Flower

Call To Worship February 18 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke J.C. Ryle Luke 9:46-50

In the second place, our Lord Jesus Christ gives us a warning against a bigoted and illiberal spirit. As in the preceding verses, so here, the occasion of the warning is supplied by the conduct of His own disciples. We read that John said to Him, “Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name — and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us.” Who this man was, and why he did not associate with the disciples — we do not know. But we do know that he was doing a good work in casting out devils, and that he was doing what he did in the name of Christ. And yet John says, “we forbade him.”

Very striking is the reply which the Lord at once gave him, “Do not forbid him — for he who is not against us, is for us.”

The conduct of John and the disciples on this occasion is an illustration of the sameness of human nature in every age. Thousands, in every period of Church history, have spent their lives in copying John’s mistake. They have labored to stop every man who will not work for Christ in their way — from working for Christ at all. They have imagined, in their petty self conceit, that no man can be a soldier of Christ — unless he wears their uniform, and fights in their regiment. They have been ready to say of every Christian who does not see everything with their eyes, “Forbid him! Forbid him! For he does not follow with us.”

The solemn remark of our Lord Jesus Christ, on this occasion, demands our special notice. He pronounces no opinion upon the conduct of the man of whom John speaks. He neither praises nor blames him for following an independent course, and not working with His disciples. He simply declares that he must not be forbidden — and that those who work the same kind of work that we do, should be regarded not as enemies, but allies. “He who is not against us — is for us.”

The principle laid down in this passage is of great importance. A right understanding of it will prove most useful to us in these latter days. The divisions and varieties of opinion which exist among Christians, are undeniably very great. The schisms and separations which are continually arising about Church-government, and modes of worship — are very perplexing to tender consciences.

Shall we approve those divisions? We cannot do so. Union is strength. The divisions of Christians is one cause of the slow progress of vital Christianity. Shall we denounce, and hold up to public reprobation — all who will not agree to work with us, and to oppose Satan in our way? It is useless to do so. Harsh words have never yet made men of one mind. Unity was never yet brought about by force.

What then ought we to do? We must leave alone those who do not agree with us — and wait quietly until God shall think fit to bring us together. Whatever we may think of our divisions, the words of our Lord must never be forgotten, “Do not forbid them.”

The plain truth is, that we are all too ready to say, “We are the men — and wisdom shall die with us!” (Job 12:2.) We forget that no individual Church on earth has an absolute monopoly of all wisdom — and that people may be right in the main, without agreeing with us. We must learn to be thankful if sin is opposed, and the Gospel preached, and the devil’s kingdom pulled down — though the work may not be done exactly in the way we like. We must try to believe that men may be true-hearted followers of Jesus Christ — and yet for some wise reason, may be kept back from seeing all things in religion just as we do.

Above all, we must praise God if souls are converted, and Christ is magnified — no matter who the preacher may be, and to what Church he may belong. Happy are those who can say with Paul, “If Christ be preached, I rejoice! Yes and I will rejoice!” (Philippians 1:18.) and with Moses, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets — and that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them all!” (Numbers 11:29.)

John the Baptizer

Call to Worship February 11 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 9:37-45

“We have, lastly, in these verses — an example of the spiritual ignorance which may be found even in the hearts of good men. We are told that our Lord said to His disciples, “The Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.” They had heard the same thing from His lips, little more than a week before. But now, as then, the words seemed lost upon them. They heard — as though they heard not. They could not realize the fact that their Master was to die. They could not realize the great truth that Christ was to be “cut off” before He was to reign — and that this cutting off was a literal death upon the cross. It is written, “They did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them — so that they did not grasp it.”

Such slowness of understanding may much surprise us at this period of the world. We are apt to forget the power of early habits of thought, and national prejudices — in the midst of which the disciples had been trained. “The throne of David,” says a great divine, “did so fill their eyes — that they could not see the cross.”

Above all, we forget the enormous difference between the position we occupy who know the history of the crucifixion and the Scriptures which it fulfilled — and the position of a believing Jew who lived before Christ died and the veil was rent in twain. Whatever we may think of it — the ignorance of the disciples should teach us two useful lessons which we shall all do well to learn.

For one thing, let us learn that men may understand spiritual things very feebly — and yet be true children of God. The head may be very dull — when the heart is right. Grace is far better than gifts. Faith is far better than knowledge. If a man has faith and grace enough to give up all for Christ’s sake, and to take up the cross and follow Him — he shall be saved in spite of much ignorance. Christ shall own him at the last day.

