THE REASON WHY
written by Robert Laidlaw
A New Zealand Businessman
About the Author:
. The late Robert O. Laidlaw from Auckland, New Zealand, was widely known
as one of his country’s most successful and respected businessmen. At the age
of 23, he opened a mail order business that grew spectacularly into a retail
organization employing a staff of more than 2,700 men and women.
. The founder of the Farmers’ Trading Company, Ltd., Mr. Laidlaw wrote,
“The Reason Why” originally for his staff members, giving his explanation and
the “reasons” for the Christian faith. A more definitive title could well
have been, “The Reason Why Jesus Christ has the Only Answer to Life.” Since
that original writing, this booklet has been translated into more than thirty
languages, with an estimated 25 million copies in print. This edition has
been published by the Christian Business Men’s Committee, an international
non-profit organization of Christian business and professional men, of which
Robert Laidlaw was a member.
Is Christianity credible? Is there a God?
Does man need Him? Is the Bible true?
Is Man responsible to God? Can man find Divine forgiveness?
. When honest with himself, man questions his existence, he wonders at his
world–its beginning and end he searches for personal meaning this man has
explored life and found its fulfillment here he explains the intellectual
evidence he weighed the questions he had answered the resulting belief he
. Robert Laidlaw is convinced of God’s reality he believes in the Bible in
Christ, in Divine salvation, in purposeful living, in credible Christianity.
Written by a Christian businessman to the members of his staff…
. Suppose that a young man sent his fiancee a diamond ring costing him
$1000, placing it in a little case which the jeweller threw in for nothing.
How disappointed he would be, if upon meeting her a few days later, she would
say, “Sweetheart, that was a lovely little box you sent me. To take special
care of it, I promise to keep it wrapped up in a safe place so that no harm
shall come by it.”
. Rather ridiculous, isn’t it? Yet it is just as foolish for men and women
to be spending all their time and thought of bodies, which are only cases
containing the real self, the soul, which, the Bible tells us, will persist
long after our bodies have crumbled to dust. The soul is of infinite value.
Longfellow expressed it this way:
Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream,
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real, life is earnest,
And the grave is not its goal.
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
. Indeed this statement was not made of the soul, for in Mark 8:36 our Lord
Himself asks, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose
his own soul?” So, in Christ’s estimate, man’s soul is something incomparably
more valuable than the whole world.
. I would like to discuss with you some of the basic things that relate to
your most valuable possession, your soul. For instance—
Is there a God?
Is the Bible true?
It man accountable?
Is there divine forgiveness?
These are some of the problems which most perplex those who think seriously
about the future.
How may I know there is a God?
. I have an innate conviction that God exists. No matter how my intellect
has tried in the past to produce reasons proving He was not, or how much I
have wanted to believe that there was no God, that “still, small voice” came
to me again and again, just as it has come to you, in the quiet of life’s more
sober moments. Yes, I knew that at least for me there was a God. And as I
looked at others I realized how many were looking for God, seeking in
“religion” to silence that same voice that spoke within me.
. True, there are some men who don’t believe in God. But to me the
problems of unbelief in God are greater than the problems of belief. To
believe that unaided dead matter produced life, that living matter produced
mind, that mind produced conscience, and that the chaos of chance produced the
cosmos of order as we see it in nature, seems to call not for faith but for
. The president of the New York Scientific Society once gave eight reasons
why be believed there was a God. The first was this: Take ten identical
coins and mark them one to ten. Place them in your pocket. Now take one out.
There is once chance in ten that you will get number one. Now replace it, and
the chances that number two will follow number one are not one in ten, but one
in one hundred. With each new coin taken out, the risk will be multiplied by
ten, so that the chance of ten following nine is one in 10,000,000,000 (ten
billion). It seemed so unbelievable to me that I immediately took pencil and
paper and very quickly discovered he was right. Try it yourself.
. That is why George Gallup, the American statistician said: “I could prove
God statistically. Take the human body alone-the chance that all its
functions would just happen is a statistical monstrosity.”
. Surely no thoughtful persons would wish to base their eternal future on a
“statistical monstrosity.” Perhaps that is why the Bible says in Psalm 14:1
“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.'” But let us consider the
problem from another viewpoint.
. Suppose we are standing at an airport watching a big jet come in for a
landing. I say to you “A lot of people think that plane is a result of
someone’s carefully designed plans, but I know better. There was really no
intelligence at work on it at all. In some strange way the metal just came
out of ground, and fashioned itself into flat sheets. And then these metal
sheets slowly began to grow together and formed the body and wings and tail.
Then after a long while the engines slowly grew in place, and one day some
people came along and discovered the plane, all finished and ready to fly.”
. You would probably consider me a lunatic and move further into the crowd
to escape my senseless chatter. Why? You know that there is a design there
must be a designed, and having seen other productions of the human mind just
like the plane in question, you are positive that it was planned by human
intelligence and built by human skill.
. Yet there are highly educated, professional men who tell us that the
entire universe came into being by chance, that there was really no higher
intelligence at work on it. They claim to know no God but nature.
. On the other hand there are many thoughtful men who believe that God is
transcendent; that is, while He reveals Himself in nature (in that its laws
and principles are expressions of His power and wisdom), He Himself is greater
than the universe. But all that atheists can offer us in the riddle of design
without a designer, of creation without a Creator, of effect without cause.
