Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,
I have been reading J.C. Ryle’s “Old Paths” with some young men in the church, and this week we read Chapter 4, titled “Our Hope.” In it, Ryle gives five marks of a well-founded hope:
- A good hope is a hope that a man can explain.
- A good hope is drawn from Scripture.
- A good hope is a hope that rests entirely on Jesus Christ.
- A good hope is a hope that is felt inwardly in the heart.
- A good hope is a hope that is manifested outwardly in the life.
Following this fifth point, Ryle speaks of fanciful hopes which have no sure footing, and in that section he says this:
“I believe there never was a time when there was so much counterfeit religion current, and so many ‘false hopes’ passing off for true. There never was a time when there was so much high profession, and so little spiritual practice, so much loud talk about preachers, and parties, and churches, and so little close walking with God, and real work of the Spirit. There is no lack of blossoms in Christendom, but there is a melancholy scarcity of ripe fruit. There is an abundance of controversial theology, but a dearth of practical holiness. There are myriads who have a name to live, but few whose hearts are really given to Jesus Christ, – few whose affections are really set on things above. There will be some awful failures yet in many quarters: there will be still more awful disclosures at the last day. There are many hopes nowadays, which are utterly destitute of foundation. I says, for the last time. Beware of mistakes.”
I don’t know about you, but I want and need less “loud talk” in my life, and more “close walking with God and real work of the Spirit.” Let’s all pray for this.