“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.

“Rest on no other work but Christ’s work” by J.C. Ryle

“Today’s sorrow will not wipe off the score of yesterday’s sins. It is not an ocean of tears that would ever cleanse an uneasy conscience and give it peace.

Where then must a man go for pardon? Where is forgiveness to be found? There is a way both sure and plain, and into that way I desire to guide every inquirer’s feet.

That way is simply to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour.

It is to cast your soul, with all its sins, unreservedly on Christ,—to cease completely from any dependence on your own works or doings, either in whole or in part,—and to rest on no other work but Christ’s work, no other righteousness but Christ’s righteousness, no other merit but Christ’s merit, as your ground of hope.

Take this course and you are a pardoned soul. “To Christ,” says Peter, “give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43)

“Through this Man,” says Paul at Antioch, “is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by Him all that believe are justified from all things.” (Acts 13:38)

“In Him,” writes Paul to the Colossians, “we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:14)

The Lord Jesus Christ, in great love and compassion, has made a full and complete satisfaction for sin, by suffering death in our place upon the cross.

There He offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, and allowed the wrath of God, which we deserved, to fall on His own head. For our sins, as our Substitute, He gave Himself, suffered, and died,—the just for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty,—that He might deliver us from the curse of a broken law, and provide a complete pardon for all who are willing to receive it.

And by so doing, as Isaiah says,—He has borne our sins; as John the Baptist says,—He has taken away sin; as Paul says,—He has purged our sins, and put away sin; and as Daniel says,—He has made an end of sin, and finished trangression. (Isaiah 53:11; John 1:29; Heb. 1:3; Heb. 9:26; Dan. 9:24)

And now the Lord Jesus Christ is sealed and appointed by God the Father to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give remission of sins to all who will have it. The keys of death and hell are put in His hand. The government of the gate of heaven is laid on His shoulder. He Himself is the door, and by Him all that enter in shall be saved. (Acts 5:31; Rev. 1:18; John 10:9.)

Christ, in one word, has purchased a full forgiveness, if we are only willing to receive it. He has done all, paid all, suffered all that was needful to reconcile us to God.

He has provided a garment of righteousness to clothe us. He has opened a fountain of living waters to cleanse us. He has removed every barrier between us and God the Father, taken every obstacle out of the way, and made a road by which the vilest may return.

All things are now ready, and the sinner has only to believe and be saved, to eat and be satisfied, to ask and receive, to wash and be clean.

And faith, simple faith, is the only thing required, in order that you and I may be forgiven.

That we will come by faith to Jesus as sinners with our sins,—trust in Him,—rest on Him,—lean on Him,—confide in Him,—commit our souls to Him,—and forsaking all other hope, cleave only to Him,—this is all and everything that God asks for.

Let a man only do this, and he shall be saved. His iniquities shall be found completely pardoned, and his transgressions entirely taken away.

Every man and woman that so trusts is wholly forgiven, and reckoned perfectly righteous. His sins are clean gone, and his soul is justified in God’s sight, however bad and guilty he may have been.”

–J.C. Ryle, “Forgiveness,” Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2013), 175-176.

“Grace, grace, free grace, has done it all” by J.C. Ryle

“If you have a good hope, be thankful, for it, and give God daily praise. Who has made you to differ? Why have you been taught to feel your sins, and nothingness, while others are ignorant and self-righteous?

Why have you been taught to look to Jesus, while others are looking to their own goodness, or resting on some mere form of religion? Why are you longing and striving to be holy, while others are caring for nothing but this world?

Why are these things so?

There is but one answer,—Grace, grace, free grace, has done it all. For that grace praise God. For that grace be thankful.

Go on, then, to your journey’s end, “rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.” (Rom. 5:2) Go on, rejoicing in the thought that though you are a poor sinner Jesus is a most gracious Saviour, and that though you have trials here for a little season, heaven shall soon make amends for all.

Go on, wearing hope as a helmet in all the battles of life,—a hope of pardon, a hope of perseverance, a hope of acquittal in the judgment day, a hope of final glory.

