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
Posted in Denton church.