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Archive for the ‘Quotes’ Category

Call to Worship Decembver 16 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke
J.C. Ryle Luke 21:10-19
“We should notice, for one thing, in this passage — Christ’s prediction concerning the nations of the world. He says, ‘Nation will be raised up against nation — and kingdom against kingdom. There will be violent earthquakes, and famines and plagues in various places — and there will be terrifying sights and great signs from Heaven.’
These words no doubt received a partial fulfillment in the days when Jerusalem was captured by the Romans, and the Jews were led into captivity. It was a season of unparalleled desolation to Judea, and the countries round about Judea. The last days of the Jewish dispensation, were wound up by a struggle which for bloodshed, misery, and tribulation, has never been equaled since the world began.
But the words before us have yet to receive a more complete accomplishment. They describe the time which shall immediately precede the second coming of Jesus Christ. The ‘time of the end’ shall be a time of war, and not of universal peace. The Christian dispensation shall pass away like the Jewish one — amid wars, tumults, and desolation, amid a general crash of empires and kingdoms, such as the eyes of man have never yet seen.
A thorough understanding of these things is of great importance to our souls. Nothing is so calculated to chill the heart and dampen the faith of a Christian — as indulgence in unscriptural expectations. Let us dismiss from our minds the vain idea that nations will ever give up wars entirely, before Jesus Christ comes again. So long as the devil is the prince of this world, and the hearts of the many are unconverted — so long there must be strife and fighting. There will be no universal peace before the second coming of the Prince of peace. Then, and then only, ‘They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.’ (Isaiah 2:4.)
Let us cease to expect that missionaries and ministers will ever convert the world, and teach all mankind to love one another. They will do nothing of the kind! They were never intended to do it. They will call out a witnessing people who shall serve Christ in every land — but they will do no more. The bulk of mankind will always refuse to obey the Gospel. The nations will always go on quarreling, wrangling, and fighting. The last days of the earth — shall be its worst days. The last war, shall be the most fearful and terrible war that ever desolated the earth.
The duty of the true Christian is clear and plain. Whatever others do — he must give all diligence to make his own calling and election sure. While others are occupied in national conflicts and political speculations — the Christian must steadily seek first the kingdom of God. So doing, he shall feel his feet upon a rock — when the foundations of the earth are out of course, and the kingdoms of this earth are going to ruin. He shall be like Noah, safe within the ark. He shall be ‘hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger!’ (Zephaniah 2:3.)
We should notice, for another thing, in this passage — Christ’s prediction concerning His own disciples. He does not prophesy smooth things, and promise them an uninterrupted course of temporal comfort. He says that they shall be ‘persecuted,’ put in ‘prison,’ ‘brought before kings and rulers,’ ‘betrayed,’ ‘put to death,’ and ‘hated by all men — for His name’s sake.’
The words of this prophecy were doubtless intended to apply to every age of the Church of Christ. They began to be fulfilled in the days of the apostles. The book of Acts supplies us with many instances of their fulfillment. They have been repeatedly fulfilled during the last eighteen hundred years. Wherever there have been disciples of Christ — there has always been persecution, more or less. They will yet receive a more full accomplishment before the end comes. The last tribulation will probably be marked by special violence and bitterness. It will be a ‘great tribulation.’ (Revelation 7:14.)
Let it be a settled principle in our minds, that the true Christian must always enter the kingdom of God ‘through much tribulation.’ (Acts 14:22.) His best things are yet to come! This present world is not our home. If we are faithful and decided servants of Christ — then the world will certainly hate us, as it hated our Master. In one way or another, true believers will always be persecuted. No consistency of conduct, however faultless; no kindness and amiability of character, however striking — will exempt a believer from the world’s dislike, as long as he lives.
It is foolish to be surprised at this. It is mere waste of time to murmur at it. It is a part of the cross — and we must bear it patiently. The children of Cain will hate the children of Abel — as long as the earth continues. ‘Marvel not, my brethren,’ says John, ‘if the world hates you.’ ‘If you were of the world,’ says our Lord, ‘the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world — therefore the world hates you.’ (1 John 3:13; John 15:18, 19.)
We should notice, lastly, in this passage — Christ’s gracious promise to His disciples. He says, ‘but not a hair of your head shall perish.’ Our blessed Lord well knew the hearts of His disciples. He saw that the prophecy He had just spoken, might well make them faint. He supplies them with a cheering word of encouragement, ‘But not a hair of your head shall perish!’
The promise before us is wide and comprehensive, and one which is the property of all believers in every age. A literal interpretation of it is clearly impossible. It cannot apply to the bodies of disciples. To say that, would be contradictory to the obvious fact that James and other apostles died violent deaths. A figurative interpretation must evidently be placed upon the words. They form a great proverbial saying. They teach us that whatever sufferings a disciple of Christ may go through — his best things can never be injured. His life is hidden with Christ in God. His treasure in Heaven can never be touched. His soul is beyond the reach of harm. Even his vile body shall be raised again, and made like his Savior’s glorious body at the last day.
If we know anything of true religion — then let us lean back on the words of the glorious promises in every time of need. If we believe in Christ — then let us rest in the comfortable thought that Christ has pledged His word that we shall never perish. We may lose much by serving Christ — but we shall never lose our eternal souls. The world may deprive a believer of property, friends, country, home, liberty, health, and life. It has done so in innumerable cases from the days of Stephen to the present time. The roll of the noble army of martyrs, is a very long one.
But there is one thing the world cannot do to any believer. It cannot deprive him of his saving interest in Christ’s love. It cannot break the union between Christ and his soul. Surely it is worth while to be a thorough-going believer! ‘I am persuaded,’ says Paul, ‘that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature — shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:38-39.)”

