“Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?”
–C.S. Lewis, Letters of C.S. Lewis, eds. W.H. Lewis and Walter Hooper (New York: Harper, 1966), 467. C.S. Lewis was born on November 29, 1898.
“Are not all God’s attributes His nature, His justice as well as mercy? His hatred of sin, as well as the love of His creature?
And is not that nature of His pure act, and therefore active, and therefore provokes all His will to manifest these His attributes upon all occasions?
Doth not justice boil within Him against sin, as well as His bowels of mercy yearn towards the sinner?
Is not the plot of reconciliation His masterpiece, wherein He means to bring all His attributes upon the stage?”
“The miracle before us is one among many proofs that with Christ nothing is impossible.
The Saviour of sinners is Almighty. He “calleth those things which be not as though they were.” (Rom. 4:17)
When He wills a thing, it shall be done. When He commands a thing, it shall come to pass.
He can create light out of darkness, order out of disorder, strength out of weakness, joy out of sorrow, and food out of nothing at all. Forever let us bless God that it is so!
We might well despair, when we see the corruption of human nature, and the desperate hardness and unbelief of man’s heart, if we did not know the power of Christ.
‘Can these dry bones live? Can any man or woman be saved? Can any child, or friend of ours ever become a true Christian? Can we ourselves ever win our way through to heaven?’
Questions like these could never be answered, if Jesus was not Almighty.
But thanks be to God, Jesus has all power in heaven and earth.
He lives in heaven for us, able to save to the uttermost, and therefore we may hope.”
–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 229-230. Ryle is commenting on Luke 9:12-17.
“Let us mark, secondly, the importance to Christians of occasional privacy and retirement.
We are told, that when the apostles returned from their first ministerial work, our Lord ‘took them and went aside privately into a desert place.’ (Luke 9:10) We cannot doubt that this was done with a deep meaning.
It was meant to teach the great lesson that those who do public work for the souls of others, must be careful to make time for being alone with God.
The lesson is one which many Christians would do well to remember.
Occasional retirement, self-inquiry, meditation, and secret communion with God, are absolutely essential to spiritual health. The man who neglects them is in great danger of a fall.
To be always preaching, teaching, speaking, writing, and working public works, is, unquestionably, a sign of zeal. But it is not always a sign of zeal according to knowledge.
It often leads to untoward consequences. We must make time occasionally for sitting down and calmly looking within, and examining how matters stand between our own selves and Christ.
The omission of the practice is the true account of many a backsliding which shocks the Church, and gives occasion to the world to blaspheme.
Many could say with sorrow, in the words of Canticles, “They made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard have I not kept.’ (Song of Solomon 1:6)”
–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 226-227. Ryle is commenting on Luke 9:7-11.
“Just as a mother’s love conquers everything and turns sorrow and trouble into joy, sustaining her through the birth process and the education of her children, so ministers should burn with unquenched love for Christ and the church, so that however hard the going may be, nothing will overpower the joy and delight that they get from fulfilling their ministry.”
—Rudolf Gwalther, “Sermons on Galatians,” commenting on Galatians 4:19, Galatians, Ephesians: New Testament, ed. Gerald L. Bray and Scott M. Manetsch, vol. 10, Reformation Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2011), 10: 154.
“One of the principal works which the apostles were commissioned to take up was preaching.
We read that our Lord ‘sent them to preach the kingdom of God,” and that “they went through the towns preaching the Gospel.’ (Luke 9:6)
The importance of preaching, as a means of grace, might easily be gathered from this passage, even if it stood alone. But it is but one instance, among many, of the high value which the Bible everywhere sets upon preaching.
It is, in fact, God’s chosen instrument for doing good to souls. By it sinners are converted, inquirers led on, and saints built up.
A preaching ministry is absolutely essential to the health and prosperity of a visible church.
The pulpit is the place where the chief victories of the Gospel have always been won, and no Church has ever done much for the advancement of true religion in which the pulpit has been neglected.
Would we know whether a minister is a truly apostolical man? If he is, he will give the best of his attention to his sermons.
He will labor and pray to make his preaching effective, and he will tell his congregation that he looks to preaching for the chief results on souls.
The minister who exalts the sacraments, or forms of the Church, above preaching, may be a zealous, earnest, conscientious, and respectable minister; but his zeal is not according to knowledge. (Romans 10:2)
He is not a follower of the apostles.”
–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 222-223. Ryle is commenting on Luke 9:1-6.
“Let us mark, lastly, in this passage, our Lord Jesus Christ’s readiness to receive all who come to Him.
We are told, that when the multitude followed Him into the desert, whither He had retired, ‘He received them, and spoke unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.’ (Luke 9:11)
Unmannerly and uninvited as this intrusion on His privacy seems to have been, it met with no rebuff from our Lord. He was always more ready to give instruction than people were to ask it, and more willing to teach than people were to be taught.
But the incident, trifling as it may seem, exactly tallies with all that we read in the Gospels of the gentleness and condescension of Christ.
We never see Him dealing with people according to their deserts.
We never find Him scrutinizing the motives of His hearers, or refusing to allow them to learn of Him, because their hearts were not right in the sight of God.
His ear was always ready to hear, and His hand was always ready to work, and His tongue was always ready to preach.
None that came to Him were ever cast out. Whatever they might think of His doctrine, they could never say that Jesus of Nazareth was “an austere man.”
Let us remember this in all our dealings with Christ about our own souls. We may draw near to Him with boldness, and open our hearts to Him with confidence.
He is a Saviour of infinite compassion and lovingkindness. He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. (Isaiah 42:3)
The secrets of our spiritual life may be such as we would not have our dearest friends know. The wounds of our consciences may be deep and sore, and require most delicate handling.
But we need not fear anything, if we commit all to Jesus, the Son of God.
We shall find that His kindness is unbounded. His own words shall be found abundantly true: ‘I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls.’ (Matthew 11:29)
Let us remember this, finally, in our dealing with other people, if we are called upon to give them help about their souls.
Let us strive to walk in the steps of Christ’s example, and, like Him, to be kind, and patient, and always willing to aid.
The ignorance of young beginners in religion is sometimes very provoking. We are apt to be wearied of their instability, and fickleness, and halting between two opinions.
But let us remember Jesus, and not be weary. He received all, spoke to all, and did good to all.
Let us go and do likewise. As Christ deals with us, so let us deal one with another.”
–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 227-228. Ryle is commenting on Luke 9:7-11.