Continuing with Chapter one of Practical Christianity, Wilberforce writes concerning the professed (nominal) Christian:
“Their standard of right and wrong is not the standard of the gospel; they approve and condemn by a different rule: they advance principles, and maintain opinions, altogether opposite to the genius and character of Christianity” (Wilberforce).
Wilberforce speaks of the nominal Christians’ basis or standard of judgment not being the gospel. His comments remind me of the many fashionable Calvinists we’ve encountered, who, just like the nominal Christians of Wilberforce’s day, approve and condemn by a different rule. Witness here, the great effrontery of the fashionable Calvinists who prattle presumptuous visions of “peace” to those despising God (cf. Jeremiah 23:16-17; Ezekiel 13:9-15; 2 John 9-11):
“Bountiful as is the hand of Providence, its gifts are not so bestowed as to seduce us into indolence, but to rouse us to exertion; and no one expects to attain to the height of learning…without vigorous resolution, and strenuous diligence, and steady perseverance. Yet we expect to be Christians without labour, study, or inquiry. This is more preposterous, because Christianity, being a revelation from God, and not the invention of man, discovering to us new relations, with their correspondent duties; containing also doctrines, motives, and precepts peculiar to itself; we cannot reasonably expect to become proficients in it by the accidental intercourses of life, as one might learn insensibly the maxims of worldly policy, or a scheme of mere morals” (Wilberforce).
These comments remind me of the passages of Scripture where we are admonished to pray with vigilance and perseverance for others and ourselves, and especially that God answer our requests for His name’s sake that He might be glorified. They also remind me of some of the following passages that in one respect or another, would “rouse us to exertion,” “vigorous resolution, and strenuous diligence, and steady perseverance”:
“Labor [Greek: agōnizomai] to enter in through the narrow gate, for I say to you that many will seek to enter in and will not have strength” (Luke 13:24).
“But I exhort you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf” (Romans 15:30).
“…through all prayer and petition, praying at all times in the Spirit, and watching to this same thing with all perseverance and petition concerning all the saints. Pray also for me, that to me may be given speech in the opening of my mouth with boldness to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in a chain, that in it I may speak boldly as it is right for me to speak” (Ephesians 6:18-20).
“I thank my God on all the remembrance of you, always in my every prayer on your behalf making my prayer with joy over your fellowship in the gospel, from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5).
“…according to my earnest expectation and hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but as always in all boldness even now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:20-21).
“Only behave yourself worthily of the gospel of Christ, so that whether coming and seeing you or being absent, I hear the things concerning you, that you stand fast in one spirit and one soul, striving together in the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).
“…whom we announce, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man full-grown in Christ Jesus, for which also I labor, struggling according to the working of Him who works in me in power” (Colossians 1:28-29).
“But refuse the profane and old-womanish tales. And exercise yourself to godliness. For bodily exercise is profitable to a little, but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the present life now, and of that coming” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).
“Give care to these things; be in these things in order that your progress may be plain in all. Give attention to yourself and to the doctrine; continue in them, for doing this, you will both deliver yourself and those hearing you” (1 Timothy 4:15-16).
“All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that the man of God may be perfected, being fully furnished for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
“So therefore we also, having so great a cloud of witnesses lying around us, having laid aside every weight and the easily surrounding sin, through patience let us also run the race set before us, looking to the Author and Finisher of our faith, Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God. For consider Him who had endured such gainsaying of sinners against Himself, that you do not grow weary, fainting in your souls” (Hebrews 12:1-3).