Call To Worship December 2 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 20:40-47

“Let us observe in this passage — what striking testimony to Christ’s divinity, the book of Psalms contains. We read that after patiently replying to the attacks of His enemies, our Lord in turn propounds a question to them. He asks them to explain an expression in the hundred and tenth Psalm, where David speaks of the Messiah as his Lord. To this question the Scribes could find no answer. They did not see the mighty truth — that Messiah was to be God as well as man; and that while as man, He was to be David’s son — as God, He was to be David’s Lord.

Their ignorance of Scripture was thus exposed before all the people. Professing themselves to be instructors of others and possessors of the key of knowledge — they were proved unable to explain what their own Scriptures contained. We may well believe that of all the defeats which our Lord’s malicious enemies met with — none galled them more than this. Nothing so abashes the pride of man — as to be publicly proved ignorant of that which he imagines is his own particular department of knowledge.

We have probably little idea how much deep truth is contained in the book of Psalms. No part of the Bible perhaps is better known in the letter — and none so little understood in the spirit. We err greatly, if we suppose that it is nothing but a record of David’s feelings, of David’s experience, David’s praises, and David’s prayers. The hand that held the pen was generally David’s — but the subject matter was often something far deeper and higher than the history of the son of Jesse.

The book of Psalms, in a word, is a book full of Christ — Christ suffering — Christ in humiliation — Christ dying — Christ rising again — Christ coming the second time — Christ reigning over all. Both of Christ’s advents are here: the advent in suffering to bear the cross — and the advent in power to wear the crown. Both of Christ’s kingdoms are here: the kingdom of grace, during which the elect are gathered — and the kingdom of glory, when every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord. Let us always read the Psalms with a particular reverence. Let us say to ourselves as we read, ‘A greater than David is here!’

The remark now made, applies more or less to all the Bible. There is a fullness about the whole Book, which is a strong proof of its inspiration. The more we read it — the more it will seem to contain. All other books become threadbare, if they are constantly read. Their weak points, and their shallowness become more apparent every year. The Bible alone seems broader, and deeper, and fuller — the oftener it is studied. We have no need to look for allegorical and mystical meanings. The fresh truths that will constantly spring up before our eyes, are simple, plain, and clear. Of such truths, the Bible is an inexhaustible mine. Nothing can account for this, but the great fact, that the Bible is the word — not of man, but of God!

Let us observe, secondly, in this passage — how abominable is hypocrisy in the eyes of Christ. We are told that in the presence of all the people, Jesus said unto His disciples, ‘Beware of the teachers of the law! They like to walk around in flowing robes — and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues, and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses — and for a show make lengthy prayers.’

This was a bold and remarkable warning. It was a public denunciation, we must remember, of men who ‘sat in Moses’ seat,’ and were the recognized teachers of the Jewish people. It teaches us clearly, that there may be times when the sins of people in high religious places, make it a positive duty to protest publicly against them. It shows us that it is possible to speak out, and yet not to despise authority.

No sin seems to be regarded by Christ as more sinful than hypocrisy. None certainly drew forth from His lips such frequent, strong, and withering condemnation, during the whole course of His ministry. He was ever full of mercy and compassion for the chief of sinners. ‘Fury was not in Him’ when He saw Zacchaeus, the penitent thief, Matthew the tax-collector, Saul the persecutor, and the sinful woman in Simon’s house. But when He saw Scribes and Pharisees wearing a mere cloak of religion, and pretending to great outward sanctity, while their hearts were full of wickedness — His righteous soul seems to have been full of indignation. Eight times in one chapter (Matthew 23.) we find Him saying, ‘Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites!’

Let us not forget that the Lord Jesus never changes. He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Whatever else we are in religion–let us be true. However feeble our faith, and hope, and love, and obedience may be—let us see to it that they are real, genuine, and sincere. Let us abhor the very idea of play-acting and mask-wearing in our Christianity. At any rate, let us be genuine.”

The Moon and Stars Shall Lose Their Light

The moon and stars shall lose their light,
The sun shall sink in endless night;
Both heaven and earth shall pass away;
The works of nature all decay.

But they that in the Lord confide,
And shelter in his wounded side,
Shall see the danger overpast,
Stand every storm, and live at last.

