In a recent post I quoted from Chapter 10 of J.C. Ryle’s book Holiness. The title of the chapter is ‘A Woman to be Remembered’ — it’s based on Jesus’ warning in Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife.” Immediately following the section I quoted, Ryle said something that I think would sound foreign to most Southern Baptist ears. (I single out Southern Baptists because I’ve been a member of Southern Baptist churches most of my life.) Not only might it sound foreign, it might be considered offensive. It might even be labeled as false doctrine. So what did Ryle say?
I maintain that professing Christians ought to be often reminded that they may be lost and go to hell.
I’m a professing Christian. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you are too. Should we be frequently reminded that we may be lost and go to hell? Ryle certainly thought so. Before you object too strongly, consider the fact that the Bible itself makes similar statements. For instance:
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12)
Let me repeat that, placing emphasis this time on a couple of words in particular. “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. ” Or as Ryle might have put it, you, professing Christian, may be lost and go to hell. There isn’t much difference, is there?
The book of Hebrews contains several other sobering warnings. Do you think those warnings are largely ignored by Southern Baptists (as well as other Christians who believe in some form of eternal security)? Why or why not? Do warnings like those have the effect of undermining assurance, or are they intended by God to foster perseverance and therefore strengthen and undergird assurance?
I’m interested in hearing what you think. I’ll be out of town for a couple of days so I won’t be able to interact with comments until next week.