. Every thoughtful person believes in a series of causes and effects in
nature, each effect becoming the cause of some other effect. The acceptance
of this as fact logically compels one to admit that there must be a beginning
to any series. There could never have been a first effect if there had not
been a First Cause. This First Cause, to me, is Deity.
. Although man has discovered many of the laws that govern electricity,
the greatest scientists cannot really define it. Then why do we believe it
exists? Because we see the manifestation of its existence in our homes and
industries and streets. Though I do not know where God came from, I must
believe He exists, because I see the manifestations of Him everywhere around
. Dr. Wernher von Braun, director of NASA research, and developer of the
rocket which put American’s first space satellite into orbit said:
. “In our modern world, many people seem to feel that our rapid advances in
the field of science render such things as religious belief untimely or old-
fashioned. They wonder why we should be satisfied in ‘believing’ something
when science tells us that we ‘know’ so many things. The simple answer to
this contention is that we are confronted with many more mysteries of nature
today than when the age of scientific enlightenment began. With every new
answer unfolded, science has consistently discovered at least three new
. “The answers indicate that anything as well ordered and perfectly created
as is our earth and universe must have a Maker, a Master Designer. Anything
so orderly, so perfect, so precisely balanced, so majestic as this creation
can only be the product of a Divine idea.”
. The last professor Edwin Conklin, a noted biologist, very aptly said:
“The probability of life originating from accident is comparable to the
probability of an Unabridged Dictionary resulting from an explosion in a
. God exist whether or not men may choose to believe in Him. The reason
why many people do not believe in God is not so much that it is intellectually
impossible to believe in God, but because belief in God forces that thoughtful
person to face the fact that he is accountable to such a God. Many people are
unwilling to do this. Most of those who take refuge in atheism or agnosticism
do so because it is a convenient “escape” from the stern reality that man is
accountable to his Creator. It is usually not so much a case of “I cannot
believe” as it is a case of “I do not want to believe.”
. I know only two ways by which God’s purpose and God’s person may be
known. First there is the process of reason. As a good detective can, for
example, tell you many things about my skills, habits and character just my
examining something I may have made or handled, so much can be learned about
God by a careful examination of the universe, the work of His hands.
. But the detective who examines only what I make can never say that he
knows me. He may know some things about me, but before he can say that he
knows me, there must be a process of revelation: I must communicate with him.
I must tell him what I think, how I feel and what I want to do. This self-
revelation may be in conversation, in writing, or in some other way. Only
then does it become possible for him to know me. Just so, if God is ever to
be known and His thoughts, desire and purposes perceived, He must take the
initiative and make at least a partial revelation of Himself to men.
. Of all the many books this world contains there is one only that claims
to be a direct revelation from God, telling us of Himself and His purposes for
us. That book is the Bible. The Bible is a book of such importance that it
is surely worthy of thoughtful investigation. So, with that advice of Francis
Bacon neither to accept nor reject, but to weigh and consider, let us approach
this book with its unusual claims.
. To be fair to ourselves and to the Bible, we should read it through. As
a judge must not make his decision when the case is half heard, neither must
we. Rather, like the judge, we should compare the evidence of the witnesses,
and weigh and consider every word, seeking for its deepest significance rather
than accepting its surface meaning. Surely the importance of its claims
justifies spending the necessary time on the study of its sixty-six books,
written by at least forty different writer (some well educated, some barely
educated, some kings, some peasants) over a period of 1600 years in places as
far apart as Babylon in Asia and Rome in Europe. With such authorship one
would expect to find a miscellaneous collection contradictory statements. Its
unity is therefore especially striking, for each contribution is the
complement of the others.
. In my considerations of this whole matter, slowly the truth of 2 Peter
1:21 became certain to me. There was not reasonable explanation. “Holy men of
God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” This belief was confirmed
as I read prophecy in the Old Testament which found its fulfillment, even to
the letter, hundreds of years later. For instance, Isaiah 52 foretold the
death of Christ with minute accuracy more than 700 years before His
crucifixion. Yes, the difficulties in the way of doubting the Book seemed to
me greater than those in the way of believing it. I had to be honest with
myself and admit that the problems were all on the side of unbelief. I even
went further and said:
“I believe the Bible to be the word of the living God. I can account for it in
no other way.”
. Such an admission brought me face to face with a serious difficulty,
however, for the Bible set a standard of righteousness that I had not
attained. It pronounced that anything short of its standard was sin.
Remembering that God knows you every secret thought, just measure yourself
alongside the standard: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great
commandment” (Matthew 22:37,38).
. Confronted with such a standard, can you claim to have lived up to it
throughout you life? Have you put God first in everything? No man can
honestly claim such perfection. Every honest heart echoes Romans 3:10 and 23:
“There is none righteous, no, not one….All have sinned, and fall short of
the glory of God.” All have failed to reach God’s standard.
. A young man once asked me, “Do you think it fair of God to set the
standard of holiness so high that we cannot reach it, and then judge us for
. I replied, “God has not set an arbitrary standard of holiness as an
official sets an arbitrary standard of height for his bodyguards. It such a
case, a man may have all the other qualifications, but it he is an inch too
short he is disqualified.