What Christ has said must be fulfilled;
On this firm rock, believers build;
His word shall stand, his truth prevail,
And not one jot or tittle fail.

His word is this (poor sinners, hear);
“Believe on me, and banish fear;
Cease from your own works, bad or good,
And wash your garments in my blood.”

Gadsby’s Hymns #352 by Hart; tume LM

Call to Worship November 25 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke
J.C. Ryle Luke 20:19-26

“We see in these verses — what an old thing unbelief is. We are told that ‘Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question.’ Even in the Jewish Church, the Church of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, the Church of Moses, and Samuel, and David, and the prophets — we find that there were bold, avowed, unblushing skeptics. If infidelity like this existed among God’s people, the Jews — then what must have been the state of heathenism? If these things existed in a green tree — what must have been the condition of the dry?
We must never be surprised when we hear of infidels, deists, heretics and free-thinkers rising up in the Church, and drawing away disciples after them. We must not count it a rare and a strange thing. It is only one among many proofs, that man is a fallen and corrupt being. Since the day when the devil said to Eve ‘You shall not surely die’ — and Eve believed him, there never has been lacking a constant succession of forms of unbelief.

There is nothing new about any of the modern theories of infidelity. There is not one of them, which is not an old disease under a new name. They are all mushrooms which spring up spontaneously in the hot-bed of human nature. It is not in reality an astonishing thing that there should rise up so many who call in question the truth of the Bible. The marvel is rather, that in a fallen world — the sect of the Sadducees should be so small.

Let us take comfort in the thought that in the long run of years, the truth will always prevail. Its advocates may often be feeble, and their arguments may appear to be very weak. But there is an inherent strength in the cause itself, which keeps it alive. Bold infidels like Julian, and Hobbes, and Hume, and Voltaire, and Paine — arise from time to time, and make a stir in the world. But they produce no lasting impression. They pass away like the Sadducees — and go to Hell, their own place. The great evidences of Christianity remain like the Pyramids — unshaken and unmoved. The ‘gates of Hell’ shall never prevail against Christ’s truth!

We see, secondly, in these verses — what a favorite weapon of skeptics is a ‘supposed case’. We are told that the Sadducees brought to our Lord a difficulty arising out of the case of a woman who had married seven brothers in succession. They professed a desire to know ‘whose wife of the seven’ the woman would be in the resurrection. The intention of the inquiry is clear and plain. They wished to
pour contempt on the whole doctrine of a life to come.

The case itself is one which we cannot suppose had really arisen. It seems the highest probability, that it was a story invented for the occasion, in order to raise a difficulty and found an argument.
Reasoning of this kind will often meet us, if we are thrown into company with people of a skeptical turn of mind. Some imaginary difficulty or complication, and that connected probably with some imagined state of things in the world to come — will often prove the stronghold of an unbeliever. ‘He cannot understand it! He cannot reconcile it! It seems to him revolting and absurd! It offends his common sense!’ Such is the language which is often used.

Reasoning of this kind, should never shake us for a moment. For one thing, we have nothing to do with ‘supposed and imaginary cases’. It will be time enough to discuss them, when they really arise. Enough for us to talk and argue about facts as they are.

For another thing, it is mere waste of time to speculate about difficulties connected with a state of existence in the world to come. We know so little of anything beyond the visible world around us — that we are very poor judges of what is possible or not possible in the unseen world. A thousand things beyond the grave, must necessarily be unintelligible to us at present. In the meantime, it is our wisdom to wait patiently. What we do not know now — we shall know hereafter.

We see, thirdly, in these verses — something of the true character of the believers’ existence in the world to come. We read that our Lord said to the Sadducees, ‘But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead, will neither marry nor be given in marriage. And they can die no more. In these respects they are like angels.’

Two things are abundantly clear from this description, respecting the saints in glory. For one thing, their happiness is not a physical happiness, but a spiritual one. ‘They neither marry nor are given in marriage.’ The glorified body shall be very unlike what it is now. It shall no longer be a clog and a hindrance to the believer’s better nature. It shall be a fit habitation for a
glorified soul.

For another thing, their happiness shall he eternal. ‘They can die no more.’ No births shall be needed, to supply the constant waste caused by death. Weakness, and sickness, and disease, and infirmity — shall be no more at all. The curse shall be fully removed. Death himself shall die.
The nature of what we call ‘Heaven’ is a subject which should often engage our thoughts. Few subjects in religion are so calculated to show the utter folly of unconverted men, and the dreadful danger in which they stand. A Heaven where all the joy is spiritual, would surely be no Heaven to an unconverted soul!

Few subjects are so likely to cheer and animate the mind of a true Christian. The holiness and spiritual-mindedness which he follows after in this life — will be the very atmosphere of his eternal abode. The cares of family relationships shall no longer distract his mind. The fear of death shall no longer bring him into bondage. Then let him press on and bear his cross patiently. Heaven will make amends for all!

