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11 May, 2013

The Church That Christ Builds — Part 6

By J.C. Ryle 1816—1900

I will now conclude this message with a few words of PRACTICAL APPLICATION.
1. My first word of application shall be a QUESTION. What shall that question be? What shall I ask? I will return to the point with which I began. I will go back to the first sentence with which I opened my message. I ask you, whether you are a member of the one true Church of Christ? Are you in the highest, the best sense, a "Churchman" in the sight of God? You know now what I mean. I look far beyond the Church of England. I am not speaking of church or chapel. I speak of "the Church built upon the rock." I ask you, with all solemnity: Are you a member of that Church? Are you joined to the great Foundation? Are you on the rock? Have you received the Holy Spirit? Does the Spirit witness with your spirit, that you are one with Christ, and Christ with you? I beseech you, in the name of God, to lay to heart these questions, and to ponder them well. If you are not converted — you do not yet belong to the "Church on the rock."

Let every reader of this message take heed to himself, if he cannot give a satisfactory answer to my inquiry. Take heed, take heed, that you do not make shipwreck of your soul to all eternity. Take heed, lest at last the gates of Hell prevail against you, the devil claims you as his own, and you are cast away forever. Take heed, lest you go down to the pit from the land of Bibles, and in the full light of Christ's gospel. Take heed, lest you are found at the left hand of Christ at last, a lost Episcopalian or a lost Presbyterian, a lost Baptist or a lost Methodist — lost because, with all your zeal for your own party and your own communion table, you never joined the one true Church.

2. My second work of application shall be an INVITATION. I address it to everyone who is not yet a true believer. I say to you, come and join the one true Church without delay. Come and join yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ in an everlasting covenant not to be forgotten.

Consider well what I say. I charge you solemnly not to mistake the meaning of my invitation. I do not bid you leave the visible Church to which you belong. I abhor all idolatry of denominations and parties. I detest a proselytizing spirit. But I do bid you come to Christ and be saved. The day of decision must come some time. Why not this very hour? Why not today, while it is called today? Why not this very night, before the sun rises tomorrow morning? Come to Him, who died for sinners on the cross, and invites all sinners to come to Him by faith and be saved. Come to my Master, Jesus Christ. Come, I say, for all things are now ready. Mercy is ready for you. Heaven is ready for you. Angels are ready to rejoice over you. Christ is ready to receive you. Christ will receive you gladly, and welcome you among His children. Come into the ark. The flood of God's wrath will soon break upon the earth. Come into the ark and be safe!

Come into the lifeboat of the one true Church. This old world will soon break into pieces! Don't you hear the tremblings of it? The world is but a wreck upon a sandbank. The night is far spent, the waves are beginning to rise, the wind is getting up, the storm will soon shatter the old wreck. But the lifeboat is launched, and we, the ministers of the gospel, beseech you to come into the lifeboat and be saved. We beseech you to arise at once and come to Christ.

Do you ask, "How can I come? My sins are too many. I am too wicked yet. I dare not come." Away with the thought! It is a temptation of Satan. Come to Christ as a sinner. Come just as you are. Hear the words of that beautiful hymn:
"Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Your blood was shed for me,
And that You bid'st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come."

This is the way to come to Christ. You should come, waiting for nothing, and tarrying for nothing. You should come, 
as a hungry sinner — to be filled; 
as a poor sinner — to be enriched; 
as an undeserving sinner — to be clothed with righteousness.

So coming, Christ would receive you. "Him that comes" to Christ, He "will never cast out." Oh, come, come to Jesus Christ! Come into the true Church by faith and be saved.

3. Last of all, let me give a word of EXHORTATION to all believers into whose hands this message may fall.

Strive to live a holy life. Walk worthy of the Church to which you belong. Live like citizens of Heaven. Let your light shine before men, so that the world may profit by your conduct. Let them know whose you are, and whom you serve. Be epistles of Christ, known and read of all men, written in such clear letters, that none can say of you, "I know not whether this man be a member of Christ or not." He who knows nothing of real, practical holiness — is no member of the Church on the rock.

Strive to live a courageous life. Confess Christ before men. Whatever station you occupy — in that station confess Christ. Why should you be ashamed of Him? He was not ashamed of you on the cross. He is ready to confess you now before His Father in Heaven. Why should you be ashamed of Him? Be bold. Be very bold. The good soldier is not ashamed of his uniform. The true believer ought never to be ashamed of Christ.

Strive to live a joyful life. Live like men who look for that blessed hope — the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is the prospect to which we should all look forward. It is not so much the thought of going to Heaven, as of Heaven coming to us, that should fill our minds. "There is a good time coming" for all the people of God, a good time for all the Church of Christ, a good time for all believers — a bad time for the impenitent and unbelieving — but a good time for true Christians. For that good time, let us wait and watch and pray.

The scaffolding will soon be taken down. The last stone will soon be brought out. The top stone will be placed upon the edifice. Yet a little time, and the full beauty of the Church which Christ is building shall be clearly seen