Put on the breast-plate of righteousness: take the shield of faith; have your loins girt about with truth: wield valiantly the sword of the Spirit. But never forget—as ever you would be a happy Christian—never forget to put on the “helmet of hope.” (1 Thess. 5:8)

Go on, in spite of an ill-natured world, and be not moved by its laughter or its persecution, its slanders or its sneers. Comfort your heart with the thought that the time is short, the good things yet to come, the night far spent, the “morning without clouds” at hand. (2 Sam. 23:4) When the wicked man dies his expectation perishes; but your expectation shall not deceive you,—your reward is sure.

Go on, and be not cast down because you are troubled by doubts and fears. You are yet in the body: this world is not your rest. The devil hates you because you have escaped from him, and he will do all he can to rob you of peace.

The very fact that you have fears is an evidence that you feel you have something to lose. The true Christian may ever be discerned by his warfare quite as much as by his peace, and by his fears quite as much as by his hopes.

The ships at anchor at Spithead may swing to and fro with the tide, and pitch heavily in a south-eastern gale; but so long as their anchors hold the ground they ride safely, and have no cause to fear.

The hope of the true Christian is the “anchor of his soul, sure and steadfast.” (Heb. 6:19) His heart may be tossed to and fro sometimes, but he is safe in Christ. The waves may swell, and lift him up and down, but he will not be wrecked.

Go on, and “hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:13) Yet a little time, and faith shall be changed to sight, and hope to certainty: you shall see even as you have been seen, and know even as you have been known.

A few more tossings to and fro on the waves of this troublesome world,—a few more battles and conflicts with our spiritual enemy,—a few more years of tears and partings, of working and suffering, of crosses and cares, of disappointments and vexations,—and then, then we shall be at home.

The harbour lights are already in view: the haven of rest is not far off. There we shall find all that we have hoped for, and find that it was a million times better than our hopes.

There we shall find all the saints,—and no sin, no cares of this world, no money, no sickness, no death, no devil. There, above all, we shall find Jesus, and be ever with the Lord! (1 Thess. 4:17)

Let us hope on. It is worth while to carry the cross and follow Christ. Let the world laugh and mock, if it will; it is worth while to have “a good hope through grace,” and be a thorough decided Christian.

I say again,—Let us hope on.”

–J.C. Ryle, “Our Hope,” Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2013), 111-113.

“A good hope is a hope that rests entirely on Jesus Christ” by J.C. Ryle

“A good hope is a hope that rests entirely on Jesus Christ.

What says St. Paul to Timothy? He says that Jesus Christ ‘is our hope.’ What says he to the Colossians? He speaks of ‘Christ in you the hope of glory.’ (1 Tim. 1:1. Coloss. 1:27)

The man who has a good hope founds all his expectations of pardon and salvation on the mediation and redeeming work of Jesus the Son of God.

He knows his own sinfulness; he feels that he is guilty, wicked, and lost by nature: but he sees forgiveness and peace with God offered freely to him through faith in Christ.

He accepts the offer: he casts himself with all his sins on Jesus, and rests on Him.

Jesus and His atonement on the cross,—Jesus and His righteousness,—Jesus and His finished work,—Jesus and His all-prevailing intercession,—Jesus, and Jesus only, is the foundation of the confidence of his soul.

Let us beware of supposing that any hope is good which is not founded on Christ. All other hopes are built on sand.

They may look well in the summer time of health and prosperity, but they will fail in the day of sickness and the hour of death. ‘Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.’ (1 Cor. 3:11)

Church-membership is no foundation of hope. We may belong to the best of Churches, and yet never belong to Christ.

We may fill our pew regularly every Sunday, and hear the sermons of orthodox, ordained clergymen, and yet never hear the voice of Jesus, or follow Him. If we have nothing better than Church-membership to rest upon we are in a poor plight: we have nothing solid beneath our feet.

Reception of the sacraments is no foundation of hope. We may be washed in the waters of baptism, and yet know nothing of the water of life.

