The State of the ‘Almost Christian’

Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

Genesis 3:6-9

There are many whom I must call “almost Christians,” for I know no other expression in the Bible, which so exactly describes their state. They have many things about them which are right, good and praiseworthy in the sight of God. They are regular and moral in their lives. They are free from glaring outward sins. They keep up many decent and proper habits. They appear to love the preaching of the Gospel. They are not offended at the truth as it is in Jesus, however plainly it may be spoken. They have no objection to religious company, religious books, and religious talk. They agree to all you say when you speak to them about their souls. And all this is well.

But still there is no movement in the hearts of these people that even a microscope can detect. They are like those who stand still. Weeks after weeks, years after years roll over their heads, and they are just where they were. They sit under our pulpits. They approve of our sermons. And yet, like Pharaoh’s lean cows, they are nothing the better, apparently, for all they receive. There is always the same regularity about them—the same constant attendance on means of grace—the same wishing and hoping—the same way of talking about religion—but there is nothing more. There is no going forward in their Christianity. There is no life, and heart, and reality in it. Their souls seem to be at a deadlock. And all this is sadly wrong.

~ J.C. Ryle

Tract: Where Are You?

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