“‘What must I do to be saved?’ Now what is the answer which the cross of Christ gives to this inquiry? We know the answer which paganism would give; it would point the inquirer to the Ganges and tell him, That is the way to heaven. We know the answer which Rome would give; it would tell him to repeat his prayers to the virgin. . . . But what is the answer which the cross gives to his inquiry?
It will be said, perhaps, that as the guardian of sound morality, the cross instructs such a man to reform his life and break off his habits of outward sin. . . . But this does not satisfy him. It does not quiet his fears nor silence the thunders of divine vengeance nor relieve him of his burden nor fill his heart with peace. His morality is rotten at the core. . . .
It is not a system of outward observances nor anything in which a self-righteous spirit may boast. It is simply a spiritual faith in Jesus Christ, in distinction from everything else and in opposition to that righteousness which is by the deeds of the law. There is but this one way. . . . It is to love Jesus Christ and to trust in him. This is what the cross tells the inquiring sinner to do. It is as though he who hung upon it said to the inquirer, ‘I must have your cheerful consent to the method of salvation which I have accomplished. I require the entire surrender of your immortal spirit, polluted and condemned as it is, into my hands, for all that it needs. No longer go about to establish a righteousness of your own by deeds of the law, but rather feel that you have no righteousness and receive my salvation as it is testified to a dying world. This do, and you shall live. You shall have an interest in that great atonement which was made for all your sins, you shall be delivered from the curse of the law by that blood which not only answers every charge and covers every sin but powerfully pleads on behalf of those who from the heart renounce all other helpers and confide in me as their Savior!’”
Gardiner Spring, The Attraction of the Cross (Edinburgh, 1983), pages 117-120, language updated.
[HT: Ray Ortlund]