Flower

Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

Call To Worship April 7 2019

“But the word of God declares to us, again and again, that man fell from his holy and happy estate. We have not only the voice of reason declaring to us the same truth, but we have also observation, and painful and bitter experience. Should any one be disposed, for a moment, to doubt what the word of God says on the subject, we call upon such a one to look, yea, take only one hasty glance at the moral desolations which sin has created in the earth, and spread over the face of a convulsed world!”

(James Hall Tanner Kilpatrick, “Sermons of J.H.T. Kilpatrick A.M., Sermon X, God’s Willingness to Save Sinners,” in The Georgia Pulpit or Minister’s Yearly Offering Vol. I, ed. Robert Fleming (Richmond, H.K. Elyson, 1847), 117.)

“That man is fallen from his primeval rectitude, and is filled with diabolical pride and unbelief, is a rebel against his rightful Sovereign, and guilty of the highest ingratitude, and an enemy to God by wicked works; his conscience defiled, and his mind enmity: That from this deplorable and wretched state he can only be recovered by the perfect righteousness, efficient intercession of a glorious advocate and surety JESUS CHRIST.” (W.D. Lane, Minutes of the Georgia Baptist Association 1805: Circular Letter (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Tarver Library Special Collections/Archives), 9. Microfilm.)

Chapter 11 Of Justification

“1._____ Those whom God effectually calls, he also freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ’s active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in his death for their whole and sole righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.

Romans 3:24; Romans 8:30; Romans 4:5-8; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:30, 31; Romans 5:17-19; Philippians 3:8, 9; Ephesians 2:8-10; John 1:12; Romans 5:17 ” (1689 L.B.C., Ch.11)

Call to Worship March 24 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke
J.C. Ryle Luke 23:44-49

“Let us observe in these verses — the miraculous signs which accompanied our Lord’s death on the cross. We are told that there was ‘a darkness over all the earth’ for three hours. ‘The sun was darkened, and the curtain of the temple was torn in two.’

It was proper and right that the attention of all around Jerusalem should be arrested in a marked way — when the great sacrifice for sin was being offered, and the Son of God was dying! There were signs and wonders wrought in the sight of all Israel — when the law was given on Sinai. There were signs and wonders in like manner — when the atoning blood of Christ was shed on Calvary.

There was a sign for an unbelieving world. The darkness at mid-day was a miracle which would compel men to think.

There was a sign for the Jewish Church and the ministers of the temple. The tearing of the curtain which hung between the holy place and the holy of holies — was a miracle which would strike awe into the heart of every priest and Levite.

Signs like these, on special occasions, let us remember — are a part of God’s ways in dealing with man. He knows the desperate stupidity and unbelief of human nature. He sees that it is necessary to arouse our attention by miraculous works, when He brings in a new dispensation. He thus compels men to open their eyes — whether they will or not, and to hear His voice for a little season.
He has done so frequently in the days that are past. He did so when He gave the law. He did so in the passage before us when He brought in the Gospel.

He will do so once more when Christ comes again the second time. He will show a sneering, unbelieving world that He can suspend the laws of nature at His pleasure, and alter the framework of creation as easily as He called the earth into being. He will yet fulfill His words, ‘Yet once more I will shake not the earth only, but also the heavens.’ ‘Then the glory of the moon will wane, and the brightness of the sun will fade, for the LORD Almighty will rule on Mount Zion. He will rule in great glory in Jerusalem.’ (Hebrews 12:26; Isaiah 24:23.)

Let us observe, secondly, in these verses — the remarkable words which our Lord spoke when He died. We read that ‘Jesus cried with a loud voice: Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!’
There is a depth of meaning, no doubt, in these words — which we have no line to fathom. There was something mysterious about our Lord’s death, which made it unlike the death of any mere man. He who spoke the words before us, we must carefully remember — was God as well as man. His divine and human nature were inseparably united. His divine nature of course could not die. He says Himself, ‘I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down — and I have power to take it again.’ (John 10:17, 18.)
Christ died — not as we die, when our hour has come — not because He was compelled and could not help dying — but voluntarily, and of His own free will.

There is a sense, however, in which our Lord’s words supply a lesson to all true Christians. They show us the manner in which death should be met by all God’s children. They afford an example which every believer should strive to follow. Like our Master, we should not be afraid to confront the king of terrors. We should regard him as a vanquished enemy, whose sting has been taken away by Christ’s death. We should think of him as a foe who can hurt the body for a little season — but after that has no more that he can do. We should await his approaches with calmness and patience, and believe that when our flesh fails — our soul will be in good keeping.

This was the mind of dying Stephen, ‘Lord Jesus,’ he said, ‘receive my spirit.’ This was the mind of Paul the aged, when the time of his departure was at hand. He says, ‘I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day.’ (Acts 7:59; 2 Timothy 1:12.) Happy indeed are those who have a last end like this!
Let us observe, lastly, in these verses — the power of conscience in the case of the centurion and the people who saw Christ die. We are told that the centurion ‘praised God, saying: Certainly this was a righteous man.’ We are told that the people who had come together to the sight, ‘smote their breasts and went away.’

We do not exactly know the nature of the feelings here described. We do not know the extent to which they went, or the after-fruit which they brought forth. One thing, at all events, is clear. The Roman officer felt convinced that he had been part of an unrighteous action — crucifying an innocent person.

The gazing crowd were pierced to the heart by a sense of having aided, approved, and abetted a grievous wrong. Both Jew and Gentile left Calvary that evening — heavy-hearted, self-condemned, and ill at ease.

