Let us determine by God’s grace to forgive, even as we hope to be forgiven. This is the nearest approach we can make to the mind of Christ Jesus.
Friday, January 29, 2021
As you train your children, continually remember how God trains His children.
The Bible tells us that God has an elect people—a family in this world. All sinners who have been convinced of sin, and fled to Jesus for peace, make up that family. All of us who really believe in Christ for salvation are its members.
Now God the Father is always training the members of this family for their everlasting home with Him in heaven. He acts like a farmer pruning his vines, that they may bear more fruit. He knows the character of each one of us—our besetting sins—our weaknesses—our special needs. He knows our deeds and where we live, who our companions in life are, and what our trials are, what our temptations are, and what our privileges are. He knows all these things, and is always working out everything for our good. He allots to each of us, in His providence, the very things we need, in order to bear the most fruit—He gives us as much sunshine and rain as we can stand—as much of bitter things as we can bear, and as much of sweet things that would be good for us. Dear friend, if you want to train your children wisely, note well how God the Father trains His children. He does all things well; the plan which He adopts must be right.
Notice, too, how many things there are which God withholds from His children. The majority of His children, have had desires which God has determined not to fulfill. There has often been some one thing they wanted to attain, and yet there has always been some barrier to prevent fulfillment. It has been just as if God was placing it above our reach, and saying, "This is not good for you; this must not be." Moses greatly desired to cross over the Jordan, and see the land of promise; but you will remember his desire was never granted.
Notice, also, how often God leads His people by ways which seem dark and mysterious to our eyes. We cannot see the meaning of all His dealings with us; we cannot see the reasonableness of the path in which our feet are walking. Sometimes so many trials have assaulted us—so many difficulties surrounded us—that we have not been able to discover the purpose of it all. It has been just as if our Father was taking us by the hand into a dark place and saying, "Don’t ask any questions, but just follow Me." There was a direct road from Egypt to Canaan, yet Israel was not led into it; but round and round, through the wilderness. And this seemed very hard at the time. "The soul of the people," we are told, "became very discouraged on the way." [Exodus 13:17; Numbers 21:4]
Also, see how often God chastens His people with trial and affliction. He sends them crosses and disappointments; He lays them low with sickness; He strips them of property and friends; He changes them from one position in life to another; He visits them with things that are most difficult to flesh and blood; and some of us have almost fainted under the burdens laid on us. We have felt pressed beyond strength, and have been almost ready to murmur at the hand which chastened us. Paul the Apostle had a thorn in the flesh assigned to him, some bitter bodily trial, no doubt, though we do not know exactly what it was. But this we do know—he pleaded with the Lord three times that it might be removed; yet it was not taken away [2 Corinthians 12:8, 9].
Now, dear friends, despite all these things, did you ever hear of a single child of God who thought his Father did not treat him wisely? No, I am sure you never did. God's children will always tell you, in the long run, it was a blessed thing they did not have their own way, and that God had done far better for them than they could have done for themselves. Yes! And they could tell you, too, that God's dealings had provided more happiness for them than they ever would have obtained themselves, and that His way, however dark at times, was the way of joy and the path of peace.
I ask you to take to heart the lesson which God's dealings with His people is meant to teach you. Do not be afraid to withhold from your child anything you think will do him harm, whatever his own wishes may be. This is God's plan.
Do not hesitate to give him commands, of which he may not presently see the wisdom, and to guide him in ways which may not now seem reasonable to his mind. This is God's plan.
Do not shrink from chastising and correcting him whenever you see his soul's health requires it, however painful it may be to your feelings; and remember medicines for the mind must not be rejected because they are bitter. This is God's plan.
And, above all, do not be afraid that such a plan of training will make your child unhappy. I warn you against this delusion. Depend on it, the road to unhappiness is always having our own way. To have our wills checked and denied is a blessed thing for us; it makes us value enjoyments when they come. To be perpetually indulged is the way to become selfish; and selfish people and spoiled children, believe me, are seldom happy.
Brethren, do not pretend to be wiser than God—train your children as He trains His.
Let us dismiss from our minds forever the common idea that natural theology, moral persuasion, logical arguments, or even an exhibition of Gospel truth, are sufficient of themselves to turn a sinner from his sins, if once brought to bear upon him. It is a strong delusion. They will not do so. The heart of man is far harder than we fancy—the ‘old Adam’ is much more strong than we suppose.
