Heaven is the place to which all people hope to go after death. It would e well for many if they considered calmly what kind of dwelling-place heaven is. It is the habitation of the King of kings, who is "of purer eyes than to behold iniquity," and it must needs to be a holy place. It is a place into which Scripture tells us there shall enter in nothing "that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination" (Revelation 21:27). It is a place where there shall be nothing wicked, sinful, or sensual, - nothing worldly, foolish, frivolous, or profane. There, let the covetous man remember, shall be no more money; there, let the pleasure-seeker remember, shall be no more races, theaters, novel reading, or dances; there, let the drunkard and the gambler remember. shall be no more strong drink, no more dice, no more betting, no more cards. The everlasting presence of God, saints, and angels, - the perpetual doing of God's will, - the complete absence of everything which God does not approve, - these are the chief things which shall make up heaven. It shall be an eternal Sabbath day.
For this heaven we are all by nature utterly unfit. We have no capacity for enjoying its happiness; we have no taste for its blessings; we have no eye to see its beauty; we have no heart to feel its comforts. Instead of freedom, we should find it bondage; instead of glorious liberty, we should find it constant constraint; instead of a splendid palace, we should find it a gloomy prison. A fish on dry land, a sheep in the water, an eagle in a cage, a painted savage in a royal drawing room would all feel more at ease and in their place than a natural man in heaven. "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).
For this heaven it is the special office of the Holy Spirit to prepare men's souls. He alone can change the earthly heart, and purify the worldly affections of Adam's children. He alone can bring their minds into harmony with God' and tune them for the eternal company of saints, and angels, and Christ.He alone can make them love what God loves, and hate what God hates, and delight in God's presence. He alone can set the limbs of human nature, which were broken and dislocated by Adam's fall, and bring about a real unity between man's will and God's. And this He does for every one that is saved. It is written of believers that they are "saved according to God's mercy," but it is "by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." They are chosen unto salvation, but it is "through sanctification of the Spirit," as well as "belief of the truth" (Titus 3:5; 2 Thess. 2:13).
Let this also be written down on the tablet of your memory. No entrance into heaven without the Spirit first entering your heart upon earth! No admission into glory in the next life without previous sanctification in this life! No Holy Spirit in you in this world, - then no heaven in the world to come! You would not be fit for it; you would not be ready for it; you would not like it; you would not enjoy it. There is much use made in the present day of the word "holy." Our ears are wearied with "holy church," and "holy baptism," and "holy days," and "holy water," and "holy services," and "holy priests." But one thing is a thousand times more important: and that is, to be made a really holy man or woman by the Spirit. We must be made partakers of the Divine nature, while we are alive. We must "sow in the Spirit," if we would ever reap life everlasting (2 Peter 1:4; Galatians 6:8).
(c) Remember, for another thing, if you have not the Holy Spirit, you have no right to be considered a true Christian, and no will or power to become one.
It requires little to make a Christian according to the standard of the world. Only let a man be baptized and attend some place of worship, and the requirements of the world are satisfied. The man's belief may not be so intelligent as that of a Turk: he may be profoundly ignorant of the Bible. The man's practice may be no better than that of a heathen: many a respectable Hindu might put him to shame - But what of that? He is an Englishman! He has been baptized! He goes to church or chapel, and behaves decently when there! What more would you have? If you do not call him a Christian you are thought very uncharitable!
But it takes a great deal more than this to make a man a real Christian according to the standard of the Bible. It requires the cooperation of all the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. The election of God the Father, the blood and intercession of God the Son, the sanctification of God the Spirit, must all meet together on the soul that is to be saved. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit must unite to work the work of making any child of Adam a true Christian.
~J. C. Ryle~
(continued with # 3)