Monday, March 2, 2020

Aviod Jelly-Fish Preaching

“The times require at our hands distinct and decided views of Christian doctrine. I cannot withhold my conviction that the professing Church of the nineteenth century is as much damaged by laxity and indistinctness about matters of doctrine within, as it is by skeptics and unbelievers without.

Myriads of professing Christians now-a-days seem utterly unable to distinguish things that differ. Like people afflicted with colour-blindness, they are incapable of discerning what is true and what is false, what is sound and what is unsound.

If a preacher of religion is only clever and eloquent and earnest, they appear to think he is all right, however strange and heterogeneous his sermons may be. They are destitute of spiritual sense, apparently, and cannot detect error.

Popery or Protestantism, an atonement or no atonement, a personal Holy Ghost or no Holy Ghost, future punishment or no future punishment, High Church or Low Church or Broad Church, Trinitarianism, Arianism, or Unitarianism, nothing comes amiss to them: they can swallow all, if they cannot digest it!

Carried away by a fancied liberality and charity, they seem to think everybody is right and nobody is wrong, every clergyman is sound and none are unsound, everybody is going to be saved and nobody going to be lost.

Their religion is made up of negatives; and the only positive thing about them is, that they dislike distinctness, and think all extreme and decided and positive views are very naughty and very wrong!
These people live in a kind of mist or fog. They see nothing clearly, and do not know what they believe. They have not made up their minds about any great point in the Gospel, and seem content to be honorary members of all schools of thought.

For their lives they could not tell you what they think is truth about justification, or regeneration, or sanctification, or the Lord’s Supper, or baptism, or faith, or conversion, or inspiration, or the future state. They are eaten up with a morbid dread of CONTROVERSY and an ignorant dislike of PARTY SPIRIT.

And yet they really cannot define what they mean by these phrases. The only point you can make out is that they admire earnestness and cleverness and charity, and cannot believe that any clever, earnest, charitable man can ever be in the wrong!

And so they live on undecided; and too often undecided they drift down to the grave, without comfort in their religion, and, I am afraid, often without hope.

The explanation of this boneless, nerveless, jelly-fish condition of soul is not difficult to find.

To begin with, the heart of man is naturally in the dark about religion,—has no intuitive sense of truth,—and really NEEDS instruction and illumination. Besides this, the natural heart in most men hates exertion in religion, and cordially dislikes patient painstaking inquiry.

Above all, the natural heart generally likes the praise of others, shrinks from collision, and loves to be thought charitable and liberal. The whole result is that a kind of broad religious “agnosticism” just suits an immense number of people, and specially suits young persons.

They are content to shovel aside all disputed points as rubbish, and if you charge them with indecision, they will tell you,—“I do not pretend to understand controversy; I decline to examine controverted points. I daresay it is all the same in the long run.”
Who does not know that such people swarm and abound everywhere? Now I do beseech all who read this paper to beware of this undecided state of mind in religion. It is a pestilence which walketh in darkness, and a destruction that killeth in noon-day.
It is a lazy, idle frame of soul, which, doubtless, saves men the trouble of thought and investigation; but it is a frame of soul for which there is no warrant in the Bible, nor yet in the Articles or Prayer-book of the Church of England.

For your own soul’s sake dare to make up your mind what you believe, and dare to have positive distinct views of truth and error. Never, never be afraid to hold decided doctrinal opinions.

And let no fear of man and no morbid dread of being thought party-spirited, narrow, or controversial, make you rest contented with a bloodless, boneless, tasteless, colourless, lukewarm, undogmatic Christianity.

Mark what I say. If you want to do good in these times, you must throw aside indecision, and take up a distinct, sharply-cut, doctrinal religion. If you believe little, those to whom you try to do good will believe nothing.

The victories of Christianity, wherever they have been won, have been won by distinct doctrinal theology:
  • by telling men roundly of Christ’s vicarious death and sacrifice
  • by showing them Christ’s substitution on the cross, and His precious blood
  • by teaching them justification by faith, and bidding them believe on a crucified Saviour
  • by preaching ruin by sin, redemption by Christ, regeneration by the Spirit
  • by lifting up the brazen serpent
  • by telling men to look and live,—to believe, repent, and be converted.
This,—this is the only teaching which for eighteen centuries God has honoured with success, and is honouring at the present day both at home and abroad.