We may go to the Lord’s table every Sunday of our lives, and yet never eat Christ’s body and drink Christ’s blood by faith.

Miserable indeed is our condition if we can say nothing more than this! We possess nothing but the outside of Christianity: we are leaning on a reed.

Christ Himself is the only true foundation of a good hope.

He is the rock,—His work is perfect.

He is the stone,—the sure stone,—the tried corner-stone.

He is able to bear all the weight that we can lay upon Him. He only that buildeth and ‘believeth on Him shall not be confounded.’ (Deut. 32:4; Isa. 28:16; 1 Peter 2:6)”

–J.C. Ryle, “Our Hope,” Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2013), 94-95.

“Stick to your Bible” by J.C. Ryle

“The hope which ‘maketh not ashamed’ (Rom. 5:5) is never separate from God’s Word.

Men wonder sometimes that ministers press them so strongly to read the Bible. They marvel that we say so much about the importance of preaching, and urge them so often to hear sermons.

Let them cease to wonder, and marvel no more. Our object is to make you acquainted with God’s Word.

We want you to have a good hope, and we know that a good hope must be drawn from the Scriptures.

Without reading or hearing you must live and die in ignorance. Hence we cry, “Search the Scriptures” “Hear, and your soul shall live.” (John 5:39. Isa. 55:3.)

I warn every one to beware of a hope not drawn from Scripture. It is a false hope, and many will find out this to their cost.

That glorious and perfect book, the Bible, however men despise it, is the only fountain out of which man’s soul can derive peace.

Many sneer at the old book while living, who find their need of it when dying.

The Queen in her palace and the pauper in the workhouse, the philosopher in his study and the child in the cottage,—each and all must be content to seek living water from the Bible, if they are to have any hope at all.

Honour your Bible,—read your Bible,—stick to your Bible.

There is not on earth a scrap of solid hope for the other side of the grave which is not drawn out of the Word of God.”

–J.C. Ryle, “Our Hope,” Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2013), 94.

“Cleave to the Lord” by J.C. Ryle

“My last word of application shall be an affectionate exhortation to every reader of this paper who has found out the value of his soul, and believed in Jesus Christ. That exhortation shall be short and simple.

I beseech you to cleave to the Lord with all your heart, and to press towards the mark for the prize of your high calling.

I can well conceive that you find your way very narrow. There are few with you and many against you.

Your lot in life may seem hard, and your position may be difficult. But still cleave to the Lord, and He will never forsake you.

Cleave to the Lord in the midst of persecution.

Cleave to the Lord, though men laugh at you and mock you, and try to make you ashamed.

Cleave to the Lord, though the cross be heavy and the fight be hard. He was not ashamed of you upon the Cross of Calvary: then do not be ashamed of Him upon earth, lest He should be ashamed of you before His Father who is in heaven.

Cleave to the Lord, and He will never forsake you. In this world there are plenty of disappointments,—disappointments in properties, and families, and houses, and lands, and situations.

But no man ever yet was disappointed in Christ. No man ever failed to find Christ all that the Bible says He is, and a thousand times better than he had been told before.

Look forward, look onward and forward to the end! Your best things are yet to come. Time is short. The end is drawing near. The latter days of the world are upon us.

Fight the good fight. Labour on. Work on. Strive on. Pray on. Read on.

Labour hard for your own soul’s prosperity. Labour hard for the prosperity of the souls of others.

Strive to bring a few more with you to heaven, and by all means to save some.

Do something, by God’s help, to make heaven more full and hell more empty.

Speak to that young man by your side, and to that old person who lives near to your house.

Speak to that neighbour who never goes to a place of worship.

Speak to that relative who never reads the Bible in private, and makes a jest of serious religion.

Entreat them all to think about their souls. Beg them to go and hear something on Sundays which will be for their good unto everlasting life.

Try to persuade them to live, not like the beasts which perish, but like men who desire to be saved.

Great is your reward in heaven, if you try to do good to souls.”

–J.C. Ryle, “Our Souls,” Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2013), 58-59.