“He stilled the storm” by J.C. Ryle

“The event in our Lord’s life described in these verses is related three times in the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke were all inspired to record it. This circumstance should teach us the importance of the event, and should make us “give the more heed” to the lessons it contains.

We see, firstly, in these verses, that our Lord Jesus Christ was really man as well as God. We read that as he sailed over the Lake of Gennesaret in a ship with his disciples, “he fell asleep.” Sleep, we must be all aware, is one of the conditions of our natural constitution as human beings. Angels and spirits require neither food nor refreshment.

But flesh and blood, to keep up a healthy existence, must eat, and drink, and sleep. If the Lord Jesus could be weary, and need rest, He must have had two natures in one person—a human nature as well as a divine.

The truth now before us is full of deep consolation and encouragement for all true Christians. The one Mediator, in whom we are bid to trust, has been Himself “partaker of flesh and blood.” The mighty High Priest, who is living for us at God’s right hand, has had personal experience of all the sinless infirmities of the body.

He has himself hungered, and thirsted, and suffered pain. He has himself endured weariness, and sought rest in sleep.—Let us pour out our hearts before him with freedom, and tell Him our least troubles without reserve. He who made atonement for us on the cross is one who “can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” (Heb. 4:15.) To be weary of working for God is sinful, but to be wearied and worn in doing God’s work is no sin at all. Jesus himself was weary, and Jesus slept.

We see, secondly, in these verses, what fears and anxiety may assault the hearts of true disciples of Christ. We read, that “when a storm of wind came down on the lake,” and the boat in which our Lord was sailing was filled with water, and in jeopardy, His companions were greatly alarmed. “They came to Him and awoke Him, saying, Master, Master, we perish”

They forgot, for a moment, their Master’s never-failing care for them in time past. They forgot that with Him they must be safe, whatever happened. They forgot everything but the sight and sense of present danger, and, under the impression of it, could not even wait till Christ awoke. It is only too true that sight, and sense, and feeling, make men very poor theologians.

Facts like these are sadly humbling to the pride of human nature. It ought to lower our self-conceit and high thoughts to see what a poor creature is man, even at his best estate.—but facts like these are deeply instructive. They teach us what us watch and pray against in our own hearts. They teach of what we must make up our minds to find in other Christians.

We must be moderate in our expectations. We must not suppose that men cannot be believers if they sometimes exhibit great weakness, or that men have no grace because they are sometimes overwhelmed with fears. Even Peter, James, and John, could cry, “Master, Master, we perish.”

We see, thirdly, in these verses, how great is the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. We read that when His disciples awoke Him in the storm, “He arose, and rebuked the wind, and the raging of the waters, and they ceased, and there was a calm.” This was, no doubt, a mighty miracle.

It needed the power of Him who brought the flood on the earth in the days of Noah, and in due season took it away,—who divided the Red Sea and the river Jordan into two parts, and made a path for His people through the waters—who brought the locusts on Egypt by an east wind, and by a west wind swept them away. (Exod. 10:13, 19.)

No power short of this could in a moment turn a storm into a calm. “To speak to the winds and waves” is a common proverb for attempting that which is impossible. But here we see Jesus speaking, and at once the winds and waves obey! As man He had slept. As God He stilled the storm.

It is a blessed and comfortable thought, that all this almighty power of our Lord Jesus Christ is engaged on behalf of His believing people. He has undertaken to save every one of them to the uttermost, and He is “mighty to save.” The trials of His people are often many and great. The devil never ceases to make war against them. The rulers of this world frequently persecute them. The very heads of the Church, who ought to be tender shepherds, are often bitterly opposed to the truth as it is in Jesus.

Yet, notwithstanding all this, Christ’s people shall never be entirely forsaken. Though sorely harassed, they shall not be destroyed. Though cast down, they shall not be cast away. At the darkest time let true Christians rest in the thought, that “greater is He who is for them than all they that be against them.” The winds and waves of political and ecclesiastical trouble may beat fiercely over them, and all hope may seem taken away.

But still let them not despair. There is One living for them in heaven who can make these winds and waves to cease in a moment. The true Church, of which Christ is the Head, shall never perish. Its glorious Head is almighty, and lives for evermore, and His believing members shall all live, also, and reach home safe at last. (John 14:19.)

We see, lastly, in these verses, how needful it is for Christians to keep their faith ready for use. We read that our Lord said to His disciples when the storm had ceased, and their fears had subsided, “Where is your faith?” Well might He ask that question! Where was the profit of believing, if they could not believe in the time of need? Where was the real value of faith, unless they kept it in active exercise? Where was the benefit of trusting, if they were to trust their Master in sunshine only, but not in storms?

