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(19 posts)

Ambassadors and Soldiers

As Christians, we are entrusted with the truth of the gospel. It is our duty to stand for truth, and against all enemies of truth. Postmodernism is simply the latest expression of worldly unbelief. Its core value—dubious ambivalence toward truth—is merely skepticism distilled to its pure essence. There is nothing virtuous or genuinely humble about it. It is proud rebellion against divine revelation. In fact, postmodernism’s hesitancy about truth is exactly antithetical to the bold confidence Scripture says is the birthright of every believer (Ephesians 3:12). Such assurance is wrought by the Spirit of God Himself in those who believe (I Thessalonians 1:5). We need to make the most of that assurance and not fear to confront the world with it. The gospel message in all its component facts is a clear, definitive, confident, authoritative proclamation that Jesus is Lord, and that He gives eternal and abundant life to all who believe. We who truly know Christ and have received that gift of eternal life have also received from Him a clear, definitive commission to deliver the gospel message boldly as His ambassadors. If we are likewise not clear and distinct on our proclamations of the message, we are not being good ambassadors. But we are not merely ambassadors. We are simultaneously soldiers, commissioned to wage war for the defense and dissemination of the truth in the face of countless onslaughts against it. We are ambassadors—with a message of good news for people who walk in a land of darkness and dwell in the land of the shadow of death (Isaiah 9:2). And we are soldiers—charged with pulling down ideological strongholds and casting down the lies and deception spawned by the forces of evil (1 Corinthians 10:3–5; 2 Timothy 2:3–4). Notice carefully: our task as ambassadors is to bring good news to people. Our mission as soldiers is to overthrow false ideas. We must keep those objectives straight; we are not entitled to wage warfare against people or the enter into diplomatic relations with anti-Christian ideas. Our warfare is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12); and our duty as ambassadors does not permit us to compromise or align ourselves with any kind of human philosophies, religious deceit, or any other kind of falsehood (Colossians 2:8). —John MacArthur, The Truth War (Thomas Nelson, 2007), 24–25.

Bonar on Prayer

Saturday··2008·07·05 · 2 Comments
Be much alone with God. Do not put Him off with a quarter of an hour morning and evening. Take time to get thoroughly acquainted. Converse over everything with Him. Unbosom yourself wholly every thought, feeling, wish, plan, doubt to Him. He wants to converse with His creatures; shall His creatures not want to converse with Him? He wants, not merely to be on “good terms” with you, if one may use man’s phrase, but to be intimate; shall you decline the intimacy, and be satisfied with mere acquaintance? What! Intimate with the world, with friends, with neighbors, with politicians, with philosophers, with naturalists, or with poets, but not with God! That would look ill indeed. Folly, to prefer the clay to the potter, the marble to the sculptor, this little earth and its lesser creatures to the mighty Maker of the universe, the great “All and in all!” —Horatius Bonar, Christ Is All, ed. Darrin R. Brooker & Michael Haykin (Reformation Heritage Books, 2007), 62–63.

Christian, dwell alone!

Monday··2008·07·07 · 2 Comments
Christian, dwell alone! Seek not the society of the world. Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? If you have any sympathies with the world—if it contains attractions for you—if God and the things of God are not enough for you—there is something wrong. Love not the world! Seek not its society. Seek the things above. Beware of the fascinations of company,the spells which gaiety throws over the young. Stand your ground. Be not whirled away into the tossing current of gay society on any pretext whatever. Church of the living God, be separate—dwell alone! That is your security, your strength, your influence. Let the world see that you are not of it; that you do not need it. And you will serve it best by dwelling alone. Not by coldness, sourness, distance; but by love, geniality, gentleness, patience, by all acts of benevolence and words of peace. These are things which are only to be found by “dwelling alone.” —Horatius Bonar, Christ Is All, ed. Darrin R. Brooker & Michael Haykin (Reformation Heritage Books, 2007), 83–84.

