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Bishop J. C. Ryle: "True Christianity is a fight."
Prydain ^ | 11/08/2005 | +J.C. Ryle

Posted on 11/08/2005 7:44:18 PM PST by sionnsar

Quoting further from Bishop J.C. Ryle's sermons on "Holiness", here is a section on the fight that is true Christianity:

True Christianity! Let us mind that word "true." There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not true, genuine Christianity. It passes muster, it satisfies sleepy consciences; but it is not good money. It is not the authentic reality that called itself Christianity in the beginning. There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday and call themselves Christians. They make a "profession" of faith in Christ. Their names are in the baptismal register. They are reckoned Christians while they live. They are married with a Christian marriage service. They mean to be buried as Christians when they die. But you never see any "fight" about their religion! Of spiritual strife and exertion and conflict and self–denial and watching and warring they know literally nothing at all. Such Christianity may satisfy man, and those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable; but it certainly is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded and His apostles preached. It is not the religion which produces real holiness. True Christianity is "a fight."

The true Christian is called to be a soldier and must behave as such from the day of his conversion to the day of his death. He is not meant to live a life of religious ease, indolence and security. He must never imagine for a moment that he can sleep and doze along the way to heaven, like one traveling in an easy carriage. If he takes his standard of Christianity from the children of this world, he may be content with such notions, but he will find no countenance for them in the Word of God. If the Bible is the rule of his faith and practice, he will find his course laid down very plainly in this matter. He must "fight."

With whom is the Christian soldier meant to fight? Not with other Christians. Wretched indeed is that man’s idea of religion who fancies that it consists in perpetual controversy! He who is never satisfied unless he is engaged in some strife between church and church, chapel and chapel, sect and sect, faction and faction, party and party, knows nothing yet as he ought to know. No doubt it may be absolutely needful sometimes to appeal to law courts in order to ascertain the right interpretation of a church’s articles and rubrics and formularies. But, as a general rule, the cause of sin is never so much helped as when Christians waste their strength in quarreling with one another and spend their time in petty squabbles.

No, indeed! The principal fight of the Christian is with the world, the flesh and the devil. These are his never– dying foes. These are the three chief enemies against whom he must wage war. Unless he gets the victory over these three, all other victories are useless and vain. If he had a nature like an angel, and were not a fallen creature, the warfare would not be so essential. But with a corrupt heart, a busy devil and an ensnaring world, he must either "fight" or be lost.

He must fight the flesh. Even after conversion he carries within him a nature prone to evil and a heart weak and unstable as water. That heart will never be free from imperfection in this world, and it is a miserable delusion to expect it. To keep that heart from going astray, the Lord Jesus bids us, "Watch and pray." The spirit may be ready, but the flesh is weak. There is need of a daily struggle and a daily wrestling in prayer. "I keep under my body," cries St. Paul, "and bring it into subjection." "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity." "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" "Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." "Mortify . . . your members which are upon the earth" (Mark 14:38; 1 Cor. 9:27; Rom. 7:23, 24; Gal. 5:24; Col. 3:5).

He must fight the world. The subtle influence of that mighty enemy must be daily resisted, and without a daily battle can never be overcome. The love of the world’s good things, the fear of the world’s laughter or blame, the secret desire to keep in with the world, the secret wish to do as others in the world do, and not to run into extremes—all these are spiritual foes which beset the Christian continually on his way to heaven and must be conquered. "The friendship of the world is enmity with God. Whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." "The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world." "Whatever is born of God overcomes the world." "Be not conformed to this world" (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15; Gal. 6:14; 1 John 5:4; Rom. 12:2).

He must fight the devil. That old enemy of mankind is not dead. Ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve he has been "going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it," and striving to compass one great end—the ruin of man’s soul. Never slumbering and never sleeping, he is always going about as a lion seeking whom he may devour. An unseen enemy, he is always near us, about our path and about our bed, and spying out all our ways. A murderer and a liar from the beginning, he labors night and day to cast us down to hell. Sometimes by leading into superstition, sometimes by suggesting infidelity, sometimes by one kind of tactics and sometimes by another, he is always carrying on a campaign against our souls. "Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat." This mighty adversary must be daily resisted if we wish to be saved. But "this kind goes not out" but by watching and praying and fighting and putting on the whole armor of God. The strong man armed will never be kept out of our hearts without a daily battle (Job 1:7; 1 Pet. 5:8; John 8:44; Luke 22:31; Eph. 6:11).

