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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Heading for Heaven # 2

[please read carefully!]

One Way

Such were the children of Cain; and they seem to have been such pleasant company, so little disposed to trouble other people by talking about the soul and heaven and hell, that nearly everybody took after them, and the world was tainted and infected with their manners; insomuch that the few who still clung to the true God became separated from the rest by a line of distinction: they began to be called by the name of the Lord.

But even this separation did not last long. We are next told, that they who professed to be the sons of God began to think there was no harm in marrying persons who cared nothing about religion; they chose wives who were unbelievers, - beautiful and agreeable, no doubt, but still enemies of God, - and (as it has almost always proved when a Christian has been united to one that is not a Christian), the bad soon corrupted the good, or else the good did not convert the bad, and the families that were born of these unions proved earthly, sensual, and devilish, and in a short time the whole world was full of sin.

Consider, beloved, what a fearful proof you have here of the natural bent of man's heart towards wickedness! They had the recollection of God's anger against transgression fresh upon their minds; they had Paradise before their eyes, they had the angels of God keeping the way of the tree of life with flaming swords; and yet, in spite of all this, they sinned with a high hand. They went on much as the world like to do now: they ate, they drank, they planted, they builded, they bought, they sold, they made light of warnings. "What have we do with the Lord?" they thought; "let us enjoy ourselves while we can." But God will not be mocked, and though He bore with them long and exhorted them by His servants, He dealt with them at last according to their works; and just as He will one day send the fire upon this earth, so did He send the waters of the deep: the flood came and cut them off in the middle of their revelings, and drowned the whole world excepting eight persons.

Such was the character of the men before the flood; and in the middle of this age of wickedness Enoch lived, and Enoch walked with God. There were no Bibles then, no prayer books, no religious tracts, no churches, no ministers, no sacraments: Christ had never been seen; the way of salvation had never been clearly made known; the gospel was only seen dimly in the distance; it was not fashionable to think about religion, it was not fashionable to worship God at all, there was nothing to encourage people to make a profession. Yet in the middle of this wicked and adulterous generation this saint of the Most High did live; Enoch walked with God. It is almost impossible to imagine a more splendid proof of what grace can do for a weak, sinful man than is to be found in these words; in the world before the flood "Enoch walked with God."

2. I promised in the second place to tell you something about Enoch's character. You have heard he walked with God, and you know, perhaps, it is an expression of great praise; but I may not leave you here without trying to give you a clear notion of its meaning. People often get a habit of using words without exactly knowing what they mean, and a very bad habit it is. Now, I say that this walking with God has many different senses; it is an expression full of matter.

A man that walks with God is one of God's "friends." That unhappy enmity and dislike which men naturally feel towards their Maker has been removed; he feels perfectly reconciled and at peace. How indeed can two walk together except they be agreed? He does not hide himself from the Lord, like Adam in the trees of the garden, but he seeks to be in constant communion with Him; he is not as many who are uncomfortable at the idea of being alone with God for he is never perfectly happy excepting in His company; he feels that he cannot be too much with Him, because he desires to be of the same mind, to think like Him, to act like Him, to be conformed to His image. Such a one was Enoch.

Again, he that walks with God is one of God's "dear children." He looks upon Him as his Father, and as such he loves Him, he reveres Him, he rejoices in Him, he trusts Him in everything. He makes it his constant study to please Him, and whenever he has offended, he sorrows over his offence with a true childlike sorrow. He thinks that God knows better than himself what is good for him, and so in everything that happens - sickness or health, sorrow or joy, riches or poverty - he says to himself, "It is well: my Father sends this." Such a one was Enoch.

Again, he that walks with God is one of God's "witnesses." He ever hesitates to stand forward on the Lord's side. He is not content with giving his own heart to God, but he is also ready and willing to bear his testimony in public on behalf of the cause of righteousness and truth. He is not ashamed to let men know whose servant he is; he will not be turned aside from raising his voice against sin for fear of giving offence. Such a one was Enoch. His lot was cast in evil days; but did he join the multitude? Did he walk in the way of sinners. Did he hold his peace and say, I can do nothing? Far from it! He thought not what his neighbors liked, but what His Lord required. He sought not to please the world, but to please God; and therefore, living in the midst of sin and corruption, he was separate from it. He was a witness against it; he was as the salt of the earth; he was as a light shining in a dark place.

Ay, and he was a plain speaker, too. He made no excuse about youth and temptation; he did not let men go to hell for fear of being thought uncharitable, but he told them openly of their danger; and when they were living wickedly and carelessly, as if there was no God and no devil, he said, as the apostle Jude relates, "The Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly of their ungodly deeds." No doubt he was thought a troubler of the people, and a disagreeable man; but he was a witness, and so he declared continually: "The Lord cometh"; whether ye will hear or whether ye will forbear, there shall be a day of account, sin shall not always go unpunished - repent, for the Lord cometh. This was the burden of his testimony. He walked with God, and so he was a faithful witness.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 3)

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