Today’s Illustration: A Salvation Illustration

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“Reasons are the pillars of the fabric of a sermon; but similitudes are the windows which give the best lights.” — Thomas Fuller

“You may build up laborious definitions and explanations and yet leave your hearers in the dark as to your meaning; but a thoroughly suitable metaphor will wonderfully clear the sense.”  – Charles Spurgeon


There are different kinds of illustrations:

♦ Anecdotes
♦ Personal Stories / Testimonies
♦ Historical Examples
♦ The Stories Or Testimonies Of Others
♦ Pithy Quotations
♦ Well-known Prose & Poems
♦ Biblical Analogies (i.e., “This is what it looked like in the O.T. . . . .)
♦ Books / Magazine Articles
♦ Metaphors 
(to picture a truth in a simple short manner —
“Blaming others is ‘spiritual tag'” )
♦ Analogies 
(“When God tells Joshua, ‘Take off your sandals,’ he’s saying,
‘Don’t track your dirt on my carpet.’ — David Helm
♦ Stacking Biblical Examples
(i.e. “It happened with Abraham . . . . ,
then Isaac . . . . . , then Joseph’s brothers. . . . . , etc”)
♦ Hypothetical Analogies (i.e. — It would be like this . . . . / It is like this
happening to us . . . . / Imagine this . . . . )


A Salvation Illustration (Hypothetical Applicational Analogy):
(Link for hearing the illustration actually used is found below*)

Picture this . . . . .

You have been caught engaged in some activity which is illegal, and you are embarrassed that you were so foolish as to do it.  You realize that you must hire an attorney — and now it becomes a costly and foolish decision to step over the line.

Your court date has arrived, and as you walk into the courtroom, you first of all observe that the previous case is being concluded.

You notice that a lawyer is shuffling together the various papers, and he and his client turn around to walk through the short swinging section of the railing which separates the on-lookers from the legal area of the courtroom.

Then . . . you look up towards the courtroom’s trial bench —  and you suddenly realize that I am seated behind the large dark oak judge’s bench and that I am the presiding judge . . .

While I am briefly delayed by the court clerk who is handing me the manila folder of materials which contains the next case before the court . . . . your case . . . .

and as I open up that folder and look at the name of the lawyer representing the next case’s litigant, and then the name of the litigant — your name — followed by the charges . . . . I realize that I may well know this individual . . . .

As you and your attorney make your way through that same short swinging cout railing, I quickly look up and find that indeed it is you — someone I know personally and have known closely for many years.

I may need to ask that another judge conduct the actual trial — but for now, I proceed . . . .

I ask the bailiff to announce the case . . . . and as he reads the case number, your name, and the charges, I look over towards you, and you look up at me — yes as our eyes make contact — acknowledging each other —  we both grasp that we have been friends for years. . . . and that this case is now before me.

I ask your attorney —  “How does your client plead? — Guilty or Not Guilty” —  and as your lawyer begins speaking — “You honor . . . . ”  — you interrupt your lawyer.

Your attorney then turns to me and asks for a few minutes to talk to his client —


You indicate to your attorney that you and the judge know each other . . . . and know each other well.

You are not expecting the judge to bend the law, but you believe you will get as fair treatment as one could expect  — if you just plead guilty —  rather than going through a trial.

You remind your attorney . . . .

“The facts are obvious,  — As you already know, when I was unexpectedly stopped by the park ranger, I told him I was out hunting for mushrooms — but when asked why a rifle was necessary to gather mushrooms — I pretty well acknowledged — though never actually stated — that the shot he heard might have been me shooting at a doe that was dead on the ground in front of us. — I am guilty of deer hunting without a current license and out of season. — Just plead me guilty.”

“I don’t care to play around  — just plead “guilty as charged”  — whatever happens — happens.  Plus I really don’t have the money to cover the further cost of an attorney for a trial.”

