Category Archives: J.C. Ryle

“Glory in nothing but Christ” by J.C. Ryle

“Why then should any man or woman despair with such a passage as this in the Bible? Jesus is a physician who can cure hopeless cases.

He can quicken dead souls, and call the things which be not as though they were.

Never should any man or woman despair! Jesus is still the same now that He was eighteen hundred years ago. The keys of death and Hell are in His hand. When He opens none can shut.

What though your sins be more in number than the hairs of your head?

What though your evil habits have grown with your growth, and strengthened with your strength?

What though you have hitherto hated good, and loved evil, all the days of your life?

These things are sad indeed; but there is hope even for you. Christ can heal you. Christ can cleanse you. Christ can raise you from your low estate.

Heaven is not shut against you. Christ is able to admit you, if you will humbly commit your soul into His hands.

Reader, are your sins forgiven? If not, I set before you this day a full and free salvation. I invite you to follow the steps of the penitent thief,—come to Christ, and live.

I tell you that Jesus is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. I tell you He can do everything that your soul requires.

Though your sins be as scarlet, He can make them white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Why should you not be saved as well as another? Come unto Christ by faith, and live.

Reader, are you a true believer? If you are, you ought to glory in Christ.

Glory not in your own faith, your own feelings, your own knowledge, your own prayers, your own amendment, your own diligence. Glory in nothing but Christ.

Alas! the best of us knows but little of that merciful and mighty Saviour. We do not exalt Him and glory in Him enough. Let us pray that we may see more of the fulness there is in Him.

Reader, do you ever try to do good to others? If you do, remember to tell them about Christ.

Tell the young, tell the poor, tell the aged, tell the ignorant, tell the sick, tell the dying,—tell them all about Christ.

Tell them of His power, and tell them of His love.

Tell them of His doings, and tell them of His feelings.

Tell them of what He has done for the chief of sinners.

Tell them what He is willing to do to the last day of time.

Tell it them over and over again. Never be tired of speaking of Christ.

Say to them broadly and fully, freely and unconditionally, unreservedly and undoubtingly, ‘Come unto Christ as the penitent thief did,—come unto Christ, and you shall be saved.'”

–J.C. Ryle, Living or Dead? A Series of Home Truths (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1851), 262–265.

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“Our blessed Saviour’s unwearied kindness” by J.C. Ryle

“Let us learn a lesson from the centurion’s example.

Let us, like him, show kindness to every one with whom we have to do.

Let us strive to have an eye ready to see, and a hand ready to help, and a heart ready to feel, and a will ready to do good to all.

Let us be ready to weep with them that weep, and rejoice with them that rejoice.

This is one way to recommend our religion, and make it beautiful before men.

Kindness is a grace that all can understand.

This is one way to be like our blessed Saviour. If there is one feature in His character more notable than another, it is His unwearied kindness and love.

This is one way to be happy in the world, and see good days. Kindness always brings its own reward.

The kind person will seldom be without friends.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 155. Ryle is commenting on Luke 7:1-10.

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“‘Lovest thou Me?'” by J.C. Ryle

“The true Christian is one whose religion is in his heart and life. It is felt by himself in his heart. It is seen by others in his conduct and life.

He feels his sinfulness, guilt, and badness, and repents. He sees Jesus Christ to be that Divine Saviour whom his soul needs, and commits himself to Him.

He puts off the old man with his corrupt and carnal habits, and puts on the new man. He lives a new and holy life, fighting habitually against the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Christ Himself is the corner stone of His Christianity.

Ask him in what he trusts for the forgiveness of his many sins, and he will tell you, in the death of Christ.

Ask him in what righteousness he hopes to stand innocent at the judgment day, and he will tell You it is the righteousness of Christ.

Ask him by what pattern he tries to frame his life, and he will tell you that it is the example of Christ.

But, beside all this, there is one thing in a true Christian which is eminently peculiar to him. That thing is love to Christ.

Knowledge, faith, hope, reverence, obedience, are all marked features in a true Christian’s character. But his picture would be very imperfect if you omitted his “love” to his Divine Master.

He not only knows, trusts, and obeys. He goes further than this,—he loves.

This peculiar mark of a true Christian is one which we find mentioned several times in the Bible. “Faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” is an expression which many Christians are familiar with.

Let it never be forgotten that love is mentioned by the Holy Ghost in almost as strong terms as faith. Great as the danger is of him “that believeth not,” the danger of him that “loveth not” is equally great. Not believing and not loving are both steps to everlasting ruin.