Some men may think these statements too strong. You fancy that I am going too far and laying on the colors too thickly. You are secretly saying to yourself that men and women may surely get to heaven without all this trouble and warfare and fighting. Listen to me for a few minutes, and I will show you that I have something to say on God’s behalf. Remember the maxim of the wisest general that ever lived in England: "In time of war it is the worst mistake to underrate your enemy, and try to make a little war." This Christian warfare is no light matter. What says the Scripture? "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life." "Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand." "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." "Labor . . . for [the] meat that endures unto everlasting life." "Do not think that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword." "He who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." "Watch you, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." "War a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience" (1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 2:3; Eph. 6:11–13; Luke 13:24; John 6:27; Matt. 10:34; Luke 22:36; 1 Cor. 16:13; 1 Tim. 1:18, 19). Words such as these appear to me clear, plain and unmistakable. They all teach one and the same great lesson, if we are willing to receive it. That lesson is, that true Christianity is a struggle, a fight and a warfare. He who pretends to condemn "fighting" and teaches that we ought to sit still and "yield ourselves to God," appears to me to misunderstand his Bible, and to make a great mistake.

What says the baptismal service of the Church of England? No doubt that service is uninspired and, like every uninspired composition, it has its defects; but to the millions of people all over the globe who profess and call themselves English churchmen, its voice ought to speak with some weight. And what does it say? It tells us that over every new member who is admitted into the Church of England the following words are used: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." "I sign this child with the sign of the cross, in token that hereafter he shall not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under His banner against sin, the world and the devil, and to continue Christ’s faithful soldier and servant unto his life’s end." Of course we all know that in myriads of cases baptism is a mere form and that parents bring their children to the font without faith or prayer or thought and consequently receive no blessing. The man who supposes that baptism in such cases acts mechanically, like a medicine, and that godly and ungodly, praying and prayerless parents, all alike get the same benefit for their children must be in a strange state of mind. But one thing, at any rate, is very certain. Every baptized churchman is by his profession a "soldier of Jesus Christ," and is pledged "to fight under His banner against sin, the world and the devil." He that doubts it had better take up his Prayer Book and read, mark and learn its contents. The worst thing about many very zealous churchmen is their total ignorance of what their own Prayer Book contains.

Whether we are churchmen or not, one thing is certain—this Christian warfare is a great reality and a subject of vast importance. It is not a matter like church government and ceremonial, about which men may differ, and yet reach heaven at last. Necessity is laid upon us. We must fight. There are no promises in the Lord Jesus Christ’s epistles to the seven churches, except to those who "overcome." Where there is grace there will be conflict. The believer is a soldier. There is no holiness without a warfare. Saved souls will always be found to have fought a fight.

It is a fight of absolute necessity. Let us not think that in this war we can remain neutral and sit still. Such a line of action may be possible in the strife of nations, but it is utterly impossible in that conflict which concerns the soul. The boasted policy of non–interference, the "masterly inactivity" which pleases so many statesmen, the plan of keeping quiet and letting things alone—all this will never do in the Christian warfare. Here at any rate no one can escape serving under the plea that he is "a man of peace." To be at peace with the world, the flesh and the devil, is to be at enmity with God and in the broad way that leads to destruction. We have no choice or option. We must either fight or be lost.

It is a fight of universal necessity. No rank or class or age can plead exemption, or escape the battle. Ministers and people, preachers and hearers, old and young, high and low, rich and poor, gentle and simple, kings and subjects, landlords and tenants, learned and unlearned—all alike must carry arms and go to war. All have by nature a heart full of pride, unbelief, sloth, worldliness and sin. All are living in a world beset with snares, traps and pitfalls for the soul. All have near them a busy, restless, malicious devil. All, from the queen in her palace down to the pauper in the workhouse, all must fight, if they would be saved.

It is a fight of perpetual necessity. It admits of no breathing time, no armistice, no truce. On weekdays as well as on Sundays, in private as well as in public, at home by the family fireside as well as abroad, in little things, like management of tongue and temper, as well as in great ones, like the government of kingdoms, the Christian’s warfare must unceasingly go on. The foe we have to do with keeps no holidays, never slumbers and never sleeps. So long as we have breath in our bodies, we must keep on our armor and remember we are on an enemy’s ground. "Even on the brink of Jordan," said a dying saint, "I find Satan nibbling at my heels." We must fight until we die.

