Home at Last!
Brethren, consider well these things: "the sin-defiled, the abominable, the hypocrite, shall in no wise enter into heaven." Look well to your own souls; judge yourselves that ye be not judged of the Lord; I call heaven and earth to witness this day, they that will live these bad lives, whether they be Churchmen or dissenters, old or young, rich or poor, they shall in no wise enter in. Go, cleave to the ways of the world if you are so determined, stick to your sins if you must needs keep them, but I warn you solemnly this hour, they that will have these things shall in no wise enter in. Go, blame me now for speaking sharply to you - think I am too particular if you like it - but, oh! remember if you ever stand without the gates, crying, "Lord, open to us," in vain, remember there was a time when I told you, the worldly-minded and the evil livers shall in no wise enter in. Brethren I have told you before, and I tell you now again for the last time, if you will cling to the things that God hates, you shall in no wise enter into heaven.
3. Brethren, we must pass on. The text has told you who shall not enter heaven. Oh! what a mighty crowd those words shut out! But it tells you something more: who are they that shall. Short is the account and simple: "They only that are written in the Lamb's book of life." What is this book of life? There is a book, a little book, a book prepared from all eternity, which God the Father keeps sealed - the book of His election; of that book man knows nothing, excepting this blessed truth that there is such a book. With that book man has little or nothing to do. But there is another book, a little book, a book belonging especially to the Lord Jesus Christ, a book still unfinished, though year after year there are more names written in it; a book still open, still ready to receive the names of believing penitents: there are still some blank pages left for you; and this is the Lamb's book of life. And who are written in this precious book? I do not know their names, but I do know their characters, and what those characters are I will endeavor to tell you shortly, for the last time.
They are all true penitents. They have been convinced of their own unworthiness in God's sight; they have felt themselves to be sinners in deed and in truth; they have mourned over their sins, hated their sins, forsaken their sins; the remembrance of them is grievous, the burden of them intolerable; they have ceased to think well of their own condition, and count themselves fit to be saved; they have confessed with their whole heart: "Lord, we are really chief of sinners - Lord, we are indeed unclean."
Again: they are all believers in Christ Jesus. They have found out the excellency of the work He did to save them, and cast on Him the burden of their souls. They have taken Christ for their all in all: their wisdom, their righteousness, their justification, their forgiveness, their redemption. Other payment of their spiritual debts they have seen none; other deliverances from the devil they have not been able to find. But they have believed on Christ, and come to Christ for salvation;they are confident that what they cannot do Christ can do for them, and having Jesus Christ to lean on, they feel perfect peace.
Once more: they are all born of the Spirit and sanctified. They have all put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man which is after God. They have all been renewed in the spirit of their minds; a new heart and a new nature has been given to them. They have brought forth those fruits which only are the proof of the Spirit being in them. They may have slipped and come short in many things; thy may have mourned over their own deficiencies full often; but still, the general bent and bias of their lives has always been towards holiness, - more holiness, more holiness, has always been their hearts' desire. They love God, and they must live to Him. Such is the character of them that are written in heaven. These, then, are the men and women whose names are to be found in the Lamb's book of life.
Once they may have been as bad as the very worst - defiled, abominable, liars: what matter? They have repented and believed, and now they are written in the book of life. They may have been despised and rejected of this world, poor and mean and lowly in the judgment of their neighbors: what matter? They had repentance and faith and new hearts, and now they are written in the glorious book of life. They may have been of different ranks and nations; they may have lived at different ages, and never seen each other's faces: what matter? They have one thing at least in common, they have repented and believed, and been born again, and therefore they stand all together in the Lamb's book of life.
Yes, brethren these are the men and women that enter heaven; nothing can keep them out. Tell me not of deathbed evidences, and visions and dreams of dying people; there is no evidence like that of Christ's followers - repentance, faith, and holiness; this is a character against which the gates shall never be closed. Repent and believe in Christ and be converted, and then, whatever happens to others, you, at least, shall enter heaven; you shall in no wise be cast out.
And now, in conclusion, let me press upon you my old question. How is it with yourselves? What, no answer! are you ready to depart? Again, no answer! Is your name written in the book of life? Once more, have you no answer?
Oh, think, think, unhappy man or woman, whoever thou art, thing what a miserable thing it is to be uncertain about eternity. And then consider, if thou can not give thy heart to God now, how is it possible thou could enjoy God's heaven hereafter? Heaven is unceasing godliness; it is to be in the presence of God and His Christ for evermore. God is the light, the food, the air of heaven. It is an eternal Sabbath. To serve God is heaven's employment, to talk with God is heaven's occupation.
O sinners, sinners, could ye be happy there? To which of all the saints would ye join yourselves, by whose side would you go and sit down, with whom of all the prophets and apostles would ye love to converse? Surely it would be a wearisome thing to you;surely you would soon want to go forth and join your friends outside. Oh, turn ye, turn ye while it is called today! God will not alter heaven merely to please you; better a thousand times to conform to His ways while ye can. Ye must love the things of heaven before your death, or else ye cannot enter heaven when you die.
Christian, look up and take comfort. Jesus has prepared a place for you, and they that follow Him shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of His hands. Look forward in faith, for it is thine. O Christian, think what a glorious meeting that shall be. There we shall see the saints of old, of whom we have so often read; there we shall see those holy ministers whose faith and patience we have admired; there we shall see one another around the throne of our common Saviour, and be parted and separated no more. There we shall labor and toil no more, for the days of mourning shall be ended. Oh, but my heart will leap within me, if I see there faces I have known among you; if I hear the names of any of yourselves! The Lord grant it, the lord bring it to pass. The Lord grant we may some of us, at least, come together in that day, when there shall be one fold and one Shepherd, and with one heart and voice join tat glorious song, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain; blessing and honor and glory and power be unto the Lamb for ever and ever." Amen
~J. C. Ryle~