Great indeed is the power of conscience! Mighty is the influence which it is able to exercise on the hearts of men! It can strike terror into the minds of monarchs on their thrones. It can make multitudes tremble and shake before a few bold friends of truth, like a flock of sheep. Blind and mistaken as conscience often is, unable to convert man or lead him to Christ — it is still a most blessed part of man’s constitution, and the best friend in the congregation that the preacher of the Gospel has. No wonder that Paul says, ‘By plainly setting forth the truth, we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience.’ (2 Corinthians 4:2.)

He who desires inward peace, must beware of quarreling with his conscience. Let him rather use it well, guard it jealously, hear what it has to say, and treat it as his friend. Above all, let him pray daily that his conscience may be enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and cleansed by the blood of Christ. The words of John are very significant, ‘If our heart does not condemn us — then have we confidence toward God.’ (1 John 3:21.) That man is doing well who can say, ‘I always strive to have a conscience void of offence toward God and toward man.’ (Acts 24:16.)”

Call to Worship March 17 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 23:39-43

“We see, firstly, in the history before us — the sovereignty of God in saving sinners. We are told that two criminals were crucified together with our Lord, one on His right hand and the other on His left. Both were equally near to Christ. Both saw and heard all that happened during the six hours that He hung on the cross. Both were dying men, and suffering acute pain. Both were alike wicked sinners, and needed forgiveness. Yet one died in his sins, as he had lived, hardened, impenitent, and unbelieving. The other repented, believed, cried to Jesus for mercy, and was saved.

A fact like this should teach us humility. We cannot account for it. We can only say, ‘Even so, Father, for so it seems good in your sight.’ (Matthew 11:26.) How it is that under precisely the same circumstances, one man is converted — and another remains dead in sins? Why is it that the very same sermon is heard by one man with complete indifference — and another man goes home to pray and seek Christ? Why is it that the same Gospel is hidden from one — and revealed to another? All these are questions which we cannot possibly answer. We only know that it is so, and that it is useless to deny it.

Our own duty is clear and plain. We are to make a diligent use of all the means which God has appointed for the good of souls. There is no necessity that anyone should be lost. There is no such a thing as decreed damnation in the Bible. The offers of the Gospel are wide, free and general. God’s sovereignty was never meant to destroy man’s responsibility. One thief was saved — that no sinner might despair. But only one was saved — that no sinner might presume.

We see secondly in this history — the unvarying character of repentance unto salvation. This is a point in the penitent thief’s story, which is fearfully overlooked. Thousands look at the broad fact that he was saved in the hour of death, and look no further. They do not look at the distinct and well-defined evidences of repentance which fell from his lips before he died. Those evidences deserve our closest attention.

The first notable step in the thief’s repentance, was his concern about his companion’s wickedness in reviling Christ. ‘Do you not fear God,’ he said, ‘seeing that you are under the same sentence of condemnation.’

The second step was a full acknowledgment of his own sin. ‘We are punished justly — for we are getting what our deeds deserve.’

The third step was an open confession of Christ’s innocence. ‘This man has done nothing wrong.’

The fourth step was faith in Jesus Christ’s power and will to save him. He turned to a crucified sufferer, and called Him ’Lord’ — and declared his belief that He had a kingdom.

The fifth step was prayer. He cried to Jesus when he was hanging on the cross — and asked Him even then, to think upon his soul.

The sixth and last step was humility. He begged to be ‘remembered’ by our Lord. He mentions no great thing which he had previously done. Enough for him, if he is remembered by Christ.

These six points should always be remembered in connection with the penitent thief. His time was very short for giving proof of his conversion. But it was time well used. Few dying people have ever left behind them such good evidences, as were left by this dying thief.

Let us beware of a repentance without evidences. Thousands, it may be feared, are every year going out of the world with a lie in their right hand! They imagine that they will be saved, because the thief was saved in the hour of death. They forget that if they would be saved as he was — they must repent as he repented.

The shorter a man’s time is — the better must be the use he makes of it. The nearer he is to death, when he first begins to think — the clearer must be the evidence which he leaves behind. Nothing, it may be safely laid down as a general rule — nothing should be so little relied upon, as a death-bed repentance.

We see, thirdly, in this history — the amazing power and willingness of Christ to save sinners. It is written that He is ‘able to save to the uttermost.’ (Hebrews 7:25.) If we search the Bible through, from Genesis to Revelation — we shall never find a more striking proof of Christ’s power and mercy, than the salvation of the penitent thief.

The time when the thief was saved — was the hour of our Lord’s greatest weakness. He was hanging in agony on the cross. Yet even then, He heard and granted a sinner’s petition, and opened to him the gate of life. Surely this was ‘power!’

The man whom our Lord saved — was a wicked sinner at the point of death, with nothing good in his past life to recommend him, and nothing notable in his present position, but a humble prayer. Yet even he was plucked like a brand from the burning! Surely this was ‘mercy.’

Do we want proof that salvation is of grace, and not of works? We have it in the case before us. The dying thief was nailed hand and foot to the cross. He could do literally nothing for his own soul. Yet even he, through Christ’s infinite grace, was saved. No one ever received such a strong assurance of his own forgiveness, as this man.

Do we want proof that sacraments and ordinances are not absolutely needful to salvation, and that men may be saved without them when they cannot be had? We have it in the case before us. The dying thief was never baptized. He never belonged to a visible church, and never received the Lord’s supper. But he repented and believed — and therefore he was saved.

Let these things sink down into our hearts. Christ never changes. The way of salvation, is always one and the same. He lives, who saved the penitent thief. There is hope for the vilest sinner — if he will only repent and believe.