Impressively Insignificant

Monday··2008·07·21 · 8 Comments
A while ago, after watching a movie on DVD, probably due to some masochistic impulse, I watched the “special features” on the disc. You know, the usually incredibly boring “making of” segments and interviews with the director, cast, and sundry crew. As I watched, it struck me how important some of these entertainers thought their work was. Words like “innovative” and “ground-breaking,” describing various aspects of their latest product, abounded. It was evident that they were really quite impressed with themselves. I found myself scoffing at them: Come, on, people, it’s just a movie! Maybe a good movie, or even a great one, but still, just a movie. How important can it be? To put it into perspective, let’s consider some numbers. Just last weekend, The Dark Knight opened, breaking the previous record for opening weekend ticket sales (Spiderman 3, 2007) and grossing $155.34 million. Well, that’s pretty impressive, I suppose. But how impressive, in the big picture, is it really? According to the National Association of Theatre Owners, the average 2007 ticket price was $6.88. Using that number, I estimate that 2.5 million people watched The Dark Knight opening weekend. That’s a lot of people, nearly four times the population of North Dakota—but only 7.5% of the entire U.S. population. That’s not so big, after all. Now, I don’t know how many more will see the movie in coming weeks. Seriously, who cares? Twenty years from now, will it matter? Ten years? Five? Who will remember? The next blockbuster will come and go, and Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, et al, will eventually be forgotten; and the stars of the latest big show will think that they, too, have made a profound contribution to . . . whatever it is they think they’re doing. So, what’s my point? I’m not sure; there are probably several that could be made. In any case, I have growing impression that I ought to go read Ecclesiastes.
This world is not my home, I’m just passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore. If those words don’t resonate deep within you, there is something seriously amiss spiritually. Perhaps you’ve never come to genuine faith in Christ, so you can’t understand them. Or maybe you’re like many Christians who have become distracted by worldly things. Sadly, having lost sight of the “sweet by and by,” too many Christians busy themselves with the harried here and now, and they themselves are consumed by consumable things. . . . Because the church doesn’t really have heaven on its mind, Christians tend to be self-indulgent, self-centered, weak, and materialistic. Our present comforts consume too much of our thoughts, and if we’re not careful, we end up entertaining wrong fantasies about heaven—or thinking very little of heaven at all. —John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 65. Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. —Colossians 3:1–4

Heavenly Minded

I am embarrassed to admit that I’ve repeated this old canard: “Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” John MacArthur replies: From time to time someone will suggest that Christians are too concerned with heaven. I’m sure you have heard the common complaint about people who are “so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” There is indeed a kind of ersatz spirituality that renders people worthless for good works and mutual edification. But such people are not really heavenly minded at all. They are typically like the Pharisees, going through the motions of ritual and public piety for the sake of self, with no real thought about the glory of God. “They do all their deeds to be seen by others” (Matthew 23:5). That’s the polar opposite of true heavenly mindedness. —John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 65.

Eternal Perspective

What if Paul had written, “For me to live is whatever I can get out of it, and to die makes no difference”? That is the nihilistic view of the hedonist. How depressing and hopeless life would be if all there was to it was to work our way to the end, and die. [L]et’s acknowledge that a nihilistic worldview is the most clear and logical alternative to Christianity. If our existence is the product of nothing and will lead to nothing, then life itself is really nothing. Or (as one skeptic expressed it), we are just protoplasm waiting to become manure. If that is the case, then there’s really no good reason we should not simply eat, drink and be merry while we wait to die. But Scripture tells us that is the worldview of a fool (Luke 12:19–20). How much better to have the eternal perspective! A pamphlet I once read related the following anecdote from the life of John Quincy Adams: One day in his 80th year . . . he was approached by a friend who said, “And how is John Quincy Adams today?” The former President of the United States replied graciously, “Thank you, John Quincy Adams is well, sir, quite well, I thank you. But the house in which he lives at present is becoming dilapidated. It is tottering on its foundations. Time and the seasons have nearly destroyed it. Its roof is pretty well worn out, and its walls are much shattered, and it trembles with every wind. The old tenement is becoming almost uninhabitable, and I think John Quincy Adams will have to move out of it soon; but he himself is quite well, sir, quite well.” And with this the venerable statesman, leaning heavily upon his cane, moved slowly down the street. —John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 70.

He Holds Forth the Sceptre

Richard Baxter on being heavenly-minded: A heavenly mind is a joyful mind; this is the nearest and truest way to live a life of comfort, and without this you must needs be uncomfortable. Can a man be at a fire and not be warm; or in the sunshine and not have light? Can your heart be in heaven, and not have comfort? [On the other hand] what could make such frozen, uncomfortable Christians but living so far as they do from heaven? . . . O Christians get above. Believe it, that region is warmer than below. . . . There is no man so highly honoureth God, as he who hath his conversation in heaven; and without this we deeply dishonour him. Is it not a disgrace to our father, when the children do feed on husks, and are clothed in rags, and accompany by none but beggars? Is it not so to our Father, when we who call ourselves his children, shall feed on earth, and the garb of our souls be but like that of the naked world, when our hearts shall make of this clay and dust their more familiar and frequent company, who should always stand in our Father’s presence, and be taken up in his own attendance? Sure, it beseems not the spouse of Christ to live among his scullions and slaves, when they may have daily admittance into his presence-chamber; he holds forth the sceptre, if they will but enter. —cited in The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 80–81.

