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J.C. Ryle on reality in the Christian life

Posted by Stephen Witmer on March 20th, 2017

I always benefit from reading the 19th-century Anglican bishop J.C. Ryle. His writing is nourishing, like a square meal. It’s not exotic, fancy, gourmet food — it’s healthy, substantial, solid, wholesome, life-giving Bible teaching, plain and forthright. Here’s something I read from Ryle not long ago, from his book Practical Religion, on what reality in the Christian life is all about. There’s lots here to consider and meditate upon:’If you would know whether your religion is real, try it by the place which it occupies in your inner man. It is not enough that it is in your head. You may know the truth, and assent to the truth, and believe the truth, and yet be wrong in God’s sight. – It is not enough that it is on your lips. You may repeat the creed daily. You may say ‘Amen’ to public prayer in church, and yet have nothing more than an outward religion. – It is not enough that it is in your feelings. You may weep under preaching one day, and be lifted to the third heaven by joyous excitement another day, and yet be dead to God. – Your religion, if it is real, and given by the Holy Ghost, must be in your heart. It must occupy the citadel. It must hold the reigns. It must sway the affections. It must lead the will. It must direct the tastes. It must influence the choices and decisions. It must fill the deepest, lowest, inmost seat in your soul. Is this your religion. If not, you may well doubt whether it is ‘real’ and true.’