We see, lastly, in the history before us — how near a dying believer is to eternal rest and glory. We read that our Lord said to the criminal in reply to his prayer, ‘Today you shall be with Me in paradise!’

That word ‘today’ contains a body of divinity. It tells us that the very moment a believer dies — his soul is in happiness and in safe keeping.

His full redemption is not yet come. His perfect bliss will not begin before the resurrection morning. But there is no mysterious delay, no season of suspense, no purgatory — between his death and a state of glory. In the day that he breathes his last — he goes to Paradise. In the hour that he departs — he is with Christ in glory. (Philippians 1:23.)

Let us remember these things, when our believing friends fall asleep in Christ. We must not sorrow for them — as those who have no hope. While we are sorrowing — they are rejoicing. While we are mourning and weeping at their funerals — they are safe and happy with their Lord.

Above all, let us remember these things, if we are true Christians — in looking forward to our own deaths. To die is a solemn thing. But if we die in the Lord — then we need not doubt that our death will be eternal gain!”

Call to Worship March 10 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 23:26-38

“We ought to notice, in this passage — our Lord’s words of prophetic warning. We read that He said to the women who followed Him, as He was being led away to Calvary, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me — but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed indeed are the women who are childless, the wombs that have not borne a child and the breasts that have never nursed.’

These words must have sounded particularly terrible to the ears of a Jewish woman. To her, it was always a disgrace to be childless. The idea of a time coming when it would be a blessing to have no children — must have been a strange and fearsome thought to her mind. And yet within fifty years, this prediction of Christ was literally fulfilled!

The siege of Jerusalem by the Roman army under Titus, brought down on all the inhabitants of the city the most horrible sufferings from famine and pestilence that can be conceived. Women are reported to have actually eaten their own children during the siege for lack of food. Upon none did the last judgments sent upon the Jewish nation fall so heavily, as upon the wives, the mothers, and the little children.

Let us beware of supposing that the Lord Jesus holds out to man nothing but mercy, pardon, love, and forgiveness. Beyond all doubt, He is plenteous in mercy. His mercy is like a mighty stream. He ‘delights in mercy.’ But we must never forget that there is justice with Him — as well as mercy. He is preparing punishments for the impenitent and the unbelieving. There is wrath revealed in the Gospel, for those who harden themselves in wickedness.

The same cloud which was bright to Israel — was dark to the Egyptians. The same Lord Jesus who invites the laboring and heavy-laden to come to Him and rest — declares most plainly that unless a man repents — he will certainly perish; and that he who does not believe — shall be damned. (Luke 13:3; Mark 16:16.)

The same Savior who now holds out His hands to the disobedient and rebellious — will come one day ‘from Heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God, and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction, and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power!’ (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.)

Let these things sink down into our hearts. Christ is indeed most gracious. But the day of grace must come to an end at last. An unbelieving world will find at length, as Jerusalem did — that there is judgment with God, as well as mercy. No wrath will fall so heavily — as that which has been long accumulating and storing up.

We ought to notice, for another thing, in this passage — our Lord’s words of gracious intercession. We read that when He was crucified, His first words were, ‘Father, forgive them — for they do not know what they are doing.’ His own racking agony of body, did not make Him forget others. The first of His seven sayings on the cross was a prayer for the souls of His murderers!

He had just exhibited His prophetic office by a remarkable prediction. He was about to exhibit His kingly office soon — by opening the door of paradise to the penitent thief. His priestly office He now exhibited — by interceding for those who crucified Him. ‘Father,’ He said, ‘forgive them!’

The fruits of this wonderful prayer will never be fully seen, until the day when the books are opened, and the secrets of all hearts are revealed. We have probably not the least idea how many of the conversions at Jerusalem, which took place during the first six months after the crucifixion — were the direct reply to this marvelous prayer.

Perhaps this prayer was the first step towards the penitent thief’s repentance. Perhaps it was one means of affecting the centurion, who declared our Lord to be ‘a righteous man’ — and the people who ‘returned home, beating their breasts.’ Perhaps the three thousand converted on the day of Pentecost, were among our Lord’s murderers — and owed their conversion to this very prayer.

The day will manifest it. There is nothing secret, which shall not be revealed. This alone we know, that ‘the Father always hears the Son.’ (John 11:42.) We may be sure that this wondrous prayer was indeed heard.

Let us see in our Lord’s intercession for those who crucified Him — one more proof of Christ’s infinite love to sinners. The Lord Jesus is indeed most pitiful, most compassionate, and most gracious. None are too wicked, for Him to care for. None are too far gone in sin, for his almighty heart to take interest about their souls. He wept over unbelieving Jerusalem. He heard the prayer of the dying thief. He stopped under the tree to call the tax-collector Zaccheus. He came down from Heaven to turn the heart of the persecutor Saul. He found time to pray for His murderers, even on the cross.

Love like this is a love which surpasses knowledge. The vilest of sinners, have no cause to be afraid of applying to a Savior like this. If we desire warrant and encouragement to repent and believe — the passage before us surely supplies enough.

Finally, let us see in our Lord’s intercession — a striking example of the spirit which should reign in the hearts of all His people. Like Him, let us return good for evil, and blessing for cursing. Like Him, let us pray for those who do evil against us and persecute us. The pride of our hearts may often rebel against the idea. The proud world may call it foolish to behave in such a way. But let us never be ashamed to imitate our divine Master. The man who prays for his enemies, shows the mind that was in Christ — and will have his reward.”

