Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Strive To Enter" - Part II

Do you see the connection between my last post, "The Coming Storm," and Ryle's exhortation in Part 1 that is built upon the dire warning given by Jesus to those who were present to hear Him?  I hope you do.  I personally know far too many people who either refuse to hear the Gospel, or worse yet, have heard it and continue to be as stubborn and hardhearted as they always have been when it comes to believing that the day of their death is as imminent as the day of their birth, and repenting of their offenses and asking forgiveness of God.

Of course, the apathy, complacency, and/or unbelief isn't common to only this period in history.  From the very beginning an untold number of mankind has discovered, far too late, that the warnings presented in Scripture are not mere suggestions.  God's Word, which cannot be questioned, altered, or ignored, is sealed in eternity.  "Life as usual" is a dangerous motto.  "There will be time, later" is a dangerous attitude.  "I'm a good person" is a foolishly dangerous statement.  "God would never send someone like me to hell" is dangerous ignorance of His righteous and divine judgment and, as Jesus warned the Pharisees of His day that the narrow door would be closed against them, so shall He close it to those who believe their halfhearted, works-based, broad-road religions will gain them entry.

In the last post, we learned from J.C. Ryle why we must "Strive to enter through the narrow door..." and why "many...will seek to enter but will not be able."  In summary, Ryle impresses upon us the following:

  1. As the prophecies in the Old Testament have come to pass without fail and to the letter, so shall Jesus' prediction in Luke 13:22-30 be fulfilled.
  2. There will come a time when it will be too late to seek salvation.
  3. There will come a time when Heaven's door will forever be closed to all but God's children.
  4. Repentance will come too late.
  5. Faith will come too late.
  6. "A desire for salvation will come too late."
  7. Man will see that the things he treasured here on this earth are but worthless dust, compared to the treasures of Heaven.
Ryle concludes the first portion of his chapter by speaking to the unbelievers, who will eventually see the value of what they were being offered but, like the ten Virgins who allowed their lamps to run out of oil (Matt 25:1-13),  it will be too late.   He then exhorts the believers, who may currently be suffering from trials or persecution, to "take courage [and] look forward to the LORD's second coming" and to "not fear the reproach of men."

And now, without further ado, let's see the answer Ryle provides for such a predicament.

