“The plain truth is, there are two distinct and separate systems of Christianity in England at the present day. It is useless to deny it. Their existence is a great fact, and one that cannot be too clearly known. According to one system, religion is a mere corporate business. You are to belong to a certain body of people. By virtue of your membership of this body, vast privileges, both for time and eternity, are conferred upon you. It matters little what you are and what you feel. You are not to try yourself by your feelings. You are a member of a great ecclesiastical corporation. Then all its privileges and immunities are your own. Do you belong to the one true visible ecclesiastical corporation? That is the grand question.
According to the other system, religion is eminently a personal business between yourself and Christ. It will not save your soul to be an outward member of any ecclesiastical body whatever, however sound that body may be. Such membership will not wash away one sin, or give you confidence in the day of judgement. There must be personal faith in Christ, personal dealings between yourself and God, personal felt communion between your own heart and the Holy Ghost. Have you this personal faith? Have you this felt work of the Spirit in your soul? This is the grand question. If not you will be lost.
This last system is the system which those who are called evangelical ministers cleave to and teach. They do so, because they are satisfied that it is the system of Holy Scripture. They do so, because they are convinced that any other system is productive of most dangerous consequences, and calculated to delude men fatally as to their actual state. They do so, because they believe it to be the only system of teaching which God will bless, and that no church will flourish so much as that in which repentance, faith, conversion and the work of the Spirit are the grand subjects of the minister’s sermon”.
~ J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)
Familiarity with the form of religion, while we neglect its reality, has a fearfully deadening effect on the conscience. It brings up by degrees a thick crust of insensibility over the whole inner man. None seem to become so desperately hard as those who are continually repeating holy words and handling holy things, while their hearts are running after sin and the world.
~ J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)
What an accursed thing is sin, which crucified the Lord Jesus! Do you laugh at it? Will you go and spend an evening to see a mimic performance of it? Do you roll sin under your tongue as a sweet morsel, and then come to God’s house, on the Lord’s-day morning, and think to worship Him? Worship Him! Worship Him, with sin indulged in your breast! Worship Him, with sin loved and pampered in your life! O, if I had a dear brother who had been murdered, what would you think of me if I treasured the knife which had been crimsoned with his blood? – if I made a friend of the murderer, and daily consorted with the assassin, who drove the dagger into my brother’s heart? Surely I, too, must be an accomplice in the crime! Sin murdered Christ; will you be a friend to it? Sin pierced the heart of the Incarnate God; can you love it? Oh, that there was an abyss as deep as Christ’s misery, that I might at once hurl this dagger of sin into its depths, whence it might never be brought to light again!
~ Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)
“Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven... And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me…”
~ Matthew 7:21 & 23 (NKJV)
What greater tragedy could there be than on the last day, believing you are going to heaven, to hear the Lord Jesus utter to you the words, “Depart from me, I never knew you”? I think what Jesus is trying to teach us here with these stark words is it isn’t enough to simple say you’re a Christian. It isn’t enough to say you believe in Him and follow Him. Jesus doesn’t accept mere lip service. It is he who does the will of the Father who enters into Christ’s kingdom. Jesus doesn’t want your words, He wants you. So not everyone who merely says “Lord, Lord” or “Jesus I know you” is saved, but those who truly and sincerely desire to love and serve Him.
Jesus wants people who are completely dedicated to following Him. He is seeking true disciples. Those who want to learn from Him, be like Him and be with Him. Jesus wants the confession of our mouth to match the character of our life. If we say Lord Lord, if we confess to know Him, then He desires for our life to show it. He wants our faith to be reflected in our good works. And Christ warns us, if we merely acknowledge Him with our lips, but don’t live for Him by faith, then we are in jeopardy of hearing those eternally frightful words from the Lord, “Depart from Me, I never knew you”.