Call to Worship March 3 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 23:13-25

“We should observe, for one thing, in this passage — what striking testimony was borne to our Lord Jesus Christ’s perfect innocence by His judges.
We are told that Pilate said to the Jews, ‘You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence, and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod — for he sent him back to us; as you can see — he has done nothing to deserve death.’ The Roman and the Galilean governors were both of one mind. Both agreed in pronouncing our Lord not guilty of the things laid to His charge.
There was a peculiar fitness in this public declaration of Christ’s innocence. Our Lord, we must remember, was about to be offered up as a sacrifice for our sins. It was proper and right that those who examined Him should formally pronounce Him to be an innocent and blameless person. It was fit and right that the Lamb of God should be found by those who slew Him, to be ‘a Lamb without blemish and without spot.’ (1 Peter 1:19.) The over-ruling hand of God so ordered the events of His trial, that even when His enemies were judges — they could find no fault with Him, nor prove any charge against Him.
The circumstance before us, may seem of trifling importance to a careless Bible reader. It ought however to commend itself to the heart of every well-instructed Christian. We ought to be daily thankful that our great Substitute was in all respects perfect — and that our Surety was a complete and faultless Surety.
What man can count the number of his sins? We leave undone, things which we should do; and we do things which we ought not to do — every day we live. But this must be our comfort, that Christ the Righteous One has undertaken to stand in our place, to pay the debt we all owe, and to fulfill the law we have all broken. He did fulfill that law completely. He satisfied all its demands. He accomplished all its requirements. He was the second Adam, who had ‘clean hands and a pure heart’ — and could therefore enter with boldness into God’s holy hill. (Psalm 24:4.)
He is the righteousness of all sinners who believe in Him. (Romans 10:4.) In Him, all believers are counted perfect fulfillers of the law. The eyes of a holy God behold them in Christ — clothed with Christ’s perfect righteousness. For Christ’s sake, God can now say of the believer, ‘I find no fault at all in him.’
Let us learn for another thing, in this passage — how thoroughly the Jews took on themselves the whole responsibility of our Lord Jesus Christ’s death. We are told that when Pilate was ‘willing to release Jesus’ — the Jews kept shouting, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ Again, we are told that ‘with loud shouts they insistently demanded that He be crucified — and their shouts prevailed.’
This fact in the history of our Lord’s passion deserves particular notice. It shows the strict accuracy of the words of the apostles in after times, when speaking of Christ’s death. They speak of it as the act of the Jewish nation — and not of the Romans. ‘You killed the Prince of life,’ says Peter to the Jews at Jerusalem. ‘You killed Him by hanging Him on a tree!’ (Acts 3:15; 5:30.) ‘The Jews have both killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets,’ says Paul to the Thessalonians. (1 Thessalonians 2:15.)
So long as the world stands, the fact before us is a memorial of man’s natural hatred against God. When the Son of God came down to earth and dwelt among His own chosen people — they despised Him, rejected Him, and murdered Him.
The fearful responsibility which the Jews took on themselves in the matter of our Lord’s death, was not forgotten by God. The righteous blood which they shed has been crying against them as a people, for eighteen hundred years.
Scattered all over the earth, wanderers among the nations, without a land, without a government, without a home — the Jews show to this day that their own words have been terribly fulfilled. The blood of their slain Messiah ‘is upon them and upon their children!’
They are a standing warning to the world, that it is a fearful thing to reject the Lord Christ, and that the nation which speaks stoutly against God, must not be surprised if God deals with it according to its words. Marvelous indeed is the thought that there is mercy in store for Israel, notwithstanding all its sins and unbelief! The nation which pierced and murdered Him — shall yet look to Him by faith and be restored to favor. (Zechariah 12:10.)
We should observe, lastly, in this passage — the remarkable circumstances connected with the release of Barabbas. We are told that Pilate ‘released Barabbas, the man in prison for insurrection and murder. But he delivered Jesus over to them to do as they wished.’
Two people were before Pilate — and he must needs release one of the two. The one was a sinner against God and man, a criminal stained with many crimes. The other was the holy, harmless, and undefiled Son of God, in whom there was no fault at all. And yet Pilate condemns the innocent prisoner — and acquits the guilty! He orders Barabbas to be set free — and delivers Jesus to be crucified! The circumstance before us is very instructive.
It shows the bitter malice of the Jews against our Lord. To use the words of Peter, ‘You disowned the Holy and Righteous One — and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life — but God raised him from the dead.’ (Acts 3:14, 15.)
It shows the deep humiliation to which our Lord submitted, in order to procure our redemption. He allowed Himself to be reckoned lighter in the balance than a murderer, and to be counted more guilty than the chief of sinners!
But there is a deeper meaning yet beneath the circumstance before us, which we must not fail to observe. The whole transaction is a lively emblem of that wondrous exchange that takes place between Christ and the sinner, when a sinner is justified in the sight of God. ‘God made him who had no sin — to be sin for us; so that in him — we might become the righteousness of God.’ (2 Corinthians 5:21.) Christ the innocent, has been reckoned guilty before God — that we the guilty, might be reckoned innocent, and be set free from condemnation.
If we are true Christians, let us daily lean our souls on the wondrous thought that Christ has really been our Substitute, and has been punished in our stead. Let us freely confess that, like Barabbas — we deserve death, judgment, and Hell. But let us cling firmly to the glorious truth that a sinless Savior has suffered in our stead — and that believing in Him, the guilty may go free.”

Call to Worship February 24 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 23:1-12

“Let us observe, for one thing, in this passage — what false accusations were laid to our Lord Jesus Christ’s charge. We are told that the Jews accused Him of ‘subverting the nation, forbidding to give taxes to Caesar, and stirring up the people.’ In all this indictment, we know, there was not a word of truth. It was nothing but a devious attempt to enlist the Roman governor against our Lord.

