Alfred Place Baptist Church

15:39 Surely this was the son of God

Mark 15:39 “And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’”

All four gospels are united in the message they bring to the world concerning the identity of Jesus Christ. They all announce that our Lord is God the Son. This is the start of Mark’s gospel, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God” and it’s ending with these words of our text, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” John’s gospel begins with, “The word was with God and the word was God,” and it approaches its end with Thomas falling at the feet of Christ and saying, “My Lord and my God.” Matthew’s gospel begins with the announcement that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us; it ends with the statement that new disciples are to be baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Christ is there alongside the Father and the Spirit as the one living God. Luke’s gospel begins with the announcement to Mary that “the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God,” and it ends with Mary’s Son ascending to heaven. All the gospel writers were united in this conviction of the deity of Christ, but there is scarcely a more striking or extraordinary confession of faith in the Lord Jesus, that he was the Son of God, than in the incident before us.

1. THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH THIS CONFESSION WAS MADE.

They’ve just watched someone die. What a solemn moment. We are usually there when our loved ones die. We are given grace to be with them; we hold their hands and we are amazed at the strength and peace we have. Then we look twice; they seem to have stopped breathing; there is no pulse, and we finally say quietly, “He’s gone.” We weep a little to ourselves, and we say a prayer in our hearts of thanks to God, we hug our loved ones, we breathe deeply and we send for the nurse. What rare and precious times, never to be forgotten. Jesus Christ is there with us and us helps us through such hours. We want you to know that we couldn’t get by in the biggest events of life – choosing a life long husband or wife, having children, raising children, nursing children, caring for loved ones with incurable illnesses, facing all life’s deepest heartaches, resisting temptations and making sense of life – without our Saviour.

The Lord Jesus has been dying nailed to a cross for six hours and then he breathes his last. There he is a lifeless corpse on a cross. Fred Leahy points out, “It was an awkward moment for friend and foe alike, a difficult, bewildering moment. It seemed like a ‘dead end.’ Where now? What next? No one knew. There is an eerie silence.” Then someone speaks . . . and it was at that moment Mark tells us that the words of our text were spoken – not when a disciple had seen the dead being raised or a man born blind was able to see for the first time because of a word from Jesus, but actually when Christ was dead – then a voice was heard breaking the silence of Calvary saying, “Surely this man was the Son of God.” This is the first confession that Christ is God’s Son in the gospel of Mark.

When you are dying there will be no greater matter for you to have settled long ago than this, that the Jesus of Nazareth – the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – is the Son of God, and that you are going to be with him, to know that when you close your eyes in this world for the last time the first person you will see in the world to come will be him, and that he is your God and Saviour, the one you have known and loved, the one of whom you say in your heart and with your lips, “Surely he was the Son of God.” So those were the circumstances in which these words were spoken.

2. THE ONE WHO FIRST SAID THESE WORDS.

What do we know about the speaker? Obviously he was a man and in the prime of life, not a teenager with adolescent enthusiasm, and not an old man thinking death was not very far away and that he’d better make his peace with God. This man was an active career soldier who had been promoted through the ranks and eventually become a centurion, the captain of a hundred. He was the officer in charge of the execution squad. Maybe there were four men in charge of this unpleasant duty, or four men in charge of each of the three men; whatever the number he was certainly a man of authority. He had often been in the presence of death and so he was not particularly emotional or vulnerable on Golgotha . This was probably not the first execution he had had to supervise. In other words, he was not passing through uncharted territory when he witnessed a man die. He was in the military service of Rome , with firsthand acquaintance of the Empire.

As a Roman he was surrounded by people who believed in many gods and goddesses, and they claimed to have special qualifications for providing crops and rain and health and victory. There were also men and women considered to be supernatural beings, actual children of the gods. There was also the worship of the ‘divine emperor;’ “Caesar is lord,” his devotees said. Multitudes acknowledged Alexander and Augustus and Nero and the very emperor whom this man served to be “a son of god.” In the book of Acts we are introduced to a person called Simon Magus, Simon the ‘Magician”. The superstitious people of Samaria said of him “this man is the divine power known as the Great Power” (Acts 8:10). That was the atmosphere in which this centurion grew up. It was not one of rigid monotheism – which one meets in the Middle East today – but one in which many men might be considered to be divine and sons of god. There were altars and temples to various gods on every street corner in the big cities. This centurion had gods coming out of his ears as did every citizen of the Roman Empire .