Let us consider well these propositions. Let us take care that our own personal religion is real, genuine and true. The saddest symptom about many so–called Christians is the utter absence of anything like conflict and fight in their Christianity. They eat, they drink, they dress, they work, they amuse themselves, they get money, they spend money, they go through a scanty round of formal religious services once or twice every week. But of the great spiritual warfare—its watchings and strugglings, its agonies and anxieties, its battles and contests— of all this they appear to know nothing at all. Let us take care that this case is not our own. The worst state of soul is when the strong man armed keeps the house, and his goods are at peace, when he leads men and women captive at his will, and they make no resistance. The worst chains are those which are neither felt nor seen by the prisoner (Luke 11:21; 2 Tim. 2:26).

We may take comfort about our souls if we know anything of an inward fight and conflict. It is the invariable companion of genuine Christian holiness. It is not everything, I am well aware, but it is something. Do we find in our heart of hearts a spiritual struggle? Do we feel anything of the flesh lusting against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, so that we cannot do the things we would? (Gal. 5:17.) Are we conscious of two principles within us, contending for the mastery? Do we feel anything of war in our inward man? Well, let us thank God for it! It is a good sign. It is strongly probable evidence of the great work of sanctification. All true saints are soldiers. Anything is better than apathy, stagnation, deadness and indifference. We are in a better state than many. The most part of so–called Christians have no feeling at all. We are evidently no friends of Satan. Like the kings of this world, he wars not against his own subjects. The very fact that he assaults us should fill our minds with hope. I say again, let us take comfort. The child of God has two great marks about him, and of these two we have one. He may be known by his inward warfare, as well as by his inward peace.

One thing for certain may be said about Bishop Ryle: he understood spiritual warfare.

In a day when many of us have lost sight of the necessity for this, for prayer, and for discernment, his message is needed sorely. May God grant us this wisdom.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: spiritualwarfare

1 posted on 11/08/2005 7:44:19 PM PST by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; anselmcantuar; Agrarian; coffeecup; Paridel; keilimon; ...
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2 posted on 11/08/2005 7:44:54 PM PST by sionnsar (†† || (To Libs:) You are failing to celebrate MY diversity! || Iran Azad)
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To: sionnsar; Agrarian

This is a very Orthodox commentary, sionnsar. Bishop Ryle must have had an excellent patristic education. Reading this, I can see why the Orthodox bishops of 100 and more years ago were so taken with Anglicanism when they arrived in the West if this and his commentaries on theosis were reflective of the mindset of the Anglican Church of the times.

3 posted on 11/08/2005 8:27:26 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: sionnsar

Excellent...and it saddens me that so many don't understand this concept today....

4 posted on 11/08/2005 9:14:51 PM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: Knitting A Conundrum

People are somehow convinced that nothing ought to be difficult, take any time or worst of all be boring. You can't even get them to take on exercise regimes or work on cataloguing documents for longer than it takes to turn your back. The idea of setting a goal and following through is an alien to the Short Attention Span Theatre Generation. We need more churches that remind us of the need for a Spiritual Personal Trainer to keep us focused and remind us that nobody said it would be easy, entertaining and instantaneously gratifying.

5 posted on 11/09/2005 4:20:05 AM PST by KateatRFM
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To: KateatRFM

I must be strange...I like cataloging!

And I like the idea and experience of how spiritual life ought to be described by the word growth.

6 posted on 11/09/2005 5:21:29 AM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: KateatRFM; Knitting A Conundrum; Agrarian; sionnsar

"We need more churches that remind us of the need for a Spiritual Personal Trainer to keep us focused and remind us that nobody said it would be easy, entertaining and instantaneously gratifying."

In Orthodoxy the use of "Spiritual Fathers" has increased dramatically over the past 30 years or so. This was previously something which one ran across only in monasteries and among the clergy but with the rise of the Zoe movement in Greece, it became widespread among the laity there and eventually here. Our converts seem particularly drawn to this. The image of a "trainer" is a good one and consistent with the Eastern habit of referring to monastics as "spiritual athletes" and particularly holy ones as "spiritual Olympians".

7 posted on 11/09/2005 7:22:38 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: sionnsar

I have to say ... this is one of your best posts ever.