. “God has not really set a standard at all; His is the standard. He is
absolute holiness, and to preserve His own character He must remain absolutely
holy in all of His dealing with man, maintaining that standard irrespective of
the tremendous implications which it may hold for both Him and us.”
. My conscience and my common sense compelled me to admit I had fallen
short of God’s standard of absolute holiness and, therefore, I was a sinner in
. On my admission of having sinned came God’s condemnation is Ezekiel 18:4:
“The soul that sins, it shall die.”
. It appealed to me like this: The law in Great Britain says that all
drivers must keep to the left side of the street, while in New York that rule
of the road demands that a driver keep to the right side. Now suppose I go
driving in London and keep to the right side. On being brought before the
judge, I say, “This is ridiculous. In the United States we are allowed to
drive on the right side.”
. “You are not being judged by the laws of America,” he replies. “It does
not matter what the laws of other lands may be, you should have concerned
yourself only with the laws which judge you here, where you are.”
. In the same way as far as god’s standard was concerned, I was lost,
because God’s standard was the only one by which I was judged in eternity. I
was hopelessly lost. I began to see that it didn’t matter at all what I
thought, or what my friends told me. The judgement would be on what god has
said, not what my friends say. Moreover, because in God’s judgment we had all
sinned, there was no use in looking to other men for help, for they were under
the same condemnation as I.
. But this same Bible, which told me of my sin, told me also of Jesus
Christ, who claimed to be the Son of God.
. It is the clear teaching of the Bible that this person, Jesus Christ, is
God the Son. He saw that men were lost and that they had forfeited their
lives to sin. His life was not forfeited. It was sinless and spotless. This
pure life of His He was willing to give in place of man’s sinful life, that we
might go free.
. He Himself tells us in John 3:16 that “God so loved the world, that he
gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but
have everlasting life.”
. If Jesus Christ is the Son of God, then we may indeed be sure of
salvation; but the difficulty faces us: Is Jesus Christ really the Son of God?
He could only be one of three–the Son of God, or a deceiver, or an honest man
Himself under a hallucination. But we find Him meeting some of the cleverest
men of His day, who were purposely sent to catch Him in His words, and He so
silenced them that they did not dare ask Him any more questions (Matthew
22:46). And when we ourselves consider the wisdom of His statements from an
intellectual standpoint, we see plainly that He was under no hallucination as
. Then was His wisdom so great that He was using it to deceive the people?
Have you ever heard of a young man associating with swindlers and rogues and
because of that association becoming ennobled, pure and honest? No! You admit
you have not heard of such a case; but I know a young man who by the reception
of Christ into his life has been lifted from the basest desires to the noblest
manhood, I simply cannot believe that the reception of a deceiver into one’s
life could transform it for good.
. The other day I heard a man say, “I owe it to Jesus Christ that I can
walk down the street with my head erect and my shoulders squared to the world.
I owe it to Him that I can look a pure woman in the face and grip an honest
man by the hand.”
. I call to witness the opinion of the whole civilized world that Jesus
Christ was at least a good man. If so, then an honest man, and if honest, He
must have been what He claimed to be, the Son of God, sent to lay down His
sinless life in place of your sinful life and mine.
. Leaders from several professions have this to say about Jesus Christ:
. United States Senator Mark O. Hatfield, testifies: “I saw that for 31
years I had lived for self and decided I wanted to live the rest of my life
only for Jesus Christ. I asked God to forgive my self-centered life and to
make my life His own. Following Jesus Christ has been an experience of
increasing challenge, adventure and happiness. Living a committed Christian
life is truly satisfying because it has give me true purpose and direction by
serving not myself, but Jesus Christ.”
. Robert E. (Bob) Richards, former Olympic track star, said: “My only
reason for being in sports is to give my testimony to youth of all the world
that Jesus Christ can save from sin, and that one can be a Christian and still
excel in good, creative things. Young people need to realize that God
unleashed a tremendous spiritual power when Jesus Christ died on Calvary.”
. Lt. Gen. William K. Harrison (Ret.), former Senior Delegate of the United
Nations Command Truce Team in Korea and later Commander-in-Chief of the
Caribbean Command, wrote: “It is wonderful to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ
and I am exceedingly thankful that God has graciously led me to saving faith
in Christ. God gives us who believe in Christ a daily, personal experience
which is convincing evidence of the reality of the new life in Christ.”
Convinced that the Scripture is true, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,
believing that He willingly came, that God so lived me that He has willingly
sent Him to suffer the full penalty of my sins that I might go free, if I
would retain my self-respect as an intelligent being, I must accept the Lord
Jesus Christ as my Savior.
. But I do not ask you to accept Him as yours, for you may have an
objection: although it is plausible that the Bible is true, are not alternate
views also plausible? Who not be reasonable and submit them to a fair test as
. On telling my conviction to a friend, he replied, “You are all right, but
so am I, although I don’t see things as you do. It seems to me that it
doesn’t matter so much what a man believes, so long as he is sincere in this
. Let us test that statement. One fine Sunday morning a neighbor of mine
said to his wife and family, “Let us take the car and go for a picnic.”
