I have been reading this book by JC Ryle. As I was reading it, the author began to address some issues he felt were prevalent in the church at the time he was writing the book. When I purchased the book off of Amazon, there was no picture of the author or any other indication of the time period in which it was written. But as I continued, it seemed to me that the author was probably a little older than I am. I was right. This book was first published in the year 1900. Whoa! 116 years ago!
Ryle was addressing some issues that I am identifying with right now. I feel now what he was feeling then. But the language in which he was writing more and more did not seem contemporary so I was finally prompted to investigate. I was floored to hear the author’s greatest concern in writing this book back in 1900. He chief concern and motive for publishing was the falling away from Scripture and personal holiness. Sure, I know my history and the Holiness movement in the early 19th century and the revival of this movement through the next 100 years or so, but it wasn’t until I was reading this book that I started considering what it meant for the church to fall away from the doctrine of holiness in 1900 and what it means today.
In 1900, there was no television. No one had ever seen a bikini, a Mustang GT, or heroine. The themes that we laugh about now on sitcoms each week were considered shameful and abhorrent in 1900. Most people still went to church compared to the shriveling faithful who still attend church regularly today. I am not trying to suggest that there was no hint of sin in that day, but I am suggesting that it was certainly not as in-your-face or as easily accessible as it is today. And society falling away to such a degree, it prompted urgent calls to return to Holiness. There was a movement across Europe, the US, and the world. The entire face of Christendom changed during this time.
I really should not be surprised that even without the overt temptations we face today, the Devil has always been efficient. Every kind of debauchery imaginable is addressed in the Old Testament. The Roman empire during the time of Christ was completely vice-ridden. And when you think about it, as Solomon wrote, there is nothing new under the sun. The delivery and methodology of Hell perhaps has changed, but the energy and effort has always remained constant.
The Holiness Revival message of the Old Testament still stands today:
2 Chronicles 7:14
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
They say that history repeats itself. Certainly there is a repetitive theme in evil, but the holiness movements and revivals, prompted by the Holy Spirit, required men and women to take a stand in their beliefs. An holy unrest burned within them. Their hearts ached to see the direction their world was headed. When you look around and see the direction the world is headed, does your heart ache? I think many have put their head in the sand not wanting to look at the increasing depravity all around them. We know from Scripture that as we draw near to the last days, the love of God will grow cold in the hearts of men. Knowing this should not mean that we sit idly by in acceptance. In every generation, there has been a remnant of people who have risen to the task of pulling down the strongholds of the Devil, and I think it is time for the warriors of our generation to show up for battle. May the holy unrest within us push us into action, seeking personal holiness within our own heart only by the grace of God, and corporate holiness within the Church. Let us hold true to the Scripture and fight for our generation, each of us in our personal battlefield must do our part. It is time for revival and let it begin in our very own hearts today!
Do you believe we are living in a time of watered-down Christianity? Do you have a holy unrest burning within you? What do you see happening in Christianity today?