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“We have more mercies than we deserve” by J.C. Ryle

“Cultivate a thankful spirit.

It has ever been a mark of God’s most distinguished saints in every age (David, in the Old Testament, and St. Paul, in the New), are remarkable for their thankfulness.

We seldom read much of their writings without finding them blessing and praising God.

Let us rise from our beds every morning with a deep conviction that we are debtors, and that every day we have more mercies than we deserve.

Let us look around us every week, as we travel through the world, and see whether we have not much to thank God for.

If our hearts are in the right place, we shall never find any difficulty in building an Ebenezer.

Well would it be if our prayers and supplications were more mingled with thanksgiving. (1 Sam. 7:12. Phil. 4:6.)”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke, Vol. 1 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 36-37. Ryle is commenting on Luke 1:46-56.

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“The blood of the Son of God” by Stephen Charnock

“The sin of a creature could never be so filthy as the blood of the Son of God was holy.”

–Stephen Charnock, “A Discourse on the Acceptableness of Christ’s Death,” The Works of Stephen Charnock, Volume 4 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1865/2010), 4: 558.

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“The chains of His loving promises” by Richard Sibbes

“It must be matter of instruction for us all, that when we come unto God we must promise ourselves to have good speed, since God is most true of his promises, and we must labour by all means to remember and apply them, and so to turn them into prayers.

Thus reasoning the matter, What! I am in this and this necessity, God he hath promised to help; since He is true, it must needs be that He will have a care to fulfill His truth.

O beloved, it is easy for us to speak, but in the evil day to put on our armour, to fly unto prayer, to hang upon God, to fight against temptations, to give unto God the praise of His attributes, that as He is true, loving, just, merciful, all-sufficiency, infinite, omnipotent, so to expect infinite love, infinite truth, infinite mercy from Him,—this is no small matter, yea, it is true Christian fortitude, in temptation and affliction thus to reason the matter, to rely upon God, and as it were to bind His help near unto us with the chains of His loving promises.

If a promise bind us, much more it bindeth God; for all our truth is but a small spark of that ocean of truth in Him.

And therefore to conclude all with this promise, worthy to be engraven in everlasting remembrance upon the palms of our hands, God hath promised that all the afflictions of His children they shall work for the best (Rom. 8:28).

This is as true as God’s truth, I shall one day see and confess so much if I wait in patience; why, therefore, I will wait.

God is infinite in wisdom and power, to bring light out of darkness; so also He is true, and He will do it.

Therefore because I believe ‘I will not make haste;’ I will walk in the perfect way until he show deliverance.

This must be our resolution, and then it shall be unto us according to our faith; which God, for His Christ’s sake, grant unto us all!”

–Richard Sibbes, “The Matchless Mercy,” The Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 7 (ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1639/2001), 1: 164.

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“It is a marvellous matter of wonder” by Richard Sibbes

“Regard what wondrous fruit we have by the service of Christ: the work of our redemption, to be translated from the kingdom of Satan to the glorious liberty of the sons of God, to be brought out of darkness into marvellous light.

It is a marvellous matter of wonder, the good we have by this abasement of Christ.

‘Behold what love the Father hath shewed us, that we should be called the sons of God!’ (1 John 3:1)

Now, all this comes from Christ’s being a servant.

Our liberty comes from His service and slavery, our life from His death, our adoption and sonship and all comes from His abasement.

Therefore it is a matter of wonderment for the great things we have by it. O the depth, O the depth, saith St Paul. (Rom. 11:33)

Here are all dimensions in this excellent work that Christ hath wrought by His abasement, by His incarnation, and taking upon Him the form of a servant, and dying for us; here is the height and breadth, and length and depth of the love of God in Christ.

O the riches of God’s mercy!

The apostles stand in a wonder and admiration of this, and indeed, if anything is to be admired, it is Christ, that wondrous conjunction, the wondrous love that wrought it, and the wondrous fruit we have by it.”

–Richard Sibbes, “A Description of Christ,” The Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 1 (ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1639/2001), 1: 7.

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“The dear love of my Savior” by Richard Sibbes

“Oh, what should water my heart, and make it melt in obedience unto my God, but the assurance and knowledge of the virtue of this most precious blood of my Redeemer, applied to my sick soul, in the full and free remission of all my sins, and appeasing the justice of God?

What should bow and break my rebellious hard heart and soften it, but the apprehension of that dear love of my Savior, who hath loved me before I loved Him, and now hath blotted out that hand-writing that was against me?