Hear what St. Paul says to the Corinthians: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha.” (1 Cor. 16:22) St. Paul allows no way of escape to the man who does not love Christ.

He leaves him no loop-hole or excuse. A man may lack clear head-knowledge, and yet be saved.

He may fail in courage, and be overcome by the fear of man, like Peter.

He may fall tremendously, like David, and yet rise again.

But if a man does not love Christ, he is not in the way of life. The curse is yet upon him. He is on the broad road that leadeth to destruction.

Hear what St. Paul says to the Ephesians, “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.” (Eph. 6:24) The Apostle is here sending his good wishes, and declaring his good will to all true Christians.

Many of them, no doubt, he had never seen. Many of them in the early Churches, we may be very sure, were weak in faith, and knowledge, and self-denial.

How, then, shall he describe them in sending his message? What words can he use which will not discourage the weaker brethren? He chooses a sweeping expression which exactly describes all true Christians under one common name.

All had not attained to the same degree, whether in doctrine or practice. But all loved Christ in sincerity.

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ Himself says to the Jews, “If God were your Father, ye would love Me.” (John 8:42) He saw His misguided enemies satisfied with their spiritual condition, on the one single ground that they were children of Abraham.

He saw them, like many ignorant Christians of our own day, claiming to be God’s children, for no better reasons than this, that they were circumcised and belonged to the Jewish Church.

He lays down the broad principle that no man is a child of God, who does not love God’s only begotten Son.

No man has a right to call God Father, who does not love Christ. Well would it be for many Christians if they were to remember that this mighty principle applies to them as well as to the Jews.

No love to Christ,—then no sonship to God!

Hear once more what our Lord Jesus Christ said to the Apostle Peter, after He rose from the dead. Three times He asked him the question, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me.” (John 21:15–17)

The occasion was remarkable. He meant gently to remind His erring disciple of His thrice-repeated fall. He desired to call forth from Him a new confession of faith, before publicly restoring to him his commission to feed the Church.

And what was the question that He asked him? He might have said,—“Believest thou? Art thou converted? Art thou ready to confess Me? Wilt thou obey Me?”

He uses none of these expressions. He simply says, “Lovest thou Me?”

This is the point, He would have us know, on which a man’s Christianity hinges. Simple as the question sounded, it was most searching.

Plain and easy to be understood by the most unlearned poor man, it contains matter which tests the reality of the most advanced apostle. If a man truly loves Christ, all is right;—if not, all is wrong.

Would you know the secret of this peculiar feeling towards Christ which distinguishes the true Christian? You have it in the words of St. John, “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

That text no doubt applies specially to God the Father. But it is no less true of God the Son.

A true Christian loves Christ for all He has done for him.

He has suffered in his stead, and died for him on the cross.

He has redeemed him from the guilt, the power, and the consequences of sin, by His blood.

He has called him by His Spirit to self-knowledge, repentance, faith, hope, and holiness.

He has forgiven all his many sins, and blotted them out.

He has freed him from the captivity of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

He has taken him from the brink of hell, placed him in the narrow way, and set his face toward heaven.

He has given him light instead of darkness, peace of conscience instead of uneasiness, hope instead of uncertainty, life instead of death.

Can you wonder that the true Christian loves Christ?

And he loves Him besides, for all that He is still doing.

He feels that He is daily washing away his many shortcomings and infirmities, and pleading his soul’s cause before God.

He is daily supplying all the needs of his soul, and providing him with an hourly provision of mercy and grace.

He is daily leading him by His Spirit to a city of habitation, bearing with him when he is weak and ignorant, raising him up when he stumbles and falls, protecting him against his many enemies, preparing an eternal home for him in heaven.

Can you wonder that the true Christian loves Christ?

Does the debtor in jail love the friend who unexpectedly and undeservedly pays all his debts, supplies him with fresh capital, and takes him into partnership with himself?

Does the prisoner in war love the man who at the risk of his own life, breaks through the enemies’ lines, rescues him, and sets him free?

Does the drowning sailor love the man who plunges into the sea, dives after him, catches him by the hair of his head, and by a mighty effort saves him from a watery grave?

A very child can answer such questions as these. Just in the same way, and upon the same principles, a true Christian loves Jesus Christ.”

–J.C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (Carlise, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2014), 322-325.