Lying and slander are two favorite weapons of the devil. He was a liar from the beginning, and is still the father of lies. (John 8:44.) When he finds that he cannot stop God’s work — his next device is to blacken the character of God’s servants, and to destroy the value of their testimony.

With this weapon, he assaulted David, ‘False witnesses,’ he says, ‘testify against me. They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about.’

With this weapon, he assaulted the prophets. Elijah was accused of being a ‘troubler of Israel!’ Jeremiah was accused of undermining the nation, and being a traitor!

With this weapon Satan assaulted the apostles. They were ‘pestilent fellows,’ and men who ‘turned the world upside down.’

With this weapon he assaulted our Lord all through His ministry. He stirred up his agents to call Him a glutton and a drunkard, a Samaritan and a devil! (Luke 7:34; John 8:48.)

And here, in the verses before us, we find Satan plying his old weapon to the very last. Jesus is arraigned before Pilate upon charges which are utterly untrue.

The servant of Christ must never be surprised if he has to drink of the same cup with his Lord. When He who was holy, harmless, and undefiled, was foully slandered — then who can expect to escape? ‘If they called the master of the house Beelzebub — then how much more will they call those of his household?’ (Matthew 10:25.)

Nothing is too evil to slander a saint with. Perfect innocence is no fence against enormous lying, calumny, and misrepresentation. The most blameless character, will not secure us against false tongues. We must bear the trial patiently. It is part of the cross of Christ. We must sit still, lean back on God’s promises, and believe that in the long run truth will prevail. ‘Rest in the Lord,’ says David, ‘and wait patiently for Him.’ ‘He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday.’ (Psalm 37:6, 7.)

Let us observe, for another thing, in this passage — the strange and mingled motives which influence the hearts of unconverted great men. We are told that when our Lord was sent by Pilate to Herod, king of Galilee, ‘Herod was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see Him. From what he had heard about Him, he hoped to see Him perform some miracle.’

These words are remarkable. Herod was a sensual, worldly man, the murderer of John the Baptist — a man living in foul adultery with his brother’s wife. Such a man, we might have supposed, would have had no desire to see Christ. But Herod had an uneasy conscience. The blood of God’s murdered saints, no doubt, rose often before his eyes, and destroyed his peace. The fame of our Lord’s preaching and miracles had penetrated even into his court. It was said that another witness against sin had risen up, who was even more faithful and bold than John the Baptist; and who confirmed his teaching by miracles!

These rumors made Herod restless and uncomfortable. No wonder that his curiosity was stirred, and he wanted to see Christ.

It may be feared that there are many great and rich men like Herod in every age of the church — men without God, without faith, and living only for themselves. They generally live in an atmosphere of their own — flattered, fawned upon, and never told the truth about their souls — haughty, tyrannical, and knowing no will but their own. Yet even these men are sometimes conscience-stricken and afraid.

God raises up some bold witness against their sins, whose testimony reaches their ears. At once their curiosity is stirred. They feel ‘found out,’ and are ill at ease. They flutter around his ministry, like the moth round the candle, and seem unable to keep away from it, even while they do not obey it. They praise his talents and openly profess their admiration of his power. But they never get any further.

Like Herod, their conscience produces within them a morbid curiosity to see and hear God’s witnesses. But, like Herod, their heart is linked to the world by chains of iron. Tossed to and fro by storms of lust or ungovernable passions — they are never at rest while they live; and after all their fitful struggles of conscience — they die at length in their sins. This is a painful history. But it is the history of many rich men’s souls.

Let us learn from Herod’s case, to pity great men. With all their greatness and apparent splendor — they are often thoroughly miserable within. Silks and satins and official robes, often cover hearts which are utter strangers to peace. That man does not understand what he is wishing for — who wishes to be a rich man.

Let us pray for rich men — as well as pity them. They carry a heavy weight in the race for eternal life. If they are saved, it can only be by the greatest miracles of God’s grace. Our Lord’s words are very solemn, ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle — than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ (Matthew 19:24.)

Let us observe, finally, in this passage — how easily and readily, unconverted men can agree in disliking Christ. We are told that when Pilate sent our Lord a prisoner to Herod, ‘That day Herod and Pilate became friends; before this they had been enemies.’ We know not the cause of their enmity. It was probably some petty quarrel, such as will arise among great as well as small. But whatever the cause of enmity — it was laid aside when a common object of contempt, fear, or hatred was brought before them. Whatever else they disagreed about — Pilate and Herod could agree to despise and persecute Christ.

The incident before us is a striking emblem of a state of things which may always be seen in the world. Men of the most discordant opinions — can unite in opposing truth. Teachers of the most opposite doctrines — can make common cause in fighting against the Gospel.

In the days of our Lord, the Pharisees and the Sadducees might be seen combining their forces to entrap Jesus of Nazareth and put Him to death.

In our own times, we sometimes see Romanists — and Socinians; infidels — and idolaters; worldly pleasure-lovers — and bigoted moralists; the friends of so-called liberal views — and the most determined opponents of all changes — all ranked together against evangelical religion. One common hatred binds them together. They hate the cross of Christ!

To use the words of the apostles in the Acts, ‘Against your holy child Jesus, whom you have anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, are gathered together.’ (Acts 4:27.) All hate each other very much — but all hate Christ much more!

The true Christian must not count the enmity of the world to be a strange thing. He must not marvel, if like Paul at Rome, he finds the Way of Life, a ‘way everywhere spoken against,’ and if all around him agree in disliking his religion. (Acts 28:22.) If he expects that by any concession, he can win the favor of man — then he will be greatly deceived.