We see, lastly, in these verses — the antiquity of belief in a resurrection. Our Lord shows that it was the belief of Moses: ‘That the dead are raised — even Moses showed at the burning bush.’
Faith in a resurrection and a life to come — has been the universal belief of all God’s people from the beginning of the world. Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and Abraham and all the Patriarchs — were men who looked forward to a better inheritance than they had here below. ‘They looked for a city which had foundations.’ ‘They desired a better country — that is, a heavenly one.’ (Hebrews 11:10-16.)

Let us anchor our own souls firmly on this great foundation truth, ‘that we shall all rise again.’ Whatever ancient or modern Sadducees may say — let us believe firmly that we are not made like the beasts which perish, and that there shall be ‘a resurrection of the dead — both of the just and unjust.’ (Acts 24:15.)

The recollection of this truth will cheer us in the day of trial — and comfort us in the hour of death. We shall feel that though earthly prosperity fails us — there is a glorious life to come where there is no change. We shall feel that though worms destroy our body — yet in the flesh we shall see God. (Job 19:26.) We shall not lie always in the grave. Our God is ‘not a God of the dead — but of the living!’”

Call to Worship November 11 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 20:9-19

“The parable we have now read, is one of the very few which are recorded more than once by the Gospel writers. Matthew, Mark, and Luke — all give it at full length. This three-fold repetition is alone sufficient to point out the importance of its contents.

The parable, no doubt, was specially intended for the Jews to whom it was addressed. But we must not confine its application to them. It contains lessons which should be remembered in all churches of Christ, as long as the world stands.

In the first place — the parable shows us the deep corruption of human nature. The conduct of the wicked ‘farmers’ is a vivid representation of man’s dealings with God. It is a faithful picture of the history of the Jewish church. In spite of privileges, such as no nation ever had; in the face of warnings such as no people ever received — the Jews rebelled against God’s lawful authority, refused to give Him His rightful due, rejected the counsel of His prophets, and at length crucified His only-begotten Son.

It is a no less faithful picture of the history of all the Gentile churches. Called as they were out of heathen darkness by infinite mercy — they have done nothing worthy of the vocation with which they were called. On the contrary, they have allowed false doctrines and wicked practices to spring up rankly among them, and have crucified Christ afresh.

It is a mournful fact that in hardness, unbelief, superstition, and self-righteousness — the Christian churches, as a whole, are little better than the Jewish church of our Lord’s time. Both are described with painful correctness in the story of the wicked farmers. In both, we may point to countless privileges misused, and countless warnings despised.

Let us often pray that we may thoroughly understand the sinfulness of man’s heart. Few of us, it may be feared, have the least conception of the strength and virulence of the spiritual disease with which we are born! Few entirely realize that ‘the carnal mind is enmity against God,’ and that unconverted human nature, if it had the power — would cast its Maker down from His throne! The behavior of the farmers before us — is only a picture of what every natural man would do to God, if he only could! To see these things is of great importance. Christ is never fully valued — until sin is clearly seen. We must know the depth and malignity of our disease — in order to appreciate the great Physician.

In the second place — this parable shows us the amazing patience and long-suffering of God. The conduct of the ‘owner of the vineyard’ is a vivid representation of God’s dealings with man. It is a faithful picture of His merciful dealings with the Jewish church. Prophet after prophet was sent to warn Israel of his danger. Message after message was repeatedly sent — notwithstanding insults and injuries heaped on the messengers.

It is a no less faithful picture of His gracious treatment of the Gentile churches. For eighteen hundred years He has born with their sinful behaviors. They have repeatedly tried Him by false doctrines, superstitions, and contempt of His word. Yet He has repeatedly granted them seasons of refreshing, raised up holy ministers and mighty reformers for them — and not cut them off, notwithstanding all their persecutions. The churches of Christ have no right to boast. They are debtors to God for innumerable mercies, no less than the Jews were in our Lord’s time. They have not been dealt with according to their sins, nor rewarded according to their iniquities.

We should learn to be more thankful for God’s mercy. We have probably little idea of the extent of our obligations to it, and of the number of gracious messages which the Lord of the vineyard is constantly sending to our souls. The last day will unfold to our wondering eyes — a long list of unacknowledged kindnesses, of which while we lived, we took no notice.

Mercy we shall find was indeed God’s darling attribute. ‘He delights in mercy.’ (Micah 7:18.) Mercies before conversion, mercies after conversion, mercies at every step of their journey on earth — will be revealed to the minds of saved saints, and make them ashamed of their own thanklessness. Sparing mercies, providential mercies, mercies in the way of warnings, mercies in the way of sudden visitations — will all be set forth in order before the minds of lost sinners, and confound them by the exhibition of their own hardness and unbelief. We shall all find that God was often speaking to us, when we did not hear — and sending us messages, which we did not regard. Few texts will be brought out so prominently at the last day as that of Peter, ‘The Lord is patient toward us, not willing that any should perish.’ (2 Peter 3:9.)

