It is fear of falling into the hands of God that makes us so eager to get things reduced to a formula. We feel that if we can learn the “secret” of salvation or the “steps” into the blessed life, we can control our future and (though we would not admit it) control God Himself to a large degree. This saves face and preserves our self-confidence, but it also mutes the voice of power in the gospel and weakens the operations of God in the soul. Only the despairing heart can know the inward witness.
In the final analysis, no one can lead another to God. All he can do is to lead the inquirer to the door of the kingdom and urge him onward. Between God and the returning soul there is a zone of obscurity through which he cannot see. It is the light that no man can approach unto and past which no one can go on his feet or by means of reason or theological knowledge. There faith must make its leap of pure trust into the arms of God crying with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15), or with Newton, “O Lord, I trust in Thee completely, and if I go to hell I’ll go down standing on Thy Word.”
It is this utter desperation that brings the witness, and yet I cannot tell anyone how to reach such a state. All I can do is to urge everyone to repent and believe on Jesus Christ. If the repentance is genuine and the faith real, all human confidence will come crashing down and the humbled soul will be forced to make its leap of faith alone.
The reader that cannot find his way from here is in all probability still impenitent. And let him beware of seeking cheap comfort from a text jockey who will cry, “‘Peace, peace,’. . . when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). He had better by far take his Bible and retire to the secret place to seek God alone. If there’s hope for him, he’ll find it there. But he’ll find it nowhere else.