Part 2

And now let me offer to every one who reads this paper a few parting words, in order to apply the whole subject to his soul.   You have heard the words of the LORD Jesus unfolded and expounded.  You have seen the picture of the way of salvation:  it is a narrow door.  You have heard the command of the King: "Make every effort to enter in."  You have been told of His solemn warning: "Many will try to enter in, and will not be able to."  Bear with me a little longer while I try to impress the whole matter on your conscience.  I still have something to say on God's behalf.
 (1)  For one thing, I will ask you a simple question.  "Have you entered in through the narrow door or not?"  Old or young, rich or poor, religious or atheist, I repeat my question, "Have you entered in through the narrow door?"
I do not ask whether you have heard of it, and believe there is a door.  I do not ask whether you have looked at it, and admired it, and hope one day to go through.  I ask whether you have gone up to it, knocked on it, been admitted, and "are now inside?"
If you are inside, what good have you got from your religion?  You are not pardoned and forgiven.  You are not reconciled to God.  You are not born again, sanctified, and suitable for heaven.  If you die as you are, you will live in the same place of torment as the devil will: forever, and your soul will be eternally miserable.
Oh, think, think what a state this is to live in!  Think, think above all things, what a state this is to die in!  Your life is but a vapor.  A few more years at most and you are gone; your place in the world will soon be filled up; your house will be occupied by another.  The sun will go on shining, the grass and daisies will soon grow thick over your grave, your body will be food for worms, and your soul will be lost for all eternity.
And all this time there stands open before you a door of salvation.  God invites you.  Jesus Christ offers to save you.  All things are ready for your deliverance.  Only one thing is lacking, and that is that you should be willing to be saved.   Oh think of these things, and be wise!
(2)  For another thing, I will give plain advice to all who are not yet inside the narrow door.  That advice is simply this:  "to enter in without a day's delay."
Tell me, if you can, of anyone who ever reached heaven except through "the narrow door."  I know of none.  From Abel, the first who died, down to the end of the list of Bible names, I see none saved by any way but faith in Christ.
Tell me, if you can, of any who ever entered through the narrow door without "making every effort."  I know of none except those who die in infancy.  He that would win heaven must be content to fight for it.
Tell me, if you can, of anyone who ever strove earnestly to enter, and failed to succeed.  I know of none.  I believe that however weak and ignorant men may be, they never seek life heartily and conscientiously, at the right door, and are left without an answer of peace.
Tell me, if you can, of anyone who ever entered through the narrow door, and was sorry afterwards.  I know of none.  I believe the footsteps on the threshold of the door are all one way.  All have found it a good thing to serve Christ, and have never regretted taking up His cross.
If these things are true, seek Christ without delay, and enter through the door of life while you can!  Make a beginning this very day.  Go to that merciful and mighty Savior in prayer, and pour out your heart before Him.  Confess to Him your guilt and wickedness and sin.  Open your heart freely to Him; keep nothing back.  Tell Him that you put yourself and all your soul's affairs wholly on His promise, and [to] put His Holy Spirit within you.
There is everything "to encourage you to do this."  Thousands as bad as you have applied to Christ in this way, and not one of them has been sent away and refused.  They have found a peace of conscience they never knew before, and have gone on their way rejoicing.  They have found strength for all the trials of life, and none of them have been allowed to perish in the wilderness.  Why shouldn't you also seek Christ?
There is everything to encourage you to do what I tell you, "at once."  I know no reason why your repentance and conversion should not be as immediate as that of others before you.  The Samaritan woman came to the well an ignorant sinner, and returned to her home a new creature (John 4:1-44.  The Philippian jailer turned from darkness to light, and became a professed disciple of Christ in a single day (Acts 16:16-30).  And why shouldn't others do the same?  Why shouldn't you give up your sins and trust in Christ this very day?
I know that the advice I have given you is good.  The grand question is, "Will you take it?"
(3)  The last thing I have to say will be a request to all who have really entered through the narrow door.  That request is that you will tell others of the blessings which you have found.
I want all converted people to be missionaries.  I do not want them all to go out to foreign lands and preach to the heathen; but I do want all to be of a missionary spirit, and to make every effort to do good at home.  I want them to testify to all around them that the narrow door is the way to happiness, and to persuade them to enter through it.
 When Andrew was converted, he found his brother Peter, and said to him, " 'We have found the Messiah' (that is, the Christ).  And he brought him to Jesus (John 1:41-42).  When Philip was converted, he found Nathaniel, and said to him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." ' Nazareth!  Can anything good come from there?' Nathaniel asked.  'Come and see,' said Philip."  (John 1:45-46).  When the Samaritan woman was converted, "Leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 'Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did.  Could this be the Christ?' "  (John 4:28-29).  When Saul the Pharisee was converted, "At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God."  (Acts 9:20)
I long to see this kind of spirit among Christians in the present day.  I long to see more zeal to commend the narrow door to all who are yet outside, and more desire to persuade them to enter through and be saved.  Happy indeed is that Church whose members not only desire to reach heaven themselves, but desire also to take others with them!
The great door of salvation is still ready to open, but the hour draws near when it will be closed forever.  Let us work while it is called today, for "night is coming, when no one can work" (John 9:4).  Let us tell our relatives and friends that we have accepted the way of life and found it pleasant; that we have tasted the bread of life and found it good.
I have heard it calculated that if every believer in the world were to bring one soul to Christ each year, the whole human race would be converted in less than twenty years.  I make no comment on such a calculation.  Whether such a thing might be or not, one thing is sure:  that thing is, that many more "souls might probably be converted to God, if Christians were more zealous to do good."  This, at least, we may remember, that God does "not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2Peter 3:9).  He that endeavors to show his neighbor the narrow door is doing a work which God approves.  He is doing a work which angels regard with interest, and with which the building of a pyramid will not compare in importance.  What does the Scripture say?  "Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins."  (James 5:20)
Let us all awaken to a deeper sense of our responsibility in this matter.  Let us look around the circle of those among whom we live, and consider their state before God.  Are there not many of them yet outside the door, unforgiven, unsanctified, and not prepared to die?  Let us watch for opportunities of speaking to them.  Let us tell them of the narrow door, and entreat them to "make every effort to enter in."
Who can tell what a "word spoken at the right time" may do?  Who can tell what it may do when spoken in faith and prayer?  It may be the turning point in some man's history.  It may be the beginning of thought, prayer, and eternal life.  Oh, for more love and boldness among believers!  Think what a blessing to be allowed to speak one converting word!
I do not know what the feelings of my readers may be on this subject.  My heart's desire and prayer is that you may daily remember Christ's solemn words, "For many, I tell you, will seek to enter but will not be able."
 Keep those words in mind.
End of Chapter

