What Shall I Do?
by James Smith, 1858
John Berridge was a very plain, faithful, and successful preacher of the gospel. On one occasion, his faithful appeals filled one of his hearers with conviction and alarm, and he came to the preacher, asking him, "What shall I do?" "What can you do," said Mr. Berridge, "can you keep the law?" "I don't know," was the reply. "Then go and try, and come back to me in a two weeks." Before the two weeks was expired, he returned in deep distress of mind, and said to Mr. Berridge, "O sir, I am lost, I am lost forever — for I cannot keep the law!" "Well," said the preacher; "then come in, and I will preach the gospel to you." Many men talk of doing, and keeping the law; we never dispute with such — but only say, "Go and try!" If men would try their boasted powers, they would soon find, that without Christ they can do nothing; and not only so — but would be glad to listen to the glorious gospel, which says, "However, to the man who does not work, but trusts God who justifies the wicked — his faith is credited as righteousness."
The law holds man accountable to God, and commands him to do all that God requires of him, and to do all perfectly, constantly, and from a pure motive; and threatens him with eternal death if he does not. But the gospel comes and tells us that God is love; and, as a proof of his love, has given his only begotten Son to do all the sinner ought to have done, and to suffer all that the sinner deserved to suffer — in order that every one who believes in him — may escape eternal death, and have eternal life.
The gospel does not say DO — but it says, "Sinner, here is a Savior, a Savior of God's own providing, a Savior who is able to save you, a Savior who is willing, and waiting to save you. What do you say — will you be saved by him? If you will, believe the word which tells you what he has done, put your trust in his obedience and death, fall at his feet and beseech him to save you. Do this honestly, heartily, repeatedly, until he speaks peace to your soul, and you will be saved. There is no doubt or uncertainty about it, for 'as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up — that whoever believes on him shall not perish — but have eternal life.'
Reader, I do not say unto you, "Go and try to keep the law!" But I say, "Go and believe the gospel!" Go to Christ, as a poor, empty, lost sinner — and receive a full, free, and everlasting salvation from him.