Let not his heart be troubled. He must only expect the praise of God. The saying of his Master should often come across his mind, ‘If you belonged to the world — then it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you!’ (John 15:19.)”

Call to Worship February 17 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke
J.C. Ryle Luke 22:63-71
“We should notice, firstly, in these verses — the shameful treatment that our Lord Jesus Christ underwent at the hands of His enemies. We read that the guards ‘mocked’ Him, ‘beat’ Him, ‘blindfolded’ Him, and ‘struck Him in the face.’ It was not enough to have taken a prisoner a person of most blameless and charitable life — they must needs add insult to injury.

Conduct like this shows the desperate corruption of human nature. The excesses of savage malice to which unconverted men will sometimes go, and the fierce delight with which they will sometimes trample on the most holy and the most pure — almost justify the strong saying of an old divine, that ‘man left to himself — is half-beast and half-devil!’ He hates God, and all who bear anything of God’s image. ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God.’ (Romans 8:7.)

We have probably a very faint idea of what the world would become, if it were not for the constant restraint that God mercifully puts upon evil. It is not too much to say that if unconverted men had their own way entirely — the earth would soon be little better than a Hell!

Our Lord’s calm submission to insults like those here described, shows the depth of His love towards sinners. Had He so willed, He could have stopped the insolence of His enemies in a moment. He who could cast out devils with a word, could have summoned legions of angels to His side, and scattered those wretched tools of Satan to the winds.

But our Lord’s heart was set on the great work he had come on earth to do. He had undertaken to purchase our redemption by His own humiliation — and He did not flinch from paying the uttermost farthing of the price. He had undertaken to drink the bitter cup of vicarious suffering to save sinners — and ‘for the joy set before Him, He despised the shame,’ and drank the cup to the very dregs! (Hebrews 12:2.)

Patience like that which our blessed Lord exhibited on this occasion should teach His professing people a mighty lesson. We should forbear all murmuring and complaining, and irritation of spirit — when we are ill-treated by the world. What are the occasional insults to which we have to submit — compared to the insults which were heaped on our Master? Yet ‘When they hurled their insults at Him — He did not retaliate. When He suffered — He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted himself to Him who judges justly.’ He left us an example, that we should walk in His steps. Let us go and do likewise. (1 Peter 2:21-23.)

We should notice, secondly, in these verses — the striking prophecy which our Lord delivers about His own coming glory. He says to His insulting enemies, ‘Hereafter the Son of man shall sit on the right hand of the power of God.’ Did they find fault with His lowly appearance, and want a glorious Messiah? They would see Him in glory one day. Did they think He was weak, powerless, and contemptible, because at present there was no outward majesty about Him? They would behold Him one day in the most honorable position in Heaven, fulfilling the well-known prophecy of Daniel, with all judgment committed to His hands. (Daniel 7:9, 10.)

Let us take heed that the future glory of Christ forms a part of our creed — as much as Christ’s cross and passion. Let it be a first principle in our religion, that the same Jesus who was mocked, despised, and crucified — is He who has now ‘all power in Heaven and earth, and will one day come again in His Father’s glory with all His angels.’

We see but half the truth — if we see nothing but the cross and the first coming. It is essential to our own comfort — to see also the second coming, and the crown. That same Jesus who stood before the bar of the high priest and of Pilate — will one day sit upon a throne of glory and summon all His enemies to appear before Him! Happy is that Christian who keeps steadily before his mind, that word ‘hereafter!’

Now in this present time believers must be content to take part in their Master’s sufferings. ‘Hereafter’ they shall share in His glory! Now like their Lord, they must not be surprised if they are mocked, despised, and disbelieved. ‘Hereafter’ they shall sit with Him on His throne at the right hand of God! (Revelation 3:21.)

We should notice, lastly, in these verses — what a full and bold confession our Lord makes of His own Messiahship and divinity. We read that in answer to this question of His enemies, ‘Then you claim you are the Son of God?’ Jesus replied, ‘You are right in saying that I am.’ The meaning of this short sentence may not be clear at first sight to an English reader. It signifies in other words, ‘You speak the truth. I am, as you say, the Son of God.’

Our Lord’s confession deprived His enemies of all excuse for unbelief. The Jews can never plead that our Lord left their forefathers in ignorance of His mission, and kept them in doubt and suspense. Here we see our Lord telling them plainly who He was, and telling them in words which would convey even more to a Jewish mind than they do to ours. And yet the confession had not the least good effect upon the Jews! Their hearts were hardened by prejudice. Their minds were darkened by judicial blindness. The veil was over the eyes of their inward man. They heard our Lord’s confession unmoved — and only plunged deeper into the most dreadful sin!

The bold confession of our Master upon this occasion, is intended to be an example to all His believing people. Like Him, we must not shrink from speaking out when occasion requires our testimony. The fear of man, and the presence of a multitude — must not silence us. (Job 31:34.)
We need not blow a trumpet before us, and go out of our way — to proclaim our own religion. Opportunities are sure to occur in the daily path of duty, when, like Paul on board ship, we may show ‘whose we are — and whom we serve.’ (Acts 27:23.) At such opportunities, if we have the mind of Christ — let us not be afraid to show our colors.

A confessing Master — loves bold, uncompromising, and confessing disciples. Those who honor Him by an outspoken, courageous testimony — He will honor, because they are walking in His steps. ‘Whoever,’ He says, ‘shall confess Me before men — I will confess him before My Father in Heaven.’ (Matthew 10:32.)”