Our Highest Satisfaction

Many people imagine heaven to the best of everything they love now. But the glory of heaven cannot compare to earthly existence. Every joy and pleasure we can imagine will be totally eclipsed in the presence of Christ. As Christians, our highest satisfaction will come when we see our God and his Son, Jesus Christ, and when we stand before him in unclouded, undiminished, uninterrupted sight of his infinite glory and beauty, bringing us infinite and eternal delight. We can begin to understand why Peter, after seeing only a faint glimpse of that glory, wanted to make a camp on the Mount of Transfiguration and stay there permanently! (Matthew 17:4). Nineteenth-century songwriter Fanny Crosby expressed the hope of every believer in a well-loved gospel song titled “My Savior First of All”: When my life work is ended, and I cross the swelling tide, When the bright and glorious morning I shall see, I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side, And His smile will be the first to welcome me. . . . Thru the gates of the city in a robe of spotless white, He will lead me where no tears will ever fall; In the glad song of aged I shall mingle with delight But I long to meet my Savior first of all. Those words have special significance—Fanny Crosby was blind from infancy. She knew that literally the first person she would ever see would be Jesus Christ. In a way, the same thing is true of us all. Our sight here on earth is virtually like blindness compared to the clearer vision we will have in heaven (1 Corinthians 13:12). We ought to be eagerly looking for that day when our vision will be enlightened by the glory of his presence. I sincerely hope that’s your deepest desire. —John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 136–155.

The Life of the Justified Is Lofty

The sixth of Horatius Bonar’s characteristics of “the life of the justified”: The life of the justified should be a lofty one. Littleness, and meanness, and earthliness, do not become the pardoned. They must mount up on wings as eagles, setting their affection on things above. Having died with Christ and risen with Him, they sit with Him in heavenly places (Eph. ii. 6). In the world, and yet not of it, they rise above it; possessed of a heavenly citizenship (Phil. iii. 20), and expecting an unearthly recompense at the return of Him who has gone to prepare a place for them. High thoughts, high aims, high longings, become them of whom Christ was not merely the substitute upon the cross, but the representative upon the throne,—the forerunner, who has entered within the veil, and ever liveth to intercede for us. Shall he who has been freely justified grovel in the dust, or creep along the polluted soil of earth? Shall such a justification as he has received not be the source of superhuman elevation of character, making him unworldly in his hopes, in his tastes, in his works, in the discharge of his daily calling? Shall not such a justification act upon his whole being, and pervade his life; making him a thoroughly consistent man in all things; each part of his course becoming his name and prospects; and his whole man symmetrical, his whole Christianity harmonious? —Horatius Bonar, The Everlasting Righteousness; or, How shall Man be Just with God? (London: James Nisbet and Co, 1873), 201–202.

Lord’s Day 45, 2013

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”; —Ecclesiastes 12:1 The End of the Day Horatius Bonar (1808–1889) Come, for thy day, thy wasted day is closing, With all its joy and sun: Bright, loving hours have pass’d thee by unheeded; Thy work on earth undone, And all thy race unrun. Folly and pleasure hast thou still been chasing With the world’s giddy throng, Beauty and love have been thy golden idols; And thou hast rush’d along, Still list’ning to their song! Sorrow and weeping thou hast cast behind thee. For what were tears to thee? Life was not life without the smile and sunshine Only in revelry Did wisdom seem to be. Unclasp, O man, the syren hand of pleasure, Let the gay folly go! A few quick years will bring the unwelcome ending; Then whither dost thou go, To endless joy or woe? Clasp a far truer hand—a kinder, stronger— Of Him the crucified; Let in a deeper love into thy spirit, The love of Him who died. And now is glorified! —Hymns of Faith and Hope, Second Series (James Nisbet & Co., 1878). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+"://";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Heavenly Minded