8 posted on 11/09/2005 6:15:07 PM PST by gobucks (Blissful Marriage: A result of a worldly husband's transformation into the Word's wife.)
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To: ahadams2; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; anselmcantuar; Agrarian; coffeecup; Paridel; keilimon; ...
Bishop J.C. Ryle: "True Christianity is a good fight"
This is another excerpt from Bishop J.C. Ryle's sermons on "Holiness"--on "True Christianity is a good fight":
Prydain, 11/09/2005

"Good" is a curious word to apply to any warfare. All worldly war is more or less evil. No doubt it is an absolute necessity in many cases—to procure the liberty of nations, to prevent the weak from being trampled down by the strong—but still it is an evil. It entails a dreadful amount of bloodshed and suffering. It hurries into eternity myriads who are completely unprepared for their change. It calls forth the worst passions of man. It causes enormous waste and destruction of property. It fills peaceful homes with mourning widows and orphans. It spreads far and wide poverty, taxation and national distress. It disarranges all the order of society. It interrupts the work of the gospel and the growth of Christian missions. In short, war is an immense and incalculable evil, and every praying man should cry night and day, "Give peace in our times." And yet there is one warfare which is emphatically "good" and one fight in which there is no evil. That warfare is the Christian warfare. That fight is the fight of the soul.

Now what are the reasons why the Christian fight is a "good fight"? What are the points in which his warfare is superior to the warfare of this world. I want my readers to know that there is abundant encouragement, if they will only begin the battle. The Scripture does not call the Christian fight "a good fight" without reason and cause. Let me try to show what I mean.

a. The Christian’s fight is good because fought under the best of generals. The Leader and Commander of all believers is our divine Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ—a Savior of perfect wisdom, infinite love and almighty power. The Captain of our salvation never fails to lead His soldiers to victory. He never makes any useless movements, never errs in judgment, never commits any mistake. His eye is on all His followers, from the greatest of them even to the least. The humblest servant in His army is not forgotten. The weakest and most sickly is cared for, remembered and kept unto salvation. The souls whom He has purchased and redeemed with His own blood are far too precious to be wasted and thrown away. Surely this is good!

b. The Christian’s fight is good because fought with the best of helps. Weak as each believer is in himself, the Holy Spirit dwells in him, and his body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Chosen by God the Father, washed in the blood of the Son, renewed by the Spirit, he does not go to warfare at his own charges and is never alone. God the Holy Spirit daily teaches, leads, guides and directs him. God the Father guards him by His almighty power. God the Son intercedes for him every moment, like Moses on the mount, while he is fighting in the valley below. A threefold cord like this can never be broken! His daily provisions and supplies never fail. His commissariat is never defective. His bread and his water are sure. Weak as he seems in himself, like a worm, he is strong in the Lord to do great exploits. Surely this is good!

c. The Christian fight is a good fight because fought with the best of promises. To every believer belong exceeding great and precious promises, all "yes" and "amen" in Christ, promises sure to be fulfilled because made by One who cannot lie and who has power as well as will to keep His word. "Sin shall not have dominion over you." "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." "He which has begun a good work . . . will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you." "My sheep . . . shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." "Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out." "I will never leave you, nor forsake you." "I am persuaded that neither death, nor life . . . nor things present, nor things to come . . . shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:14; 16:20; Phil. 1:6; Isa. 43:2; John 10:28; 6:37; Heb. 13:5; Rom. 8:38, 39). Words like these are worth their weight in gold! Who does not know that promises of coming aid have cheered the defenders of besieged cities, like Lucknow, and raised them above their natural strength? Have we never heard that the promise of "help before night" had much to say to the mighty victory of Waterloo? Yet all such promises are as nothing compared to the rich treasure of believers, the eternal promises of God. Surely this is good!

d. The Christian’s fight is a good fight because fought with the best of issues and results. No doubt it is a war in which there are tremendous struggles, agonizing conflicts, wounds, bruises, watchings, fastings and fatigue. But still every believer, without exception, is "more than conqueror through Him that loved [him] " (Rom. 8:37). No soldiers of Christ are ever lost, missing or left dead on the battlefield. No mourning will ever need to be put on, and no tears to be shed, for either private or officer in the army of Christ. The muster roll, when the last evening comes, will be found precisely the same that it was in the morning. The English Guards marched out of London to the Crimean campaign a magnificent body of men, but many of the gallant fellows laid their bones in a foreign grave and never saw London again. Far different shall be the arrival of the Christian army in the "city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10). Not one shall be found lacking. The words of our great Captain shall be found true: "Of those who You gave Me have I lost none" (John 18:9). Surely this is good!

