Flower

Call to Worship August 19 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke, J.C. Ryle – Luke 17:5-10

“Let us notice, in these verses — the important request which the apostles made. They said unto the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’

We do not know the secret feelings from which this request sprang. Perhaps the hearts of the apostles failed within them, as they heard one weighty lesson after another fall from our Lord’s lips. Perhaps the thought rose up in their minds, ‘Who is sufficient for these things? Who can receive such exalted doctrines? Who can follow such a lofty standard of practice?’ These, however, are only conjectures. One thing, at any rate, is clear and plain. The request which they made was most deeply important, ’Increase our faith!’

Faith is the root of all saving religion. ‘He who comes unto God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.’ (Hebrews 11:6.) Faith is the hand by which the soul lays hold on Jesus Christ, and is united to Him, and saved. Faith is the secret of all Christian comfort, and spiritual prosperity. According to a man’s faith — will be his peace, his hope, his strength, his courage, his decision, and his victory over the world. When the apostles made request about faith, they did wisely and well.

Faith is a grace which admits of degrees. It does not come to full strength and perfection as soon as it is planted in the heart by the Holy Spirit. There is ‘little’ faith — and ‘great’ faith. There is ‘weak’ faith — and ‘strong’ faith. Both are spoken of in the Scriptures. Both are to be seen in the experience of God’s people. The more faith a Christian has — the more happy, holy, and useful will he be. To promote the growth and progress of faith — should be the daily prayer and endeavor of all who love the Savior. When the apostles said, ‘increase our faith’ — they did well.

Have we any faith at all? This, after all, is the first question which the subject should raise in our hearts. Saving faith is not mere repetition of the creed, and saying, ‘I believe in God the Father, and in God the Son, and in God the Holy Spirit.’ Thousands are weekly using these words — who know nothing of saving faith. The words of Paul are very solemn, ‘Not everyone has faith.’ (2 Thessalonians 3:2.) True faith is not natural to man. It comes down from Heaven — it is the gift of God.

If we have any faith, then let us pray for more of it. It is a bad sign of a man’s spiritual state when he is satisfied to live on old stock, and does not hunger and thirst after growth in grace. Let a prayer for more faith form part of our daily devotions. Let us covet earnestly the best gifts. We are not to despise ‘the day of small things’ in a brother’s soul — but we are not to be content with it in our own soul.

Let us notice, for another thing, in these verses — what a heavy blow our Lord gives to self-righteousness. He says to His apostles, ‘So when you have done everything you were told to do — you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’‘

We are all naturally proud and self-righteous. We think far more highly of ourselves, our deserts, and our character — than we have any right to do. Self-righteousness is a subtle disease, which manifests itself in a hundred different ways. Most men can see it in other people — but few see it in themselves. Seldom will a man be found, however wicked — who does not secretly flatter himself that there is somebody else worse than he is. Seldom will a Christian be found, who is not at seasons tempted to be satisfied and pleased with himself. There is such a thing as a pride — which wears the cloak of humility. There is not a heart upon earth which does not contain a piece of the Pharisee’s character!

To give up self-righteousness, is absolutely needful to salvation. He who desires to be saved, must confess that there is no good thing in him — and that he has no merit, no goodness, no worthiness of his own. He must be willing to renounce his own righteousness, and to trust in the righteousness of another — even Christ the Lord.

Once pardoned and forgiven, we must travel the daily journey of life under a deep conviction that we are ‘unprofitable servants.’ At our best — we are only doing our duty, and have nothing to boast of. And even when we do our duty, it is not by our own power and might that we do it — but by the strength which is given to us from God. We have no claim upon God — we have no right to expect anything good from God. We have no worthiness to deserve anything from God. All the good that we have — we have first received. Anything good that we are — we owe to God’s sovereign, distinguishing grace!

What is the true cause of self-righteousness? How is it that such a poor, weak, erring creature as man — can ever dream of deserving anything at God’s hands? It all arises from ignorance. The eyes of our understandings are naturally blinded. We see neither ourselves, nor our lives, nor God, nor the law of God — as we ought. Once let the light of grace shine into a man’s heart — and the reign of self-righteousness is over! The roots of pride may remain, and often put forth bitter shoots. But the reign of pride is broken when the Spirit comes into the heart — and shows the man himself and God.

The true Christian will never trust in his own goodness. He will say with Paul, ‘I am the chief of sinners!’ ‘God forbid that I should glory — except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!’ (1 Timothy 1:15; Galatians 6:14.)”

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