Don’t Miss Church on Sundays

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Listen to wise counsel from Bishop J. C. Ryle (1816-1900) on why you shouldn’t miss church on Sundays:

Never be absent from God’s house on Sundays, without good reason, – never to miss the Lord’s Supper when administered in our own congregation, – never to let our place be empty when means of grace are going on, this is one way to be a growing and prosperous Christian. the very sermon that we needlessly miss, may contain a precious word in season for our souls. The very assembly for prayer and praise form which we stay away, may be the very gathering that would cheered, and stablished, and quickened our hearts.

J.C. Ryle on Deathbed Confession

A while back Dr. Siefkes posted “Expressing Christian Sympathy” in this blog, which was (still is) a wonderful Godward reminder to make much of God when one of our Christian loved ones pass away.

I want to piggyback on that thought from my recent reading from Holiness, where J.C. Ryle offered a warning to deathbed confessions. We often hear that so and so is in heaven now. But when asked about why, their reasons are often unsound (even unbiblical). Although insensitive comments are to be avoided, especially, during inappropriate time, nonetheless, truth needs to be spoken with love some time.

It is mournful to hear what people sometimes say about what they call deathbed evidences. It is perfectly fearful to observe how little satisfies some persons, and how easily they can persuade themselves that their friends have gone to heaven. They will tell you when their relative is dead and gone that “he made such a beautiful prayer one day,” or that “he talked so well,” or that “he was so sorry for his old ways, and intended to live so differently if he got better,” or that “he craved nothing in this world,” or that “he liked people to read to him, and pray with him.” And because they have this to go upon, they seem to have a comfortable hope that he is saved! Christ may never have been named – the way of salvation may never have been in the least mentioned. But it matters not; there was a little talk of religion, and so they are content!

Now I have no desire to hurt the feelings of anyone who reads this paper, but I must and will speak plainly upon this subject. Once for all, let me say that, as a general rule, nothing is so unsatisfactory as deathbed evidences. The things that men say, and the feelings they express when sick and frightened, are little to be depended on. Often, too often, they are the result of fear, and do not spring the ground of the heart. Often, too often, they are things said by rote; caught from the lips of ministers and anxious friends, but evidently not felt. And nothing can prove all this more clearly than the well-known fact that the great majority of persons who make promises of amendment on a sickbed, and then for the first time talk about religion, if they recover, go back to sin and the world (emphasis his; Holiness, [Moscow: Charles Nolan Publishers, 2001], 227-8).

Prayerlessness

J. C. Ryle:

Prayerless people are not genuine Christians. It is not enough to join in the prayers of the congregation on Sundays, or attend the prayer of a family on week-days. There must be private prayer also. Without this we may be outward members of Christ’s church, but we are not living members of Christ.

J. I. Packer:

Prayerlessness is a sure sign that we scarcely know our God [Knowing God (Downers Grove: IVP, 1993), 29].

D. A. Carson:

Although abstractly I may affirm the importance of prayer, in reality I may treat prayer as important only in the lives of other people, especially those whom I judge to be weaker in character, more needy, less competent, less productive. Thus, while affirming the importance of prayer, I may not feel deep need for prayer in my own life. I may be getting along so well without much praying that my self-confidence is constantly being reinforced. That breeds yet another round of prayerlessness [A Call to Spiritual Reformation (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), 117].