Traveling north, he came to a railway crossing and , sincerely believing there
would be not trains on a Sunday morning, attempted to drive across. He as
killed on the spot, one son had an arm broken and his little daughter was in a
cast for months. Did his sincere belief that all was clear save him? No, it
. I know a nurse who, on night duty, sincerely believed she held the right
medicine in her hand, but she was wrong, and in twenty minutes her patient was
dead in spite of frantic efforts to save him.
. Of course we need sincerity, but we must sincerely believe truth, not
error. If fact, having sincere belief in error can be the very means of
deceiving and finally destroying us.
. The Bible leaves no room for doubt. In John 14:6 Christ says: “I am the
way, the truth and the life; no man come to the Father but by me.” Acts 4:12
states: “There in no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must
be saved.” If you can get to heaven any other way you will be a witness
throughout eternity to the fact that Jesus Christ spoke falsely when He said
there was no other way. But, since He gives full evidence of being the Son of
God, is it not folly to attempt coming to God by any other way than through
Christ Himself, who claims to be God’s appointed way?
. The real reason we want some other way is because the way of the cross is
a humbling way, and we are proud at heart. But let us remember the way of the
cross was a humbling way for Christ also, as we read in Philippians 2:5-8:
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was
also in Christ Jesus
6 Who, although He existed in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God a thing to
7 But emptied Himself, taking the form of a
bondservant and being made in the likeness
8 And being found in appearance as a man, He
humbled Himself by becoming obedient to
the point of death, even death on a cross.
(The New American Standard Bible)
Some people have suggested that all a person needs to do is sincerely reform,
do better in the future, and thus live down past short-comings. This is
supposed to make one fit for heaven. Will this work?
. Let us assume that the manager of a business goes to his accountant and
finds that his company owes $50,000 to manufactures and other merchants. He
says, “Write letters to all those people and tell them that we are not going
to trouble about the past, that we have turned over new pages in our ledger,
but we promise to pay 100 cents on the dollar in all future business, and from
now on live up the highest standard of business integrity.” The accountant
would think his employer had gone mad, and would refuse to put such a
proposition to the creditors. Yet thousands of otherwise sensible people are
trying to get to heaven by just such a proposal, offerings to meet their
obligations toward God for the future, but refusing to worry about the past at
all. Yet in Ecclesiastes 3:15 we read, “God will call the past to account.”
Even if we assume that we can somehow begin to live an absolutely perfect
life–which is no better than we ought to do, but which is certainly
impossible for us–we are still sinners.
. God’s righteousness demands that no past account shall be considered
settled until it has been paid to the last penny and every claim of justice
met. The murderer may cover his sin and live the life of a model citizen for
ten years after his crime, but when he is discovered, man’s law condemns him
to death. Though he has murdered no one for ten long years–it judges him
still a murderer.
. To hide past sin, either thought, words or deeds, by what seems to be an
absolutely perfect life, still leaves us sinners in the sight of Him to whom
the past and future are as open as the present. According to God’s standards
of holiness, we all have sinned and we must bring that sin out into the open
and have it dealt with righteously.
. We each need someone who can clear the books. The bible declares that
Jesus Christ is the only One who could pay this penalty. “We are reconciled
to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10). Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ
gave up His life in place of ours that we might go free. Our past sin is paid
for, and God, against whom we had sinned, has given us His receipt showing His
satisfaction with the completed work of Christ on the cross in that He raised
Him from the dead. Christ, once crucified, is now our living Savior. He died
to save us from the penalty of sin and now He lives to deliver us from the
power of sin.
But why did Christ need to die? Could He not have saved us without that? Man
had broken God’s law and the penalty was death. How could Christ righteously
deliver us without meeting our full penalty? Do you not see that if He paid
anything less than the full price there would still be judgment for us to
meet? But it is evident that because He died, the law we had broken can judge
us no more.
. The Bible says in Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to
them which are in Christ Jesus.”
. On one occasion an unfinished court case extended to a second day and as
is the usual practice, so that no outside influence could be brought to bear
on the jurymen, they were kept in custody overnight. On entering the court
the next morning, the Judge, addressing the jury, said: “Gentlemen, the case
is dismissed; the prisoner has been called to a higher court.” The accused
had died in his cell during the night, and there was no use going on with the
case, since the law cannot judge a dead man.
. Again, if a man should murder one person he is put to death, but if he
should murder six people he is still just put to death, because this is the
utmost penalty of the law. No matter what a man’s sins may be, the law knows
no greater penalty than to take his life.
. Therefore it matters not that there are sins in my life I have long since
forgotten. I fear none of them, for I have this confidence that the Lord
Jesus Christ, my Substitute, suffered the utmost penalty of the law on my
account, freeing me absolutely from all its claims against me, both great and
. On the basis of the greatness of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, some have
suggested that if Christ died for all, we must all be saved. But God does not
say so. He says there is salvation for all, not that all are saved.
. Here is an illustration. It is a bitterly cold winter, and unemployment
is rife in one of our great cities with man in dire need. The municipal
authorities provide free meals. You meet a poor fellow on the street who say
he is starving. Naturally you ask if he does not believe the notices that are
up all over the city, and there is enough food for all provided free.
. “Yes,” he replies, “I believe that is true in a general sort of way, but
I am still hungry.”
. You tell him that he is likely to remain hungry in spite of the
provisions unless he eats and drinks personally of what is proved for all.
