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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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LOVE OF THE BIBLE

Bishop J. C. RyleJ.C. Ryle:

The love of the bible will show itself in a believer’s readiness to bear evil as well as to do good. It will make him patient under provocation, forgiving when injured, meek when unjustly attacked, and quiet when slandered. It will make him hear much, put up with much and look over much, submit often and deny himself often, all for the sake of peace. (Practical Religion)

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MANUFACTURING GODS

Bishop J. C. RyleJ.C. Ryle:

“Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who as a heaven for everybody, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and broad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all.”

 

He Rose Again!

J.C.-RyleJ. C. Ryle:

Reader, beware of regarding the Lord Jesus Christ only as one that is dead. Here, I believe, many greatly err. They think much of His death, and it is right that they should do so. But we ought not to stop short there. We ought to remember that He not only died and went to the grave, but that He rose again, and ascended up on high, leading captivity captive. We ought to remember that He is now sitting on the right hand of God, to do a work as real, as true, as important to our souls, as the work which He did when He shed His blood. Christ lives, and is not dead. He lives as truly as any one of ourselves. Christ sees us, hears us, knows us, and is acting as a Priest in heaven on behalf of His believing people. The thought of His life ought to have as great and important a place in our souls as the thought of His death upon the cross.

Zeal is Good for the Christian’s Soul

Bishop J. C. RyleIf you wish to make a difference in the cause of Christ in this world, you must hunger for zeal. Whom do we know of the great Christians we could mention who did not possess a great zeal to honor Christ? According to J. C. Ryle:

“It is always good to be zealous in a good cause.” (Galatians 4:18)

It is certain that God never gave a man a commandment, which it was not man’s interest, as well as duty, to obey. He never set a grace before His believing people, which His people will not find it their highest happiness to follow after. This is true of all the graces of the Christian character. Perhaps it is pre-eminently true in the case of zeal.

Zeal is good for a Christian’s own soul. We all know that exercise is good for the health, and that regular employment of our muscles and limbs promotes our bodily comfort, and increases our bodily vigor. Now that which exercise does for our bodies, zeal will do for our souls. It will help mightily to promote inward feelings of joy, peace, comfort, and happiness. None have so much enjoyment of Christ as those who are ever zealous for His glory—jealous over their own walk—tender over their own consciences—full of anxiety about the souls of others—and ever watching, working, laboring, striving, and toiling to extend the knowledge of Jesus Christ upon earth. Such men live in the full light of the sun, and therefore their hearts are always warm. Such men water others, and therefore they are watered themselves. Their hearts are like a garden daily refreshed by the dew of the Holy Spirit. They honor God, and so God honors them.

I would not be mistaken in saying this. I would not appear to speak slightingly of any believer. I know that the Lord takes pleasure in all His people. There is not one, from the least to the greatest—from the smallest child in the kingdom of God, to the oldest warrior in the battle against Satan—there is not one in whom the Lord Jesus Christ does not take great pleasure. We are all His children—and however weak and feeble some of us may be, as a father pities his children, so does the Lord pity those who love and fear Him. We are all plants of His own planting—and though many of us are poor, weakly exotics, scarcely keeping life together in a foreign soil—yet as the gardener loves that which his hands have raised, so does the Lord Jesus love the poor sinners who trust in Him.

But while I say this, I do also believe that the Lord takes special pleasure in those who are zealous for Him—in those who give themselves, body, soul and spirit, to extend His glory in this world. To them He reveals Himself, as He does not to others. To them He shows things that other men never see. He blesses the work of their hands. He cheers them with spiritual consolations, which others only know by the hearing of the ear. They are men after His own heart; for they are men more like Himself than others. None has such joy and peace in believing—none has such sensible comfort in their religion, none have so much of heaven upon earth—none see and feel so much of the consolations of the Gospel as those who are zealous, earnest, thoroughgoing, devoted Christians. For the sake of our own souls, if there were no other reason, it is good to be zealous—to be very zealous in our religion. (“Be Zealous”)

Wisdom

Bishop J. C. RyleJ.C. Ryle:

Let us learn wisdom from our Savior’s example. We are far too ready to “seek great things” in this world. Let us seek them not. To have a place, and a title, and a position in society, is not nearly as important as people think. It is a great sin to be covetous, and worldly, and proud, and carnal-minded. But it is no sin to be poor. It matters not so much, where we live, as what we are in the sight of God. Where are we going when we die? Shall we live forever in heaven? These are the main things to which we should attend.