Finally, let us learn to bear with ignorance in others — and to deal patiently with beginners in religion. Let us not make men offenders for a word. Let us not set our brother down as having no grace — because he does not exhibit clear knowledge. Has he faith in Christ? Does he love Christ? These are the principal things. If Jesus could endure so much weakness in His disciples — then we may surely do likewise.”

Who Are You?

Sharp

Call To Worship January 28 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke, J.C. Ryle – Luke 9:12-27

“We see, for another thing, in these verses — a striking emblem of Christ’s ability to supply the spiritual needs of mankind. The whole miracle is a picture. We see in it, as in a mirror — some of the most important truths of Christianity. It is, in fact — a great acted parable of the glorious Gospel.

What is that multitude which surrounded our Lord in the wilderness — poor and helpless, and destitute of food? It is a picture of mankind. We are a company of poor sinners, in the midst of a wicked world, without strength, or power to save ourselves — and severely in danger of perishing from spiritual famine.

Who is that gracious Teacher who had compassion on this starving multitude in the wilderness, and said to His disciples, ‘Give them something to eat!’ It is Jesus Himself, ever full of pity, ever kind, ever ready to show mercy — even to the unthankful and the evil. And He is not altered. He is just the same today as He was then. Exalted high in Heaven at the right hand of God — He looks down on the vast multitude of starving sinners, who cover the face of the earth. He still pities them, still cares for them, and still feels for their helplessness and need. He still says to His believing followers, “Behold this multitude — give them something to eat.”

What is that wonderful provision which Christ miraculously made for the famishing multitude before Him? It is a picture of the Gospel. As weak and contemptible as that Gospel appears to many — it contains ‘enough and to spare’ for the souls of all mankind. As poor and despicable as the story of a crucified Savior seems to the wise and prudent — it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes. (Romans 1:16.)

What are those disciples who received the loaves and fish from Christ’s hand, and carried them to the multitude, until all were filled? They are a figure of all faithful preachers and teachers of the Gospel. Their word is simple — and yet deeply important. They are appointed to set before men the provision that Christ has made for their souls. They are not commissioned to give anything of their own invention. All that they convey to men — must be from Christ’s hands. So long as they faithfully discharge this office — they may confidently expect their Master’s blessing. Many, no doubt, will always refuse to eat of the food that Christ has provided. But if ministers offer the bread of life to men faithfully — then the blood of those who are lost will not be required at their hands.

What are we doing ourselves? Have we discovered that this world is a wilderness, and that our souls must be fed with bread from Heaven — or die eternally? Happy are those who have learned this lesson, and have tasted by experience, that Christ crucified is the true bread of life!

The heart of man can never be satisfied with the things of this world. It is always empty, and hungry, and thirsty, and dissatisfied — until it comes to Christ. It is only those who hear Christ’s voice, and follow Him, and feed on Him by faith — who are ‘filled.’”

The Preacher and His Message

Call To Worship January 21 2018

Let us mark, in this passage — the power of a bad conscience. We are told that “when Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by our Lord — he was perplexed, because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead.” He said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” As great and powerful as Herod was — the tidings of our Lord’s ministry called his sins to remembrance, and disturbed him even in his royal palace. Surrounded as he was by everything which is considered to make life enjoyable — the report of another preacher of righteousness filled him with alarm. The recollection of his own wickedness in killing John the Baptist, flashed on his mind. He knew he had done wrong. He felt guilty, self-condemned, and self-dissatisfied. Faithful and true is that saying of Solomon’s, “The way of transgressors is hard!” (Proverbs 13:15.)

Herod’s sin had found him out. The prison and the sword had silenced John the Baptist’s tongue — but they could not silence the voice of Herod’s conscience. God’s truth can neither be silenced, nor bound, nor killed.

Conscience is a most powerful part of our natural constitution. It cannot save our souls. It never leads a man to Christ. It is often blind, and ignorant, and misdirected. Yet conscience often raises a mighty testimony against sin in the sinner’s heart, and makes him feel that “it is an evil and a bitter thing” to depart from God.