The lesson now before us is one of deep practical importance. To have true saving faith is one thing. To have that faith always ready for use is quite another. Many receive Christ as their Saviour, and deliberately commit their souls to Him for time and eternity, who yet often find their faith sadly failing when something unexpected happens, and they are suddenly tried. These things ought not so to be.

We ought to pray that we may have a stock of faith ready for use at a moment’s notice, and may never be found unprepared. The highest style of Christian is the man who lives like Moses, “seeing Him who is invisible.” (Heb. 11:27.) That man will never be greatly shaken by any storm. He will see Jesus near him in the darkest hour, and blue sky behind the blackest cloud.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 200-202. Ryle is commenting on Luke 8:22-25.

“Three simple rules for hearing a sermon” by J.C. Ryle

“It is not enough that we go to Church and hear sermons. We may do so for fifty years, and ‘be nothing bettered, but rather worse.’ (Mark 5:26) “Take heed,” says our Lord, “how ye hear.” (Luke 8:18)

Would any one know how to hear aright? Then let him lay to heart three simple rules.

For one thing, we must hear with faith, believing implicitly that every word of God is true, and shall stand. The Word in old time did not profit the Jews, “not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” (Heb. 4:2)

For another thing, we must hear with reverence, remembering constantly that the Bible is the book of God. This was the habit of the Thessalonians. They received Paul’s message, “not as the word of men, but the word of God.” (1 Thess. 2:13)

Above all, we must hear with prayer, praying for God’s blessing before the sermon is preached, praying for God’s blessing again when the sermon is over.

Here lies the grand defect of the hearing of many. They ask no blessing, and so they have none. The sermon passes through their minds like water through a leaky vessel, and leaves nothing behind.

Let us bear these rules in mind every Sunday morning, before we go to hear the Word of God preached.

Let us not rush into God’s presence careless, reckless, and unprepared, as if it mattered not in what way such work was done.

Let us carry with us faith, reverence, and prayer. If these three are our companions, we shall hear with profit, and return with praise.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 197. Ryle is commenting on Luke 8:16-21.

“Brethren, do something” by Charles Spurgeon

“Brethren, do something; do something; DO SOMETHING.

While Committees waste their time over resolutions, do something. While Societies and Unions are making constitutions, let us win souls.

Too often we discuss, and discuss, and discuss, while Satan only laughs in his sleeve. It is time we had done planning, and sought something to plan.

I pray you, be men of action all of you. Get to work, and quit yourselves like men.

Old Suwarrow’s idea of war is mine: ‘Forward and strike! No theory! Attack! Form column! Fix bayonets, and charge right into the very centre of the enemy.’

Our one aim is to save sinners, and this we are not merely to talk about, but to effect in the power of God.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, An All-Round Ministry: Addresses to Ministers and Students (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1900/1960), 42-43.

“The best sermon the best man can ever deliver” by Charles Spurgeon

“Know Jesus. Sit at His feet. Consider His nature, His work, His sufferings, His glory. Rejoice in His presence; commune with Him from day to day. To know Christ, is to understand the most excellent of all sciences.

You cannot fail to be wise if you commune with Incarnate Wisdom; you cannot lack strength if you have constant fellowship with God. Let this be your desire.

Dwell in God, brethren; not sometimes go to Him, but abide in Him.

They say in Italy that, where the sun does not enter, the physician must. Where Jesus does not shine, the soul is sick. Bask in His beams, and you shall be vigorous in the service of your Lord.

Last Sunday night, I had a text which mastered me: “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father.” (Matthew 11:27)

I told the people that poor sinners, who had gone to Jesus, and trusted Him, thought they knew Him, but that they knew only a little of Him. Saints of sixty years’ experience, who have walked with Him every day, think they know Him; but they are only beginning to know Him yet.

The perfect spirits before the throne, who have been for five thousand years perpetually adoring Him, perhaps think they know Him, but they do not to the full. “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father.”

He is so glorious, that only the infinite God has full knowledge of Him, therefore there will be no limit to our study, or narrowness in our line of thought, if we make our Lord the great object of all our thoughts and researches.

So, brethren, as the outcome of this knowledge, if we are to be strong men, we must be conformed to our Lord. Oh, to be like Him! Blessed be that cross on which we shall suffer, if we suffer for being made like unto the Lord Jesus.

If we obtain conformity to Christ, we shall have a wondrous unction upon our ministry; and without that, what is a ministry worth? In a word, we must labour for holiness of character.

What is holiness? Is it not wholeness of character? A balanced condition in which there is neither lack nor redundance. It is not morality, that is a cold, lifeless statue; holiness is life.

