“I will say a few words on the simplicity of salvation.” This was the address of Duncan Campbell, a preacher involved in the revival of 1949 that happened on an island just off the coast of Scotland.
As described by his biographer, “In the pulpit he was dynamic, but when he spoke to seekers in the after meeting he was gentle as a lamb. He never went through the biblical points on steps to God, but he would let them seek the Lord on their own. He was like a different man altogether, explaining and helping - and the people loved him. ‘Why, we must never move away from the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus.’”1
In these gentle, quiet after meetings, when all other people and distractions had been removed, “Mr Campbell would preach for fifteen minutes on the simplicity of the way of salvation from such texts as Isaiah 1:18, Isaiah 55:6, and John 10:27.”
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (John 10:27-29)
“He would shed light on the fact that seekers should be sincere in this solemn and personal matter - that they must believe the Word of the Lord and be obedient to it.”
The result of these solemn times? “He speaks of some coming to faith immediately and of some being healed as they went, just like the lepers whom Jesus healed.”
So let us today pick up again the same address - the simplicity of salvation.
Set aside all else for a moment. Turn off the notifications. Put a pause on all other pursuits and fix your mind here.
The way is simple, yet also narrow, few find it. Therefore our seeking must be serious, diligent, sincere, and immediately obedient. Do not delay, nor take it lightly, as if life and death did not hang in the balance - for they do.
And while at the moment time seems to go on forever, one day it will not. How will we find ourselves on that day - when we’ve run out of time? Therefore, “Seek the Lord while He may still be found. Call upon Him while He is near.”2
Our God is a personal God3 - seeing, hearing, caring, even for the individual flowers of the field. He sees, hears, and loves You. Therefore, to this God who is near, let us call upon Him while He is still near.
The story of one young man’s conversion will do well to illustrate this point. He experienced the new birth when he was fifteen. It happened like this4.
In December 1913, he returned home to play the bagpipes at a dance. During the interlude, he played by request a well-known Scottish tune, The Green Hills of Tyrol. Suddenly an amazing thing happened. He was transported to the hill called Calvary. Disturbed in mind, he left the dance to walk the few miles to his home.
On the way, he had to pass a small Memorial Hall, and as he approached he saw that there was a light in the hall. How could there be a light in the hall at eleven o’clock at night? He listened at the door to hear the voice of his own father in prayer. He slipped in beside his father. He had stumbled in on a night of prayer which some of the Christians were holding. A woman named Mary rose and began to speak on ‘God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not’ (Job 33:14). The young intruder was overcome with conviction and soon left. On the way home, he dropped on his knees time and again in an agony of conviction.
He arrived home about 2 am and to his surprise he again found a light burning. His mother had been unable to go to the prayer meeting but she was on her knees in the house. He poured out his heart to his mother. She counseled him and, because relatives had unexpectedly arrived, advised him to go to the barn and ‘tell God what you have told me.’ He did so, and in his own words he said, ‘Lord, I know not what to do, I know not how to come, but if You’ll take me as I am, I’m coming now.’
Back in the house, he told his mother and together they knelt and praised the Lord for His marvelous salvation. Duncan had had a mighty saving encounter with the living God which transformed his life.
Will God hear you when you cry out like this young man? His word promises that He will:
“When he calls out to Me, I will answer him.” Psalm 91:15
“While they are still speaking, I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24
“He will surely be gracious when you cry for help; when He hears, He will answer you.” Isaiah 30:19
He will hear when you call, and He desires that none would perish, these are true. But it is equally true that He will also by no means leave the guilty unpunished.5
“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”6
How is God able to make this promise? How can He by no means leave the guilty unpunished, and yet also abundantly pardon sinners such as ourselves who are so guilty, so deserving of death?
It is because He has atoned for that guilt through the death and resurrection of His only begotten Son. His Son, Jesus, became the pardoning sacrifice for our sins, for without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.7
This is the message of salvation through the cross, which is described as foolishness to those who are perishing and wisdom to those who are being saved.8
It is a ridiculous proposition, that “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many,” and somehow through this method, we who believe will now be saved, redeemed, set free from the bondage of sin, reconciled to God, adopted as sons and daughters, and able to call Him our Father.
This is the wisdom of God and not the wisdom of man. He is not like us and it is a mistake to think otherwise.
He produces and works, in us, for our salvation. By grace (His undeserved favor towards us) we have been saved, not by our works. Our best attempts at good deeds are as filthy rags before Him. We cannot save ourselves.
It is God who grants to each one a measure of faith to be able to believe, giving us the much-needed evidence of things unseen. What was foolishness becomes to us wisdom, the most cherished possession we will carry with us during our short time here on this earth.
Now we can say with great confidence, ALL who place their trust in Jesus, instead of their own abilities or morality, and regardless of their condition, will be granted to share in both the reward of His life and the sufferings of His death.
“Always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” 2 Corinthians 4:10-11
This is the simple way. It is simple because it is entirely singular. ALL for Him at ALL times. Love the Lord with ALL your heart, mind, soul, and strength. You may not have much, but bring what you have, all of it, and offer it to Him without reservation.
“Whoever does not give up all he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33
This is the singular, undistracted lifestyle of assurance, and it is for eternity - there is no end to it. All other things will pass away, this reality of ALL for Him will not.
“He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:25
We will have the assurance of peace with God, hope for the future, and a love that will last forever. And while it is forever, it starts with a first step - if you are able, seek Him, come to Him, and hear His voice.
“The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” John 6:37
Turn from your sins, repent, and believe in faith in our Lord Jesus.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” Acts 16:31
“I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.” Acts 20:21
There is nothing more important in this life than to settle this matter once and for all.
So, “‘Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.’”9
This is the simplicity of salvation.
Sounds from Heaven, Peckham, p.103-104
Sounds from Heaven, Peckham, p.38
Exodus 34:7, Numbers 14:18
1 Corinthians 1:18