Your attorney then speaks to the bench and states, ” My client pleads: ‘Guilty as charged.'”

“Does your client understand that the penalty is either 14 days in jail and/or a $1000 fine.

“My client does – your honor.”

I go through the typical legal dialogue . . . .

“You are pleading guilty of your own free will.

You fully understand that the penalty is 14 days in jail and/or a $1000 fine.

Do you admit that you were attempting to kill a deer without a current license and out of season?

No one is coercing you to admit to this violation of the statues of the state of . . . .?”

“Yes, I do your honor.”

“Then the penalty is 14 days in jail or $1,000 fine — whichever you will.”

“Your honor, I don’t have the money.  The little I had has already been paid to my attorney and after this appearance, it will still cost me some more.  — I will take the 14 days in jail.”

Just before the judge raps the gavel and announces that verdict of 14 days in jail,

he takes off his judge’s robes, lays them on the bench,

motions to the bailiff to come over to the attorney’s table with you,

pulls out his wallet,

he then takes out a blank check — which he makes out to the state in the amount of $1,000.00 and lays it down on the table — for you to take.

Initially, you reach out to pick up the check — so as to hand it to the bailiff — but you then pause and say . . . .

“No your honor . . . . I won’t let you do that.  I’ll make it for 14 days and I don’t want you to pay for my foolish behavior.”

“It was a foolish decision — but please let me pay.  It is of little consequence to me financially — just take the payment . . . . and without any thought or need for repayment.”

For whatever motivations . . . .   pride — a sense of honesty — rectitude — honor — rightfulness . . . .  you refuse the judge’s offer.

I return to the bench, put on my judge’s robes, regretfully and sadly announce — 14 days in jail — I cannot do anything else but enforce the law” . . . “guilty” . . . and I rap the gavel.

The bailiff then accompanies you to the county jail for you 14-day sentence.

As you walk into your jail cell, you know what the first questions will be by your cell mates — “What’s your name?”   . . . . followed by the next question —  “What are you in for?”

Now if you tell any of those individuals the crime you committed — If you say to them, “I am in jail for hunting without a current license and out of season.” — that would no longer be accurate.

Presently, there is only one reason you are in jail — right now  — You are in jail because you refused to let the judge pay.  Your answer to your cellmates ought to be . . . .

“I’m in jail because I refused to let the judge pay my $1000 fine and therefore I took the penalty of 14 days in the county jail.”

You know what the response would likely be — “You did what — the judge offered to pay the fine, and you said no thank you?”

Now listen, if anybody dies and goes to hell  — and some will — there will be only one reason that they die and go to hell — It will not be because they committed murder or adultery or they lied or they stole their dishonored mom or all of the above.

It’s not going to be because of anything you can point to – which you have done in life.

It’s going to be for only one reason —  You refused to let Jesus pay your bill — because He has offered to pay!

He says, “I’ll pay your bill —  I’ll pay your bill if you’ll let me.”

He has laid down His robes on the throne of glory — and He has come down — and He wrote out payment on the cross of Calvary — and laid it in front of your eyes on the cross of Calvary.

Payment has been made — you can pay your own bill — but it is a terrible payment — far greater than any finite time in this world’s jails — because you as a finite person will have to spend infinity — forever — when you refuse payment from the infinite God who can and has paid the who bill in a finite 3 days.

Let Him pay your sin debt.

Place your trust, your confidence, your faith in . . . .

Who He is — the Messiah — the Saviour


What He has done — He died on Calvary and that death paid your bill, not His bill — your bill.


“A building without windows would be a prison rather than a house.” — Charles Spurgeon


* The mp3 is from one of several preaching occasions.  I have taken the time to improve upon the illustration in the above-written-out example, rather than merely transcribing the mp3 link included.  Nevertheless, the link is provided as an example — (mp3 Illustration LINK — Ted Martens)

Whole message Link — Illustration at the 30 minute mark 

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