. Just so,although the death of Christ provides salvation for whosoever
will, only those are saved who personally accept Christ and believe that He
died in their place. I must take Christ as my savior, or His death will avail
me nothing–just as a man could die of thirst beside a spring of water if he
refused to make its life-giving stream his own by drinking of it for himself.
. There are some people who still pose the question: How could the Lord
Jesus Christ’s one life be considered the substitute for the lives of so many,
so that God offers salvation to whoever places their faith in Christ?
. That seems a fair question–a problem in arithmetic that can be
demonstrated on paper. Christ was God manifest in the flesh–Divinity in
humanity–so that the life He gave was an infinite life, which can meet the
needs of any number of finite lives. Get a sheet of paper and write down all
the big figures you can think of–millions or more–add them up. Now you have
a big number, then multiply it by 10-100-by a million if you like–cover
sheets of paper and after all you still have a finite number–a number that
has bounds set about it–a beginning and an end, however far it may extend.
No, by adding finite things together no man has ever been able to make that
which is infinite. The infinite life of Christ given for sinners is more than
sufficient to save all who accept Him as the One who died for them.
. But how could Christ suffer for my sins when they were not committed till
more than 1900 years after He died?
. At first this seems a problem to a thoughtful person, but the more
thoughtful you are, the more readily you will see the solution. God is
omniscient (that is, He knows all things), and God is eternal. In Exodus 3:14
God calls himself “I AM” (present tense), and Christ says in John 8:58 “Before
Abraham was, I AM” (present tense). In other words, to one who know all
things and is eternal, there is, as it were, neither past nor future, but one
eternal present. Events yet to take place 2000 years ahead must be as clear
to Him as events which happened 2000 years ago, and both must of necessity be
just as clear to God as event happening now.
. But why did not God make man incapable of disobeying His will and
therefore incapable of sinning?
. Such a question is like asking why does not God draw a crooked straight
line or a round square, or make an object black all over and white all over at
one and the same time. Man is a creature with the power of intelligent
choice, so that the question really is: Why didn’t God make a creature with
the power of intelligent choice and yet without the power of intelligent
choice at one and the same time?
. If I had the power of hypnotism, I would be able to put my two sons into
an hypnotic state, thus robbing them of the power of intelligent choice, and
the say, “Sit on those chairs till I return”–“Get up and eat”–“Stop eating”-
-“Kiss me goodnight”, and unfeeling arms would go around my neck, and
unresponsive lips would be pressed to mine. I would have prompt and perfect
obedience to my every command, but would I find satisfaction in it? No!
. I want boys with free wills who are capable of disobeying me, but who
willingly choose to carry out my instructions, which are the outcome of my
love for them and are given for their own good. I cannot conceive of God, who
put these desires in my heart and yours, being satisfied with anything less
. God does not want puppets who jump in a given direction according to the
wire that is pulled, not does He want robots in the form of “men” who
mechanically and absolutely obey His will as do the planets that whirl through
space. God can find satisfaction in nothing less than the spontaneous love of
our hearts and our free-will decisions to walk in paths that please and honor
Him. But it is obvious that this same power of free action enables us to defy
and dishonor Him if we so choose.
. Man is truly a magnificent creature, far above the animal creation around
him. This is no “missing link.” But a great gulf is fixed between the
highest beast and man, for God has given man the awesome power of being able
to say no to God as well as an effective yes. In your own interests, may I
ask which you are saying to God now as you read this booklet?
. What does God care about this little world of ours compared with the
vastness of the mighty universe?
. Think of our own solar system, with the planet Neptune thirty times as
far away from the sun as our earth, so that it takes 164 of our years to make
one of Neptune’s, and beyond this, suns with planets revolving around the sun!
Of what importance can our earth be to God, and of how much less importance
can man be?
. So said the astronomer as the faith of his youth fled–this is what the
telescope had done for him. The vastness of the heavens had robbed him of
faith in his mother’s God, for how could God trouble Himself about man, who is
less than a grain of sand in comparison?
. But his thirst for knowledge would not let him rest. The heavens were
available for study only at night; how should the free hours of the day be
spent? Why not a microscope? And lo! worlds were opened at his feet–worlds
as wonderful as those above, and slowly his faith came back. Yes, the God who
could attend to such minute details as to make a drop of ditch water throb
with miniature life was sure to be interested in man, the highest form of His
creation. The man found balance instead of bias, and balance brought him back
to God. John 3:16 was true after all.
. But is faith logical?
. Yes, it is logical. It is a mistake to think that faith is opposed to
reason. Faith and reason go hand in hand, but faith goes on when reason can
go no farther. Reason, to a great extent, is dependent on faith, for without
knowledge it is impossible to reason, and knowledge is very largely a matter
of faith in human testimony. For instance, I believe strychnine administered
in a large enough dose will poison a human being, but I have never seen the
experiment performed. Yet I have such faith in the written testimony of men
that I would not take a large dose of strychnine for anything.
. If you check up carefully, you will find that nine-tenths of the things
you know (?) are a matter of faith in human testimony, written or spoken, for
you have not verified them for yourself. Then, having accepted the testimony
of men on other matters, will you not accept the testimony of thousands of
Christians when they affirm that they have verified the things written God’s
Word and have proved them to be true?
