By J. C. Ryle (1816 – 1900)
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 them which Thou gavest Me have I 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. 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.
Fear not for the church of Christ when ministers die, and saints are taken away. Christ can ever maintain His own cause. 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” (Matt. 16:18). 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.
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 that 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. Let us wait, and watch, and pray.
– Condensed from Holiness.