When a man has broken the laws of his country, and is under a sentence of death, he paces the floor of his gloomy cell, looks through the steel bars, and thinks of the fearful tomorrow. If you could speak to him, what would you say? Would a lecture on morality do him any good? Would you tell him to be a good man and to keep the laws of his country? Most likely he would reply, “What are you talking about? That doesn’t help me at all. I’m going to die tomorrow!”
Poor lost one! Would it help him if you kept the laws of his country for him? Not in the least. The law demands his life, and the day is set. The only way to satisfy the law for him would be to die in his place (if that were possible), and the only good news for him would be the granting of a pardon.
Isn’t it just the same for an awakened sinner who realizes he is lost? This world is a condemned cell to him. The devil roars in his conscience, “Guilty! Guilty!” He has tried to be innocent. He has pleaded, “I’m not as guilty as my neighbors.” He has tried to make things in his life right. He has tried to keep the law of God, but he has broken it more and more. And now, trembling with guilt and fear, conscience—the devil’s jailer—has turned the heavy bolt of the gate of despair.
In this way, every sinner who will be saved is brought to utter hopelessness, knowing that there is nothing in himself that can remove his guilt. Is there good news for a man who has learned the truth about himself, and feels that he is lost? Will it be enough to tell him to make his life better, to love God, and keep His commandments? Surely he would reply, “You don’t understand my case at all. If I could do those things, I wouldn’t be lost! I am lost, I am vile, I am condemned. I feel that I have lost my life, lost the chance of going to heaven … lost my everything!”
Reader, are you this person? Have I described your condition? Are you the one who feels lost? Listen and I will tell you of One who came to seek and to save the lost. I do not come to your cell’s gate to tell you what you must do—nothing that you can do can save you from your dark condemned cell or your future fearful doom. I tell you, if the Spirit of God has made you feel that you are lost, I have good news from heaven for you! Jesus sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high. He is the blessed One, who came in pity to this condemned cell, who took the sinner’s place, and died—the Just for the unjust.
Think of the glory of this mighty Savior. He knew that nothing short of His very life’s blood could meet your guilty, condemned state. He gave it freely. What a plentiful redemption we have through that precious blood! You have sinned against God, but God is satisfied, justified, and glorified by this precious sacrifice. God has raised Him from the dead, and through Him is preached the forgiveness of sins—free and full. You can have everlasting forgiveness through Him—not through your own doing. If you will put your trust in Jesus Christ, who died for you and rose again, your cell door is open. Come out, and rejoice in the gospel, the good news for the man who feels he is lost.
—Adapted from Bread Cast Upon the Waters by C. Stanley
Do you know that you are a lost sinner? By this I mean, are you aware that you are in a hopeless condition, that, if you are left to yourself, there is not only no possibility of recovery, but also that you must certainly perish forever?—E. Dennett