The Sure Hope
That carelessness about sin, that trifling with temptation, that earnestness about the things of time, that forgetfulness about eternity, that readiness to swim with the tide about religion, that unwillingness to become more serious than your neighbors, that fear of being thought righteous overmuch, that love of the world's good opinion, - is this what you call coming out of great tribulation? Is this sowing to the Spirit? Is this striving and laboring after eternal life? Oh, look to your foundations, set your house in order. No empty trust in God's mercy will ever save you. You were not baptized unto idleness and indifference. Without a real hatred of sin, and a real forsaking of sin, Christ can profit you nothing. You never can be made white with the blood of the Lamb, except you desire to have this earth's defilements really washed away.
And then consider, lastly, O unhappy children of this world, could you be happy in the heaven you have heard described? Know ye not all, that sickness and death do seldom work a change of heart, they seldom plant in man new taste and new desires? - and do you think that men who count it a great matter to come to church, and find the services a weariness and rejoice when they are over, will such be ready to serve God day and night in His temple? Will those who take no pleasure in drawing nigh to Jesus in prayer, delight to be for ever in His presence and dwell with Him? Are you who never hunger and thirst after righteousness, are you to be satisfied with the living fountains of water? Are you who never know what it is to weep over sin and corruption, who never grieve over the wickedness of this world, are you likely to understand the privilege of that rest when God shall wipe away all tears? Oh, no, it cannot be, it cannot be! Whatever a man sows he shall also reap; whatever we love in time we shall love in eternity; whatever we think wearisome now we shall think wearisome then. Ye must e born again, or heaven itself would be a miserable abode; there is no place there for the worldly-minded and profane. Ye must be renewed in the spirit of your minds, or ye will hear that dreadful voice, Friend, how camest thou in hither without a wedding-garment? Ye must become new creatures; and how long will you insult your Redeemer by putting it off? Oh! Pray ye to the Lord Jesus Christ, while it is called today, to send His Holy Spirit on you; go to the fountain while the door of mercy is yet open, wash and be clean.
But blessed are all ye that mourn, for ye shall be comforted; blessed are ye that are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for great is your reward in heaven. Ye have wept with them that weep, but ye shall soon rejoice with them that rejoice, and your joy shall no man take away. it is but a single step, and you shall be for ever with the Lord, where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest. The worm may destroy these bodies, and yet in the flesh ye shall see God, and your own eyes shall behold Him, and your own ears shall hear Him say, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." The saints whose faith and patience you have so often admired; the holy men and women of whom you have so often said, "Oh, that I were like them"; the ministers who have shown you the way of life, and implored you to be steadfast and unmovable; the friends who advised you to come out of the world, and took sweet counsel with you about the kingdom of God; the beloved ones of your own house, who slept in Jesus and went home before you: all are there, all waiting to receive you, and there shall be no more parting, no more weeping, no more separation; and you, even you, this vile body being changed, shall sing the song of the redeemed: "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever."
In this world ye may have tribulation, but be of good cheer: your Lord and Saviour hath overcome the world.
~J. C. Ryle~
(continued with # 23 - "Heading for Heaven")