Above all, let us daily strive to copy our Savior’s humility. Pride is the oldest and commonest of sins. Humility is the rarest and most beautiful of graces. For humility, let us labor. For humility, let us pray. Our knowledge may be scanty. Our faith may be weak. Our strength may be small. But if we are, disciples of Him who “lived in Nazareth,” let us at any rate be humble. (Expository Thoughts on Matthew)

Making an Idol of Earnestness

Bishop J. C. RyleFalse doctrines are often allowed to infest our churches and families without an effort to correct them. True Christians often look on and content themselves with wishing it was not so. Here is no zeal for Christ! Do you think the Apostles would not have spoken out? We know they would! According to J. C. Ryle:

“It is always good to be zealous in a good cause.” (Galatians 4:18)

There is a generation in these days, which makes an idol of what it is pleased to call “earnestness” [sincerity] in religion. These men will allow no fault to be found with a [sincere] “earnest man.” Whatever his theological opinions may be – if he be but an earnest man, that is enough for these people, and we are to ask no more. They tell you we have nothing to do with minute points of doctrine, and with questions of words and names, about which Christians are not agreed. Is the man an earnest man? If he is, we ought to be satisfied. Earnestness [sincerity] in their eyes covers over a multitude of sins. I warn you solemnly to beware of this specious doctrine. In the name of the Gospel, and in the name of the Bible, I enter my protest against the theory, that mere earnestness can make a man a truly zealous and pious man in the sight of God.

These idolaters of earnestness would make out that God has given us no standard of truth and error, or that the true standard, the Bible, is so obscure, that no man can find out what truth is by simply going to it. They pour contempt upon the Word, the written Word, and therefore they must be wrong.

These idolaters of earnestness would make us condemn every witness for the truth, and every opponent of false teaching, from the time of the Lord Jesus down to this day. The Scribes and Pharisees were in earnest, and yet our Lord opposed them. And shall we dare even to hint a Bishop J. C. Rylesuspicion that they ought to have been let alone? … Devil-worshipers and idolaters at this day are in earnest, and yet our missionaries labor to expose their errors. And shall we dare to say that earnestness [sincerity] would take them to heaven, and that missionaries to heathen … had better stay at home? Are we really going to admit that the Bible does not show us what truth is? Are we really going to put a mere vague thing called “earnestness,” in the place of Christ, and to maintain that no earnest man can be wrong? God forbid that we should give place to such doctrine! I shrink with horror from such theology. I warn you solemnly to beware of being carried away by it, for it is common and most seductive in this day. … Admire zeal. Seek after zeal. Encourage zeal. But see that your own zeal be true. See that the zeal, which you admire in others, be a zeal “according to knowledge,” – a zeal from right motives – a zeal that can bring chapter and verse out of the Bible for its foundation. Any zeal but this is but a false fire. It is not lighted by the Holy Spirit. (“Be Zealous”)

Zeal According to God’s Mind

Bishop J. C. RyleAre you mindful of personal holiness? J. C. Ryle teaches that that if we are to understand zeal, we must see it according to God’s mind:

“It is always good to be zealous in a good cause.” (Galatians 4:18)

[I]f zeal be true, it will be a zeal about things according to God’s mind, and sanctioned by plain examples in God’s Word. Take, for one instance, that highest and best kind of zeal—I mean zeal for our own growth in personal holiness. Such zeal will make a man feel incessantly that sin is the mightiest of all evils, and conformity to Christ the greatest of all blessings. It will make him feel that there is nothing which ought not to be done, in order to keep up a close walk with God. It will make him willing to cut off the right hand, or pluck out the right eye, or make any sacrifice if only he can attain a closer communion with Jesus. Is not this just what you see in the Apostle Paul? He says, “I keep under my body and bring it into subjection — lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” “I count not myself to have apprehended—but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark.” (1 Cor. 9:27; Phil. 3:13, 14.)

Take, for another instance, zeal for the salvation of souls. Such zeal will make a man burn with desire to enlighten the darkness which covers the souls of multitudes, and to bring every man, woman, and child he sees to the knowledge of the Gospel. Is not this what you see in the Lord Jesus? It is said that He neither gave Himself, nor His disciples, leisure so much as to eat. (Mark 6:31.) Is not this what you see in the Apostle Paul? He says, “I am made all things to all men that I might by all means save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22.)

Take, for another instance, zeal against evil practices. Such zeal will make a man hate everything which God hates, and long to sweep it from the face of the earth. It will make him jealous of God’s honor and glory, and look on everything which robs Him of it as an offence. Is not this what you see in Phineas, the son of Eleazar? or in Hezekiah and Josiah, when they put down idolatry?

Take, for another instance, zeal for maintaining the doctrines of the Gospel. Such zeal will make a man hate unscriptural teaching, just as he hates sin. It will make him regard religious error as a pestilence which must be checked, whatever may be the cost. It will make him scrupulously careful about every jot and tittle of the counsel of God, lest by some omission the whole Gospel should be spoiled. Is not this what you see in Paul at Antioch, when he withstood Peter to the face, and said he was to be blamed? (Gal. 2:11.) These are the kind of things about which true zeal is employed. Such zeal, let us understand, is honorable before God.

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