But why should God judge my sins as worthy of death?
. I cannot answer that, but I would suggest that because of His infinite
holiness no sin could exist in His presence. In some primitive cultures, a
native chief may club his wife to death on slight provocation without falling
in the slightest degree in the estimation of his people. The same act is our
land would have to be paid for by the life of the murderer. The act is the
same in both lands, but in one instance no judgment; in the other, quick
retribution. The difference is simply the result of our enlightenment. If a
sin, which in a primitive culture is considered as nothing, would cause a man
to lose his life in our land, think, if you can, what some other sin, which
appears to us as nothing, must look like to an infinitely Holy God–“For God
is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
. It may be just, but is it merciful of God to refuse to take us all to
heaven even if we reject Christ as our sin-bearer?
. Yes, both just and merciful. Would it be kindness to transfer a poor
ragged beggar into the glare of a beautiful ballroom? Would be not be more
conscious of his rags and dirt? Would he not do his best to escape again to
the darkness of the street? He would be infinitely happier there. Would it
be kindness and mercy on God’s part to bring a man in his sins into the holy
light of Heaven if that man had rejected God’s offer of the only cleansing
power there is? If you and I would not wish our friends’ to see inside our
minds now and read all the thoughts that have ever been there (and our
friends’ standards are perhaps not any higher than our own) what would it be
like to stand before God, whose absolute holiness would reveal our sin in all
. Revelation 6:16 tells us of the feelings of those who refuse to accept
Jesus Christ as their Savior and persist in going to eternity in their sins.
They call on the mountains and the rocks to fall on them and hide them from
the face of the One who sits on the throne. Yet it is the presence of this
same Christ that will make Heaven for those who have accepted Him as Savior
. You see the absurdity of talking about God taking us all to heaven-
heaven is a condition as well as a place. The presence of the Lord Jesus
Christ will constitute heaven to those who are cleansed from their sins, while
that some presence would make a hell of remorse in the hearts of any who,
still in their sins, should stand in the infinite light of His holiness. Let
us be quite reasonable–could you really be happy in the presence of One whose
love you had rejected, and whose great sacrifice you had not counted worthy of
Salvation by Substitution–
The Innocent Bearing the
Penalty for the Guilty
. We have considered reasonable evidence that God does exist and that He
has revealed in the Bible His holy claims on men and women. We have been
shown that “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans
3:23). We have been faced with Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who came to this
earth to die for the sin of man. We have also considered numerous objections,
raised by people who have other ideas about God’s plan of salvation. Now we
are going to think through the wisdom and the wonder of God’s plan of
salvation for sinful people. In a word, it is salvation by substitution.
. God’s love would have forgiven the sinner, but God’s righteousness
prevented the forgiveness. God’s righteousness would have judged the sinner,
but God’s love restrained the judgement. How to reconcile His inherent
righteousness with His character of essential love was a problem that no human
philosopher could have solved, but divine wisdom and mercy find their highest
expression in the solution–the vicarious suffering and death of God the Son.
. “But,” one may object, “does not Christianity fail at its very foundation
by basing everything on substitution? Substitution will not stand thoughtful
investigation. It makes Christ, the Innocent, bear the penalty for the guilty
and thus lets the guilty go free. It is diametrically opposed to our every
idea of justice, for we believe that justice should protect the innocent and
bring the full penalty upon the guilty.”
. But see God’s perfect justice and perfect mercy revealed at the cross.
He does not there take the innocent and compel him to bear the penalty of the
guilty. God acts like the judge in this story:–It is on record that of two
young men who studied law together one rose to a seat on the bench, while the
other took to drink and wasted his life. On one occasion this poor fellow was
brought before his old companion, charged with crime, and the lawyers present
wondered what kind of justice would be administered by the judge under such
trying circumstances. To their surprise, he sentenced his one-time companion
to the heaviest penalty the law allowed, and then paid the fine himself and
set his old friend free.
. God, against whom we had sinned, in justice sat upon His judgment throne
and passed the heaviest penalty He could–the sentence of death upon the
sinner. Then, in mercy, He stepped down form His throne and, in the person of
His Son, took the sinner’s place, bearing the full penalty Himself. 2
Corinthians 5:19 tells us “that God was in Christ,” not through Christ, but in
Christ, “reconciling the world to himself.”
. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are one God. The
same God against whom we had sinned passed the judgment, paid the penalty, and
now offers us full and free pardon, based upon absolute righteousness. That
is why the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 1:16,17: “I am not ashamed of the
gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God for the Salvation of everyone who
believer…for therein is the righteousness of God revealed…” I, too, can
say that I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for no man can honestly
find a flaw in the righteous forgiveness offered by God to man. That is the
righteousness you may possess now, at this very moment, if you will accept.
. But is the acceptance of Christ as my Savior all that is necessary to
save me for all eternity? Yes, I admit the very simplicity of it seems to
make it hard to grasp. But if I owe $500 and have nothing with which to pay,
and a friend pays the debt for me and gives me the receipt, I don’t worry
about it any more. I can look my creditor straight in the face, for I hold
his signed receipt. As Jesus Christ gave His life in place of mine, He said:
“it is finished,” meaning that the work of atonement was completed, and God
gave me His receipt. The assurance that He was satisfied with Christ’s
finished work is that He (God) raised Christ from the dead on the third day.
