The introduction to a sermon preached by J. C. Ryle (1816 – 1900), Anglican Bishop of Liverpool.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God. For you didn’t receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:14-17)
As soon as you have read the verses of Scripture before your eyes, I invite you to consider a very solemn question–Are you an heir of glory?
Mark well what I am asking. I am not speaking of matters which only concern the rich, the great, and the noble. I do not ask whether you are an heir to money or lands. I only ask whether you are an heir of glory.
The inheritance I speak of is the only inheritance really worth having. All others are unsatisfying and disappointing. They bring with them many cares. They cannot cure an aching heart. They cannot lighten a heavy conscience. They cannot keep off family troubles. They cannot prevent sicknesses, bereavements, separations, and deaths. But there is no disappointment among the heirs of glory.
The inheritance I speak of is the only inheritance which can be kept forever. All others must be left in the hour of death, if they have not been taken away before. The owners of millions can carry nothing with them beyond the grave. But it is not so with the heirs of glory. Their inheritance is eternal.
The inheritance I speak of is the only inheritance which is within everybody’s reach. Most men can never obtain riches and greatness, though they labor hard for them all their lives. But glory, honor, and eternal life, are offered to every man freely, who is willing to accept them on God’s terms. “Whoever will,” may be an heir of glory.
Reader, if you wish to have a portion of this inheritance, you must be a member of that one family on earth to which it belongs, and that is the family of all true Christians. You must become one of God’s children on earth, if you desire to have glory in heaven. I write to persuade you to become a child of God this day, if you are not one already. I write to persuade you to make it sure work that you are one, if at present you have only a vague hope, and nothing more. None but true Christians are the children of God. None but the children of God are heirs of glory. Give me your attention, while I try to unfold to you these things, and to show you the lessons which the verses you have already read contain.