What should enable my weak knees, hold up my weary hands, strengthen my fainting and feebled spirit in constant obedience against so many crosses and afflictions, temptations and impediments, which would stop up my way, but the hope of this precious calling unto glory and virtue?”

–Richard Sibbes, “A Glimpse of Glory,” The Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 7 (ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1639/2001), 7: 495.

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“Having this gift we have God the Father’s boundless love” by J.C. Ryle

If ye being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” (Luke 11:13)

There are few promises in the Bible so broad and unqualified as those contained in this wonderful passage. The last in particular deserves especial notice.

The Holy Spirit is beyond doubt the greatest gift which God can bestow upon man.

Having this gift, we have all things, life, light, hope and heaven.

Having this gift we have God the Father’s boundless love, God the Son’s atoning blood, and full communion with all three Persons of the blessed Trinity.

Having this gift, we have grace and peace in the world that now is, glory and honor in the world to come.

And yet this mighty gift is held out by our Lord Jesus Christ as a gift to be obtained by prayer!

“Your heavenly Father shall give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.”

There are few passages in the Bible which so completely strip the unconverted man of his common excuses as this passage.

He says he is “weak and helpless.” But does he ask to be made strong?

—He says he is “wicked and corrupt.” But does he seek to be made better?

—He says he “can do nothing of himself.” But does he knock at the door of mercy, and pray for the grace of the Holy Spirit?

—These are questions to which many, it may be feared, can make no answer. They are what they are, because they have no real desire to be changed.

They have not, because they ask not. They will not come to Christ, that they may have life; and therefore they remain dead in trespasses and sins.

And now, as we leave the passage, let us ask ourselves whether we know anything of real prayer?

Do we pray at all?

—Do we pray in the name of Jesus, and as needy sinners?

—Do we know what it is to “ask,” and “seek,” and “knock,” and wrestle in prayer, like men who feel that it is a matter of life or death, and that they must have an answer?

—Or are we content with saying over some old form of words, while our thoughts are wandering, and our hearts far away?

Truly we have learned a great lesson when we have learned that “saying prayers” is not praying!

If we do pray, let it be a settled rule with us, never to leave off the habit of praying, and never to shorten our prayers. A man’s state before God may always be measured by his prayers.

Whenever we begin to feel careless about our private prayers, we may depend upon it, there is something very wrong in the condition of our souls.

There are breakers ahead. We are in imminent danger of a shipwreck.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke, Vol. 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 2: 9-10. Ryle is commenting on Luke 11:5-13.

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“Pure good” by Thomas Brooks

Remedy (7). The seventh remedy against this device of Satan is, wisely to consider, That as there is nothing in Christ to discourage the greatest sinners from believing in Him, so there is everything in Christ that may encourage the greatest sinners to believe on Him, to rest and lean upon Him for all happiness and blessedness, (Cant. 1:3).

If you look upon His nature, His disposition, His names, His titles, His offices as king, priest, and prophet, you will find nothing to discourage the greatest sinners from believing in Him, but many things to encourage the greatest sinners to receive Him, to believe on Him.

Christ is the greatest good, the choicest good, the chiefest good, the most suitable good, the most necessary good. He is a pure good, a real good, a total good, an eternal good, and a soul-satisfying good, (Rev. 3:17-18).

Sinners, are you poor? Christ hath gold to enrich you.

Are you naked? Christ hath royal robes, He hath white raiment to clothe you.

Are you blind? Christ hath eye-salve to enlighten you.

Are you hungry? Christ will be manna to feed you.

Are you thirsty? He will be a well of living water to refresh you.

Are you wounded? He hath a balm under His wings to heal you.

Are you sick? He is a physician to cure you.

Are you prisoners? He hath laid down a ransom for you.

Ah, sinners! Tell me, tell me, is there anything in Christ to keep you off from believing? No.

Is there not everything in Christ that may encourage you to believe in Him? Yes.

Oh, then, believe in Him, and then, ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool,’ (Isa. 1:18).

Nay, then, your iniquities shall be forgotten as well as forgiven, they shall be remembered no more. God will cast them behind His back, He will throw them into the bottom of the sea, (Isa. 43:25, 38:17, Micah 7:19).”

–Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies,” in The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, Ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 1: 143-144.

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“Christ’s arms are wide open to embrace the returning prodigal” by Thomas Brooks

“The second remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, That the promise of grace and mercy is to returning souls.