. “But I can’t see it,” said a certain cabinetmaker, as a friend tried to
explain this to him. At last an idea came to his friend, who, lifting a
plane, made as though he would plane the top of a beautifully polished table
that stood near.
. “Stop!” cried the cabinetmaker. “Don’t you see that’s finished? You’ll
simply ruin it if you use that plane on it.”
. “Why,” replied his friend, “that’s just what I have been trying to show
you about Christ’s work of redemption. It was finished when He gave His life
for you, and if you try to add to that finished work you can only spoil it.
Just accept it as it stands–His life for yours, and you go free.” Life a
flash, the cabinetmaker saw it and received Jesus Christ into his life as his
. “But,” says someone, “there is one more problem that puzzles me. I know
a polished cultured gentleman who is not a Christian and states so quite
definitely, and I know a rather crude uncultured man who is a Christian and
who shows his genuine belief in many ways. Do you mean to tell me God prefers
the uncultured man simply because he has accepted and acknowledged Christ as
his Savior?” This question arises from a confusion of ideas. A Christian is
not different in degree from a non-Christian, he is different in kind, just as
the difference between a diamond and a cabbage is not one of degree, but of
kind. The one is polished, and the other is crude, but the one is dead while
the other is alive, therefore the one has what the other has not in any degree
whatever, life–and such is the difference God see between a Christian and a
. Here is one of many such statement He makes in His Word. 1 John
5:11,12: “And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and
this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; and he who does not
have the Son of God does not have life.” So that the vital and all-important
question for everyone of us becomes not am I cultured or uncouth, but am I
alive or dead toward God? Have I received God’s risen Son who brings me life
from above, the life of God, called in the Bible eternal life? Or have I not
received Him and am I therefore classed by God as among those who “have not
But how may I receive the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior?
. If I know that, according to Ephesians 2:1, I am “dead in trespasses and
sins,” as regards my relationship with God; if I believe Jesus Christ gave His
life in place of mine, and that now by the receiving of Him as my Savior I may
have eternal salvation, will perceiving these facts in a cold mechanical way
give me everlasting life? Most certainly not!
. A wealthy man loses all his money, and rather that sacrifice his social
position, he agrees to give the hand of his daughter to a rich man whom she
despises. At first she refused point-blank, but when her father shows her the
expediency of the marriage, that it is his only hope of being saved from utter
want, she consents and goes through the marriage ceremony and becomes,
according to the law of the land, the rich man’s wife. But is her heart
really his? Surely not!
. You see it now, don’t you? When a man and a woman would be truly one,
they must love with such a love as to receive each other into those innermost
recesses of their hearts in such a deep, true way that they cannot fully
express in words all that they feel.
. We all have the innermost recess of our beings, which is sacred to us,
where emotions stir that no one else could possible understand. Jesus Christ,
God’s Son, because of His love for us, claims the right to enter there. He
will take no other place in our lives. The love He has shown for us entitles
Him to that place. Will I withhold it?
. When I think that Christ’s love for me was so great that He left His
Father’s glory and came to earth, becoming truly human that He might suffer
and die in my place to give me eternal life, my heart soften toward Him.
. If, when I lay sick and helpless in a burning building, a friend had
rushed in to save me, and wrapping the blankets about me that I might receive
no harm, had himself been critically scarred and burned about the face and
arms, would not my heart go out to him? God know it would.
. And now I am face to face with my Savior. I see Him suffering in the
Garden of Gethsemane in anticipation of His death on the cross for me. I see
Him in Pilate’s Judgment Hall; the soldiers have been striking Him in the
face, saying, “Prophesy, who smote thee?” I see them crowding Him with a
crown of thorns. They have taken Him bleeding and bruised from judgment to
Calvary where they are driving spikes through His hands and feet. As He is
then lifted up to die between two thieves, the people gather around to mock
and revile Him, though He is pouring out His life to redeem them. Then I
began to understand what self-sacrificing love really means as I hear Him cry:
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
. But even if we could enter sympathetically into the physical suffering of
Christ until tears streamed down our cheeks, and that was all, we should have
failed miserably to comprehend the true significance of the cross.
. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that “he (God) made him (Christ) to be sin
for us, who knew no sin.” Come with me, I plead with you, with bowed head and
humble heart, and let us, it we may, enter into the soul-sufferings of Christ
the Son, and of God the Father, as that Holy One, who loathed sin as we would
loathe leprosy in “made sin for us.”
. If the higher the development of the physical organism the greater the
capacity for pain, then the higher the development of the moral character, the
greater the capacity for soul-suffering.
. Have you ever heard of a venerable old gentleman, justly proud of his
honored name–a man who would sooner lose his right hand than use it to do a
dishonorable deed? His son and heir goes astray from the paths of virtue and
in a drunken brawl murders someone. And the old man walks no more erect, his
head is bowed in shame, and soon his soul-suffering brings his gray hairs in
sorrow to the grave.
. If that be possible (and it is possible even for us to feel the disgrace
of a greater sin than we are used to), think what sin must be like in all its
awfulness to an absolutely holy God! Now we understand why, in the Garden of
Gethsemane, Christ turns in loathing from sin and cries in agony of soul: “my
Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I
will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). Yet in spite of that agonized cry
from Gethsemane, “God so loved the world that he have his only begotten Son”
to be “made sin” for us, “that whoever believes in him should not perish, but
have everlasting life” (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 5:21).