What else do we know of this man? He was a man capable of reflection. His own men were totally materialist; all they thought of was ‘stuff.’ Their excitement came from gambling; which of the squaddies was going to be the lucky man and win the Nazarene’s robe? There were also the chanting crowds yelling away their hatred hour after hour; “Come down from the cross. Save yourself. If you are the King of Israel, save yourself,” but the centurion felt himself an outsider from Romans and Jews alike. He didn’t fit in with the indifference manifest in the gambling nor with the loud hatred being focused on Christ. Mark tells us that he stood right in front of Jesus, not with his soldiers, and not with the mob, and not with the grieving friends and family further off. He didn’t belong to any of them. He felt himself a loner and an outsider. The humour of the barracks room and the fanaticism of religion were not for him. He could not help surveying the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died. Like many a contemporary Calvinist he had a perpetual sense of exile. He had stood before Christ watching and listening and so his words were not blurted out; they were the product of reflection, not of emotion.

What would we have expected a Roman soldier’s response to be? “Another loony? Another religious maniac getting a following for a while and then getting his comeuppance.” Many thought that, but not this man. He had been confronted with hundreds of superstitions and the stories of the antics of the gods throughout his life, priests and so-called priestesses agitated for his involvement. You might expect him to be utterly cynical every religious man he met. He had been stationed for some time in Jerusalem , and as soon as he arrived he began to hear the debates about this great healer Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth . A number of the Jews followed him everywhere, and even one of his fellow centurions were quite enamoured of Jesus. In Capernaum he had had his servant amazingly healed by him, so men said, but the majority of the Jews and all their leaders dismissed Jesus as a sinner, a Sabbath-breaker, a profane person, leader of sedition, a Samaritan with a devil and mad. That was the judgment of Caiaphas and Annas the chief priests themselves. They were utterly opposed to Christ’s claims to be Messiah, and so you’d expect the centurion to see this religious civil war and cry, “A plague on all your houses. Let them fight it out. I’m not getting involved. Religion always leads to division.” There are always plenty of excuses people can use for not following our Jesus. Yet this was not what the centurion said. He cried, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

More, he said that in total contradiction to all that he, and the 100 men he led, had witnessed during the past 24 hours. It was reported to him how his men had taken off Jesus’ clothes and put a scarlet robe on him, platted a crown of thorns and put it on his head. Then they had put a reed in his right hand for a scepter. They had marched before him crying “Hail!” and then bowed the knee to Jesus. They’d come right up to him and spit in his face; they had hit him on the head with the reed. You don’t do that to a son of a god! Then they took off the robe and dressed him in his own garments again and a few hours later led him away to crucify him. When they got to Calvary he saw how they stripped Jesus naked and laid him down on the cross nailing him to it with long spikes through his hands and feet. They lifted the cross right up and it dropped into the socket and then when they began their games and gambling the Jewish leaders started to mock him. You don’t do that to a son of a god. Waves of sound cascaded all around him, full of scorn and hate, and that went on for hours. Sometimes his own men joined in the shouting, but then it grew unnaturally dark and cold; birds roosted and for three hours in the gloom there was a chill in the world, and all the time the centurion stood in front of Jesus; he couldn’t take his eyes off him; they were drawn continually to that centre cross. He cried, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