In the last place, this parable shows us the severity of God’s judgments when they fall on obstinate sinners. The punishment of the wicked farmers is a vivid representation of God’s final dealings with those who continue living in wickedness. At the time when our Lord spoke this parable, it was a prophetic picture of the approaching ruin of the Jewish church and nation. The vineyard of the Lord in the land of Israel, was about to be taken from its unfaithful tenants. Jerusalem was to be destroyed. The temple was to be burned. The Jews were to be scattered over the earth.

At the present time, it may be feared — it is a mournful picture of things yet to come on the Gentile churches in the latter days. The judgments of God will yet fall on unbelieving professors, as they fell on unbelieving Jews. The solemn warning of Paul to the Romans will yet receive an accomplishment, ‘Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell — but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.’ (Romans 11:22.)

We must never flatter ourselves, that God cannot be angry. He is indeed a God of infinite grace and compassion. But it is also written, that He is ‘a consuming fire.’ (Hebrews 12:29.) His Spirit will not always strive with men. (Genesis 6:3.) There will be a day when His patience will come to an end, and when He will arise to dreadfully judge the earth. Happy will they be who are found hidden in the ark, in the day of the Lord’s anger! Of all wrath, none can be conceived so dreadful as ‘the wrath of the Lamb!’ The man on whom the ‘stone cut out without hands’ falls at His second coming, will indeed be crushed to powder! (Daniel 2:34, 35.)

Do we know these things, and do we live up to our knowledge? The chief priests and elders, we are told, ‘perceived that this parable was spoken against them.’ But they were too proud to repent, and too hardened to turn from their sins. Let us beware of doing likewise.”

Call to Worship November 4 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 20:1-8

“Let us notice, lastly, in this passage — the falsehood of which our Lord’s enemies were guilty. In reply to our Lord’s question whether John’s baptism was from Heaven or from men — they answered that ‘they did not know where it was from.’ This was a downright lie! They did know, but they would not admit it. They knew that if they said what they really believed — then they would condemn themselves. If they confessed that John was a prophet sent from God — then they would be guilty of a gross inconsistency in not believing his testimony about Christ.

Falsehoods like this, it may be feared, are only too common among unconverted men. Thousands will lie, rather than acknowledge themselves to be in the wrong. Lying is just one of the sins to which the human heart is most naturally inclined, and one of the commonest sins in the world. Gehazi, Ananias, and Sapphira — have more followers and imitators than Peter and Paul. The number of lies which are constantly told by men, to save their own credit, and to cover over their own wickedness — is probably far greater than we are aware.

The true servant of Christ will do well to remember these things as he travels through this world. He must not believe all that he hears, and especially in the matter of religion. He must not suppose that unconverted men really believe all that they say — in their own hearts. They often feel more than they appear to feel. They often say things against religion and religious people — which they secretly know to be untrue. They often know the Gospel is true — but have not the courage to confess it. They often know the Christians life is right — but are too proud to say so. The chief priests and scribes are not the only people who deal dishonestly in religion, and say what they know to be false.

Then let the servant of Christ go patiently on his way. Those who are now his enemies, will one day confess that he was right — though they used to cry loudly that he was wrong.”

Ye Sons of God Be Wise

Ye sons on God be wise,
And learn you Father’s will;
By faith lift up your eyes
To yonder shining hill;
No smoke, no thunderbolts are there,
Nor wrath to sink you in despair.

A pleasant mount indeed,
Where God unfolds his grace
To all the chosen seed,
And, with a smiling face,
Speaks peace to every troubled breast,
And bids the weary in him rest.

To worship on this ground,
Is not a legal task;
A solid peace is found,
And faith has all it asks;
There Jesus sits with smiling face,
And rules and reigns the God of grace.

Gadsby’s Hymns #599
tune 148th

Call To Worship October 28 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 19:41-48

“We learn, firstly, from these verses — how great is the tenderness and compassion of Christ towards sinners. We are told that when He came near Jerusalem for the last time, ‘He beheld the city, and wept over it.’ He well knew the character of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Their cruelty, their self-righteousness, their stubbornness, their obstinate prejudice against the truth, their pride of heart — were not hidden from Him. He well knew what they were going to do to Him within a very few days — His unjust judgment, His delivery to the Romans, His sufferings, His crucifixion — were all spread out distinctly before His mind’s eye! And yet knowing all this, our Lord pitied Jerusalem! ‘He beheld the city, and wept over it.’

We err greatly if we suppose that Christ cares for none but His own believing people. He cares for all. His heart is wide enough to take an interest in all mankind. His compassion extends to every man, woman, and child on earth. He has a love of ‘general pity’ for the man who is going on still in wickedness — as well as a love of ‘special affection’ for the sheep who hear His voice and follow Him. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Hardened sinners are fond of making excuses for their conduct. But they will never be able to say that Christ was not merciful, and was not ready to save.

We know but little of true Christianity, if we do not feel a deep concern about the souls of unconverted people. A lazy indifference about the spiritual state of others — may doubtless save us much trouble. To have no concern whether our neighbors are going to Heaven or Hell — is no doubt the way of the world. But a man of this spirit is very unlike David, who said, ‘Rivers of waters run down my eyes — because men do not obey your law.’ He is very unlike Paul, who said, ‘I have great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart for my brethren.’ (Psalm 119:136; Romans 9:2.) Above all, he is very unlike the Lord Jesus Christ. If Christ felt tenderly about wicked people — then the disciples of Christ ought to feel likewise.

