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J.C. Ryle reflects on death and what makes you a true believer:

When we have carried you to your narrow bed, let us not have to hunt up stray words, and scraps of religion, in order to make out that you were a true believer. Let us not have to say in a hesitating way one to another, “I trust he is happy; he talked so nicely one day; and he seemed so please with a chapter in the Bible on anther occasion; and he liked such a person, who is a good man.” Let us be able to speak decidedly as to your condition. Let us have some solid proof of your repentance, your faith, and your holiness, so that none shall be able for a moment to question your state.

Depend on it, without this, those you leave behind can feel no solid comfort about your soul. We may use the form of religion at your burial, and express charitable hopes. We may meet you at the churchyard gate, and say, “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.” But this will not alter your condition! If you die without conversion to God, without repentance, and without faith–your funeral will only be the funeral of a lost soul; you had better never have been born. (Holiness, 228-229)


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11 thoughts on “Preparing for Your Funeral”

  1. Kate says:

    Loving the fact that he was the Bishop of my city!

    What a challenging read for us all!! Not only is it a call for me to ensure that I am living out what I believe, it is a call to selfless living too – which I have never really thought about in depth – “without this, those you leave behind can feel no solid comfort about your soul”.

    Thanks, I may even go and visit his burial ground today and check out his epitaph!

  2. donsands says:

    John Charles Ryle maybe my favorite pastor-teacher in print. He is amazing. I love this classic book, ‘Holiness’.
    Thanks for the post. BTW, I took an excerpt from your Tabletalk article and posted it on my blog, if that is good with you.

    Have a blessed Lord’s day, and may our Savior open the ears of your sheep when you speak the Word to them, and may your whole worship time be full of joy love, peace, and glory.

  3. TJ McCormick says:

    Living with the end in mind is the best way to live! I highlighted the following in “Valley of Vision” Friday: “May I speak each word as if my last word, and walk each step as my final one. If my life should end today, let this be my best day.” Thanks, Kevin.

  4. Erik says:

    Let us be able to speak decidedly as to your condition. Let us have some solid proof of your repentance, your faith, and your holiness, so that none shall be able for a moment to question your state.

    As usual, a typical, to-the-point, classic John Charles Ryle quote.

    Thanks for the insightful post Kevin.

  5. Pauline says:

    When there were plans to build The Liverpool Anglican Cathedral he objected because there was a lot of poverty in the city at that time. He wanted the money to help the poor. What a great wise man he was.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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