[Here’s] what the Lord Jesus Christ asks you to do. Three words make up the sum and substance of the invitation which He sends you today. If you are “laboring and heavy-laden,” Jesus says, “Come unto Me.”

There is a grand simplicity about the three words now before you. Short and plain as the sentence seems, it contains a mine of deep truth and solid comfort. Weigh it—look at it—consider it—ponder it well. I believe that it is one half of saving Christianity to understand what Jesus means, when He says, “Come unto Me.”

Mark well, that the Lord Jesus does not bid the laboring and heavy-laden “go and work.” Those words would carry no comfort to heavy consciences—it would be like requiring labor from an exhausted man. No—He bids them “Come!” He does not say, “Pay Me what you owe.” That demand would drive a broken heart into despair—it would be like claiming a debt from a ruined bankrupt. No—He says, “Come!” He does not say, “Stand still and wait.” That command would only be a mockery—it would be like promising to give medicine at the end of a week to one at the point of death.” No—He says, “Come!” Today—at once—without any delay, “Come unto Me.”

But, after all, what is meant by coming to Christ? It is an expression often used—but often misunderstood. Beware that you make no mistake at this point. Here unhappily, thousands turn aside out of the right course, and miss the truth. Beware that you do not make shipwreck at the very mouth of the harbor.

(a) Take notice, that coming to Christ means something more than coming to church and chapel. You may fill your place regularly at a place of worship, and attend all outward means of grace, and yet not be saved. All this is not coming to Christ.

(b) Take notice, that coming to Christ is something more than coming to the Lord’s table. You may be a regular member and communicant; you may never be missing in the lists of those who eat that bread and drink that wine, which the Lord commanded to be received, and yet you may never be saved. All this is not coming to Christ.

(c) Take notice, that coming to Christ is something more than coming to ministers. You may be a constant hearer of some popular preacher, and a zealous partisan of all his opinions, and yet never be saved. All this is not coming to Christ.

(d) Take notice, once more, that coming to Christ is something more than coming to the possession of head-knowledge about Him. You may know the whole system of evangelical doctrine, and be able to talk, argue, and dispute on every jot of it, and yet never be saved. All this is not coming to Christ.

Coming to Christ is coming to Him with the heart by simple FAITH. Believing on Christ is coming to Him, and coming to Christ is believing on Him. It is that act of the soul which takes place when a man, feeling his own sins, and despairing of all other hope, commits himself to Christ for salvation, ventures on Him, trusts Him, and casts himself wholly on Him. When a man turns to Christ empty that he may be filled, sick that he may be healed, hungry that he may be satisfied, thirsty that he may be refreshed, needy that he may be enriched, dying that he may have life, lost that he may be saved, guilty that he may be pardoned, sin-defiled that he may be cleansed, confessing that Christ alone can supply his need—then he comes to Christ.

When he uses Christ as the Jews used the city of refuge, as the starving Egyptians used Joseph, as the dying Israelites used the brazen serpent—then he comes to Christ. It is the empty soul’s venture on a full Savior. It is the drowning man’s grasp on the hand held out to help him. It is the sick man’s reception of a healing medicine. This, and nothing more than this, is coming to Christ.

Let every reader of this paper accept at this point a word of caution. Beware of mistakes as to this matter of coming to Christ. Do not stop short in any half-way house. Do not allow the devil and the world to cheat you out of eternal life. Do not suppose that you will ever get any good from Christ, unless you go straight, direct, thoroughly, and entirely to Christ Himself. Trust not in a little outward formality; do not content yourself with a regular use of outward means. A lantern is an excellent help in a dark night—but it is not home. Means of grace are useful aids—but they are not Christ. Oh, no! Press onward, forward, upward, until you have had personal, heart-felt dealings with Christ Himself.

Beware of mistakes as to the manner of coming to Christ. Dismiss from your mind forever all idea of worthiness, merit, and fitness in yourself. Throw away all notions of goodness, righteousness, and personal deservings. Think not that you can bring anything to recommend you, or to make you deserving of Christ’s notice. You must come to Him as a poor, guilty, undeserving sinner, or you cannot come at all. “But to him who doesn’t work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness. ” (Rom. 4:5.) It is the peculiar mark of the faith that justifies and saves, that it brings to Christ nothing but an empty hand.

Last—but not least, let there be no mistake in your mind as to the special character of the man who has come to Christ, and is a true Christian. He is not an angel; he is not a half-angelic being, in whom is no weakness, or blemish, or infirmity—he is nothing of the kind. He is nothing more than a sinner who has found out his sinfulness, and has learned the blessed secret of living by faith in Christ. What was the glorious company of the apostles and prophets? What was the noble army of martyrs?

What were Isaiah, Daniel, Peter, James, John, Paul, Polycarp, Chrysostom, Augustine, Luther, Ridley, Latimer, Bunyan, Baxter, Whitefield, Venn, Chalmers, Bickersteth, M’Cheyne? What were they all—but sinners who knew and felt their sins, and trusted only in Christ? What were they—but people who accepted the invitation I bring you this day, and came to Christ by faith? By this faith they lived—in this faith they died. In themselves and their doings they saw nothing worth mentioning; but in Christ they saw all that their souls required.

The invitation of Christ is now before you. If you never listened to it before, listen to it today. Broad, full, free, wide, simple, tender, kind—that invitation will leave you without excuse if you refuse to accept it. There are some invitations, perhaps, which it is wiser and better to decline. There is one which ought always to be accepted that one is before you today. Jesus Christ is saying, “Come—come unto Me.” (Online source)

J.C. Ryle

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