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“‘Today,’ says our Lord to the penitent thief, ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’  He names no distant period.  He does not talk of his entering into a state of happiness as a thing far away.  He speaks of today, ‘this very day in which you are hanging on the cross.’

How near that seems!  How awfully near that word brings our everlasting dwelling-place!  Happiness or misery, sorrow or joy, the presence of Christ or the company of devils — all are close to us.  ’There is but a step,’ says David, ‘between me and death.’  There is but a step, we may say, between ourselves and either paradise or hell.”

J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Old Tappan, n.d.), page 193.

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Ray Ortlund

Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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