Monday, January 16, 2012

A Warning To Professing Christians

Some thirty years ago, when I was a university student, I came across a statement by Bishop J C Ryle that powerfully riveted itself to my mind. I made a small A4-size poster of it and put it up on the notice board in my room. I lost it when I graduated from university. Since then I have looked for it and failed to find it. I have tried to Google it, but even that has not yielded the desired fruit. I finally found it today (13 January 2012).

Bishop J C Ryle
All along I had been searching in the wrong place. I knew that the statement had something to do with a warning to Christians. Hence, I kept looking in Ryle’s A Warning To The Churches. I literally searched the book, sentence by sentence, several times over. Now that I have found it, I realise that it was in Ryle’s Holiness. The statement is found in the chapter, “Visible Churches Warned.” I will not reproduce the whole chapter here, as the book is readily available on the Internet. In fact, you can even read a PDF version of the chapter HERE. It is chapter 14 in the book.

The first paragraph below is the statement that shocked me out of my socks some thirty years ago. I have added a few more paragraphs to make this a fuller blog post and to also give my readers some more of the heart of this great bishop. I wish that all bishops today—including myself—could write and preach like this!

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I fear much for many professing Christians. I see no sign of fighting in them, much less of victory. They never strike one blow on the side of Christ. They are at peace with his enemies. They have no quarrel with sin. I warn you, this is not Christianity. This is not the way to heaven.

I often fear much for those who hear the gospel regularly. I fear lest you become so familiar with the sound of its doctrines, that insensibly you become dead to its power. I fear lest your religion should sink down into a little vague talk about your own weakness and corruption, and a few sentimental expressions about Christ, while real, practical, fighting on Christ’s side is altogether neglected. Oh, beware of this state of mind. “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). No victory—no crown! Fight and overcome!

Young men and women, and especially those who have been brought up in religious families, I fear much for you. I fear lest you get a habit of giving way to every temptation. I fear lest you become afraid of saying, “No!” to the world and the devil—and when sinners entice you, think it least trouble to consent. Beware, I do beseech you, of giving way. Every concession will make you weaker. Go into the world resolved to fight Christ’s battle—and fight your way on.

…Let me warn all formalists and self-righteous people to take heed that they are not deceived. You fancy you will go to heaven because you go regularly to church. You indulge an expectation of eternal life, because you are always at the Lord’s Table, and are never missing in your pew. But where is your repentance? Where is your faith? Where are your evidences of a new heart? Where is the work of the Spirit? Where are your evidences of regeneration? Oh, formal Christian, consider these questions! Tremble, tremble and repent.

…Let me warn all careless members of churches to beware lest they trifle their souls into hell. You live on year after year as if there was no battle to be fought with sin, the world, and the devil. You pass through life a smiling, laughing, gentleman-like or lady-like person, and behave as if there was no devil, no heaven, and no hell. Oh, careless Churchman, or careless Dissenter, careless Episcopalian, careless Presbyterian, careless Independent, careless Baptist, awake to see eternal realities in their true light! Awake and fight hard for life! Tremble, tremble and repent.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Pastor. This is extremely powerful and thought provoking. Thank you for the excerpt and the entire reading. Again, thank you.