. Now do you understand why I said that if I would retain any ideal of
manhood, or any nobleness of character, I dare not reject One who has endured
so much for me? My intellect has reasoned it all out; my emotions have been
deeply stirred; and now they both appeal to my will for a decision. To be
true to my God and myself and my eternal future I have only one course open,
and I must take it. Today Jesus Christ is my personal Savior and my Lord.
. Because of His love to me, because of the way He has blessed me here, and
because of my assurance of a glorious hereafter, my heart’s desire is that you
might share in the blessings I enjoy. Christ had done all. I say it
reverently. He can do no more. He has borne the penalty of your sin; He has
been raised by the power of God; now He presents Himself to you. Will you
accept Him as Savior and Lord?
. You are saying; “It seems so mysterious; the mystery of it all baffles
me.” I do not ask you to understand the mystery of it. I cannot understand
its mystery myself, nor can any Christian in this life. I am asking you to
rejoice in its fact.
. Electricity remains a mystery. We have discovered many of the laws which
govern it, but we cannot tell what it really is. You and I do not worry about
the mystery of electricity as we make use of its benefits. You must have known
men who accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and were so changed as to be
actually new men in Christ. Will you not let these facts that you have seen
for yourself influence you? Yes, it is just as simple as switching on an
. Come saying: “Oh God, I cannot understand the mystery of it all. I
cannot understand why You cared enough for me to send Jesus Christ to bear the
penalty of my sins. But with all my lack of understanding, I am willing and I
do yield to You; absolutely. I trust in the fact of His death for me and the
promise that You have made in John 3:16 “that whoever believes in him shall
not perish, but have everlasting life.”
. Just as you leave the mystery of the electric current with the engineer
and take the benefits of the light for yourself, so leave the mystery of
salvation with God and take the infinite benefits of a personal savior to
yourself. Yield to Him now–He wants to come into your life. Say and mean
it: “I am Yours, Lord Jesus; yielded to You, body, soul and spirit, and You
are mine.” Then clinch it by signing the declaration form on the next page.
Before God, who knows the innermost secrets
of my soul, I accept Jesus Christ into my life as
my Savior and Lord. I yield absolutely to Him. I
know, on the authority of His own written Word
in John 5:24, that I have everlasting life, for
there He says, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears
my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal
life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over
from death to life.”
A Further Word:
. Perhaps you have not yet made a decision to place your faith in Jesus
Christ. The consider the following:
. Someone says, “I am one of those individuals who most emphatically
resents being brought to a definite decision on any important subject. It is
not that I have no willpower. If fact, I am so strong-willed that I am
determined neither to pull up against the current nor pull down with it. I am
determined to do nothing but just drift, slowly drift, down the stream of time
. “But I hate to think about it! True believers in Jesus Christ look
forward to eternity with joy. But I–why am I not honest enough to admit to
myself that my resentment at the question is only because I do not want to
decide in the way I know I ought to? Yet I must fact it some day. Then why
. Now that you have done so, read this little book again. It will seem so
much clearer. Then read the entire gospel of John in the New Testament.
. Now for the last point, a most important one. If you open your Bible at
Romans 10:9 to 11 you will read: “That if you confess with your mouth the
Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you
will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified;
and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture
says, “Everyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
. You say you have accepted Christ–go and tell someone–do not be ashamed
to confess Him. Why should you be? Suppose I had fallen off the wharf,
injuring myself so that I could not swim, and a laborer working on a coal
barge had plunged in and saved me. If a month later you saw me walking down
Main Street and the same laborer, all begrimed with coal dust, coming up from
the opposite direction, and you see that I noticed him first and deliberately
turned to look into a store window so that I would not have to stop and greet
him because I was ashamed to be seen talking to him, what would you think of
. You have declared that you believe the Lord Jesus Christ has given His
life to save you. Occasions will arise when you will meet Him face to face in
the presence of those who despise Him. Will you be ashamed and look the other
way, or will you honor Him in both word and deed as your Lord and Savior?
Having really accepted Him, you must and you will acknowledge Him.
. I make on apology for the truth which underlies these pages. I have
sought to write what I believe God would have me write in the discharge of my
duty to Him and to you. I follow this booklet with the earnest prayer that
God will bless it to your eternal welfare.
Robert A. Laidlaw
. This booklet was made available on this bulletin board by the Christian
Business Men’s Committee (CBMC). The Christian Business Men’s Committee is an
international evangelical organization of Christian business and professional
men whose primary purpose is to present Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord to
other business and professional men and to train these men to carry out the
Great Commission. (Matthew 28:18-20, Colossians 1:28-29).
. CBMC of USA is a nondenominational, non-profit Christian ministry
supported by gifts from people committed to reaching and discipling business
and professional men for Jesus Christ.
. More information may be obtained by writing: Christian Business Men’s
Committee of USA, 1800 McCallie Ave, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37404 or Christian
Business Men’s Committee of Lexington Park, P. O. Box 463, California,
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. . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . Christian Business Men’s Committee of Lexington Park
P. O. Box 463 + California, MD 20619
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