Viewing entries tagged
JC Ryle

Christian Growth, J.C. Ryle

 "The Christian who is always at a standstill, to all appearances the same man, with the same little faults, and weaknesses, and besetting sins, and petty infirmities, is seldom the Christian who does much good. The man who shakes and stirs minds, and sets the world thinking, is the believer who is continually improving and going forward. Men think there is life and reality when they see growth."

J.C. Ryle, Holiness

The Mark and Means of Spiritual Maturity: Private Prayer

If you've been coming to the Cary Campus for any length of time, it's probaly no secret that I have a deep love and appreciation for the ministry of J.C. Ryle. Excluding the Biblical writers, Ryle has done much good to my soul (Many prefaces to his writings include his aim: "To do the most good to as many souls as possible..."). Ryle has been a good friend ("He is the best friend who tells you the most truth"). 

In Practical Religion, Ryle writes, "Prayer is the most important subject in practical religion" (p. 59). Most important? That's a staggering claim. He didn't say the most important subject was worship, or giving, or love, or sanctification. He said prayer.

Do you think this way? Would you have said prayer is the most important subject in all of your walk with God? Double-click that thought with me. Zoom in. Ryle says:

"...of all the evidence of real work of the Spirit, a habit of hearty private prayer is one of the most satisfactory that can be named. A man may preach from false motives. A man may write books, and make fine speechees, and seem diligent in good works, and yet be a Judas Iscariot. But a man seldom goes into his closet, and pours his soul before God in secret, unless he is in earnest. The Lord himself has set his stamp on prayer as the best proof of a true conversion" (p. 62-63).

We can sing and serve, read and write, give and go and not have a heart that loves God. Certainly, we can ask in prayer with wrong motives, but look at the heart of what Ryle is saying: "...a habit of hearty private prayer..." Prayer, according to Ryle, is "the best proof of true conversion." It is the mark of spiritual life. But it's not just a mark of spiritual life - it's also a means of satisfication in the Lord:

"The only way to be really happy, in such a world as this is to be ever casting all your cares on God." (JC Ryle, Practical Religion, p. 75)

Prayer, then, is both a means and a mark of spiritual maturity. Prayer is a means and a mark of happiness and delight in God. So, then, how do we pray?

“And Jacob said, ‘O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,’ I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. But you said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’’” - (Genesis 32:9-12 ESV)

Jacob takes the promises of God back to God. Jacob goes before the Lord with the Lord's very words. By way of application, let me encourage us to do the same. As you read through the Bible this year, practice taking the promises of God back to God in prayer. O, the delight that God has in responding to his children when we come to him by saying, "Father, you said..."

Their own king will soon be here (J.C. Ryle)

“The second coming of Christ shall be utterly unlike the first. He came the first time in weakness, a tender infant, born of a poor woman in the manger at Bethlehem, unnoticed, unhonored, and scarcely known. He shall come the second time in royal dignity, with the armies of heaven around him, to be known, recognized, and feared, by all the tribes of the earth. He came the first time to suffer - to bear our sins, to be reckoned a curse, to be despised, rejected, unjustly condemned, and slain. He shall come the second time to reign - to put down every enemy beneath his feet, to take the kingdoms of this world for his inheritance, to rule them with righteousness, to judge all men, and to live for evermore. How vast the difference! How mighty the contrast! How startling the comparison between the second advent and the first! How solemn the thoughts that the subject ought to stir up in our minds! Here are comfortable thoughts for Christ’s friends. Their own king will soon be here."

J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark, p. 226. Ryle is commenting on Mark 13:24-31. 

We shall thank God for every storm (J.C. Ryle)

“If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven. We must count it no strange thing, if we have to endure sickness, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other men. Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace by the way and glory at the end - all this our Savior has promised to give. But he has never promised that we shall have no afflictions. He loves us too well to promise that. By affliction he teaches us many precious lessons, which without it we should never learn. By affliction he shows us our emptiness and weakness, draws us to the throne of grace, purifies our affections, weans us from the world, makes us long for heaven. In the resurrection morning we shall all say, ‘it is good for me that I was afflicted.’ We shall thank God for every storm."

J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark, p. 66. Ryle is commenting on Mark 4:35-41.

Repentance and Faith (J.C. Ryle)

“Let us ask ourselves what we know of this repentance and faith. Have we felt our sins, and forsaken them? Have we laid hold on Christ, and believed? We may reach heaven without learning, or riches, or health, or worldly greatness. But we shall never reach heaven, if we die impenitent and unbelieving. A new heart, and a lively faith in a Redeemer are absolutely needful to salvation. May we never rest till we know them by experience, and can call them our own! With them all true Christianity begins in the soul."

J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark, p. 6. Ryle is commenting on Mark 1:9-20.