“Never, never let us curtail the freeness of the glorious Gospel, or clip its fair proportions. Never let us make the gate more straight and the way more narrow than pride and the love of sin have made it already. The Lord Jesus is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
How is it that many who profess and call themselves Christians, do so little for the Savior whose name they bear? How is it that many, whose faith and grace it would be uncharitable to deny, work so little, give so little, say so little, take so little pains to promote Christ’s cause and bring glory to Christ in the world?
“Take care what you do in front of your child. It is a true proverb, ‘He who sins before a child, sins double.’ Strive rather to be a living epistle of Christ, such as your families can read, and that plainly too.
Train them to have a habit of always redeeming the time.
No created being was ever meant to be idle. Service and work is the appointed portion of every creature of God. The angels in heaven work—they are the Lord's ministering servants, always doing His will. Adam, in Paradise, had work—he was appointed to work and take care of the garden of Eden. And man, weak, sinful man, must have something to do, or else his soul will soon get into an unhealthy state. We must keep our hands busy, and our minds occupied with something, or else our imaginations will soon ferment and breed mischief.
And what is true of us, is true of our children too. The Jews thought idleness was an absolute sin: it was a law of theirs that every man should train his son in some useful trade—and they were right. They knew the heart of man better than some of us appear to today.
Idleness made the wicked city of Sodom what she was. [Ezekiel 16:49] Idleness had a lot to do with King David's awful sin with the wife of Uriah. I see in the Book of 2 Samuel, chapter 11, that Joab went off to war against the Ammonites, "but David remained in Jerusalem." Was that not idleness? And it was during that time of idleness that he saw Bathsheba—and the next step we read of is his tremendous and miserable fall into the sin of adultery.
Truly, I believe that idleness has led to more sin than almost any other habit that could be named. I suspect it is the mother of many sins of the flesh—the mother of adultery, sexual immorality, drunkenness, and many other deeds of darkness that I do not have time to name. Let your own conscience say whether I speak the truth or not. You were once idle, and immediately the devil knocked at the door and came in.
And why should this surprise us—everything in the world around us seems to teach the same lesson. It is the still water which becomes stagnant and impure: the running, moving streams are always clear. If you have machinery, you must run it now and then, or it soon begins to rust or break down. If you have a horse, you must exercise him; or he will not be strong for regular work. If you want to have good bodily health yourself, you must exercise. If you always sit still, then in time your body will complain. And so is it with the soul. The active moving mind is a hard target for the devil to shoot at. Try to be always full of useful employment, and thus your enemy will find it difficult to get room to plant evil thoughts.
My friend, I ask you to set these things before the minds of your children. Teach them the value of time, and try to make them learn the habit of using it well. It pains me to see children wasting time. I love to see them active and industrious, and giving their whole heart to all they do; giving their whole heart to lessons, when they have to learn—giving their whole heart even when they are playing.
But if you really love your children, then let idleness be counted as a sin in your family.
Thursday, January 28, 2021
Train with this thought continually before your eyes—that the soul of your child is the first thing to be considered.
This is the thought that should be uppermost on your mind in all that you do for your children. In every step you take about them, in every plan, and scheme, and arrangement that concerns them, do not leave out that mighty question, "How will this affect their souls?"
To love the soul is to really love. To pet and pamper and indulge your child, as if this world was all he had to look forward to, and this life the only period of happiness—to do this is not true love, but cruelty. It is treating him like some beast of the earth, which has only one world to look to, and nothing after death. It is hiding from him that grand truth, which he ought to be made to learn from his very infancy—that the number one goal of his life is the salvation of his soul.
A true Christian must not be a slave to what’s currently "in-fashion," if he wants to train his child for heaven. He must not be content to teach them and instruct them in certain ways, merely because it is customary, or to allow them to read books of a questionable sort, merely because everybody else reads them, or to let them form bad habits, merely because they are the habits of the day. He must train with an eye to his children's souls. He must not be ashamed to hear his training called odd and strange. What if it is? The time is short—the customs of this world are passing away. He that has trained his children for heaven, rather than for the earth—for God, rather than for man—he is the parent that will be called wise in the end.
The book "The Duties of Parents" can be found here: J.C. Ryle
This is a goal which is worth any amount of effort to attain. No habit, I believe, has such an influence over our lives as this. Parents, determine to make your children obey you, though it may cost you a lot of trouble, and cost them many tears. Let there be no questioning, and reasoning, and disputing, and delaying. When you give them a command, let them clearly see that you expect them to do it.