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“Bloodless, boneless, tasteless, colourless, lukewarm, undogmatic Christianity” by J.C. Ryle

“For your own soul’s sake dare to make up your mind what you believe, and dare to have positive distinct views of truth and error.

Never, never be afraid to hold decided doctrinal opinions.

And let no fear of man and no morbid dread of being thought party-spirited, narrow, or controversial, make you rest contented with a bloodless, boneless, tasteless, colourless, lukewarm, undogmatic Christianity.

Mark what I say. If you want to do good in these times, you must throw aside indecision, and take up a distinct, sharply-cut, doctrinal religion.

If you believe little, those to whom you try to do good will believe nothing.

The victories of Christianity, wherever they have been won, have been won by distinct doctrinal theology:

  • by telling men roundly of Christ’s vicarious death and sacrifice
  • by showing them Christ’s substitution on the cross, and His precious blood
  • by teaching them justification by faith, and bidding them believe on a crucified Saviour
  • by preaching ruin by sin, redemption by Christ, regeneration by the Spirit
  • by lifting up the brazen serpent; by telling men to look and live– to believe, repent, and be converted.

This is the only teaching which for eighteen centuries God has honoured with success, and is honouring at the present day both at home and abroad.

Let the clever advocates of a broad and undogmatic theology,– the preachers of the Gospel of earnestness, and sincerity and cold morality,– let them, I say, show us at this day any English village or parish, or city, or town, or district, which has been evangelized without ‘dogma,’ by their principles.

They cannot do it, and they never will. Christianity without distinct doctrine is a powerless thing.

It may be beautiful to some minds, but it is childless and barren. There is no getting over facts.

The good that is done in the earth may be comparatively small. Evil may abound, and ignorant impatience may murmur, and cry out that Christianity has failed.

But, depend on it, if we want to ‘do good’ and shake the world, we must fight with the old apostolic weapons, and stick to ‘dogma.’

No dogma, no fruits! No positive Evangelical doctrine, no evangelization!”

–J.C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (Carlise, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2014), 398-399.

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“With Christ nothing is impossible” by J.C. Ryle

“Let us see, furthermore, in this mighty miracle, a lively emblem of Christ’s power to quicken the dead in sins. In Him is life.

He quickeneth whom He will. (John 5:21.) He can raise to a new life souls that now seem dead in worldliness and sin.

He can say to hearts that now appear corrupt and lifeless, “Arise to repentance, and live in the service of God.”

Let us never despair of any soul. Let us pray for our children, and faint not.

Our young men and our young women may long seem travelling on the way to ruin. But let us pray on.

Who can tell but He that met the funeral at the gates of Nain may yet meet our unconverted children, and say with almighty power, “Young man, arise.”

With Christ nothing is impossible.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 162-163. Ryle is commenting on Luke 7:11-17.

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“The deep, deep love of Jesus” by J.C. Ryle

“Mark the depth and width of our Lord’s sympathies and affections. The Saviour on whom we are bid to repose the weight of our sinful souls is one whose love passeth knowledge.

Shallow, skin-deep feelings in others, we all know continually chill and disappoint us on every side in this world.

But there is one whose mighty heart affection knows no bottom. That one is Christ.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Volume 3 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1880), 312. Ryle is commenting on John 19:26-27.

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“Greater is He that is for us” by J.C. Ryle

“The truth here taught is full of strong consolation for all true Christians. We live in a world full of difficulties and snares.

We are ourselves weak and compassed with infirmity.

The awful thought that we have a mighty spiritual enemy ever near us, subtle, powerful, and malicious as Satan is, might well disquiet us, and cast us down.

But, thanks be unto God, we have in Jesus an almighty Friend, who is ‘able to save us to the uttermost.’

He has already triumphed over Satan on the cross. He will ever triumph over him in the hearts of all believers, and intercede for them that their faith fail not.

And He will finally triumph over Satan completely, when He shall come forth at the second advent., and bind him in the bottomless pit.

And now, Are we ourselves delivered from Satan’s power? This after all is the grand question that concerns our souls.—He still reigns and rules in the hearts of all who are children of disobedience. (Eph. 2:3.)

He is still a king over the ungodly. Have we, by grace, broken his bonds, and escaped his hand? Have we really renounced him and all his works?

Do we daily resist him and make him flee? Do we put on the whole armour of God and stand against his wiles?

May we never rest till we can give satisfactory answers to these questions.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1857/2012), 72-73. Ryle is commenting on Mark 5:1-17.

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