Young people ought especially to remember this, and, remembering it, to take heed to their ways. Let them not flatter themselves that all is right — when their sins are past, and done, and forgotten by the world. Let them know that conscience can bring up each sin before the eyes of their minds, and make it bite like a serpent! Millions will testify at the last day, that Herod’s experience was their own. Conscience called old sins from their graves, and made them walk up and down in their minds. In the midst of seeming happiness and prosperity — they were inwardly miserable and distressed. Happy are those who have found the only cure for a bad conscience! Nothing will ever heal it, but the blood of Christ!…

Let us mark, lastly, in this passage — our Lord Jesus Christ’s readiness to receive all who come unto Him. We are told, that when the multitude followed Him into the desert where He had retired, “he received them, and spoke unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing.” Ill-mannered and uninvited as this intrusion on his privacy seems to have been — it met with no rebuff from our Lord. He was always more ready to give instruction, than people were to ask it; and more willing to teach, than people were to be taught…

Let us remember this, finally, in our dealing with other people, if we are called upon to give them help about their souls. Let us strive to walk in the steps of Christ’s example — and, like Him, to be kind, and patient, and always willing to aid. The ignorance of young beginners in religion is sometimes very provoking. We are apt to be wearied of their instability, and fickleness, and halting between two opinions. But let us remember Jesus — and not be weary. He “received all,” spoke to all, and did good to all. Let us go and do likewise. As Christ deals with us — so let us deal one with another.

National Decay – Worldly Influence

Call To Worship January 14 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke J.C. Ryle Luke 8:40-56

Let us notice, secondly, in the verses before us — that faith in Christ’s love and power, is the best remedy in time of trouble. We are told that when Jesus heard the news that the ruler’s daughter was dead, He said to him, “Do not be afraid; only believe — and she will be healed.” These words, no doubt, were spoken with immediate reference to the miracle our Lord was going to perform. But we need not doubt that they were also meant for the perpetual benefit of the Church of Christ. They were meant to reveal to us, the grand secret of comfort in the hour of need. That secret is to exercise faith — to fall back on the thought of Christ’s loving heart and mighty hand — in one word, to believe.

Let a petition for more faith form a part of all our daily prayers. As ever we would have peace, and calmness, and quietness of heart — let us often say, “Lord, increase our faith!” A hundred painful things may happen to us every week in this evil world, of which our poor weak minds cannot see the reason. Without faith, we shall be constantly disturbed and cast down. Nothing will make us cheerful and tranquil — but an abiding sense of Christ’s love, Christ’s wisdom, Christ’s care over us, and Christ’s providential management of all our affairs. Faith will not sink under the weight of evil tidings. “He will have no fear of bad news. His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” (Psalm 112:7.)

Faith can sit still and wait for better times. Faith can see light even in the darkest hour — and a needs-be for the heaviest trial. Faith can find room to build an Ebenezer (stone of help) under any circumstances, and can sing songs in the night in any condition. “He who believes shall not make haste.” “You will keep him in perfect peace — whose mind is stayed on you.” Once more let the lesson be engraved on our minds: If we would travel comfortably through this world — we must “believe.”

Let us notice, finally, in these verses — the almighty power which our Lord Jesus Christ possesses even over death. We are told that He came to the house of Jairus and turned the mourning into joy. He took the breathless body of the ruler’s daughter by the hand, and said, “My child, arise!” At once by that all-powerful voice, life was restored. “Her life returned, and she arose immediately.”

Let us take comfort in the thought, that there is a limit to death’s power. The king of terrors is very strong. How many generations he has mowed down and swept into the dust! How many of the wise and strong, and lovely — he has swallowed down and snatched away in their prime! How many victories he has won, and how often he has written “Vanity of vanities!” on the pride of man! Patriarchs, and kings, and prophets, and apostles — have all in turn been obliged to yield to him. They have all died.

But thanks be unto God, there is one stronger than death. There is one who has said, “O death! I will be your plague! O grave! I will be your destruction!” (Hosea 13:14.) That One is the Friend of sinners, Christ Jesus the Lord. He proved His power frequently when He came to the earth the first time — in the house of Jairus, by the tomb of Bethany, in the gate of Nain. He will prove His power to all the world, when He comes again. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death!” (1 Corinthians 15:26.) “The earth shall cast out the dead!” (Isaiah 26:19.)

Let us leave the passage with the consoling thought that the things which happened in Jairus’ house — are a type of good things to come. The hour is coming and will soon be here — when the voice of Christ shall call all His people from their graves, and gather them together to part no more. Believing husbands shall once more see believing wives. Believing parents shall once more see believing children. Christ shall unite His whole redeemed family in the great home in Heaven, and all tears shall be wiped from all eyes!