Obedience is the only reality. It is faith visible, faith acting, and faith manifest. It is the test of real discipleship among the Lord's people. Jesus said, "You are my friends if you do what I command." [John 15:14] It ought to be the mark of well-trained children, that they do whatever their parents command them. Where, in fact, is the honor which the fifth commandment directs, if fathers and mothers are not obeyed cheerfully, willingly, and at once?
Early obedience has all Scripture on its side. It was Abraham who said, that he will not only train his family, but "that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just." [Genesis 18:19 It is said of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, that when He was young, He was obedient to Mary and Joseph. [Luke 2:51] Observe how implicitly Joseph obeyed the order of his father Jacob in Genesis 37:13. See how Isaiah speaks of disobedience as an evil thing, when he says, "the young will rise up against the old." [Isaiah 3:5] Note how the Apostle Paul names disobedience to parents as one of the terrible sins of the last days. [2 Timothy 3:2] Note how he singles out the obedience of children as one of the requirements of a Christian minister, saying, "He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect." [1 Timothy 3:4] And again that, "a deacon must manage his children and his household well." [1 Timothy 3:12] And again, an elder must be "a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient." [Titus 1:6]
Parents, do you want to see your children happy? Be careful, then, that you train them to obey when they are spoken to—to do as they are told. Believe me, we are not made to be entirely independent—we are not fit for it. Even those whom Christ has set free have a yoke to wear, they "are serving the Lord Christ." [Colossians 3:24] Children cannot learn too soon that this is a world in which not everyone was intended to rule, and that we are never in our right place until we know how to obey those over us. Teach them to obey while they are young, or else they will be protesting against God all their lives, and wear themselves out with the vain idea of being independent of His control.
My friends, what I suggest to you is greatly needed. You will see many in this day who allow their children to choose and think for themselves long before they are able, and even make excuses for their disobedience, as if they were not to be blamed for it. In my eyes, a parent who is always yielding, and a child who always has its own way, are a most painful sight—painful, because I see God's appointed order of things inverted and turned upside down—painful, because I feel sure the consequence to that child's character in the end will be self-will, pride, and conceit. Is it any wonder that men refuse to obey their Father who is in heaven, if you allow them, when children, to disobey their father who is on earth.
Parents, if you love your children, let obedience be a motto and a watchword continually before their eyes.
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Would I learn how to be contented and cheerful under all the cares and anxieties of life? What school shall I go to? How shall I attain this state of mind most easily? Shall I look at the sovereignty of God, the wisdom of God, the providence of God, the love of God?
If you want to train your children correctly, train them in the way they should go, and not in the way that they want to go.
The mother cannot tell what her tender little infant may grow up to be—tall or short, weak or strong, wise or foolish—he may be any of these things or not—it is all uncertain. But one thing the mother can say with certainty: he will have a corrupt and sinful heart. It is natural for us to do wrong. "Folly," says Solomon, "is bound up in the heart of a child" Proverbs 22:15. "A child left to himself disgraces his mother" Proverbs 29:15. Our hearts are like the earth on which we walk; leave it alone, and it is sure to bear weeds.
If, then, you want to be wise in dealing with your child, then you must not leave him to the guidance of his own will. Think for him, judge for him, act for him, just as you would for one who is weak and blind; but for pity's sake, do not allow him to pursue his own unruly tastes and inclinations. It must not be his tendencies and wishes that are favored. He does not yet know what is good for his mind and soul, any more than what is good for his body. You do not let him decide what he will eat, and what he will drink, and how he will be clothed. Be consistent, and deal with his mind in the same manner. Train him in the way that is scriptural and right, and not in the way that he thinks is right.
If you cannot agree with this first principle of Christian training, then it is useless for you to listen any further. Self-will is almost the first thing that appears in a child's mind; and it must be your first step to resist it.
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
“There is one great work which the Lord Jesus Christ has done and finished completely. That work is the work of atonement, sacrifice, and substitution. He saw us ruined by the fall, a world of poor, lost, shipwrecked sinners.
Train them, remembering continually, the power of sin.
But you must not be discouraged and depressed by what you see. You must not think it a strange and unusual thing, that little hearts can be so full of sin. It is the only inheritance which our father Adam left us; it is that fallen nature with which we come into the world; it is that inheritance which belongs to us all. May the awareness of it make you more diligent in using every possible means which seem most likely, by God's blessing, to counteract the evil. Let it make you more and more careful, so far it lies with you, to keep your children out of the way of temptation.
Never listen to those who tell you your children are good, and well brought up, and can be trusted. Rather, remember that their hearts are always ready to burst into flame like dry tinder. At their very best, they only need a spark to ignite their evil. Parents are seldom too cautious. Remember the natural depravity of your children, and be careful.