He heard Jesus speak seven times, and he heard Jesus praying for him as he supervised the crucifixion. Christ didn’t curse and scream as other men had when they drove the long nails through their hands and feet. Jesus prayed for him, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” He had never heard anything like that before. Later he heard him commit his mother to his best friend, “Mam, there’s your son,” Jesus said. “See, now she’s your mother,” he said to one of his friends. Finally after hours of silence he cried out with incredible authority, “It is finished . . . Father into your hands I commend my spirit.” And he died. Just like that. After just six hours on the cross he seemed to end his own life. He died by an act of will. The centurion had seen many men die but none like this, and then the very ground shook and shook. They were at the very epicentre of a powerful earthquake. The crosses wobbled back and fore. He had never been so afraid. You could hear the crack of breaking rocks under your feet. All of those tough soldiers were scared stiff. That was the moment that the centurion said these words, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

He had never seen Christ raise the dead. He had never seen him speak and the winds and waves obeyed him. He had never seen him give sight to the blind, or cleanse the leper, or cure a man of cancer or heart disease. He had never spent time with him at a meal and felt something of the warmth of his love and admired his sympathy and kindness. This army captain had never come with his philosophical or religious problems and doubts to our Lord. He had never come under the spell of Jesus while he walked the lanes of Galilee . He had not heard him preach in the temple. He was not with the 5,000 men on the mountain hearing the word and feeding on loaves and fishes which somehow Jesus supplied up there, far away from shops and seaside. He did not hear the sermon on the mount. He had only seen this beaten up and bloodied Jesus, weak and dying. Yet he confessed, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

He had seen the world’s power and glory in Rome . He had marched with thousands of soldiers past the viewing stand where the Emperor stood resplendent in golden clothes, the sun shining on him so brightly you couldn’t look at him. The crowd kept cheering and crying out; you were intoxicated with the noise. He had seen the palaces of the Emperor, the hundreds of slaves who did his bidding and the women who lived there; the images of the Emperor were everywhere. That was glory! You could travel on a horse for half a year and still not reach the borders of the Emperor’s kingdom. That was power! This man, in comparison, was naked and bruised. He was covered in his own blood stains. No one said a word in his support. He had died, and now his corpse hung there. All he left behind was one garment; he’d had nowhere to lay his head, and yet this soldier looked at this dying pauper and listened to his last words, and when Jesus was dead he cried out in astonishment and conviction, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

He heard all the taunts and mockery of the leaders of the most pure and righteous religion in human history. They scorned and hated Jesus. To them he was a devil; he was trash. He was getting what he deserved. They were rejoicing that a son of Beelzebub was dying slowly in agony; they were there not to mount a commando raid and deliver him but to make sure no one else did, and that he hung there until he was dead. Yet in spite of their utter contempt this centurion said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” It was an extraordinary confession because it was made in such adverse circumstances. A natural man would not have responded like that.

3. WHAT THESE WORDS OF THE CENTURION ACTUALLY MEAN.

If we read Luke’s account of this incident in Luke 23 and verse 47 we are told of something else about the centurion and what he said, “The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, ‘Surely this was a righteous man.’” He praised God! In other words he was utterly sincere in what he said. He didn’t say these words in any cynical or mocking way, “This was the ‘Son of God’? Ho, ho, ho!” No, it was not like that. Here was a calm, judicious, reflected opinion and it came from a very unexpected source. The centurion was publicly censuring the weakness of his own commander, the Roman governor Pilate, for yielding to the Jews and condemning Jesus as an unrighteous man worthy of the death of the cross. He seized this opportunity when every other voice in the world was mute and he gave Christ a good testimony and he did so as our representative – we Gentiles! He was a spokesman of our pagan world. The religious leadership in Jerusalem is being put to shame by a Roman soldier. They had said of their Messiah that he was a scoundrel, but he said, “a righteous man!” Though he has seen nothing but Christ’s sheer misery for 24 hours he gives to this bruised dying man the same title his fellow countrymen reserved for living Caesars. “He is not what outward appearances suggest,” he is saying. “And the only categories that are sufficient to describe this man are religious ones. It is not his culture that has made him act in the ways I’ve witnessed today. It is not his genetic inheritance; it is not his parents’ influence; it’s not his education. None of these is sufficient to explain a man who prayed for me when I gave the order for nails to be driven through his hands and feet. You must look elsewhere for the explanation of who is this Jesus of Nazareth, the man I’ve watched so carefully in the last twenty-four hours. I’ve not been able to take my eyes off him, and I want to say this that in my opinion he was God’s Son!” That is what he cries, and he is speaking staring at this corpse robbed of all glory and power with blood and water still leaking out of his side. When the centurion “heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’” That was his verdict. He considered Jesus full of righteousness and spiritual majesty.

