by Samuel Jack
Imagine this scenario. It’s 2 in the morning. A pipe has just burst, flooding your house with water. You’ve only just moved in. Most of your worldly goods are in boxes, and water is threatening to ruin the lot. You feel helpless – and you don’t know any of the neighbours. What do you desperately need? In that moment, you’d give anything for the name and number of a reliable plumber.
Perhaps, as you’re reading this article, there’s a crisis going on within you that nobody else can see, and you don’t feel you can share. Maybe you feel you’re at breaking point; perhaps you feel you’re sinking – going under. Who can you turn to?
Let me bring you hope from the words of the Apostle Peter from Acts 4. He was speaking to the Jewish leaders, who were questioning him about a miracle he’d just performed.
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:8-12, NKJV)
The God who made heaven and earth, who rules over all things, has given us the name of someone who can help. Whatever our problem, however big the crisis, help can always be found in one person, and one person only: the man Jesus Christ who is the Son of God. Jesus is the one we should call on for help. He is qualified, experienced and reliable. The whole bible is full of testimonials of people whom he has saved from the most desperate of situations. Best of all, he offers his services for free: there is no call-out charge with Jesus.
Unlike some cowboys who do a bodge job, just patching up the exterior, Jesus always gets to the root of the problem. We don’t just need a helping hand: we need saving. Our hearts are in rebellion against God: however hard we try, however much we might want to, we’re morally unable to keep God’s good commandments perfectly. That’s why we need a Saviour. And Jesus is just the saviour we need. He is able to deal with our past, present and future. He can cancel the record of our sin. He can give us a new heart, able and willing to keep God’s commandments. He can guarantee our safe arrival in heaven.
I don’t need to tell you that with your house flooding at 2am in the morning, being given the name of a plumber is not enough. If you took the time to learn his whole life story, it might be interesting, it might build your confidence that this is the right guy. But it will do you no good unless you call him. Your house will continue to flood, your possessions going to ruin, until you get on the phone and speak to him. You must ask him to come and apply his skill and experience to your situation. You must invite him to come to your house, and fix your plumbing.
In the same way, knowing about Jesus is not enough. Being able to recite his life story won’t save you. You must actually speak to him. Speaking just a few days before the situation quoted earlier, in another sermon, the Apostle Peter said, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21) You must ask Jesus personally to apply his saving work to your life. We do that by prayer. Whether out loud, or in our hearts, we address ourselves to Jesus. We tell him about the problem of our hearts, our inability to save ourselves, and we ask him to come and deal with the problem for us.
How will you know when Jesus has saved you? Well, how do you know if a plumber has done his job? When the pipes stop leaking, and water is flowing where it should, and not all over the floor. We know when Jesus has done his work for us, because our hearts change, and our lives change. Sinful desires begin to subside. New desires take their place. We want to read God’s word, to keep his commandments, to join with his people in love and service.
When the plumber arrives, he might be able to stop the flooding pretty quickly: but it always takes longer to clean up the mess afterwards. So with Jesus: when we truly call upon him in faith, we are saved – made right with God – in an instant. But not everything will change immediately. Don’t be surprised if a mess of bad habits, and wrong thinking remains in your life, and seems to be taking a long time to deal with. Plumbers usually leave you to deal with the mess, once they’ve fixed the leak. But Jesus doesn’t. Once he arrives in our hearts, he’s here to stay. Just keep asking him, and he’ll patiently help you with every problem.