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09 May, 2013

The Church That Christ Builds — Part 5





By J.C. Ryle 
(1816—1900)

The promise of our text is true of every individual member of the Church. Some of God's people have been so much cast down and disturbed, that they have despaired of their safety. Some have fallen sadly, as David and Peter did. Some have departed from the faith for a time, like Cranmer and Jewell. Many have been tried by cruel doubts and fears. But all have got safe home at last, the youngest as well as the oldest, the weakest as well as the strongest. And so it will be to the end. Can you prevent tomorrow's sun from rising? 

Can you prevent the tide in the Bristol Channel from ebbing and flowing? Can you prevent the planets moving in their respective orbits? Then, and then alone, can you prevent the salvation of any believer, however feeble, the final safety of any living stone in that Church which is built upon the rock, however small or insignificant that stone may appear.

The true Church is Christ's body. Not one bone in that mystical body shall ever be broken.

The true Church is Christ's bride. Those whom God has joined in everlasting covenant, shall never be put asunder.

The true Church is Christ's flock. When the lion came and took a lamb out of David's flock, David arose and delivered the lamb from his mouth. Christ will do the same. He is David's greater Son. Not a single sick lamb in Christ's flock shall perish. He will say to His Father in the last day, "Of those who You gave Me — I have lost none" (John 18:9).
The true Church is the wheat of the earth. It may be sifted, winnowed, buffeted, tossed to and fro. But not one grain shall be lost.

The tares and chaff shall be burned. The wheat shall be gathered into the barn.

The true Church is Christ's army. The Captain of our salvation loses none of His soldiers. His plans are never defeated. His supplies never fail. His muster-roll is the same at the end — as it was at the beginning. Of the men that marched gallantly out of England a few years ago in the Crimean war, how many never came back! Regiments that went forth, strong and cheerful, with bands playing and banners flying, laid their bones in a foreign land, and never returned to their native country. But it is not so with Christ's army. Not one of His soldiers shall be missing at last. He Himself declares, "They shall never perish!" (John 10:28).

The devil may cast some of the members of the true Church into prison. He may kill and burn and torture and hang. But after he has killed the body, there is nothing more that he can do. He cannot hurt the soul. When the French troops took Rome a few years ago, they found on the walls of a prison cell, under the Inquisition, the words of a prisoner. Who he was, we know not. But his words are worthy of remembrance. 

"Though dead, he yet speaks." He had written on the walls, very likely after an unjust trial, and a still more unjust excommunication, the following striking words "Blessed Jesus, they cannot cast me out of Your true Church." That record is true! Not all the power of Satan can cast one single believer out of Christ's true Church!

I trust that no reader of this message will ever allow fear to prevent his beginning to serve Christ. He to whom you commit your soul has all power in Heaven and earth, and He will keep you. He will never let you be cast away. Relatives may oppose. Neighbors may mock. The world may slander and ridicule and jest and sneer. Fear not! Fear not! The powers of Hell shall never prevail against your soul. Greater is He who is for you, than all those who are against you.

Fear not for the Church of Christ — when ministers die, and saints are taken away. Christ can ever maintain His own cause. He will raise up better servants and brighter stars. The stars are all in His right hand. Leave off all anxious thought about the future. Cease to be cast down by the measures of statesmen, or the plots of wolves in sheep's clothing. Christ will ever provide for His own Church. Christ will take care that "the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it." All is going on well, though our eyes may not see it. The kingdoms of this world shall yet become the kingdoms of our God, and of His Christ.