Let the clever advocates of a broad and undogmatic theology,—the preachers of the Gospel of earnestness, and sincerity and cold morality,—let them, I say, show us at this day any English village or parish, or city, or town, or district, which has been evangelized without ‘dogma,’ by their principles.

They cannot do it, and they never will. Christianity without distinct doctrine is a powerless thing. It may be beautiful to some minds, but it is childless and barren. There is no getting over facts. The good that is done in the earth may be comparatively small.

Evil may abound, and ignorant impatience may murmur, and cry out that Christianity has failed. But, depend on it, if we want to ‘do good’ and shake the world, we must fight with the old apostolic weapons, and stick to ‘dogma.’ No dogma, no fruits! No positive Evangelical doctrine, no evangelization!”

–J.C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (London: William Hunt and Company, 1889), 416–419.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Now is the Time of Salvation

Whatever a person sows—that they shall also reap! Whatever we love in time—we shall love in eternity! Whatever we think wearisome now—we shall think wearisome then. You must be born again—or heaven itself would be a miserable abode! There is no place in heaven for the worldly-minded and profane.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Oh Death, Where is Your Sting?

The person who has Christ, has life. They can look around them on the temporary things and see change and decay on every side without dismay. They have got treasure in heaven, which neither rust nor moth can corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Concentrating on the Cross of Christ

Let us see now one more proof of the unspeakable importance of the death of Christ. Let us treasure up His gracious sayings. Let us strive to walk in the steps of His holy life. Let us prize His intercession. Let us long for His second coming.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Take Heed of Your Little Sins and Repent!

Keep a jealous watch over your repentance. Keep it up, and let not the fire burn low. Whenever you find a slackness coming over your soul—whenever you feel slow, dull, heavy, cold, and careless about little sins—look to your own heart then, and take heed lest you fall. Say to your soul, “Oh, my soul, what are you doing?

Monday, July 2, 2018

Pondering the Cross of Christ Often

Let us remember what we are, corrupt, evil, and miserable sinners. Let us remember who the Lord Jesus is, the eternal Son of God, the maker of all things. And then let us remember that for our sakes Jesus voluntarily endured the most painful, horrible, and disgraceful death.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Necessity of Difficulties

“It is a melancholy fact, that constant temporal prosperity, as a general rule, is injurious to a believer’s soul. We cannot stand it. Sickness, and losses, and crosses, and anxieties, and disappointments seem absolutely needful to keep us humble, watchful, and spiritual-minded.”
~ J.C. Ryle
Faithfulness and Holiness: The Witness of J.C. Ryle, “Growth”, [Wheaton: Crossway, 2002], 201.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Central Truth of Christianity

The truth is, that our Lord would have us regard the crucifixion as the central truth of Christianity. Right views of His vicarious death, and the benefits resulting from it, lie at the very foundation of Bible-religion. Never let us forget this. On matters of church government, and the form of worship, men may differ from us, and yet reach heaven in safety. On the matter of Christ’s atoning death, as the way of peace, truth is only one. If we are wrong here, we are ruined forever.
~ J.C. Ryle

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Danger of an Unconverted Minister

Let it be a part of our daily prayers, that our churches may have no ministers excepting those who are really called of God. An unconverted minister is an injury and burden to a church. How can a man speak of truths which he has never tasted? How can he testify of a Savior whom he has never seen by faith, and never laid hold on for his own soul? The pastor after God’s own heart, is a man to whom the Word of God has come. He runs confidently and speaks boldly, because he has been sent.
~ J.C. Ryle
Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke volume 1, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1986], 86. {Luke 3:1-6}

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Power of the Resurrection

The resurrection of Christ is one of the foundation-stones of Christianity. It was the seal of the great work that He came on earth to do. It was the crowning proof that the ransom He paid for sinners was accepted, the atonement for sin accomplished, the head of him who had the power of death bruised, and the victory won.
~ J.C. Ryle

Friday, May 18, 2018

Preaching is Essential to Church Health

A preaching ministry is absolutely essential to the health and prosperity of a visible church. The pulpit is the place where the chief victories of the Gospel have always been won, and no Church has ever done much for the advancement of true religion in which the pulpit has been neglected. Would we know whether a minister is a truly apostolical man?s

