If something is a matter of great importance, you seek to know it or accomplish what needs to be done in order to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion. What if heaven or hell is wrapped up in this matter? What if an eternity of happiness or misery hinges upon your answer to a simple question? Would it be wise to leave your earthly business so unsettled? No! You insure life, property, and health. Should then, you leave the fate of your immortal soul undecided? Bishop J. C. Ryle poses this question:
“And He has made you alive, who were once dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1)
First, let me put this question to every soul who reads this paper, “Are you dead, or are you alive?”
Allow me, as an ambassador for Christ, to press the inquiry on every conscience. There are only two ways to walk in, the narrow way and the broad way. There are only two companies in the Day of Judgment, those on the right hand, and those on the left. There are only two classes of people in the professing Church of Christ, and to one of them you must belong. Where are you? What are you? Are you among the living, or among the dead?
I speak to you yourself, and to none else—not to your neighbor—but to you, not to Africans or New Zealanders—but to you. I do not ask whether you are an angel, or whether you have the mind of David or Paul—but I do ask whether you have a well-founded hope that you are a new creature in Christ Jesus, I do ask whether you have reason to believe you have put off the old man and put on the new—whether you are conscious of ever having gone through a real spiritual change of heart—whether, in one word, you are dead or alive.
Think not to put me off by saying, “you were admitted into the Church by baptism, you received grace and the Spirit in that sacrament, you are alive.” It shall not avail you. Paul himself says of the baptized widow who lives in pleasure, “She is dead while she lives.” (1 Tim. 5:6.) The Lord Jesus Christ Himself tells the chief officer of the Church in Sardis, “You have a name that you live, and are dead.” (Rev. 3:1.). The life you talk of is nothing if it cannot be seen. Show it to me, if I am to believe its existence. Grace is light, and light will always be discerned. Grace is salt, and salt will always be tasted. An indwelling of the Spirit which does not show itself by outward fruits, and a grace which men’s eyes cannot discover, are both to be viewed with the utmost suspicion. Believe me, if you have no other proof of spiritual life but your baptism, you are yet a dead soul.
Think not to tell me “It is a question that cannot be decided, and you call it presumptuous to give an opinion in such a matter.” This is a vain refuge, and a false humility. Spiritual life is no such dim and doubtful thing as you seem to fancy. There are marks and evidences by which its presence may be discerned by those who know the Bible. “We know,” says John, “that we have passed from death unto life.” (1 John 3:14.) The exact time and season of that passage may often be hidden from a man. The fact and reality of it will seldom be entirely an uncertain thing. It was a true and beautiful saying of a Scotch girl, to Whitefield, when asked if her heart was changed, “Something was changed, she knew, it might be the world, it might be her own heart—but there was a great change somewhere, she was quite sure, for everything seemed different to what it once did.” Oh, cease to evade the inquiry! “Anoint your eyes with eye-salve that you may see.” (Rev. 3:18.) Are you dead or alive? (“Alive or Dead?”)
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Church, Faith, Grace, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ | Tagged: Bible, Christ, Christ Jesus, Epistle to the Ephesians, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, John, Sardis | Comments Off