But is there more in these great words? It is in part a question of grammar. Think of the so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses in their New World Translation rendering John 1:1 in this way, “the Word was a god.” Their explanation – which they will give you on your door step, baffling you with their knowledge of Greek grammar – I don’t think so! – is that in the Greek there is no definite article before ‘God.’ That is correct. They say that if ‘God’ (theos) were meant, in the full and absolute sense, it would have been ho theos: ‘God’ with the definite article. But there is a simple grammatical rule which John follows and it is this, that if the noun comes after the verb and functions as a predicate, it always lacks the definite article. John wanted to say, “the Word was God,” and he made the word ‘God’ a predicate of Jesus, and he did so this way, by omitting the article. It is not that translators of the Bible were confused for centuries until along came the founders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who showed us how wrong the versions had all been. It is anti-Trinitarian prejudice that is the reason for the biased wording of their New World paraphrase. My point is that that same rule applies here, and technically speaking it is this – and I speak just to the one or two grammarians reading this – that a definite predicate nominative omits the article when it precedes the verb.

So let us look again at these words of the centurion, and we are happy to take the articles away as they are absent in the Greek. Then the judgment the centurion made was this, “Surely this was God’s Son” . . . no articles. That is exactly what he said. You could not get a more literal translation of the Greek. Somebody can argue, “Yes, the centurion is thinking as his fellow pagans thought, that Jesus was son of god like the Roman emperors were considered sons of god.” No, that is culturally and emotionally unacceptable. When did he ever see his Emperor being slowly tortured to death? When did he hear of the Emperor of Rome becoming an abject and shameful object of weakness? What Roman ever worshipped a leader like that and called him ‘son of god’? He would never be called ‘God’s son.’ Their divine election to sonship was cancelled by the scourge, and the crown of thorns, and the spitting in their face, and the nails through the hands, and the spear thrust into the side. If this happened to anyone then it was proof that he was a mere man, a weakling, someone who himself needed divine help. You weren’t a son of any god. That god wouldn’t have allowed you to have experienced all of that pain and contempt. He’s have delivered you and sent fire bombs on your enemies. A crucified Son of God was a contradiction in terms to any Roman as much as to any Jew. All of Golgotha , the ugliness and the blood and the anguish, was offensive; the whole claim that this was God’s Son was foolishness to the Greek and the barbarian.

So what weight do we give these extraordinary words? I don’t think for a moment that this soldier had our grasp of the two natures of Christ as God and Man, and his three states as eternal, humbled and exalted, and his three offices as prophet, priest and king. He didn’t have a fully developed Christology. That’s true, but we may not listen to these words and conclude that the message of the passage is only what the Roman soldier intended and what the other soldiers understood. I say that because the New Testament itself makes it plain to us that the Old Testament prophecies meant far more than its writers understood at the moment they wrote them. Peter tells us that “the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” (I Pet. 1:10-12). In other words they were given a message by the Spirit in them but they didn’t fully comprehend what they were teaching the people. They tried to understand their own prophecies, searching and taking the greatest care to do so – “O Spirit of Jehovah, what do you mean by this?” Isaiah understood some things but the Spirit mean far more!