Call to Worship February 10 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 22:54-62

“The story of Peter’s fall teaches us, firstly — how small and gradual are the steps by which men may go down into great sins. The various steps in Peter’s fall, are clearly marked out by the Gospel-writers. They ought always to be observed in reading this part of the apostle’s history.

The first step was proud self-confidence. Though all denied Christ — yet he never would! He was ready to go with Him both to prison and to death!

The second step was indolent neglect of prayer. When his Master told him to pray, lest he should enter into temptation — he gave way to drowsiness, and was found asleep.

The third step was vacillating indecision. When the enemies of Christ came upon Him, Peter first fought, then ran away, then turned again, and finally ‘followed afar off.’

The fourth step was mingling with bad company. He went into the high priest’s house and sat among the servants by the fire, trying to conceal his religion, and hearing and seeing all kinds of evil.

The fifth and last step was the natural consequence of the preceding four. He was overwhelmed with fear when suddenly charged with being a disciple. The snare was round his neck. He could not escape. He plunged deeper into error than ever. He denied his blessed Master three times. The mischief, be it remembered, had been done before — the denial was only the disease coming to a head.

Let us beware of the beginnings of backsliding, however small. We never know what we may come to — if we once leave the king’s high-way. The professing Christian who begins to say of any sin or evil habit, ‘it is but a little one’ — is in imminent danger. He is sowing seeds in his heart, which will one day spring up and bear bitter fruit. It is a homely saying, that ‘if men take care of the pence — then the pounds will take care of themselves.’ We may borrow a good spiritual lesson from the saying. The Christian who keeps his heart diligently in little things — shall be kept from great falls!

The story of Peter’s fall teaches us, secondly — how very far a true believer may backslide.

In order to see this lesson clearly, the whole circumstances of Peter’s case ought to be fully weighed. He was a chosen apostle of Christ. He had enjoyed many and great spiritual privileges. He had just received the Lord’s supper. He had just heard that wonderful discourse recorded in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth chapters of John. He had been most plainly warned of his own danger. He had boasted most loudly, that he was ready for anything that might come upon him. And yet this very man denies his gracious Master, and that repeatedly — and after intervals giving him space for reflection. He denies Him once, twice, and three times!

The best and highest believer, is a poor weak creature — even at his best times. Whether he knows it or not, he carries within him an almost boundless capacity of wickedness — however fair and decent his outward conduct may seem. There is no enormity of sin into which he may not run — if he does not watch and pray, and if the grace of God does not hold him up.

When we read the falls of Noah, Lot, and Peter — we only read what might possibly befall any of ourselves. Let us never presume. Let us never indulge in high thoughts about our own strength, or look down upon others. Whatever else we pray for, let us daily pray that we may ‘Walk humbly with God.’ (Micah 6:8.)

The story of Peter’s fall teaches us, thirdly — the infinite mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a lesson which is brought out most forcibly by a fact which is only recorded in Luke’s Gospel. We are told that when Peter denied Christ the third time, and the rooster crowed, ‘the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.’

Those words are deeply touching! Surrounded by blood-thirsty and insulting enemies, in the full anticipation of horrible outrages, an unjust trial, and a agonizing sin-atoning death — the Lord Jesus yet found time to think kindly of His poor erring disciple. Even then He would have Peter know, that He did not forget him. Sorrowfully no doubt, but not angrily, He ‘turned and looked straight at Peter.’ There was a deep meaning in that look. It was a sermon which Peter never forgot.

The love of Christ toward His people, is a deep well which has no bottom. Let us never measure it by comparison with any kind of human love. It exceeds all other love — as far as the sunlight exceeds the candle-light. There is about it, a mine of compassion, and patience, and readiness to forgive sin — of whose riches we have but a faint conception.

Let us not be afraid to trust that love, when we first feel our sins. Let us never be afraid to go on trusting it after we have once believed. No man need despair, however far he may have fallen — if he will only repent and turn to Christ. If the heart of Jesus was so gracious when He was a prisoner in the judgment hall — then we surely need not think that He is less gracious, when He sits in glory at the right hand of God.

The story of Peter’s fall teaches us, lastly — how bitter sin is to believers, when they have fallen into it and discovered their fall.

This is a lesson which stands out plainly on the face of the verses before us. We are told that when Peter remembered the warning he had received, and saw how far he had fallen, ‘he went out and wept bitterly.’ He found out by experience, the truth of Jeremiah’s words, ‘It is an evil and a bitter thing to have forsaken the Lord.’ (Jeremiah 2:19.) He felt keenly the truth of Solomon’s saying, ‘The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.’ (Proverbs 14:14.) No doubt he could have said with Job, ‘I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes!’ (Job 42:6.)

Sorrow like this, let us always remember, is an inseparable companion of true repentance. Here lies the grand distinction between ‘repentance unto salvation’ — and unavailing remorse.

Remorse can make a man miserable, like Judas Iscariot — but it can do no more. It does not lead him to God.

Repentance makes a man’s heart soft and his conscience tender — and manifests itself in sincerely turning back to his heavenly Father.

The falls of a graceless professor are falls from which there is no rising again. But the fall of a true saint always ends in deep contrition, self-abasement, and amendment of life.

Let us take heed, before we leave this passage, that we always make a right use of Peter’s fall. Let us never make it an excuse for sin. Let us learn from his sad experience, to watch and pray — lest we fall into temptation. If we do fall, let us believe that there is hope for us — just as there was for him. But above all, let us remember, that if we fall as Peter fell — then we must repent as Peter repented, or else we shall never be saved.”

