What It Costs To Be A True Christian by J.C. Ryle

Let me try to show precisely and particularly what it costs to be a true Christian. Let us suppose that a man is disposed to take service with Christ, and feels drawn and inclined to follow Him. Let us suppose that some affliction, or some sudden death, or an awakening sermon, has stirred his conscience, and made him feel the value of his soul and desire to be a true Christian. No doubt there is everything to encourage him. His sins may be freely forgiven, however many and great. His heart may be completely changed, however cold and hard. Christ and the Holy Spirit, mercy and grace, are all ready for him. But still he should count the cost. Let us see particularly, one by one, the things that his religion will cost him.

(1) For one thing, it will cost him his self-righteousness. He must cast away all pride and high thoughts, and conceit of his own goodness. He must be content to go to heaven as a poor sinner, saved only by free grace, and owing all to the merit and righteousness of another. He must really feel as well as say the Prayer-book words — that he has “erred and gone astray like a lost sheep,” that he has “left undone the things he ought to have done, and done the things he ought not to have done, and that there is no health in him.” He must be willing to give up all trust in his own morality, respectability, praying, Bible reading, church-going, and sacrament-receiving, and to trust in nothing but Jesus Christ.

(2) For another thing, it will cost a man his sins. He must be willing to give up every habit and practice which is wrong in God’s sight. He must set his face against it, quarrel with it, break off from it, fight with it, crucify it, and labour to keep it under, whatever the world around him may say or think. He must do this honestly and fairly. There must be no separate truce with any special sin which he loves. He must count all sins as his deadly enemies, and hate every false way. Whether little or great, whether open or secret, all his sins must be thoroughly renounced. They may struggle hard with him every day, and sometimes almost get the mastery over him. But he must never give way to them. He must keep up a perpetual war with his sins. It is written — “Cast away from you all your transgressions.” — “Break off thy sins and iniquities.” — “Cease to do evil.” (Ezek. 18:31; Daniel 4:27; Isa. 1:16).

(3) For another thing, it will cost a man his love of ease. He must take pains and trouble, if he means to run a successful race towards heaven. He must daily watch and stand on his guard, like a soldier on enemy’s ground. He must take heed to his behaviour every hour of the day, in every company, and in every place, in public as well as in private, among strangers as well as at home. He must be careful over his time, his tongue, his temper, his thoughts, his imagination, his motives, his conduct in every relation of life. He must be diligent about his prayers, his Bible reading, and his use of Sundays, with all their means of grace. In attending to these things he may come far short of perfection; but there is none of them that he can safely neglect. “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat” (Prov. 13:4).

(4) In the last place, it will cost a man the favour of the world. He must be content to be thought ill of by man if he pleases God. He must count it no strange thing to be mocked, ridiculed, slandered, persecuted, and even hated. He must not be surprised to find his opinions and practices in religion despised and held up to scorn. He must submit to be thought by many a fool, an enthusiast, and a fanatic — to have his words perverted and his actions misrepresented. In fact, he must not marvel if some call him mad. The Master says — “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20).

 

To read this great article in full, please go to http://www.the-highway.com/cost_Ryle.html

 

Comfortable Persuasions

“How great an honor will it be to a person to have God at the day of judgment owning a person, declaring before all men, angels and devils that that person is before his all-seeing eyes and that he stands innocent and perfect in his sight, clothed with perfect righteousness and entitled to everlasting glory and blessedness.  How honorable will this render them in the eyes of all that vast assembly that will be together at the day of judgment.  That will be an infinitely greater honor than any man or any angel declaring that they judge him upright and sincere and that eternal life belongs to him.  What can be a greater honor than this — to be owned by the great King and Lord of all things?”  ~ Jonathan Edwards, The Glory and Honor of God
 
“The Comforter gives a sweet and plentiful evidence and persuasion of the love of God to us, such as the soul is taken, delighted, satiated withal.  This is his work, and he doth it effectually.  To give a poor sinful soul a comfortable persuasion, affecting it throughout, in all its faculties and affections, that God in Jesus Christ loves him, delights in him, is well pleased with him, hath thoughts of tenderness and kindness towards him; to give, I say, a soul an overflowing sense hereof, is an inexpressible mercy.”  ~ John Owen, Works
 
“The Old Testament says that if God’s people turn away in spiritual adultery, it will not be long until the following generations are engaged in physical adultery, for the two things go hand in hand. . . . Our generation proves this with overwhelming force.  Let there be spiritual adultery and it will not be long until physical adultery sprouts like toadstools in the land.  In the 1930s liberalism took over almost all the churches in the United States, and in the 1960s our generation is sick with promiscuous sex.  It is the same in Britain and other countries.  These things are not unrelated; they are cause and effect.”  ~ Francis A. Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century
 