Think of the famous illustration of B.B.Warfield (which I think he obtained from Augustine). He compares the Old Testament without the New as a dimly lit room full of mysterious figures and shadows and gloom. Then you study the New Testament and look again at the Old Testament and it is as if a light has been switched on. Nothing has changed but now you have illumination. You know what Isaiah is saying in chapter 53; you know more of what Moses is writing about in the book of Leviticus; you understand the Tabernacle and the Day of Atonement, because Christ the Son of God has come and lived and died as the Lamb of God and taken away the sin of the world. So we hear these words of the centurion and we don’t read them as a first century citizen of Rome who has never heard a word about Jesus of Nazareth. We read them as those familiar with the New Testament and the life and death of Christ. We say of Christ what Peter said at Caesarea Philippi. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This centurion didn’t yet know the full Chalcedonian Christology, but he did know this was no ordinary man, and nothing but the reality of the living God could explain all he had seen and heard that day. That was not an empty confession. Mark is not saying, “Wasn’t this strange?” when he tells us what the centurion said. Mark wants the world to know the impact of the crucifixion of the Son of God on the pagan world.

This soldier never saw the miracles, nor heard the sermons of Christ but he did see Jesus’ response to the mockery and the sufferings. He was under so much pressure to despise Christ – pagan pressure and the peer pressure of his superiors and Jewish pressure – yet he confessed that Jesus was God’s Son. This conviction arose irresistibly simply by hearing the words of Jesus and seeing how he died. Do you see what Mark is telling us? From this moment on anyone in the whole world may believe that Christ is the Son of God by the hearing of the cross of Christ. The Saviour’s holy royal death converted the very executioner himself. So Christians can win the world, not by declaring a holy war, not by using the advertisers’ techniques, not by spin and sound-bite, not by entertainment and dumbing down, but by declaring the crucifixion of the Son of God. In the obscurity, and lowliness, and humiliation, and weakness of the crucified Christ God’s power over the hatred and torture of men is seen. God allowed them to do all that to his own Son. He did not spare his Son from any of it. His Son accepted it all and stayed on the cross because he was loving us, and this was the only way we sinners can be saved.

This is the power of the divine love, and this is the power of the cross of Christ. He has taken our judgment and suffered in our place. This freely pardons us. All the power that the world of men possesses manipulates and makes demands. It can so easily crush others, but here is a power that freely gives itself for those who can make no contribution at all. This centurion had seen it; God’s Son staying on the cross; God’s Son choosing to endure all that; God’s Son not retaliating; God’s son laying down his life. “The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, ‘Surely this was a righteous man.’”

4. THIS MAN PUBLICLY CONFESSED CHRIST AS THE SON OF GOD.

It was not enough that he thought these things, or believed in his heart that Jesus was the Son of God. Silence concerning so life-changing a reality is itself denial. Silence incurs guilt. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. Have you ever considered just some of the Scriptures which speak of our obligation to respond just as this brutalized military man responded and confess that Jesus Christ is God’s Son? Listen! “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). Why are you silent? Again hear these familiar words of Paul, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). Are you ashamed of believing in Christ? And again later in that same letter to the Romans, doesn’t Paul make it plain that there are two things required of everyone who becomes a Christian? “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you [and you alone] 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.” (Romans 10:9&10)

Are you being silent about the Son of God? Yet hasn’t God himself made a confession about his Son? “This is My beloved Son” (Matt. 17:5). He isn’t ashamed of Jesus and are we going to be mute? Hear John’s words: “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15). God the Son came into the world tabernacling for nine months in Mary. “Lo! He abhorred not the virgin’s womb!” He did this for our salvation, and won’t we confess him? How otherwise will you be recognised? “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” (1 John 4:2-3). Are you acknowledging him as the Son of God?

During one of the infamous persecutions of Christians in the second and third centuries, those believers who wouldn’t deny the Lord, even at the risk of torture and martyrdom, came to be known as ‘confessors.’ They were ready to do what this Roman soldier did before the cross of Christ, confess “Jesus is the Son of God,” even if it meant their death. They refused to hide their light under a bushel. They wouldn’t deny their Lord and pretend that they were not really Christians.

There was one believer who was put to death by the Romans in 155 AD His name was Polycarp. He was an old man, and in his earlier days he had known the Apostle John. The Romans threatened him telling him that they would throw him to the wild beasts or burn him at the stake. They did everything they could to try to get him to deny his Lord. All this was done in an arena before a large crowd. Finally the ruler said to Polycarp: “Deny him, and I will let you go.” This was Polycarp’s answer: “I have served him eighty-six years and in no way has he done me wrong; how can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” He couldn’t deny the One who saved him.

