cries out:
“Abraham, Abraham…lay not thine hand upon the lad… and Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burn offering in the stead of his son.” In the stead of his son.” And hundreds of years after, God himself provided a Lamb, His own well-beloved son, to die “in the stead of” sinful, guilty man. But when he hung on the cross there was no voice from Heaven, for there was no other who could take His place. And so He died. Jesus Christ, a substitute for you and for me. Christ, the Son of God, Bore the sinner’s rod; hung upon the tree. Died instead of me.
This, then, is the ground of salvation. Christ’s work is the only true foundation, and every other is sinking sand. Hence, salvation is “not of works.” Christ did the work on Calvary’s cross nineteen hundred years ago.