We are here to see if we qualify for eternal life with our Lord in heaven. No, we can’t earn it, it is a free gift from a gracious God who gives man a second chance after the fall.
J.C Rhyle, a vicar and later a bishop of the Church of England in the 19th century, was a learned man, a great preacher and a prolific writer. I have been reading his Practical Religion with great interest. It is somewhat quaint, often seems a bit repetitive in his desire for thoroughness, but none the less, is a real challenge to any Christian or unbeliever.
He is concerned about the soul and its future, “Oh your soul!” he cries. To be blinded by the world and this present life is a tragedy, to think if you go to church or even belong to no matter what denomination, you will go to heaven, is a tragedy - for many who are sitting in the pews will never get there. Are you truly born again, is your heart in it, are you following Christ? These are the determining questions.
In the final chapter, Bishop Ryle falls into the trap of some previous and greater authors. He attempts to portray what heaven will be like. In his view, almost like an old boys’ club! What about “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for him”? Then too, he believes in the rapture theory, that Christians will be taken away before the great tribulation. This is not what Christ said. Christians in the past have suffered tremendous persecution and I believe will suffer most during the end times.
However, despite my differences with the learned Bishop, I really recommend the book for Christians and those who need to lift their eyes from this world and consider death and its implications. I ordered 3 paperback copies of Practical Religion only to find they had no page numbers. I have since bought 3 hardback copies (Banner of Truth Trust) to give away and they are fine.