“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so” (Psalm 107:2). How can we who have been redeemed by the cross not speak of the one who died there on the cross? He is not ashamed to call us his brethren (Heb. 2:11), and we let him down every day. How can we be ashamed to call him our God and Saviour? If we confess him before men, he will confess us before his Father in heaven, but if we deny Christ before men, he will deny us before the Father. “This person does not belong to me. I never knew him.” How tragic! There are the wonderful promises to those who make a confession that he is God – like this centurion. According to Luke 12:8, if we gladly own Christ before men, Christ will gladly own us before the angels of God. “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Rev. 3:5). But then there are the solemn warnings, that if we deny him before men (Luke 12:9), he will deny us before the host of heaven.

A student once came to know Jesus Christ as his Saviour, but he was a secret disciple. Such a state of affairs cannot last because either the secrecy is going to kill the discipleship or the discipleship will kill the secrecy. One day he was standing in line in one of the university dining rooms and he noticed a girl whose husband was a student holding a handful of tracts and wearing badges saying that she was a Christian. She was slowly working her way down the line offering a leaflet to everyone. She got nearer and nearer to him, and finally she offered him a tract. “Thank you. I’m a Christian,” he said. That is all, but he experienced the welling up of true joy within him as he confessed to someone for the first time that he belonged to the Saviour.

We must take ten looks at Christ and then say to our friends and acquaintances, “I’m a Christian,” and of course we have to back out confession up by a new life of graciousness, and love, and forgiveness, and kindness, one that is redolent with good works. Then when we appear before God our Saviour in turn will say to the Father, “This person told the world that he belonged to me. He’s mine!” Have you publicly confessed Christ and acknowledged that he is your Lord and Saviour? Have you shared this with your friends and loved ones? Do they know that you are a believer in Christ? What about the people that you work with or study with? Do they know about your relationship to Christ and what he means to you? Have you ever confessed Christ to another person. Have you been baptized?

J. C. Ryle said these words, “We must not be ashamed to let all men see that we believe in Christ and serve Christ and love Christ and care more for the praise of Christ than for the praise of man. The duty of confessing Christ is incumbent on all Christians in every age of the church. Let us never forget that. It is not for martyrs only, but for all believers in every rank of life. It is not for great occasions only, but for our daily walk through an evil world. The rich man among the rich, the labourer among labourers, the young among the young, the servant among servants – each and all must be prepared, if they are true Christians, to confess their Master. It needs no blowing of trumpets. It requires no noisy boasting. It needs nothing more than using the daily opportunity. But one thing is certain – if a man loves Jesus, he ought not to be ashamed to let people know it. Whether we like it or not, whether it be hard or easy, our course is perfectly clear. In one way or another Christ must be confessed.”

Let me end with some words of Fred Leahy. “Let us step back in time and stand beside the centurion at Calvary . Listen to him. In the mysterious providence of God, he is pointing us to Christ. He did not have the Bible: you have one. He did not, so far as we know, hear the gospel preached: you have heard it, perhaps often. He came from a background of paganism: you may have had many spiritual privileges and opportunities. The task of executing the three men completed, the centurion marches his men back to barracks. If he survived military service, and returned to civilian life at home, he would often have reflected on that unforgettable day at Calvary and that Man on the centre cross. God had granted him a measure of light then that those around him did not have. Did God in the course of time grant him further light? Who knows? God does. Near the cross of Christ, some believe and some remain in unbelief. Here some are saved, and some are lost. If you would have eternal life and go to heaven when you die, then remember that you cannot by-pass the cross. It is here you see the Son of God, the Saviour. It is here your sins are forgiven. It is here you are saved: right here at the cross and nowhere else.” (Fred S. Leahy, “Is It Nothing to You?”, Banner of Truth, Edinburgh , 2004, p.57)

29th January 2006 GEOFF THOMAS