e. The Christian’s fight is good because it does good to the soul of him that fights it. All other wars have a bad, lowering and demoralizing tendency. They call forth the worst passions of the human mind. They harden the conscience and sap the foundations of religion and morality. The Christian warfare alone tends to call forth the best things that are left in man. It promotes humility and charity, it lessens selfishness and worldliness, it induces men to set their affections on things above. The old, the sick, the dying, are never known to repent of fighting Christ’s battles against sin, the world and the devil. Their only regret is that they did not begin to serve Christ long before. The experience of that eminent saint, Philip Henry, does not stand alone. In his last days he said to his family, "I take you all to record that a life spent in the service of Christ is the happiest life that a man can spend upon earth." Surely this is good!

f. The Christian’s fight is a good fight because it does good to the world. All other wars have a devastating, ravaging and injurious effect. The march of an army through a land is a dreadful scourge to the inhabitants. Wherever it goes it impoverishes, wastes and does harm. Injury to persons, property, feelings and morals invariably accompanies it. Far different are the effects produced by Christian soldiers. Wherever they live, they are a blessing, They raise the standard of religion and morality. They invariably check the progress of drunkenness, Sabbath–breaking, profligacy and dishonesty. Even their enemies are obliged to respect them. Go where you please, you will rarely find that barracks and garrisons do good to the neighborhood. But go where you please, you will find that the presence of a few true Christians is a blessing. Surely this is good!

g. Finally, the Christian’s fight is good because it ends in a glorious reward for all who fight it. Who can tell the wages that Christ will pay to all His faithful people? Who can estimate the good things that our divine Captain has laid up for those who confess Him before men? A grateful country can give to her successful warriors medals, Victoria crosses, pensions, peerages, honors and titles. But it can give nothing that will last and endure forever, nothing that can be carried beyond the grave. Palaces like Blenheim and Strathfieldsay can only be enjoyed for a few years. The bravest generals and soldiers must go down one day before the king of terrors. Better, far better, is the position of him who fights under Christ’s banner, against sin, the world and the devil. He may get little praise of man while he lives and go down to the grave with little honor; but he will have that which is far better, because far more enduring. He will have "a crown of glory that fades not away" (1 Pet. 5:4). Surely this is good!

Let us settle it in our minds that the Christian fight is a good fight—really good, truly good, emphatically good. We see only part of it yet. We see the struggle, but not the end; we see the campaign, but not the reward; we see the cross, but not the crown. We see a few humble, broken–spirited, penitent, praying people, enduring hardships and despised by the world; but we see not the hand of God over them, the face of God smiling on them, the kingdom of glory prepared for them. These things are yet to be revealed. Let us not judge by appearances. There are more good things about the Christian warfare than we see.

And now let me conclude my whole subject with a few words of practical application. Our lot is cast in times when the world seems thinking of little else but battles and fighting. The iron is entering into the soul of more than one nation, and the mirth of many a fair district is clean gone. Surely in times like these a minister may fairly call on men to remember their spiritual warfare. Let me say a few parting words about the great fight of the soul.

1. It may be you are struggling hard for the rewards of this world. Perhaps you are straining every nerve to obtain money or place or power or pleasure. If that be your case, take care. You are sowing a crop of bitter disappointment. Unless you mind what you are about, your latter end will be to lie down in sorrow.

Thousands have trodden the path you are pursuing and have awoke too late to find it end in misery and eternal ruin. They have fought hard for wealth and honor and office and promotion and turned their backs on God and Christ and heaven and the world to come. And what has their end been? Often, far too often, they have found out that their whole life has been a grand mistake. They have tasted by bitter experience the feelings of the dying statesman who cried aloud in his last hours, "The battle is fought; the battle is fought; but the victory is not won."

For your own happiness’ sake resolve this day to join the Lord’s side. Shake off your past carelessness and unbelief. Come out from the ways of a thoughtless, unreasoning world. Take up the cross and become a good soldier of Christ. "Fight the good fight of faith" that you may be happy as well as safe.

Think what the children of this world will often do for liberty, without any religious principle. Remember how Greeks and Romans and Swiss and Tyrolese have endured the loss of all things, and even life itself, rather than bend their necks to a foreign yoke. Let their example provoke you to emulation. If men can do so much for a corruptible crown, how much more should you do for one which is incorruptible! Awake to a sense of the misery of being a slave. For life and happiness and liberty, arise and fight.

