“They believe in heaven and yet seem faintly to long for it!”

Written By: John - Dec• 06•12

On Tuesday morning our reading group came to JC Ryle’s chapter on Lot in his classic book, Holiness.  The chapter was excellent, but I really loved the section where he compared men and women who claim the title of Christian, but like Lot they are more prone to linger than obey.  In his chapter Ryle said,

There are many real children of God who appear to know far more than they live up to, and see far more than they practice, and yet continue in this state for many years.  Wonderful that they go as far as they do, and yet go no further!

They hold the Head, even Christ, and love the truth. They like sound preaching, and assent to every article of gospel doctrine, when they hear it.  But still there is an indescribable something which is not satisfactory about them.  They are constantly doing things which disappoint the expectations of their ministers, and of more advanced Christian friends.  Marvelous that they should think as they do, and yet stand still!

They believe in heaven, and yet seem faintly to long for it, and in hell, and yet seem little to fear it.  They love the Lord Jesus; but the work they do for Him is small.  They hate the devil; but they often appear to tempt him to come to them.  They know the time is short; but they live as if it were long.  They know that they have a battle to fight; yet a man might think they were at peace.  They know they have a race to run; yet they often look like people sitting still. They know the Judge is at the door, and there is wrath to come; and yet they appear half asleep.  Astonishing they should be what they are, and yet be nothing more.

That section slaps Western Christianity right in its sanctimonious face doesn’t it?  How can we who have been transformed live such mundane lives?  How can we who have been indwelled by the Holy Spirit of God walk in such sin?  How can we who claim justification experience such little sanctification?  How can we who experience such little sanctification really expect to enjoy glorification?  It is no wonder the Apostle told us to “Work out our salvation with fear and trembling.”

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