“It would be well if professing Christians in modern days studied the four Gospels more than they do. No doubt all Scripture is profitable.
It is not wise to exalt one part of the Bible at the expense of another. But I think it would be good for some who are very familiar with the Epistles, if they knew a little more about Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Now, why do I say this? I say it because I want professing Christians to know more about Christ. It is well to be acquainted with all the doctrines and principles of Christianity.
It is better to be acquainted with Christ Himself. It is well to be familiar with faith, and grace, and justification, and sanctification. They are all matters ‘pertaining to the King.’
But it is far better to be familiar with Jesus Himself, to see the King’s own face, and to behold His beauty. This is one secret of eminent holiness.
He that would be conformed to Christ’s image, and become a Christ-like man, must be constantly studying Christ Himself.
Now the Gospels were written to make us acquainted with Christ. The Holy Ghost has told us the story of His life and death,—His sayings and His doings, four times over.
Four different inspired hands have drawn the picture of the Saviour. His ways, His manners, His feelings, His wisdom, His grace, His patience, His love, His power, are graciously unfolded to us by four different witnesses.
Ought not the sheep to be familiar with the Shepherd? Ought not the patient to be familiar with the Physician?
Ought not the bride to be familiar with the Bridegroom? Ought not the sinner to be familiar with the Saviour?
Beyond doubt it ought to be so. The Gospels were written to make men familiar with Christ, and therefore I wish men to study the Gospels.
On whom must we build our souls if we would be accepted with God? We must build on the rock, Christ.
From whom must we draw that grace of the Spirit which we daily need in order to be fruitful? We must draw from the vine, Christ.
To whom must we look for sympathy when earthly friends fail us or die? We must look to our elder brother, Christ.
By whom must our prayers be presented, if they are to be heard on high? They must be presented by our advocate, Christ.
With whom do we hope to spend the thousand years of glory, and the after eternity? With the King of kings, Christ.
Surely we cannot know this Christ too well! Surely there is not a word, nor a deed, nor a day, nor a step, nor a thought in the record of His life, which ought not to be precious to us.
We should labour to be familiar with every line that is written about Jesus.”
–J.C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (London: William Hunt and Company, 1889), 278–279.