You must have holiness; and, dear brethren, if you should fail in mental qualifications (though I hope you will not), and if you should have a slender measure of the oratorical faculty (though I trust you will not), yet, depend upon it, a holy life is, in itself, a wonderful power, and will make up for many deficiencies; it is, in fact, the best sermon the best man can ever deliver.

Let us resolve that all the purity which can be had we will have, that all the sanctity which can be reached we will obtain, and that all the likeness to Christ that is possible in this world of sin shall certainly be in us through the effectual working of the Spirit of God.

The Lord lift us all, as a College, right up to a higher platform, and He shall have the glory!”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, An All-Round Ministry: Addresses to Ministers and Students (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1900/1960), 40-41.

“This was a slander on the oyster” by Charles Spurgeon

“Whatever you may know, you cannot be truly efficient ministers if you are not ‘apt to teach.’ (1 Timothy 3:2) You are probably all acquainted with ministers who have mistaken their calling, and evidently have no gifts for preaching.

Make sure that none think the same of you.

There are brethren in the ministry whose speech is intolerable. Either they dun you to death, or else they send you to sleep. No chloral can ever equal their discourse in sleep-giving properties.

No human being, unless gifted with infinite patience, could long endure to listen to them, and nature does well to give the victim deliverance through sleep.

I heard one say, the other day, that a certain preacher had no more gifts for the ministry than an oyster, and in my own judgment this was a slander on the oyster, for that worthy bivalve shows great discretion in his openings, and he also knows when to close.

If some men were sentenced to hear their own sermons, it would be a righteous judgment upon them; but they would soon cry out with Cain, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear.’ (Genesis 4:13)

Let us not fall under the same condemnation through any faults in our preaching which we can remedy.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, An All-Round Ministry: Addresses to Ministers and Students (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1900/1960), 32.

“It is only an infinite God, and an infinite good, that can fill and satisfy the immortal soul of man” by Thomas Brooks

“He who is not contented with a little, will never be satisfied with much. He who is not content with pounds, will never be satisfied with hundreds; and he who is not content with a few hundreds, will never be satisfied with many thousands.

‘He that loveth silver, shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance, with increase.’ (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

Money of itself cannot satisfy any desire of nature. If a man be hungry, it cannot feed him; if naked, it cannot clothe him; if cold, it cannot warm him; if sick, it cannot recover him.

A circle cannot fill a triangle; no more can the whole world fill the heart of man. A man may as soon fill a chest with grace, as a heart with wealth.

The soul of man may be busied about earthly things, but it can never be filled nor satisfied with earthly things.

Air shall as soon fill the body, as money shall satisfy the mind. There is many a worldling who hath enough of the world to sink him, who will never have enough of the world to satisfy him.

The more a man drinketh, the more he thirsteth. So the more money is increased, the more the love of money is increased; and the more the love of money is increased, the more the soul is unsatisfied.

It is only an infinite God, and an infinite good, that can fill and satisfy the precious and immortal soul of man, (Gen. 15:1).

Look, as nothing fits the ear but sounds, and as nothing fits the smell but odours, so nothing fits the soul but God.

Nothing below the great God can fit and fill an immortal soul.”

–Thomas Brooks, The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 6, Ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 6: 259.

“A junior varsity, decaffeinated, one-dimensional Jesus” by Dane Ortlund

“Let me suggest that you consider the possibility that your current mental idea of Jesus is the tip of the iceberg. That there are wondrous depths to Him, realities about Him, still awaiting your discovery.

I’m not disregarding the real discipleship already at play in your life and the true discoveries of the depths of Jesus Christ you have already made.

But let me ask you to open yourself up to the possibility that one reason you see modest growth and ongoing sin in your life– if that is indeed the case– is that the Jesus you are following is a junior varsity Jesus, an unwittingly reduced Jesus, an unsurprising and predictable Jesus.

I’m not assuming that’s the case. I’m just asking you to test yourself, with honesty.

When Christopher Columbus reached the Caribbean in 1492, he named the natives “Indians,” thinking he had reached what Europeans of the time referred to as “the Indies” (China, Japan, and India).

In fact he was nowhere close to South or East Asia. In his path were vast regions of land, unexplored and uncharted, of which Columbus knew nothing.

He assumed the world was smaller than it was. Have we made a similar mistake with regard to Jesus Christ?

Are there vast tracts of who He is, according to biblical revelation, that are unexplored?

Have we unintentionally reduced Him to manageable, predictable proportions?

Have we been looking at a junior varsity, decaffeinated, one-dimensional Jesus of our own making, thinking we’re looking at the real Jesus?

Have we snorkeled in the shallows, thinking we’ve now hit bottom on the Pacific?”

–Dane Ortlund, Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021), 22-23.