Flower

Advancing the Gospel – Colossians 4:2-6

Call to Worship March 11 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 10:38-42

“Let us observe, for one thing — how different the characters and personalities of true Christians may be. The two sisters of whom we read in this passage were faithful disciples. Both had believed. Both had been converted. Both had honored Christ when few gave Him honor. Both loved Jesus — and Jesus loved both of them. Yet they were evidently women of very different turn of mind.

Martha was active, stirring, and impulsive, feeling strongly — and speaking out all she felt. Mary was quiet, still, and contemplative, feeling deeply — but saying less than she felt. Martha, when Jesus came to her house, rejoiced to see Him — and busied herself with preparing a suitable refreshment. Mary, also, rejoiced to see Him — but her first thought was to sit at His feet and hear His Word. Grace reigned in both hearts — but each showed the effects of grace at different times, and in different ways.

We shall find it very useful to ourselves to remember this lesson. We must not expect all believers in Christ to be exactly like one another. We must not set down others as having no grace — because their experience does not entirely tally with our own. The sheep in the Lord’s flock have each their own peculiarities. The trees in the Lord’s garden are not all precisely alike.

All true servants of God agree in the principal things of religion. All are led by one Spirit. All feel their sins — and all trust in Christ. All repent, all believe — and all are holy. But in minor matters, they often differ widely. Let not one despise another on this account. There will be Marthas and there will be Marys in the Church, until the Lord comes again!”

Troubled Times

Call To Worship March 3 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 10:21-24

“We are taught, secondly, in this parable — who they are to whom we should show kindness, and whom we are to love as neighbors. We are told that the only person who helped the wounded traveler, of whom we are reading, was a certain Samaritan. This man was one of a nation who had “no dealings” with the Jews. (John 4:9.) He might have excused himself by saying that the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was through the Jewish territory — and that cases of distress ought to be cared for by the Jews. But he does nothing of the sort. He sees a man stripped of his clothing, and lying half dead. He asks no questions, but at once has compassion on him. He makes no difficulties or excuses, but at once gives aid. And our Lord says to us, “Go and do likewise!”

Now, if these words mean anything, a Christian ought to be ready to show kindness and brotherly love to every one who is in need. Our kindness must not merely extend to our families, and friends, and relations. We must love all men, and be kind to all — whenever occasion requires. We must beware of an excessive strictness in scrutinizing the past lives of those who need our aid. Are they in real trouble? Are they in real distress? Do they really need help? Then, according to the teaching of this parable — we ought to be ready to assist them.

We should regard the whole world as our parish — and the whole race of mankind as our neighbors. We should seek to be the friend of every one who is oppressed, or neglected, or afflicted, or sick, or in prison, or poor, or an orphan, or a heathen, or a slave, or starving, or dying. We should exhibit such world-wide friendship — no doubt, wisely, discreetly, and with good sense — but of such friendship we never need be ashamed. The ungodly may sneer at it as foolish and fanaticism. But we need not mind that. To be friendly to all men in this way, is to show something of the mind that was in Christ.”

DIsciples Alone

Call To Worship February 18 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John the Baptizer

Call to Worship February 11 2018

Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke

J.C. Ryle Luke 9:37-45

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

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

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

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

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

Who Are You?

Sharp