Let us understand that “Christ is all” in the religion of all true Christians on earth … “It pleased the Father that in Christ all fullness should dwell” (Col. 1:19). What the sun is in the firmament of heaven, that Christ is in true Christianity…
I want my readers clearly to understand that in saying “Christ is all,” I do not mean to shut out the work of the Father and of the Spirit. Now let me show what I do mean…
A. Christ is all in a sinner’s justification before God.
Through Him alone we can have peace with a Holy God. By Him alone we can have admission into the presence of the Most High, and stand there without fear. “We have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.” In Him alone can God be just, and justify the ungodly (Eph. 3:12; Rom. 3:26).
Wherewith can any mortal man come before God? What can we bring as a plea for acquittal before that Glorious Being, in whose eyes the very heavens are not clean?
Shall we say that we have done our duty to God? Shall we say that we have done our duty to our neighbor? Shall we bring forward our prayers? our regularity? our morality? our amendments? our church-going? Shall we ask to be accepted because of any of these?
Which of these things will stand the searching inspection of God’s eye? Which of them will actually justify us? Which of them will carry us clear through judgment, and land us safe in glory? None, none, none! Take any commandment of the ten, and let us examine ourselves by it. We have broken it repeatedly. We cannot answer God one of a thousand. Take any of us, and look narrowly into our ways and we are nothing but sinners. There is but one verdict: we are all guilty; all deserve hell; all ought to die. Wherewith can we come before God?
We must come in the name of Jesus standing on no other ground pleading no other plea than this, “Christ died on the cross for the ungodly, and I trust in Him. Christ died for me, and I believe on Him.”
The garment of our Elder Brother–the righteousness of Christ–this is the only robe which can cover us and enable us to stand in the light of heaven without shame [Matt. 22:1-12; Phil. 3:9].
The name of Jesus is the only name by which we shall obtain an entrance through the gate of eternal glory [Acts 4:12]. If we come to that gate in our own names, we are lost, we shall not be admitted, we shall knock in vain. If we come in the name of Jesus, it is a passport and Shibboleth [Judges 12:6], and we shall enter and live.
The mark of the blood of Christ is the only mark that can save us from destruction. When the angels are separating the children of Adam in the last day, if we are not found marked with that atoning blood, we had better never have been born [Matt 13:47-50].
Oh, let us never forget that Christ must be “all” to that soul who would be justified! We must be content to go to heaven as beggars saved by free grace, simply as believers in Jesus or we shall never be saved at all [Eph. 2:8,9].
Is there a thoughtless, worldly soul among the readers of this book? Is there one who thinks to reach heaven by saying hastily at the last, “Lord have mercy on me” without Christ? Friend, you are sowing misery for yourself, and unless you alter you will awake to endless woe.
Is there a proud, formal soul among the readers of this book? Is there anyone thinking to make himself fit for heaven and good enough to pass muster by his own doings? Brother, you are building a Babel, and you will never reach heaven in your present state [Gen. 11:1-9].
But is there a laboring, heavy-laden one among the readers of this book? Is there one who wants to be saved, and feels a vile sinner? I say to such an one, “Come to Christ, and He shall save you. Come to Christ, and cast the burden of your soul on Him. Fear not: only believe” [Matt. 11:28-30].
Do you fear wrath? Christ can deliver you from the wrath to come. Do you feel the curse of a broken law? Christ can redeem you from the curse of the law. Do you feel far away? Christ has suffered, to bring you nigh to God. Do you feel unclean? Christ’s blood can cleanse all sin away. Do you feel imperfect? You shall be complete in Christ. Do you feel as if you were nothing? Christ shall be “all in all” to your soul. Never did saint reach heaven with any tale but this, “I was washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14.)
Part 1 of 4
J. C. Ryle, Holiness, 315-16 at www.CCEL.org
John Charles Ryle [1816-1900] was an Anglical bishop in England whose method and style of writing is scriptural and expository.