Religion Can Be Useless
By J. C. Ryle
There are two ways by which a man may lose his own soul.
1. He may lose his soul by living and dying without any religion at all. He may live and die like a beast – prayerless, godless, graceless, faithless. This is a sure way to hell.
2. He may lose his soul by taking up some useless kind of religion. He may live and die contenting himself with a false Christianity and resting on a baseless hope. This probably is the most common way to hell that there is today.
Let me tell you what I mean by useless kinds of religion. A religion is entirely useless in which Jesus Christ is not the principal object, and does not fill the principal place. There are too many calling themselves Christians who practically know nothing about Christ.
Their religion consists of a few vague notions and empty expressions. They trust they are no worse than many others. They keep to their church. They try to do their duty. They do nobody any harm. They hope God will be merciful to them. They trust the Almighty will pardon their sins, and take them to Heaven when they die. This is about the whole of their religion.
But what do these people know practically about Christ? Nothing – nothing at all! What experimental acquaintance have they with His office and work? His blood, His righteousness, His mediation, His priesthood, His intercession? None! Ask about a saving faith, ask them about being born again of the Spirit, ask them about being sanctified in Christ Jesus. What answer will you get?
You are a barbarian to them. You have asked them simple Bible questions, but they know no more about them experimentally than a Buddhist or a Hindu. Yet this is the religion of hundreds and thousands of people who are called Christian all over the world.
If you are a man or woman of this kind, I warn you plainly that such Christianity will never take you to Heaven. It may do very well in the eyes of man. It may pass muster very decently at the church meeting, in the place of business, or in the streets. But it will never comfort you. It will never satisfy your conscience. It will never save your soul. Neither will it meet the approval of Almighty God.
I warn you plainly that all notions and theories about God being merciful apart from Christ are baseless delusions and empty fancies. Such theories are purely an idol of man’s invention. They are all of the earth. They never came down from Heaven. The God of Heaven has sealed and appointed Christ as the only Saviour and way of life, and all who would be saved must be content to be saved by Him, or they will never be saved at all.
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Take notice and warning: A religion without Christ and His substitutionary sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary will never save your soul.