The book "The Duties of Parents" can be found here: J.C. Ryle
Monday, January 25, 2021
It is freely offered, even as it was freely purchased: it may be freely obtained, ‘without money and without price.
Our past lives do not make it impossible to obtain it, however bad they may have been.
Our present weaknesses and infirmities do not shut us out, however great they may be.
The same grace which provided mankind with a hope, makes a free, full, and unlimited invitation:—’Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely;’—’Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find.’ (Rev. 22:17; Matt. 7:7.)
The Lord Jesus Christ is able and willing to give ‘a good hope’ to all who really want it. He is sealed and appointed by God the Father to give the bread of life to all that hunger, and the water of life to all that thirst.
‘It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell.’ (Coloss. 1:19.)
In Him there is pardon and peace with God, bought by the precious blood which He shed upon the cross.
In Him there is joy and peace for any believer, and a solid, well-grounded expectation of good things to come.
In Him there is rest for the weary, refuge for the fearful, a cleansing fountain for the unclean, medicine for the sick, healing for the broken-hearted, and hope for the lost.
Whosoever feels labouring and heavy-laden with sin, whosoever feels anxious and distressed about his soul, whosoever feels afraid of death and unfit to die,—whosoever he is, let him go to Christ and trust in Him.
This is the thing to be done: this is the way to follow. Whosoever wants ‘hope,’ let him go to Christ.”
–J.C. Ryle, Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (London: Charles J. Thynne, 1898), 113–114.
He sees by faith an unseen Saviour, who loved him, gave Himself for him, paid his debts for him, bore his sins, carried his transgressions, rose again for him, and appears in heaven for him as his Advocate at the right hand of God.
He sees Jesus, and clings to Him. Seeing this Saviour and trusting in Him, he feels peace and hope, and willingly does battle against the foes of his soul.
He sees his own many sins,—his weak heart, a tempting world, a busy devil; and if he looked only at them he might well despair.
But he sees also a mighty Saviour, an interceding Saviour, a sympathizing Saviour,—His blood, His righteousness, His everlasting priesthood,—and he believes that all this is his own.
He sees Jesus, and casts his whole weight on Him. Seeing Him he cheerfully fights on, with a full confidence that he will prove ‘more than conqueror through Him that loved him.’ (Rom. 8:37)”
–J.C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (London: William Hunt and Company, 1889), 84.
It is a thorough change of heart, will, and character. It is a resurrection. It is a new creation. It is a passing from death to life. It is the implanting in our dead hearts of a new principle from above.
It is the calling into existence of a new creature, with a new nature, new habits of life, new tastes, new desires, new appetites, new judgments, new opinions, new hopes, and new fears. All this, and nothing less than this is implied, when our Lord declares that we all need a ‘new birth.’
This change of heart is rendered absolutely necessary to salvation by the corrupt condition in which we are all, without exception, born. ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh.’ Our nature is thoroughly fallen.
The carnal mind is enmity against God. (Rom. 8:7.) We come into the world without faith, or love, or fear toward God. We have no natural inclination to serve Him or obey Him, and no natural pleasure in doing His will.
Left to himself, no child of Adam would ever turn to God. The truest description of the change which we all need in order to make us real Christians, is the expression, ‘new birth.’
This mighty change, it must never be forgotten, we cannot give to ourselves. The very name which our Lord gives to it is a convincing proof of this. He calls it ‘a birth.’ No man is the author of his own existence, and no man can quicken his own soul.
We might as well expect a dead man to give himself life, as expect a natural man to make himself spiritual. A power from above must be put in exercise, even that same power which created the world. (2 Cor. 4:6.) Man can do many things; but he cannot give life either to himself or to others.
To give life is the peculiar prerogative of God. Well may our Lord declare that we need to be ‘born again!’ This mighty change, we must, above all, remember, is a thing without which we cannot go to heaven, and could not enjoy heaven if we went there.
Our Lord’s words on this point are distinct and express. ‘Except a man be born again, he can neither see nor enter the kingdom of God.’ Heaven may be reached without money, or rank, or learning.
But it is clear as daylight, if words have any meaning, that nobody can enter heaven without a ‘new birth.’ A day will come when those who are not born again will wish that they had never been born at all.”
–J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1869/2012), 86-87, 88. Ryle is commenting on John 3:1-8.
