J. C. Ryle Life, Ministry, and Wisdom – Pt 6

True and False Unity
No doubt we all love unity, but we must distinctly maintain that true unity can only be built on God’s truth. We must not withhold the right hand of fellowship from any faithful brethren because he does not think exactly like us, but we must understand who the men are to whom we extend the hand of fellowship.  We cannot endorse the sentiments and views of persons who have no real love for Christ’s truth. We cannot make people believe that we are all one in heart, when in reality, we differ on the most basic of truths. From such false unity may we pray to be delivered.

The Bible as the Word of God
Believing that the Scriptures are altogether and entirely the Word of God is the very foundation of Christianity. If Christians have no divine book to turn to as their warrant for their doctrine and practice, then they have no solid ground for present peace or hope, and no right to claim the attention of mankind. You cannot convert men and give them eyes to see or hearts to feel. The Holy Ghost alone can do that. But you can be a witness. Stand fast, both in public and private, even if you stand alone. Stand fast in the old belief that the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, was given by inspiration of God, and that the historical facts recorded in the Old Testament are all credible and true.

– J. C. Ryle

J. C. Ryle Life, Ministry, and Wisdom – Pt 5

Ryle believed that pastors must take time to sit at the firesides in the homes of the people, hear their thoughts, and speak faithfully about the things of God. He believed that a man who only speaks of Christ from behind a pulpit should not be surprised at having small usefulness. Real love for people will take a preacher into their homes, and will affect the way those same people hear him in public.

Ryle said that the objective of the Christian historian is “to see and trace the goodness of God taking care of His church in every age by His providence.”

Ryle’s ministry exposed deeply the error of many Anglicans and the official position of Roman Catholicism of what happened to infants when they are baptized by the priest– “Before administering baptism to children, the priest shall say . . . . Almighty and immortal God, we call upon thee for these infants, that they, coming to thy holy baptism, may receive the remission of their sins by spiritual regeneration.” In conclusion, the congregation is assured that the prayer has been answered, “It hath pleased Thee to regenerate this infant.” (Edwardian Prayer Book, revised 1559 and 1662). The Catholic Catechism of 1559 asserts, “It is certain by God’s word, that children, being baptized, have all things necessary for their salvation, and will be undoubtedly saved.” In answer to the first questions in that catechism, “What is your name?” and “Who gave you this name?”, the answer is, “My Godfathers and Godmothers in my baptism, wherein I was made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.” These words all convey one impression: the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration takes place at the child’s baptism. – Iain Murray

Spurgeon on J. C. Ryle — In writing a review on Ryle’s book, Practical Religion, the Baptist preacher wrote–“Little more needs to be said of this volume, than that it sustains the author’s well-earned reputation for evangelical simplicity and power. With all her faults, he loves the Church of England still, but he loves the souls of men much more, and most of all, he love the gospel of their salvation. This is a gospel to be loved. Men’s ideas of the wrath to come may be judged by the earnestness with which they exhort others to flee from it.

Ryle- How many go to church merely as a formal practice. How few are really in earnest about the salvation of their souls! Go to the most godly and orderly parish in our land at this moment. Ask any well-informed child of God living there how many true Christians it contains, and what is the proportion of the converted to the unconverted. Mark well the answer he gives. I doubt if you will find a parish in Great Britain where even one third of the people are converted. [Today in Britain and America it’s much, much lower.]

– Iain Murray and Mack Tomlinson

J. C. Ryle Life, Ministry, and Wisdom – Pt 4

There is much to be learned from Ryle’s teaching with respect to keeping a right proportion and balance in the presentation of the truth. It is no small thing both to state biblical truth and to keep it in a right relationship with other truths. One doctrine, magnified out of proportion to other truths, will limit the usefulness of any ministry. Similarly, a secondary truth constantly delivered as though it were a main truth will produce unbalanced Christians. Truth needs to be stated with the right degree of emphasis in relation to other biblical teaching.
No teacher is perfect in this area, but Ryle is a valuable example. A young Christian taking up Ryle’s books is not going to be diverted into any hobby-horse (side tangent). Ryle will not be found pressing a subject that was only of special interest and significance in his own day. The study of prophecy is a case in point. In Ryle’s youth, numbers of evangelicals changed their belief on the subject. But while many people harped on the curious novelty of eschatology, giving it major emphasis, Ryle avoided the fancy details of prophetic interpretation, thus keeping the Second Coming in its proper place in evangelical thinking. Speaking of one clergyman, a man named Marsh, who so concentrated on eschatology, that he was called ‘Millennium Marsh’, Ryle said of the man’s imbalance–
“A worthy evangelical man, thought it his duty to preach to some invalids a series of expository sermons on Revelation concerning the seals, vials and trumpets, and expound all their meanings. A more deplorable instance of the lack of common sense [from a minister] I never saw in my life.”
Ryle is an outstanding example of making the big things big–Christ, his death and resurrection, the new birth, repentance and faith, growth in grace, prayer, the importance of the church, etc; he never chased religious rabbits, thus leading other believers down the path of imbalance or error. Any Christian can read Ryle safely, and will only find that which is beneficial to both doctrinal soundness and spiritual edification.

– Iain Murray and Mack Tomlinson