Dismissing an old cliché: There’s an old saying that a Christian can be “so heavenly minded he’s no earthly good,” and that critique can legitimately apply to some folks. But we think it’s more often the case that Christians find themselves in trouble precisely because they don’t think enough about eternity. They don’t meditate long and hard enough on what God intends to do for them and with them when this age is over, and their circumstances, priorities, even sufferings are not viewed through an eternal lens. It ought to be that when the world looks at a Christian’s life, much of what they see simply will not make sense, and that’s because the Christian’s eyes are fixed on something out there in the future that the non-Christian cannot even begin to see. Eternity—the end game, the final picture, the new heavens and new earth—ought to set the trajectory of a Christian’s life so profoundly that his life doesn’t quite add up when the world looks at it. —Kevin DeYoung & Greg Gilbert, What Is the Mission of the Church? (Crossway, 2011), 196.

The Best Master

Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; In that very day his thoughts perish. How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the Lord his God, Who made heaven and earth, The sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever; Who executes justice for the oppressed; Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free. —Psalm 146:3–7 Is not thy conscience convinced that God is in all respects the best master, his worship the best work, and his pay the best reward? Hast thou not knocked many time at the creature’s door, entered in, sat down, and fed on such fare as it had to set before thee, and, after all, gone away as empty and unsatisfied as thou camest? Hast thou not found by experience that the creature keepeth a poor, pitiful house? that they who run to it with heads full of hopes, return back with hearts full of heaviness? and shall no learning teach thee? Man, man, where is thy reason? Hast thou no eyes to behold the rottenness of the world’s ware, because it is glazed over with gaudy dyeings? Shall the sweet breath of this alluring panther still bewitch thee, notwithstanding all his deformity and ugliness, vanity and emptiness, so as to get thee within his power and destroy thee? Dost thou not see hundreds before thine eyes, of the world’s chief favourites, whom she dandled on her knees, and was very fond of, hurried in haste into the other world, leaving all her gifts behind them, and not a button the better for all her fondness and fooleries? Didst thou never observe how she leaveth her lovers in the lurch, and, like a false, deceitful friend, forsakes them wholly in the time of their greatest extremity? ‘Man walketh in a vain show; he disquieteth himself in vain.’ ‘He returneth to his earth, and in that day his thoughts perish,’ Ps. xxxix. 8, and cxlvi. —George Swinnock, The Christian Man’s Calling, Works of George Swinnock (Banner of Truth, 1992), 1:15.

Betwixt Thy Sins and Thy Saviour

I must needs tell thee that there is an impossibility of dividing thy service betwixt thy sins and thy Saviour, and of parting thy heart and work between the world and the word: ‘No man can serve two masters,’ Mat. vi. 24. If like a meteor thou hangest between heaven and earth, haltest between Christ and the flesh, as a hunting dog between two hares, running sometime after this, sometime after that, thou wilt be sure at last to lose both. —George Swinnock, The Christian Man’s Calling, Works of George Swinnock (Banner of Truth, 1992), 1:82.

Bread of Life (turns out it’s not real bread)

Wednesday··2014·04·16 · 2 Comments
Yesterday, my wife drew my attention to a comment on the Housewife Theologian blog in which I was named, with negative implication, in relation to the Gospel Coalition Food Pharisee post to which I responded here. That doesn’t bother me—in fact, it’s rather thrilling to be named at all in the comments of a post by an author who never mentioned me and has likely never heard of me. But then there is the following statement: [W]hen food is such a pervasive theme in Scripture (as opposed to say, oh, being a car mechanic), and when Jesus gives as one of His names the Bread of Life, investing some time to think on that is neither shallow nor useless. My first reaction was little more than, “Well, that’s silly,” but the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me, and the more it bothered me, the more I thought about it, until I saw just how horrifying a statement it is. What bothers me, to put it mildly, is the evidence that one of the greatest gospel discourses in Scripture has been so horribly misconstrued. First, the claim that food is a pervasive theme in Scripture is less than tenuous. I think you’d be hard pressed to find any text of which food is the theme, not without entirely missing the point, anyway. That’s bad. But to think that the Bread of Life discourse should cause us to think about nutrition and ethical agribusiness is nothing less than tragic, and absolutely heart-breaking. Pay attention, because lives depend on it: The Bread of Life is spiritual food for spiritual life. That is all it is, and it is all of that. To miss that is a tragedy. To add to it, to mingle it with worldly concerns for a worldly agenda is spiritual malpractice, a gross violation of 2 Timothy 2:15. But all is not lost. God is still in his heaven, Jesus is still Lord, and the Holy Spirit is still ministering through the Word, which is sharper than any two-edged sword. Surely it can cut through this confusion. I recommend a careful reading of John 6, followed by a skillful exposition of the same.