We learn, secondly, from these verses — that there is a willful ignorance which is sinful and blameworthy. We read that our Lord denounced judgments on Jerusalem, because they did not know the time of their visitation. She might have known that the times of Messiah had fully come, and that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. But she would not know. Her rulers were willfully ignorant. They would not calmly examine evidences, and impartially consider great plain facts. Her people would not see ‘the signs of the times.’ Therefore judgment was soon to come upon Jerusalem to the uttermost! Her willful ignorance left her without excuse.

The principle laid down by our Lord in this place is deeply important. It contradicts an opinion which is very common in the world. This principle teaches distinctly, that all ignorance is not excusable, and that when men might know truth, but refuse to know it — their guilt is very great in the sight of God. There is a degree of knowledge for which all are responsible, and if from indolence or prejudice, they do not attain that knowledge — the lack of it will ruin their souls.

Let us impress this great principle deeply on our own hearts. Let us urge it diligently on others, when we speak to them about saving religion. Let us not flatter ourselves that ignorance will excuse everyone who dies in ignorance, and that he will be pardoned because he knew no better! Did he live up to the light he had? Did he use every means for attaining knowledge? Did he honestly employ every help within his reach, and search industriously after wisdom?

These are grave questions. If a man cannot answer them, he will certainly be condemned in the judgment day. A willful ignorance will never be allowed as a plea in a man’s favor. On the contrary, it will rather add to his guilt!

We learn, thirdly, from these verses — that God is sometimes pleased to give men special opportunities and invitations. We are told by our Lord, that Jerusalem ‘did not know the day of her visitation.’ Jerusalem had a special season of mercy and privilege. The Son of God Himself visited her. The mightiest miracles that man had ever seen, were wrought in her midst. The most wonderful preaching that ever was heard, was preached within her walls. The days of our Lord’s ministry were days of the clearest calls to repentance and faith, that any city has ever received. They were calls so marked, peculiar, and unlike any previous calls Jerusalem had received — that it seemed impossible that they should be disregarded. But they were disregarded! And our Lord declares that this disregard was one of Jerusalem’s principal sins!

The subject before us is a deep and mysterious one. It requires careful stating and delicate handling — lest we should make one scripture contradict another. There seems no doubt that churches, nations, and even individuals are sometimes visited with special manifestations of God’s presence — and that their neglect of such manifestations is the turning point in their spiritual ruin. Why this should take place in some cases, but not in others — we cannot tell. Facts, plain facts in history and biography — appear to prove that it is so.

The last day will probably show the world, that there were seasons in the lives of many who died in sin, when God drew very near to them, when conscience was peculiarly alive, when there seemed but a step between them and salvation. Those seasons will probably prove to have been what our Lord calls their ‘day of visitation.’ The neglect of such seasons will probably be at last — one of the heaviest charges against their souls.

As deep as the subject is, it should teach men one practical lesson. That lesson is the immense importance of not stifling convictions, and not quenching the workings of conscience. He who resists the voice of conscience may be throwing away his last opportunity of salvation. That warning voice may be God’s ‘day of visitation.’ The neglect of it may fill up the measure of a man’s iniquity — and provoke God to let him alone forever!

We learn, lastly, from these verses — how much Christ disapproves of the profanation of holy things. We read that He cast the buyers and sellers out of the temple, and told them that they had made God’s house into ‘a den of thieves.’ He knew how formal and ignorant the ministers of the temple were. He knew how soon the temple and its services were to be destroyed, the veil to be rent, and the priesthood to be ended. But He would have us to know, that a reverence is due to every place where God is worshiped. The reverence He claimed for the temple — was not for the temple as the house of sacrifice, but as ‘the house of prayer.’

Let us remember this conduct and language of our Lord, whenever we go to a place of public worship. Christian churches no doubt are not like the Jewish temples. They have neither altars, priesthood, sacrifices, nor symbolical furniture. But they are places where God’s Word is read, where Christ is present, and where the Holy Spirit works on souls. These facts ought to make us grave, reverent, and solemn — whenever we enter them. The man who behaves as carelessly in a church as he would in an inn, or a private dwelling — has yet much to learn. He has not the ‘mind of Christ.’”

Call To Worship October 21 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 19:28-40

“Let us mark, for one thing, in these verses — the perfect knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We see Him sending two of His disciples to the entrance of a village, and telling them that they would find ‘a colt tied, which no one has ever ridden.’ We see Him describing what they would see and hear, with as much confidence as if the whole transaction had been previously arranged. In short, He speaks like one to whom nothing in all creation is hidden from His sight — everything is uncovered and laid bare before His eyes. He speaks like one whose eyes were in every place — like one who knew things unseen, as well as things seen.

