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A Wisdom Retreat - April 8

The Signature That Saves

Psalms 32:1
How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!

The late Harry Allen Ironside, former pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, Bible teacher, and prolific author, used to tell the story of a young Russian soldier. Because his father was a friend of Czar Nicholas I, the young man had been made paymaster in one of the barracks. He meant well, but his character was not up to his responsibility and he began gambling, eventually losing a great deal of the government's money and all his own.

In due course the young man received notice that a representative of the czar was coming to check the accounts. That evening he took out the books and totaled up the funds he owed, then went to the safe and retrieved his own pitifully small amount of money. As he sat looking at the books and money, he was overwhelmed at the astronomical debt versus his own small store. He was ruined! Disgrace was certain; prison was looming!

The only solution was to take his life. He pulled out his revolver, placed it on the table before him, and wrote a summation of his misdeeds. At the bottom of the ledger where he had totaled up his illegal borrowings, he wrote, "A great debt! Who can pay?" He decided that at the stroke of midnight the deed would be accomplished—he would end it all.

As the evening wore on the distraught young man grew drowsy and fell asleep. It was during this time that Czar Nicholas I, as was sometimes his custom, made the rounds of the barracks. Seeing a light, he stopped, went in, and saw the young man asleep. He recognized him immediately and, looking over his shoulder, saw the ledger and realized all that had taken place.

He was about to awaken him and put him under arrest when his eye was fastened on the young man's message: "A great debt! Who can pay?" Suddenly, in a surge of magnanimity, he bent over, wrote one word at the bottom of the ledger, and slipped out.

When the soldier awoke, he glanced at the clock and saw that it was long after the midnight hour. He reached for his revolver, but his eye fell upon the ledger and he saw something that he had not seen earlier. There beneath the exclamation that he had written—"A great debt! Who can pay?"—was a single signature: Nicholas.

He was dumbfounded! It was the czar's own signature. He thought to himself, "The czar must have come when I was asleep. He has seen the book! He knows all! Still he is willing to forgive me!" The young soldier then rested on the word of the czar, and the next morning a messenger came from the palace with exactly the amount needed to meet the deficit. Only the czar could pay . . . and he did.

What a great reminder of what Christ has done for us. Beneath the words, "A great debt! Who can pay?" there has been written a single signature: Jesus.

Only Christ could pay for our sins . . . and He did!

Prayer Point: The Psalmist says that you are blessed because your sin is now covered by Christ's blood. Thank Him for paying that enormous debt for you.

Extra Refreshment: Read Ephesians 2.

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