“There was a day when I died, utterly died, died to George Mueller, his opinions, preferences, tastes and will, died to the world, its approval or censure, died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends, and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God.”  ~ George Mueller
 
“It cost Christ and all his followers sharp showers and hot sweats, before they won to the top of the mountain. But still our soft nature would have heaven coming to our bedside when we are sleeping and lying down with us, that we might go to heaven in warm clothes. But all that came there found wet feet by the way and sharp storms that did take the hide off their face, and they found tos and fros and ups and downs and many enemies by the way.”  ~ Samuel Rutherford, Letters
 
“‘God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.’  This qualification must render the person that has it excellent and happy indeed, and doubtless is the highest dignity and blessedness of any creature.  This is the peculiar [valuable] gift of God, which he bestows only on his special favorites.  As to silver, gold and diamonds, earthly crowns and kingdoms, he often throws them out to those whom he esteems as dogs and swine.”  ~ Jonathan Edwards, Works
 
“The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One.  Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness.  Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things, he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight.  Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately, forever.”  ~ A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
 

Thoughts on Prayer

 

“No amount of gift or diligence in the ministry can compensate for the loss of the influence of prayer.” ~ Iain Murray

“…he preacheth not heartily to his people, that prayeth not earnestly for them.” ~ Richard Baxter

 

Pragmatism Goes to Church by A.W. Tozer (via worthytofollow)

A. W. Tozer was born April 21, 1897  and died at age 63 on May 12, 1963. He was a Preacher, a writer, a speaker and a mentor to many. This article, in which he refers to the popularity of pragmatism at the beginning of the century thus isn’t talking about this century but the last one. Pragmatism is, in a nutshell, doing what works and it is very popular today among many of the churches in our nation, among many of the writers, speakers and preachers who regularly pour out their words either verbally or on paper. Men such as Rick Warren and many, many others. Thus it is the daily and/or weekly diet of millions of professed Christians in this nation. Sadly it is the wrong approach as what matters in spiritual issues isn’t that we are doing what works but that we are doing whatever it takes to please God. Mr. Tozer knew that and thus he wrote what you read here:

 

It is not by accident that the philosophy of pragmatism around the turn of the century achieved such wide popularity in the United States. The American temperament was perfect for it, and still is.

Pragmatism has a number of facets and can mean various things to various people, but basically it is the doctrine of the utility of truth. For the pragmatist there are no absolutes; nothing is absolutely good or absolutely true. Truth and morality float on a sea of human experience. If an exhausted swimmer can lay hold of a belief or an ethic, well and good; it may keep him afloat till he can get to shore; then it only encumbers him, so he tosses it away. He feels no responsibility to cherish truth for its own sake. It is there to serve him; he has no obligation to serve it.

Truth is to use. Whatever is useful is true for the user, though for someone else it may not be useful, so not true. The truth of any idea is its ability to produce desirable results. If it can show no such results it is false. That is pragmatism stripped of its jargon.

Now, since practicality is a marked characteristic of the American people they naturally lean strongly toward the philosophy of utility. Whatever will get things done immediately with a maximum of efficiency and a minimum of undesirable side effects must be good. The proof is that it succeeds; no one wants to argue with success.

It is useless to plead for the human soul, to insist that what a man can do is less important than what he is. When there are wars to be won, forests to be cleared, rivers to be harnessed, factories to be built, planets to be visited, the quieter claims of the human spirit are likely to go unregarded. The spectacular drama of successful deeds leaves the beholder breathless. Deeds you can see. Factories, cities, highways, rockets are there in plain sight, and they got there by the practical application of means to ends. So who cares about ideals and character and morals? These things are for poets, nice old ladies and philosophers. Let’s get on with the job.

Now all this has been said, and said better, a few dozen times before, and I would not waste space on it here except that this philosophy of pragmatism has had and is having a powerful influence upon Christianity in the middle years of this century. And whatever touches the faith of Christ immediately becomes a matter of interest to me and, I hope, to my readers also.

To read in full, please go to http://worthytofollow.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/pragmatism-goes-to-church-by-a-w-tozer-god-tells-the-man-who-cares-from-the-best-of-a-w-tozer-1980-pgs-254-256-2/

The Old Cross and the New by A.W. Tozer (via worthytofollow)

Of the cross, A. W. Tozer wrote:

The Old Cross and the New

ALL UNANNOUNCED AND MOSTLY UNDETECTED there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique-a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner anal jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, “Come and assert yourself for Christ.” To the egotist it says, “Come and do your boasting in the Lord.” To the thrillseeker it says, “Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship.” The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God’s just sentence against him.

What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God’s stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

To read in full, please go to http://worthytofollow.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/16/

 

The Danger of Worldly Ambition and Power by Dr. Voddie Baucham, part 3