An attentive reader will observe the same thing in other parts of the Gospel. We are told in one place that ‘He knew the thoughts’ of His enemies. We are told in another chapter, that ‘He knew what was in man.’ We are told in another place, that ‘Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe, and who would betray him.’ (Luke 6:8; John 2:25; John 6:64.)

Knowledge like this is a particular attribute of God. Passages like these are meant to remind us, that ‘the man Christ Jesus’ is not only man. He is also ‘God blessed forever.’ (Romans 9:5.)

The thought of Christ’s perfect knowledge should alarm sinners and awaken them to repentance. The great and righteous Judge knows them, and all their doings. The Judge of all sees them continually, and marks down all their ways. There is ‘no darkness where the workers of iniquity can hide themselves.’ (Job 34:22.) If they go into the secret chamber — the eyes of Christ are there. If they privately scheme villainy and plot wickedness — Christ knows it and observes it. If they speak secretly against the righteous — Christ hears. They may deceive men all their life long — but they cannot deceive Christ. A day is coming when God ‘will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to the Gospel.’ (Romans 2:16.)

The thought of Christ’s perfect knowledge should comfort all true-hearted Christians, and quicken them to increased diligence in good works. The Master’s eye is always upon them. He knows where they dwell, and what are their daily trials, and who are their companions. There is not a word in their mouths, or a thought in their hearts — but Jesus knows it altogether. Let them take courage when they are slandered, misunderstood, and misrepresented by the world. It matters nothing, so long as they can say, ‘You, Lord, who know all things! You know that I love you.’ (John 21:17.)

Let them walk on steadily in the narrow way, and not turn aside to the right hand or the left. When sinners entice them, and weak brethren say, ‘Spare yourself,’ let them reply, ‘My Master is looking at me. I desire to live and move as in the sight of Christ.’

Let us mark, for another thing, in this passage — the public visibility of our Lord’s last entry into Jerusalem. We are told of His riding in on an donkey, like a king visiting his capital, or a conqueror returning in triumph to his native land. We read of a ‘multitude of disciples’ surrounding Him as He rode into the city, ‘rejoicing and praising God with a loud voice.’

The whole history is strikingly unlike the general tenor of our Lord’s life. On other occasions — we see Him withdrawing from public observation, retiring into the wilderness, charging those whom He healed to tell no one what was done.

On the present occasion, all is changed. Reserve is completely thrown aside. He seems to court public notice. He appears desirous that all should see Him, and should mark, note, and observe what He did.

The reasons of our Lord’s conduct at this crisis of His ministry, at first sight, may appear hard to discover. But on calm reflection, they are clear and plain. He knew that the time had come when He was to die for sinners on the cross. His work as the great Prophet, so far as His earthly ministry was concerned — was almost finished and completed.

His work as the sacrifice for sin and substitute for sinners — remained to be accomplished. Before giving Himself up as a sacrifice, He desired to draw the attention of the whole Jewish nation to Himself. The Lamb of God was about to be slain! The great sin-offering was about to be killed! It was fit that the eyes of all Israel should be fixed upon Him. This great work of redemption was not to be done in a corner.

Forever let us bless God that the death of our Lord Jesus Christ was so widely known and so public an event. Had He been suddenly stoned in some common tumult, or privately beheaded like John the Baptist in prison — there never would have been lacking unbelievers who would have denied that the Son of God had died at all.

The wisdom of God so ordered events, that such a denial was rendered impossible. Whatever men may think of the doctrine of Christ’s atoning death — they can never deny the fact that Christ died. Publicly He rode into Jerusalem a few days before His death. Publicly He was seen and heard in the city until the day that He was betrayed. Publicly He was brought before the High Priests and Pilate, and condemned. Publicly He was led forth to Calvary, and nailed to the cross.

The corner-stone and crowning-event in our Lord’s ministry — was His death for sinners. Of all the events of His ministry — that death was the one most public, and the one witnessed by the greatest number of Jews. And that death, was the ‘life of the world.’ (John 6:51.)

Let us leave the whole passage with the cheering reflection, that the joy of Christ’s disciples at His entry into Jerusalem, when He came to be crucified — will be as nothing compared to the joy of His people when He comes again to reign!

That first joy was soon broken off — and exchanged for sorrow and bitter tears. The second joy shall be a joy for evermore! That first joy was often interrupted by the bitter sneers of enemies, who were plotting mischief. The second joy shall be liable to no such crude interruptions. Not a word shall be said against the King, when He comes to Jerusalem the second time. Before Him every knee shall bow — and every tongue confess that He is Lord of all!”

Call to Worship October 14 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 19:11-27

“The occasion of our Lord speaking the parable before us, is clear and plain. It was intended to correct the false expectations of the disciples on the subject of Christ’s kingdom. It was a prophetic sketch of things present and things to come — which ought to raise solemn thoughts in the minds of all professing Christians.

We see, for one thing, in this parable — the present position of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is compared to ‘a certain nobleman, who went into a far country, to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return.’

