O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Matthew 23:37
Those who are lost for ever, are lost through their own fault.
The words of our Lord Jesus Christ are very remarkable. He says, I would ‘have gathered thy children together ... and ye would not’.
There is something peculiarly deserving of notice in this expression: it throws light on a mysterious subject, and one which is often darkened by human explanations. It shows that Christ has feelings of pity and mercy for many who are not saved, and that the grand secret of man’s ruin is his want of will. Impotent as man is by nature, unable to think a good thought of himself, without power to turn himself to faith and calling upon God – he still appears to have a mighty ability to ruin his own soul. Powerless as he is to good, he is still powerful to evil. We say rightly that a man can do nothing of himself, but we must always remember that the seat of impotence is his will. A will to repent and believe no man can give himself, but a will to reject Christ and have his own way, every man possesses by nature, and if not saved at last, that will shall prove to have been his destruction. ‘And ye will not come to me,’ says Christ, ‘that ye might have life’ (John 5:40).
Let us leave the subject with the comfortable reflection that with Christ nothing is impossible. The hardest heart can be made willing in the day of His power. Grace beyond doubt is irresistible, but never let us forget that the Bible speaks of man as a responsible being, and that it says of some, ‘ye do always resist the Holy Ghost’ (Acts 7:51). Let us understand that the ruin of those who are lost, is not because Christ was not willing to save them, nor yet because they wanted to be saved, but could not, but because they would not come to Christ.
*Excerpted from Day By Day With J.C. Ryle: A New Daily Devotional of Ryle’s Writings by J.C. Ryle (Christian Heritage, 2011).
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