Here is another gem from J. C. Ryle’s classic work Holiness. In a chapter titled "Visible Churches Warned," Ryle examines the letters to the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2-3 and he spurs the faithful onto victory in Christ:
The one point I want to impress upon your soul just now is this, that the true believer is not only a soldier, but a victorious soldier. He not only professes to fight on Christ’s side against sin, the world and the devil, but he does actually fight and overcome.
Now this is one grand distinguishing mark of true Christians. Other men, perhaps, like to be numbered in the ranks of Christ’s army. Other men may have lazy wishes and languid desires after the crown of glory. But it is the true Christian alone who does the work of a soldier. He alone fairly meets the enemies of his soul, really fights with them and in that fight overcomes them.
One great lesson I want men to learn from these seven epistles is this, that if you would prove you are born again and going to heaven, you must be a victorious soldier of Christ. If you would make it clear that you have any title to Christ’s precious promises, you must fight the good fight in Christ’s cause, and in that fight you must conquer.
Victory is the only satisfactory evidence that you have a saving religion. You like good sermons perhaps. You respect the Bible, and read it occasionally. You say your prayers night and morning. You have family prayers, and give to religious societies. I thank God for this. It is all very good. But how goes the battle? How does the great conflict go on all this time? Are you overcoming the love of the world and the fear of man? Are you overcoming the passions, tempers and lusts of your own heart? Are you resisting the devil and making him flee from you? How is it in this matter? You must either rule or serve sin and the devil and the world. There is no middle course. You must either conquer or be lost.
I know well it is a hard battle that you have to fight, and I want you to know it, too. You must fight the good fight of faith and endure hardships if you would lay hold of eternal life. You must make up your mind to a daily struggle if you would reach heaven. There may be short roads to heaven invented by man, but ancient Christianity, the good old way, is the way of the cross, the way of conflict. Sin, the world and the devil must be actually mortified, resisted and overcome.
This is the road that saints of old have trodden in, and left their record on high.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
Evangel article January 17, 2008
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