Call to Worship February 6 2019

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 22:1-13

“We see, firstly, in these verses — that high offices in the church do not preserve the holders of them from great blindness and sin. We read that ‘the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill Jesus.’

The first step in putting Christ to death, was taken by the religious teachers of the Jewish nation. The very men who ought to have welcomed the Messiah — were the men who conspired to kill Him. The very teachers who ought to have rejoiced at the appearing of the Lamb of God — had the chief hand in slaying Him. They sat in Moses’ seat. They claimed to be ‘guides of the blind,’ and ‘lights of those who were in darkness.’ (Romans 2:19.) They belonged to the tribe of Levi. They were, most of them — in direct succession and descent from Aaron. Yet they were the very men who crucified the Lord of glory! With all their boasted knowledge — they were far more ignorant than the few Galilean fishermen who followed Christ.

Let us beware of attaching an excessive importance to Christian ministers because of their office. Ordination and religious office confer no exemption from error. The greatest heresies have been sown, and the greatest practical abuses have been introduced into the church — by ordained men! Respect is undoubtedly due to high official position. Order and discipline ought not to be forgotten. The teaching and counsel of regularly appointed teachers, ought not to be lightly refused.

But there are limits beyond which we must not go. We must never allow the blind to lead us into the ditch! We must never allow modern chief priests and scribes, to make us crucify Christ afresh. We must test all teachers, by the unerring rule of the Word of God. It matters little who says a thing in religion — but it matters greatly what is said. Is it scriptural? Is it true? This is the only question. ‘To the law and to the testimony — if they do not speak according to this word — it is because there is no light in them.’ (Isaiah 8:20.)

We see, secondly, in these verses — how far men may fall after making a high profession. We read that the second step toward our Lord’s crucifixion, was the treachery of one of the twelve apostles, ‘Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.’ These words are particularly solemn. To be tempted by Satan is bad enough. To be sifted, buffeted, led captive by him — is truly terrible. But when Satan ‘enters into a man,’ and dwells in him — the man becomes indeed a child of Hell!

Judas Iscariot ought to be a standing beacon to the church of Christ. This man, be it remembered, was one of our Lord’s chosen apostles. He followed our Lord during the whole course of His ministry. He forsook all for Christ’s sake. He heard Christ preach, and saw Christ’s miracles. He preached himself. He spoke like the other apostles. There was nothing about him to distinguish him from Peter, James, and John. He was never suspected of being unsound at heart.

And yet this man turns out at length to be a hypocrite, betrays his Master, helps his enemies to deliver Him up to death, and dies as ‘the son of perdition.’ (John 17:12.) These are fearful things. But they are true.

Let the recollection of Judas Iscariot constrain every professing, Christian to pray much for humility. Let us often say, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart — try me, and know my thoughts.’ (Psalm 139:23.)

At best, we have but a faint conception of the deceitfulness of our hearts. The lengths to which men may go in religion, and yet be without saving grace — is far greater than we suppose!

We see, thirdly, in these verses — the enormous power of the love of money. We are told that when Judas went to the chief priests and offered to betray his Master, they ‘agreed to give him money.’ That little sentence reveals the secret of this wretched man’s fall. He was fond of money, He had doubtless heard our Lord’s solemn warning, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness!’ (Luke 12:15.) But he had either forgotten it, or given it no heed. Covetousness was the rock on which he made shipwreck. Covetousness was the ruin of his soul.

We need not wonder that Paul called the love of money, ‘the root of all evil.’ (1 Timothy 6:10.) The history of the church is full of mournful proofs, that it is one of the choicest weapons of Satan for corrupting and spoiling professors of religion. Gehazi, Ananias and Sapphira are names which naturally occur to our minds. But of all proofs, there is none so melancholy as the one before us. For money, a chosen apostle sold the best and most loving of Masters! For money, Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ!

Let us watch and pray against the love of money. It is a subtle disease, and often far nearer to us than we suppose. A poor man is just as liable to it, as a rich man. It is possible to love money without having it — and it is possible to have it without loving it.

Let us be ‘content with such things as we have.’ (Hebrews 13:5.) We never know what we might do, if we became suddenly rich. It is a striking fact, that there is only one prayer in all the Book of Proverbs, and that one of the three petitions in that prayer, is the wise request, ‘Give me neither poverty nor riches — but give me only my daily bread.’ (Proverbs 30:8.)

We see, lastly, in these verses — the close connection between our Lord Jesus Christ’s death, and the Feast of the Passover. Four times we are reminded here that the evening before His crucifixion was the time of the great Jewish feast. It was ‘the day when the Passover lamb must be killed.’

We cannot doubt that the time of our Lord’s crucifixion was overruled by God. His perfect wisdom and controlling power arranged that the Lamb of God should die, at the very time when the Passover-lamb was being slain. The death of Christ was the fulfillment of the Passover. Jesus was the true sacrifice to which every Passover-lamb had been pointing for 1500 years! What the death of the lamb had been to Israel in Egypt — Jesus’ death was to be to sinners all over the world. The safety which the blood of the Passover-lamb had provided for Israel — Jesus’ blood was to provide far more abundantly for all who believed in Him.

Let us never forget the sacrificial character of Christ’s death. Let us reject with abhorrence, the modern notion that it was nothing more than a noble instance of self-sacrifice and self-denial. It was this no doubt — but it was something far higher, deeper, and more important than this. It was an atoning sacrifice for man’s transgression. It was the killing of the true Passover Lamb, through whose death destruction is warded off from sinners believing on Him. ‘Christ our Passover Lamb,’ says Paul, ‘is sacrificed for us.’ (1 Corinthians 5:7.) Let us grasp that truth firmly, and never let it go.”