08 May 2014

Are You Asleep?

I put before you now a simple question. Look through the pages of this paper and you will soon see why I ask it. "Are you asleep about your soul?"

There are many who have the name of Christians—but not the character which should go with the name. God is not King of their hearts. "They mind earthly things."

J.C. Ryle
Such people are often quick and clever about the affairs of this life. They are, many of them, good men of business, good at their daily work, good masters, good servants, good neighbors, good subjects of the Queen—all this I fully allow. But it is the eternal part of them which I speak of; it is their never dying souls. And about that, if a man may judge by the little they do for it—they are careless, thoughtless, reckless, and unconcerned. They are asleep.

I do not say that God and salvation are subjects which never come across their minds—but this I say—they have not the uppermost place there. Neither do I say that they are all alike in their lives; some of them doubtless go further in sin than others; but this I say—they have all turned every one to his own way, and that way is not God's. I know no rule by which to judge of a man's estate—but the Bible. Now when I look at the Bible I can come to only one conclusion about these people—they are asleep about their souls.

These people do not see the sinfulness of sin, and their own lost condition by nature. They appear to make light of breaking God's commandments, and to care little whether they live according to His law or not. Yet God says that sin is the transgression of the law—that His commandment is exceeding broad—that every imagination of the natural heart is evil—that sin is the thing He cannot bear, He hates it—that the wages of sin is death, and the soul that sins shall die. Surely they are asleep.

Is this the state of your soul? Remember my question. Are you asleep?

These people do not see their need of a Savior. They appear to think it an easy matter to get to heaven, and that God will of course be merciful to them at last, some way or other, though they do not exactly know how. Yet God says that He is just and holy, and never changes—that Christ is the only way, and none can come unto the Father but by Him—that without His blood there can be no forgiveness of sin—that a man without Christ is a man without hope—that those who would be saved must believe on Jesus and come to Him, and that he who believes not shall he damned. Surely they are asleep!

Once more I say, is this the state of your soul? Remember my question. Are you asleep?

These people do not see the necessity of holiness. They appear to think it quite enough to go on as others do, and live like their neighbors. And as for praying and Bible-reading, making conscience of words and actions, studying truthfulness and gentleness, humility and charity, and keeping separate from the world—they are things they do not seem to value at all. Yet God says that without holiness no man shall see the Lord—that there shall enter into heaven nothing which defiles—that His people must be a separated people, zealous of good works. Surely they are asleep!

Once more I say, is this the state of your soul? Remember my question. Are you asleep?

Worst of all, these people do not appear to feel their danger. They walk on with their eyes shut, and seem not to know, that the end of their path is hell! Some dreamers imagine that they are rich—when they are poor, or full—when they are hungry, or well—when they are sick, and awake to find it all a mistake! And this is the way that many dream about their souls. They flatter themselves they will have peace—and there will be no peace; they imagine that they are all right—and in truth they will find that they are all wrong. Surely they are asleep!

Once more I say, is this the state of your soul? Remember my question. Are you asleep?

If conscience pricks you, and tells you you are yet asleep, what can I say to arouse you? Your soul is in awful peril. Without a mighty change it will be lost. When shall that change once be?

You are dying, and not ready to depart—you are going to be judged, and not prepared to meet God—your sins are not forgiven—your person is not justified—your heart is not renewed. Heaven itself would be no happiness to you if you got there, for the Lord of heaven is not your friend. What pleases Him does not please you; what He dislikes gives you no pain. His word is not your Counselor; His way is not your delight; His law is not your guide. You care little for hearing of Him—you know nothing of speaking with Him. To be forever in His company would be a thing you could not endure; and the society of saints and angels would he a weariness, and not a joy. At the rate you live at, the Bible might never have been written, and Christ might never have died, the Apostles were foolish, the New Testament Christians madmen, and the salvation of the Gospel a needless thing. Oh, awake! and sleep no more.

Think not to say you cannot believe your case is so bad, or the danger so great, or God so particular. I answer—the devil has been putting this lying delusion into people's hearts for nearly six thousand years. It has been his grand snare ever since the day he said to Eve, "You shall not surely die." Do not be so weak as to be taken in by it. God never failed yet to punish sin, and He never will—He never failed to make His word good, and you will find this to your cost, one day, except you repent. Reader, awake—awake!

Think not to say you are a member of Christ's visible church, and therefore feel no doubt you are as good a Christian as others. I answer—this will only make your case worse, if you have nothing else to plead. You may he written down and registered in the church roll—you may be reckoned in the number of saints; you may sit for years under the sound of the Gospel; you may use holy forms and even come to the Lord's table at regular seasons; and still, with all this, unless sin is hateful, and Christ precious, and your heart a temple of the Holy Spirit—you will prove in the end no better than a lost soul! Church membership will never save an unholy man. Reader, awake—awake!

Think not to say you have been baptized, and so feel confident you are born of God, and have His grace within you. I answer—you have none of the marks which John has told us, in his first epistle, which distinguish such a person. I do not see you confessing that Jesus is the Christ, overcoming the world—not practicing sin—loving your brother—doing righteousness—keeping yourself from the wicked one. How then can I believe that you are born of God? If God were your Father, you would love Christ; if you were God's son, you would be led by His Spirit. I want stronger evidences. Show me some repentance and faith; show me a life hidden with Christ in God; show me a spiritual and sanctified life—these are the fruits I want to see, if I am to believe you have the root of the matter in you, and are a living branch of the true vine. But without these—your baptism will only add to your condemnation! Reader, awake—awake!

[…]

This day, as the ambassador of Christ, I beg you to be reconciled to God. The Lord Jesus who came into the world to save sinners—Jesus the appointed Mediator between God and man—Jesus who loved us and gave Himself for us—Jesus sends you a message of peace—He says, "Come unto Me!"

"Come is a precious word indeed, and ought to draw you. You have sinned against heaven—heaven has not sinned against you. Yet see how the first step towards peace is on heaven's side. It is the Lord's message—"Come unto Me."

– J.C. Ryle "Are You Asleep?"

Further Reading
The Veil Is Not Rolled Up, but Rent
The Parable of the Soils: Giving or Gospel?
A Word to Parents

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