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The Fire that Burns the Dross


A lesson from J. C. Ryle for those deceived by preachers of the prosperity gospel:

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It is good to understand that Christ’s service never did secure a man from all the ills that flesh is heir to, and never will. If you are a believer, you must reackon on having your share of sickness and pain, of sorrow and tears, of losses and crosses, of deaths and bereavements, of partings and separations, of vexations and disappointments, so long as you are in the body. Christ never undertakes that you shall get to heaven without these. He has undertaken that all who come to Him shall have all things pertaining to life and godliness; but He has never undertaken that He will make them prosperous, or rich, or healthy, and that death and sorrow shall never come to their family.

I have the privilege of being one of Christ’s ambassadors. In His name I can offer eternal life to any man, woman, or child who is willing to have it. In His name I do offer pardon, peace, grace, glory, to any son or daughter of Adam . . . But I dare not offer that person worldly prosperity as a part and parcel of the Gospel. I dare not offer him long life, an increased income, and freedom from pain. I dare not promise the man who takes up the cross and follows Christ, that in the following he shall never meet with a storm.

I know well that many do not like these terms. They would prefer having Christ and good health—Christ and plenty of money—Christ and no deaths in their family—Christ and no wearing cares—Christ and a perpetual morning without clouds. But they do not like Christ and the cross—Christ and tribulation—Christ and the conflict—Christ and the howling wind—Christ and the storm.

. . .

How should you know who are true Christians, if following Christ was the way to be free from trouble? How should we discern the wheat from the chaff, if it were not for the winnowing of trial? How should we know whether men served Christ for His own sake or from selfish motives, if His service brought health and wealth with it as a matter of course? The winds of winter soon show us which of the trees are evergreen and which are not. The storms of affliction and care are useful in the same way. They discover whose faith is real, and whose is nothing but profession and form.

How would the great work of sanctification go on in a man if he had no trial? Trouble is often the only fire which will burn away the dross that clings to our hearts. Trouble is the pruning-knife which the great Husbandman employs in order to make us fruitful in good works. The harvest of the Lord’s field is seldom ripened by sunshine only. It must go through its days of wind, and rain, and storm.

If you desire to serve Christ and be saved, I entreat you to take the Lord on His own terms. Make up your mind to meet with your share of crosses and sorrows, and then you will not be surprised. For want of understanding this, many seem to run well for a season, and then turn back in disgust, and are cast away.

If you profess to be a child of God, leave to the Lord Jesus to sanctify you in His own way. Rest satisfied that He never makes any mistakes. Be sure that He does all things well. The winds may howl around you, and the waters swell. But fear not, ‘He is leading you by the right way, that He may bring you to a city of habitation’ (Psalm 107:7).

—J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Banner of Truth, 2014), 263–265.



Posted 2017·02·22 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Holiness (Ryle) · J C Ryle · Persecution/Suffering · Prosperity Gospel · Sanctification

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