When the Lord Jesus left the world, He ascended up into Heaven as a conqueror, leading captivity captive. He is there sitting at the right hand of God, doing the work of a High Priest for His believing people, and ever making intercession for them. But He will not sit there always. He will come forth from the holy of holies to bless His people. He will come again with power and glory — to put down every enemy under His feet, and to set up His universal kingdom on earth.

At present ‘we do not see all things subjected to Him.’ The devil is the ‘prince of this world.’ (Hebrews 2:8; John 14:30.) But the present state of things shall be changed one day. When Christ returns — the kingdoms of the world shall become His!

Let these things sink down into our minds. In all our thoughts about Christ — let us never forget His second coming. It is well to know that He lived for us, and died for us, and rose again for us, and intercedes for us. But it is also well to know that He is soon coming again for us!

We see, for another thing, in this parable — the present position of all professing Christians. Our Lord compares them to servants who have been left in charge of money by an absent master, with strict directions to use that money well. They are to ‘Put this money to work, until I come back.’

The countless privileges which Christians enjoy, compared to the heathen, are ‘pounds’ given to them by Christ, for which they must one day give account. We shall not stand side by side in the judgment day with the African and Chinese — who never heard of the Bible, the Trinity, and the crucifixion. The most of us, it may be feared, have little idea of the extent of our responsibility. To whoever much is given — of them, much will be required.

Are we living like men who know to whom they are indebted, and to whom they must one day give account? This is the only life which is worthy of a reasonable being. The best answer we can give to those who invite us to plunge into worldliness and frivolity — is the Master’s commandment which is before us. Let us tell them that we cannot consent, because we are looking for the coming of the Lord. We desire to be found working when He comes.

We see, for another thing, in this parable — the certain reckoning which awaits all professing Christians. We are told that when the master returned, he ‘sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.’

There is a day coming when the Lord Jesus Christ shall judge His people, and give to every one according to His works. The course of this world shall not always go on as it does now. Disorder, confusion, false profession, and unpunished sin — shall not always cover the face of the earth. The great white throne shall be set up. The Judge of all shall sit upon it. The dead shall be raised from their graves. The living shall all be summoned to the judgment bar. The books shall be opened. High and low, rich and poor, gentle and simple — all shall at length give account to God, and shall all receive an eternal sentence.

Let the thought of this coming judgment exercise an influence on our hearts and lives. Let us wait patiently when we see wickedness triumphing in the earth. The time is short. There is one who sees and notes down all that the ungodly are doing!

Above all, let us live under an abiding sense, that we shall stand one day at the judgment seat of Christ. Let us ‘judge ourselves’ — that we be not condemned by the Lord. It is a weighty saying, ‘And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books!’ (Revelation 20:12.)

We see, for another thing, in this parable — the certain reward of all true Christians. Our Lord tells us that those who are found to have been faithful servants, shall receive honor and dignity. Each shall receive a reward proportioned to his diligence. One shall be placed ‘over ten cities,’ and another ‘over five.’

The people of God receive little apparent recompense in this present time. Their names are often cast out as evil. They enter the kingdom of God through much tribulation. Their good things are not in this world. The gain of godliness does not consist in earthly rewards — but in inward peace, and hope, and joy in believing. But they shall have an abundant recompense one day. They shall receive wages far exceeding anything they have done for Christ. They shall find, to their amazement — that for everything they have done and borne for their Master, their Master will pay them a hundred-fold!

Let us often look forward to the good things which are yet to come. The ‘sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed.’ (Romans 8:18.) Let the thought of that glory — cheer us in every time of need, and sustain us in every dark hour. Many, no doubt, are ‘the afflictions of the righteous.’ One great remedy for bearing afflictions patiently — is to look forward, like Moses, to the reward. (Psalm 34:19. Hebrews 11:26.)

We see, lastly, in this parable — the certain exposure of all unfaithful professing Christians at the last day. We are told of one servant who had done nothing with his master’s money, but had laid it away in a piece of cloth. We are told of his useless arguments in his own defense, and of his final ruin for not using the knowledge which he confessedly possessed. There can be no mistake as to the people whom he represents. He represents the whole company of the ungodly; and his ruin represents their miserable end in the judgment day.

Let us never forget the final end to which all ungodly people are coming. Sooner or later, the unbeliever and the impenitent will be put to shame before the whole world, stripped of the means of grace and hope of glory — and forever cast down to Hell! There will be no escape at the last day. False profession and formal religion will fail to abide the fire of God’s judgment. Grace, and grace alone — shall stand. Men will discover at last, that there is such a thing as ‘the wrath of the Lamb!’

The excuses with which so many content their consciences now, shall prove unavailing at the judgment bar of Christ. The most ignorant shall find that they had knowledge enough to be their condemnation. The possessors of buried talents and misused privileges will discover at last that it would have been better for them to have never been born.

These are solemn things. Who shall stand in the great day when the Master requires an account of ‘His pounds?’ The words of Peter will form a fitting conclusion to the whole parable, ‘Seeing that you look for such things — be diligent that you may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.’ (2 Peter 3:14.)”