The following article was written in the 1890s by Bishop John Charles Ryle, (1816 – 1900) the first Bishop of Liverpool, for the Daily Telegraph’s Saturday Religious Comment column. It was entitled Evangelism and the Second Advent. It is one of over 800 of his tracts now available on Public Domain.
“I believe that the world will never be completely converted to Christianity by any existing agency before the end comes. In spite of all that can be done by ministers, churches, schools and missions, the wheat and the tares will grow together until the harvest. And when the end comes, it will find the earth in much the same state that it was when the flood came in the days of Noah. (Matt.13:24-30, & 24:37-39)
“I believe that the widespread unbelief, indifference, formalism and wickedness which are to be seen throughout Christendom are only what we ought to expect in God’s World. Troublous times, departures from the faith, evil men waxing worse and worse, love waxing cold, are things distinctly predicted. So far from making me doubt the truth of Christianity, they help confirm my faith. Melancholy and sorrowful as the sight is, if I did not see it I should think the Bible was not true. (Matt.24:12, 1 Tim.4:2, 2 Tim.3:1,13,14)
“I believe that the grand purpose of the present dispensation is to gather out of the world an elect people, and not to convert all mankind. It does not surprise me to hear that the heathen are not all converted when missionaries preach, and that believers are a little flock in any congregation in my own land. It is precisely the state of things which I expect to find . . . This is a dispensation to election and not to universal conversion. (Acts 15:14, Matt,24:13)
“I believe that the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is the great event which will wind up the present dispensation, and for which we ought daily to long and pray. ‘Thy Kingdom come’, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ should be our daily prayer. We look backward if we have faith, to Christ dying on the cross, to His resurrection from the dead, and we ought to look forward no less, if we have hope, to Christ coming again. (John 14:2, 2 Tim.4:8)”
Timeless words of challenge, hope and comfort. And then, when the Kingdom is set up, and only then, can we hope to witness that “All Israel will be saved”, and that “The residue of men might seek after the Lord,” according to the same Word of Truth. (Rom.11:26, Acts 15:17)