Fear not to begin and enlist under Christ’s banner. The great Captain of your salvation rejects none that come to Him. Like David in the cave of Adullam, He is ready to receive all who apply to Him, however unworthy they may feel themselves. None who repent and believe are too bad to be enrolled in the ranks of Christ’s army. All who come to Him by faith are admitted, clothed, armed, trained and finally led on to complete victory. Fear not to begin this very day. There is yet room for you.

Fear not to go on fighting, if you once enlist. The more thorough and whole–hearted you are as a soldier, the more comfortable will you find your warfare. No doubt you will often meet with trouble, fatigue and hard fighting, before your warfare is accomplished. But let none of these things move you. Greater is He who is for you than all they who are against you. Everlasting liberty or everlasting captivity are the alternatives before you. Choose liberty, and fight to the last.

2. It may be you know something of the Christian warfare and are a tried and proved soldier already. If that be your case, accept a parting word of advice and encouragement from a fellow soldier. Let me speak to myself as well as to you. Let us stir up our minds by way of remembrance. There are some things which we cannot remember too well.

Let us remember that if we would fight successfully, we must put on the whole armor of God and never lay it aside until we die. Not a single piece of the armor can be dispensed with. The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the sword of the Spirit, the helmet of hope—each and all are needful. Not a single day can we dispense with any part of this armor. Well says an old veteran in Christ’s army, who died two hundred years ago, "In heaven we shall appear, not in armor, but in robes of glory. But here our arms are to be worn night and day. We must walk, work, sleep in them, or else we are not true soldiers of Christ."

Let us remember the solemn words of an inspired warrior, who went to his rest eighteen hundred years ago: "No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier" (2 Tim. 2:4). May we never forget that saying!

Let us remember that some have seemed good soldiers for a little season and talked loudly of what they would do and yet turned back disgracefully in the day of battle.

Let us never forget Balaam and Judas and Demas and Lot’s wife. Whatever we are, and however weak, let us be real, genuine, true and sincere.

Let us remember that the eye of our loving Savior is upon us morning, noon and night. He will never suffer us to be tempted above what we are able to bear. He can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, for He suffered Himself, being tempted. He knows what battles and conflicts are, for He Himself was assaulted by the prince of this world. Having such a High Priest, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession (Heb. 4:14).

Let us remember that thousands of soldiers before us have fought the same battle that we are fighting and come off more than conquerors through Him that loved them. They overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and so also may we. Christ’s arm is quite as strong as ever, and Christ’s heart is just as loving as ever. He who saved men and women before us is One who never changes. He is "able to save to the uttermost" all who "come unto God by Him." Then let us cast doubts and fears away. Let us follow "them who through faith and patience inherit the promises" and are waiting for us to join them (Heb. 7:25; 6:12).

Finally, let us remember that the time is short, and the coming of the Lord draws near. A few more battles and the last trumpet shall sound, and the Prince of Peace shall come to reign on a renewed earth. A few more struggles and conflicts, and then we shall bid an eternal goodbye to warfare and to sin, to sorrow and to death. Then let us fight on to the last and never surrender. Thus says the Captain of our salvation: "He who overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son" (Rev. 21:7).

Let me conclude all with the words of John Bunyan in one of the most beautiful parts of Pilgrim’s Progress. He is describing the end of one of his best and holiest pilgrims: "After this it was noised abroad that Mr. Valiant– for–Truth was sent for by a summons, by the same party as the others. And he had this word for a token that the summons was true: ‘The pitcher was broken at the fountain’ (Eccl. 12:6). When he understood it, he called for his friends, and told them of it. Then said he, ‘I am going to my Father’s house; and though with great difficulty I have got here, yet now I do not repent me of all the troubles I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles, who will now be my Rewarder.’ When the day that he must go home was come, many accompanied him to the riverside, into which, as he went down, he said, ‘O death, where is your sting?’ And as he went down deeper, he cried, ‘O grave, where is your victory?’ So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side."

May our end be like this! May we never forget that without fighting there can be no holiness while we live, and no crown of glory when we die!
Note that Bishop Ryle here stresses the "whole armor of God" on which we have seen several sermons lately; it is clear that the good Bishop understood the importance of each piece of this armor, and may we wear well that same armor that is available to us in this spiritual warfare. Only thus will we have an end like his, and know the same holiness that he knew.
9 posted on 11/10/2005 8:27:54 AM PST by sionnsar (†† || (To Libs:) You are failing to celebrate MY diversity! || Iran Azad)
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