Although the words above are not my own, they reflect the yearnings my heart contains:  "to be allowed to speak [or write] one converting word!" and the amazing blessing for doing so!  My readers are few, but it's always my desire that an unbelieving wanderer searching for truth and answers will stumble upon this blog, will find what he or she is looking for, and his or her heart will be opened to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As Ryle states, a genuine Christian desires that others are brought with him into glory.  We don't count the number we have helped draw, for that privilege solely belongs to God, and it would the height of arrogance and pride to assume we have anything to do with conviction, other than being the bearer of the Good News.  But when Christ's Gospel is received and the evidence of a new life is present,  the true Christian delights in unimaginable and unspeakable ways, and rejoices with the "angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10).

For my unbelieving family, friends, and readers, may this brief excerpt from J.C. Ryle be the "turning point" in your future:  an eternity of peace and perfection in the presence of our LORD Jesus Christ.

And to my family, friends, and readers who are attempting to enter the narrow door by any other way than through the One Who holds the key, the door will one day be shut forever and you will find yourself locked out with no hope.

In conclusion, I would like to add the following from C.H. Spurgeon's "Morning and Evening" devotional.  I hope and pray that you will keep both Ryle's and Spurgeons "words in mind."
"The LORD shut him in." ~ Genesis 7:16
Noah was shut in away from all the world by the hand of divine love.  The door of electing purpose interposes between us and the world which lieth in the wicked one.  We are not of the world, even as our LORD Jesus was not of the world.  Into the sin, the gaiety, the pursuits of the multitude we cannot enter; we cannot play in the streets of Vanity Fair with the children of darkness, for our heavenly Father has shut us in.
Noah was shut in with his God.  "Come thou into the ark," was the LORD's invitation, by which He clearly showed that He Himself intended to dwell in the ark with His servant and his family.  Thus all the chosen dwell in God and God in them.  Happy people to be enclosed in the same circle which contains God in the Trinity of His persons, Father, Son, and Spirit.  Let us never be inattentive to that gracious call, "Come, My people, enter thou into they chambers, and shut thy doors about thee, and hide thyself as it were for a little moment until the indignation be overpast."
Noah was so shut in that he could not even desire to come out, and those who are in Christ Jesus are in Him forever.  They shall go no more out forever, for eternal faithfulness has shut them in, and infernal malice cannot drag them out.  The Prince of the house of David shutteth and no man openeth; and when once in the last days as Master of the house, He shall rise up and shut the door, it will be in vain for mere professors to knock, and cry, "LORD, LORD open unto us!", for that same door which shuts in the wise virgins will shut out the foolish forever.
LORD, shut me in by Thy grace.

No comments: