Rev. 21:6; Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; John 3:16
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Full text of Colonel Roosevelt’s Mistake
During the Spanish-American War, Theodore Roosevelt, much attached to his men, was greatly concerned when a number of them fell ill. Hearing that Clara Barton (the lady who devoted herself to the work of nursing the wounded soldiers) had received a supply of special food for the invalids under her care, Colonel Roosevelt requested her to sell a portion of them to him for the sick men of his regiment.
His request was refused. The colonel was very much troubled. He cared for his men, and he was willing to pay for the supplies out of his own pocket.
“How can I get these things?” he asked. “I must have proper food for my sick men.”
“Just ask for them, Colonel,” said the surgeon in charge of the Red Cross headquarters.
“Oh,” said Roosevelt, his face breaking into a smile, “that is the way, is it? Then I do ask for them.” And he got them at once.
Often the colonel’s mistake has been repeated in connection with the matter of salvation. People seem to expect to receive it in exchange for something that they can offer. One brings an earnest prayer; a second brings a vow or promise to turn over a new leaf; a third brings a resolution to live a better and purer life; a fourth thinks that before he can receive salvation, he must produce some evidence of his sincerity in the shape of an improvement of his conduct; a fifth imagines that he can obtain it by adherence to an orthodox creed and conformity to certain religious observances.
Now the truth is that God’s salvation can be had only as a free gift. Why should there be any difficulty in understanding this? The words of Scripture are very plain:
“I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Revelation 21:6).
“The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Pride rebels against such terms. It would rather pay, however small the price. But God is too great to sell His blessing, nor could any man merit salvation in the smallest degree, however long he might try. God is prepared to meet the sinner with His hands full of the richest blessings, if only the sinner will come with empty hands to receive it as a gift. Will you?
“By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5).
“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).