A Shiny New Buick

Oral Roberts exemplified the worldly mindset and the truly low expectations of the prosperity gospel. In Oral Roberts: An American Life, biographer David Edwin Harrell Jr. describes how Roberts discovered the prosperity gospel and how it became the centerpiece of his message. One day he opened his Bible randomly and spotted 3 John 2: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” He showed it to his wife, Evelyn, and—utterly divorcing that one verse from its proper context—the couple “talked excitedly about the verse’s implications. Did it mean they could have a ‘new car,’ a ‘new house,’ a ‘brand-new ministry?’ In later years, Evelyn looked back on that morning as the point of embarkation: ‘I really believe that that very morning was the beginning of this worldwide ministry that he has had, because it opened up his thinking.’” Roberts testified that a shiny new Buick, acquired by unexpected means shortly after that experience, “became a symbol to me of what a man could do if he would believe God.” —John MacArthur, Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship (Thomas Nelson, 2014), 155–156. Get this: “A shiny new Buick” is a symbol “of what a man could do if he would believe God.” A shiny new Buick. And here I was thinking God was a Ford aficionado. Be that as it may, new cars are hardly what the Holy Spirit had in mind when he wrote 3 John—is it even possible to have a lower view of God and his intended use of men and ministries? When Jesus promised that his disciples would do greater works than he did (John 14:12), he wasn’t promising new horse-drawn chariots or even old donkeys. But that, sadly, is what prosperity means to charismatics.

Lord’s Day 11, 2016

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will know no evil. —Psalm 101:3–4 Faith and the World O Lord,The world is artful to entrap, approaches in fascinating guise, extends many a gilded bait, presents many a charming face. Let my faith scan every painted bauble, and escape every bewitching snare in a victory that overcomes all things. In my duties give me firmness, energy, zeal, devotion to thy cause, courage in thy name, love as a working grace, and all commensurate with my trust. Let faith stride forth in giant power, and love respond with energy in every act. I often mourn the absence of my beloved Lord whose smile makes earth a paradise, whose voice is sweetest music, whose presence gives all graces strength. But by unbelief I often keep him outside my door. Let faith give entrance that he may abide with me for ever. Thy Word is full of promises, flowers of sweet fragrance, fruit of refreshing flavour when culled by faith. May I be made rich in its riches, be strong in its power, be happy in its joy, abide in its sweetness, feast on its preciousness, draw vigour from its manna. Lord, increase my faith. —The Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennett, editor (Banner of Truth Trust, 2002). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+"://";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