A man must make the Bible alone his rule. He must receive nothing, and believe nothing, which is not according to the word. He must try all religious teaching by one simple test,—Does it square with the Bible?—What saith the Scripture?
I would to God the eyes of the laity of this country were more open on this subject, I would to God they would learn to weigh sermons, books, opinions, and ministers, in the scales of the Bible, and to value all according to their conformity to the word. I would to God they would see that it matters little who says a thing, —whether he be Father or Reformer,—Bishop or Arch- bishop,— Priest or Deacon,—Archdeacon or Dean. The only question is,—Is the thing said Scriptural? If it is, it ought to be received and believed. If it is not, it ought to be refused and cast aside. I fear the consequences of that servile acceptance of everything which the parson says, which is so common among many English laymen. I fear lest they be led they know not whither, like the blinded Syrians, and awake some day to find themselves in the power of Rome. Oh! that men in England would only remember for what the Bible was given them!I tell English laymen that it is nonsense to say, as some do, that it is presumptuous to judge a minister’s teaching by the word. When one doctrine is proclaimed in one parish, and another in another, people must read and judge for themselves. Both doctrines cannot be right, and both ought to be tried by the word. I charge them above all things, never to suppose that any true minister of the Gospel will dislike his people measuring all he teaches by the Bible. On the contrary, the more they read the Bible, and prove all he says by the Bible, the better he will be pleased. A false minister may say, “You have no right to use your private judgment: leave the Bible to us who are ordained.” A true minister will say, “Search the Scriptures, and if I do not teach you what is Scriptural, do not believe me.” A false minister may cry, “Hear the Church,” and “Hear me.” A true minister will say, “Hear the word of God.”
Sunday, January 24, 2021
I believe that most professing Christians are acquainted with our sermon text. The sound of it is probably very familiar to your ears, like an old tune. It is likely that you have heard it, or read it, talked of it, or quoted it, many times. Is that not true?
But, despite it being a well-known Bible verse, how little do we regard its truth! The doctrine it contains appears scarcely known, the duty it puts before us is seldom put into practice. My friends, am I not speaking the truth?
It cannot be said that the subject is a new one. The world is old, and we have the experience of nearly six thousand years to help us. We live in days when there is a mighty zeal for education. We hear of new schools rising up everywhere. We are told of new systems, and new books for the young, of every sort and description. And still for all of this, the vast majority of children are clearly not trained in the way they should go, for when they grow up, they do not walk with God.
Now how do we account for this state of affairs? The plain truth is, the Lord's commandment in our text is not regarded; and therefore the Lord's promise in our text is not fulfilled.
Friends, these things may cause you to seriously search your hearts. Permit a word of exhortation from a minister, about the right training of children. Believe me, the subject is one that should hit home to every conscience, and make every one ask himself the question, "In the matter of training children, am I doing what I am supposed to do?"
It is a subject that concerns almost everyone. There is hardly a household that it does not touch. Parents, teachers, grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters—all have an interest in it. Few can be found, I think, who might not influence some parent in the management of his family, or affect the training of some child by suggestion or advice. All of us, I suspect, can do something here, either directly or indirectly, and I wish to stir up everyone to remember this.
It is also a subject, on which everyone concerned are in great danger of falling short of their duty. This is notably a point in which men can see the faults of their neighbors more clearly than their own. They will often raise their children in the very path which they have denounced to their friends as unsafe. They will see little problems in other people's families, and overlook major ones in their own. They will have the eyesight of an eagle in detecting mistakes everywhere else, and yet be blind as bats to the fatal errors which are daily going on in their own homes. They will be wise about their brother's house, but foolish about their own flesh and blood. Here, if anywhere, we have need to suspect our own judgment. This, too, you will do well to keep in mind.
As a minister, I cannot help remarking that there is hardly any subject about which people seem so stubborn as they are about their own children. I have sometimes been absolutely astonished at the slowness of sensible Christian parents to accept the fact, that their own children are at fault, or deserve blame. There are many persons to whom I would much rather speak about their own sins, than to tell them that their children had done anything wrong.
Come now, and let me place before you a few hints about the proper training of children. May God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit bless them, and make them timely words to everyone of you. Do not reject them because they are blunt and simple; do not despise them because they contain nothing new. You can be sure, that if you want to train your children for heaven, then the hints that that follow ought not to be lightly set aside.
The book "The Duties of Parents" can be found here: J.C. Ryle
Christian, look up and take comfort. Jesus has prepared a place for you, and those who follow Him shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of His hands. Look forward to that glorious dwelling He has provided; look forward in faith, for it is yours.