Dr. Samuel Johnson was considered one of the greatest literary scholars in English History. He wrote the dictionary that was used for 150 years before the Oxford dictionary. He was also a man of great religion. He was a devout Anglican who attended church every week. He knew the scriptures. He had a deep sense of his own sin and need for repentance. He wrote these words,
“Forgive, O merciful Lord, whatever I have done contrary to thy laws. Give me such a sense of my wickedness as may produce true contrition and effectual repentance: so that when I shall be called into another state, I may be received among the sinners to whom sorrow and reformation have obtained pardon, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.”
But for all his understanding of his sin and belief in repentance he lacked faith in the sufficiency of Christ. When Dr. Johnson saw death approaching he became distraught and afraid. His friends tried to console him by reminding Dr. Johnson that he had literally wrote the book on ethics and religion. But he said, “How can I tell I have done enough?”
So he decided to contact a pastor. A name was recommended and Dr. Johnson wrote to see this pastor. The pastor, upon seeing the letter from this famous man of intellect, was overcome by his nerves. Instead of going to see him, the pastor wrote Dr. Johnson a letter in which he apologized for being too nervous to see him, but the pastor also said, "If you are asking yourself the question what must I do to be saved. I will say to you in the language of the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb.”
When a friend was reading this letter to Dr. Johnson, Dr. Johnson interrupted the reading at this part and said, “Does he say so, read it again.” A man who knew his scriptures, heard these words and came to believe that Jesus was enough for his life; that Jesus was enough for his peace. At the death of Dr. Johnson, his physician gave the testimony that Dr. Johnson died in peace, believing in the sufficiency of Christ.
Sometimes we find ourselves willing to admit our need for repentance, for change, but lacking trust in Jesus to overcome our sinful flesh. We can lack trust that Jesus is enough for our salvation. When Jesus came preaching in Galilee he said, “Repent and believe the good news.”
Have you ever found in yourself the willingness to repent but not to believe the good news that Jesus has taken your sin?
What does your trust in Jesus look like in your life?