The Legacy of Lot

Not every example given to us in Scripture is a positive example. Abraham’s nephew Lot is an example that is most definitely a negative one. As Ryle has demonstrated, his compromise with the world was deadly. He stands as a warning to all who would, for whatever reason, dally with the world. He brought his own life to ruin and, tragically, brought no benefit to his family or anyone who knew him. His testimony to the world was a disaster. Let us inquire now what kind of fruit Lot’s lingering spirit bore at last. . . . I think it of first importance to dwell upon this subject. I always will contend that eminent holiness and eminent usefulness are most closely connected—that happiness and ‘following the Lord fully’ go side by side—and that if believers will linger, they must not expect to be useful in their day and generation, or to be very saintly and Christlike, or to enjoy great comfort and peace in believing, (a) Let us mark, then, for one thing, that Lot did no good among the inhabitants of Sodom. Lot probably lived in Sodom many years. No doubt he had many precious opportunities for speaking of the things of God, and trying to turn away souls from sin. But Lot seems to have effected just nothing at all. He appears to have had no weight or influence with the people who lived around him. He possessed none of that respect and reverence which even the men of the world will frequently concede to a bright servant of God. Not one righteous person could be found in all Sodom, outside the walls of Lot’s home. Not one of his neighbours believed his testimony. Not one of his acquaintances honoured the Lord whom he worshipped. Not one of his servants served his master’s God. Not one of ‘all the people from every quarter’ cared a jot for his opinion when he tried to restrain their wickedness. ‘This one fellow came in to sojourn,’ said they, ‘and he will needs be a judge’ (Gen. 19:9). His life carried no weight; his words were not listened to; his religion drew none to follow him. And, truly, I do not wonder! As a general rule, lingering souls do no good to the world and bring no credit to God’s cause. Their salt has too little savour to season the corruption around them. They are not ‘Epistles of Christ’ who can be ‘known and read of all’ (2 Cor. 3:2). There is nothing magnetic, and attractive, and Christ-reflecting about their ways. Let us remember this. (b) Let us mark, for another thing, that Lot helped none of his family, relatives, or connections towards heaven. We are not told how large his family was. But this we know—he had a wife and two daughters at least, in the day he was called out of Sodom, if he had not more children besides. But whether Lot’s family was large or small, one thing, I think, is perfectly clear—there was not one among them all that feared God! When he ‘went out and spake to his sons-in-law, which married his daughters,’ and warned them to flee from the judgments coming on Sodom, we are told, ‘he seemed to them as one that mocked’ (Gen. 19:14). . . . And what was Lot’s wife? She left the city in his company, but she did not go far. She had not faith to see the need of such a speedy flight. She left her heart in Sodom when she began to flee. She looked back from behind her husband, in spite of the plainest command not to do so (Gen. 19:17), and was at once turned into a pillar of salt. And what were Lot’s two daughters? They escaped, indeed, but only to do the devil’s work. They became their father’s tempters to wickedness, and led him to commit the foulest of sins. In short, Lot seems to have stood alone in his family! He was not made the means of keeping one soul back from the gates of hell! And I do not wonder. Lingering souls are seen through by their own families; and, when seen through, they are despised. Their nearest relatives understand inconsistency, if they understand nothing else in religion. They draw the sad, but not unnatural, conclusion, ‘Surely, if he believed all he professes to believe, he would not go on as he does.’ . . . (c) Let us mark, for a third thing, that Lot left no evidences beind him when he died. We know but little about Lot after his flight from Sodom, and all that we do know is unsatisfactory. . . . The Scripture appears to draw a veil around him on purpose. There is a painful silence about his latter end. He seems to go out like an expiring lamp, and to leave an ill-savour behind him. And had we not been specially told in the New Testament that Lot was ‘just’ and ‘righteous,’ I verily believe we should have doubted whether Lot was a saved soul at all. But I do not wonder at his sad end. Lingering believers will generally reap according as they have sown. Their lingering often meets them when their spirit is departing. They have little peace at the last. They reach heaven, to be sure; but they reach it in poor plight, weary and footsore, in weakness and tears, in darkness and storm. They are saved, but ‘saved so as by fire’ (1 Cor. 3:15). —J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Banner of Truth, 2014), 212–215.

Live in This Way

The warning given to the churches in the book of Revelation contain a sober message for us. Let me warn every one who professes to be a believer in the Lord Jesus, not to be content with a little religion. Of all sights in the Church of Christ, I know none more painful to my own eyes than a Christian contented and satisfied with a little grace, a little repentance, a little faith, a little knowledge, a little charity, and a little holiness. I do beseech and entreat every believing soul that reads this tract not to be that kind of man. If you have any desires after usefulness—if you have any wishes to promote your Lord’s glory—if you have any longings after much inward peace—be not content with a little religion. Let us rather seek, every year we live, to make more spiritual progress than we have done—to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus—to grow in humility and self-acquaintance—to grow in spirituality and heavenly-mindedness—to grow in conformity to the image of our Lord. Let us beware of leaving our first love like Ephesus—of becoming lukewarm like Laodicea—of tolerating false practices like Pergamos—of tampering with false doctrine like Thyatira—of becoming half dead, ready to die, like Sardis. Let us rather covet the best gifts. Let us aim at eminent holiness. Let us endeavour to be like Smyrna and Philadelphia. Let us hold fast what we have already, and continually seek to have more. Let us labour to be unmistakable Christians. Let it not be our distinctive character that we are men of science—or men of literary attainments—or men of the world—or men of pleasure, or men of business—but ‘men of God.’ Let us so live that all may see that to us the things of God are the first things, and the glory of God the first aim in our lives—to follow Christ our grand object in time present—to be with Christ our grand desire in time to come. Let us live in this way, and we shall be happy. Let us live in this way, and we shall do good to the world. Let us live in this way, and we shall leave good evidence behind us when we are buried. Let us live in this way, and the Spirit’s word to the Churches will not have been spoken to us in vain. —J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Banner of Truth, 2014), 318–319.


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