And, therefore, though thou art never so wicked, yet if thou wilt return, God will be thine, and mercy shall be thine, and pardon shall be thine:

2 Chron. 30:9, ‘For if you turn again unto the Lord, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the Lord our God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.’

So Jer. 3:12, ‘Go and proclaim these words towards the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord, and I will not cause my anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever.’

So Joel 2:13, ‘And rend your hearts, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.’

So Isa. 55:7, ‘Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon,’ or, as the Hebrew reads it, ‘He will multiply pardon:’ so Ezek. 18.

Ah! sinner, it is not thy great transgressions that shall exclude thee from mercy, if thou wilt break off thy sins by repentance and return to the fountain of mercy.

Christ’s heart, Christ’s arms, are wide open to embrace the returning prodigal.”

–Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices,” The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, Ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 1: 140.

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“No one ever need be friendless while the Lord Jesus Christ lives” by J.C. Ryle

“Does any reader of this paper need a friend? In such a world as this, how many hearts there are which ought to respond to that appeal! How many there are who feel, “I stand alone.”

How many have found one idol broken after another, one staff failing after another, one fountain dried after another, as they have travelled through the wilderness of this world.

If there is one who wants a friend, let that one behold at the right hand of God an unfailing friend, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let that one repose his aching head and weary heart upon the bosom of that unfailing friend, Jesus Christ the Lord.

There is one living at God’s right hand of matchless tenderness.

There is one who never dies.

There is one who never fails, never disappoints, never forsakes, never changes His mind, never breaks off friendship.

That One, the Lord Jesus, I commend to all who need a friend.

No one in a world like this, a fallen world, a world which we find more and more barren, it may be, every year we live,—no one ever need be friendless while the Lord Jesus Christ lives to intercede at the right hand of God.

Does any reader of this paper need a priest. There can be no true religion without a priest, and no saving Christianity without a confessional.

But who is the true priest? Where is the true confessional? There is only one true priest,—and that is Christ Jesus the Lord.

There is only one real confessional,—and that is the throne of grace where the Lord Jesus waits to receive those who come to Him to unburden their hearts in His presence.

We can find no better priest than Christ. We need no other Priest.

Why need we turn to any priest upon earth, while Jesus is sealed, anointed, appointed, ordained, and commissioned by God the Father, and has an ear ever ready to hear, and a heart ever ready to feel for the poor sinful sons of men?

The priesthood is His lawful prerogative. He has deputed that office to none.

Woe be to any one upon earth who dares to rob Christ of His prerogative!

Woe be to the man who takes upon himself the office which Christ holds in His own hands, and has never transferred to any one born of Adam, upon the face of the globe!

Let us never lose sight of this mighty truth of the Gospel,—the intercession and priestly office of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

I believe that a firm grasp of this truth is one great safeguard against the errors of the Church of Rome.

I believe that losing sight of this great truth is one principal reason why so many have fallen away from the faith in some quarters, have forsaken the creed of their Protestant forefathers, and have gone back to the darkness of Rome.

Once firmly established upon this mighty truth,—that we have a Priest, an altar, and a Confessor,—that we have an unfailing, never-dying, ever-living Intercessor, who has deputed His office to none,—and we shall see that we need turn aside nowhere else.

We need not hew for ourselves broken cisterns that can hold no water, when we have in the Lord Jesus Christ a fountain of living waters, ever flowing and free to all.

We need not seek any human priest upon earth, when we have a divine Priest living for us in heaven.

Let us beware of regarding the Lord Jesus Christ only as one that is dead. Here, I believe, many greatly err. They think much of His atoning death, and it is right that they should do so.

But we ought not to stop short there. We ought to remember that He not only died and went to the grave, but that He rose again, and ascended up on high, leading captivity captive.

We ought to remember that He is now sitting on the right hand of God, to do a work as real, as true, as important to our souls, as the work which He did when He shed His blood.

Christ lives, and is not dead. He lives as truly as any one of ourselves.

Christ sees us, hears us, knows us, and is acting as a Priest in heaven on behalf of His believing people.

The thought of His life ought to have as great and important a place in our souls, as the thought of His death upon the cross.”

–J.C. Ryle, “Christ’s Power to Save,” Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2013), 414-415.

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“Practical Christianity” by J.C. Ryle

“The world would be a happier world if there was more practical Christianity.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 289. Ryle is commenting on Luke 10:29-37.

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