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Best Safeguard Against False Teaching

What is the best safe-guard against false teaching? Beyond all doubt the regular study of the word of God, with prayer for the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The Bible was given to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm. 119:105.) The man who reads it aright will never be allowed greatly to err. It is neglect of the Bible which makes so many a prey to the first false teacher whom they hear.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Healthy Examination of the Soul

Occasional retirement, self-inquiry, meditation, and secret communion with God, are absolutely essential to spiritual health. The man who neglects them is in great danger of a fall. To be always preaching, teaching, speaking, writing, and working public works, is, unquestionably, a sign of zeal. But it is not always a sign of zeal according to knowledge.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

True Repentance Produces Sorrow for Sin

True repentance goes on to work sorrow for sin. The heart of a repentant person is touched with deep remorse because of their past transgressions. They are cut to the heart to think that they have lived so madly and so wickedly. They mourn over time wasted, over talents misspent, over God dishonored, over their own soul being injured.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Do Not Neglect the Means of Grace

Would you like to possess more faith? Do you find believing so pleasant, that you would like to believe more? Then take heed that you are diligent in the use of every means of grace—diligent in your private communion with God—diligent in your daily watchfulness over time, temper, and tongue—diligent in your private Bible reading—diligent in your own private prayers.

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Very Moment of Saving Faith

True belief in Christ is the unreserved trust of a heart convinced of sin, in Christ, as an all-sufficient Savior. It is the combined act of the whole person’s head, conscience, heart and will. It is often so weak and feeble at first, that they who have it cannot be persuaded that they have it.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Diligently Lead Your Children to God

We must labor to do good to our children even from their earliest years. If Satan begins so early to do them harm, we must not be behind him in diligence to lead them to God. How soon in life a child becomes responsible and accountable, is a difficult question to solve.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The True Character of a Christian

The man who hears the word of God, and does it, is the true Christian. He hears the call of God to repent and be converted, and he obeys it. He ceases to do evil, and learns to do well. He puts off the old man, and puts on the new. He hears the call of God to believe on Jesus Christ for justification, and he obeys it.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Examining Our Salvation

Let us search and try our hearts with honest self-examination, and seek to find out whether there is any real work of the Holy Spirit in our inward man. Far be it from me to encourage the slightest approach to hypocrisy, self-conceit, and fanaticism.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Oh To Glory in the Cross of Christ!

What you think now about the cross of Christ, I cannot tell; but I can wish you nothing better than this,—that you may be able to say with the apostle Paul, before you die or meet the Lord, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”(Gal. 6:14)
~ J.C. Ryle
Old Paths, “The Cross of Christ”, [Carlisle, PA:  Banner of Truth, 1999], 262.

Preachers: Don’t Flatter, Speak Truth

Well would it be for the Church of Christ, if it possessed more plain-speaking ministers, like John the Baptist, in these latter days. A morbid dislike to strong language  an excessive fear of giving offence, a constant flinching from directness and plain speaking are, unhappily, too much the characteristics of the modern Christian pulpit.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Just As I Am, Without One Plea

“When a professing Christian coolly tells me that he has got beyond such hymns as Just As I Am, and that they are ‘below his present experience’, though they suited him when he first took up Christianity, I must think his soul is in a very unhealthy state!”
~ J.C. Ryle

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pursue Holiness By Starting with Christ

I pity those who try to be holy without Christ! Your labor is all in vain. You are putting money in a bag with holes. You are pouring water into a sieve. You are rolling a huge round stone uphill. You are building up a wall with untempered mortar. Believe me, you are beginning at the wrong end. You must come to Christ first, and He shall give you His sanctifying Spirit. You must learn to say with Paul, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)
~ J.C. Ryle
Tract: Christ is All

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Do You Have an Appetite for the Things of God?

Would you know the reason why such multitudes around you take no interest in religion? Many have no real concern about God, or Christ, or the Bible, or heaven, or hell, or judgment, or eternity.

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Mighty Privileges of Faith in Christ

It is by faith, simple faith in Christ as our Savior and Redeemer, that people’s souls are made free. It is by receiving Christ, trusting Christ, committing ourselves to Christ, placing our whole weight on Christ–it is by this, and by no other plan, that spiritual liberty is made our own.

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