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“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“He is my hope, my end, my portion” by John Newton

“Help me, dear Sir, with your prayers in her behalf.

You ask, if my soul be more alive to Jesus than ever? I can say He is precious to my soul, and that I love His ways and His service.

He is my hope, my end, my portion; and I esteem His favour better than life.

But lively feelings are seldom my lot. Blessed be his name, he keeps and supports me.

He keeps the flock committed to my care, so that we are in the main preserved from offences and from strife.

Now and then he brings a stray lamb into the fold, and often He is seen in the fold Himself.

Then the sheep are happy, for they know His voice, and admire His love. And we know He is present when we cannot see Him, or else the wolf would quickly break in and scatter us.

Here is our security,—that His eye and His heart are upon us continually.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 6: 107.

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“I am a silly sheep, but I have a gracious, watchful Shepherd” by John Newton

“I would tell you how it is with me if I could; at the best, it would be an inconsistent account.

I am what I would not, and would what I cannot.

I rejoice and mourn; I stand fast, and am thrown down in the same moment.

I am both rich and poor; I can do nothing, yet I can do all things. I live by miracle.

I am opposed beyond my strength, yet I am not overpowered. I gain when I lose, and I often am a loser by my gains.

In a word, I am a sinner, a vile one; but a sinner believing in the name of Jesus.

I am a silly sheep, but I have a gracious, watchful Shepherd.

I am a dull scholar, but I have a Master who can make the dullest learn.

He still bears with me, He still employs me, He still enables me, He still owns me.

Oh, for a coal of heavenly fire to warm my heart, that I might praise Him as I ought!

As a people, we have much cause of complaint in ourselves, and much cause of thankfulness to Him.

In the main, I hope we are alive, though not as we could wish; our numbers rather increase from year to year, and some flourish. In the ordinances, we are favoured in a measure with his presence.

But, oh, for a day of His power; that His work may run broader and deeper, and the fire of grace spread from heart to heart, till the whole town be in a flame!

To this I hope you will give a hearty Amen, and often remember us in your prayers.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 6: 104-105

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“This is that which Christ came to reveal: God as a Father” by John Owen

“Communion consists in giving and receiving. Until the love of the Father be received, we have no communion with him therein.

How, then, is this love of the Father to be received, so as to hold fellowship with Him? I answer, By faith.

The receiving of it is the believing of it. God hath so fully, so eminently revealed His love, that it may be received by faith.

“Ye believe in God,” (John 14:1); that is, the Father. And what is to be believed in Him? His love; for He is “love,” (1 John 4:8).

It is true, there is not an immediate acting of faith upon the Father, but by the Son.

“He is the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Him,” (John 14:6).

He is the merciful high priest over the house of God, by whom we have access to the throne of grace: by Him is our introduction unto the Father; by Him we believe in God, (1 Pet. 1:21).

But this is that I say,—When by and through Christ we have an access unto the Father, we then behold His glory also, and see His love that He peculiarly bears unto us, and act faith thereon.

We are then, I say, to eye it, to believe it, to receive it, as in Him; the issues and fruits thereof being made out unto us through Christ alone.

Though there be no light for us but in the beams, yet we may by beams see the sun, which is the fountain of it. Though all our refreshment actually lie in the streams, yet by them we are led up unto the fountain.

Jesus Christ, in respect of the love of the Father, is but the beam, the stream; wherein though actually all our light, our refreshment lies, yet by Him we are led to the fountain, the sun of eternal love itself.

Would believers exercise themselves herein, they would find it a matter of no small spiritual improvement in their walking with God.

This is that which is aimed at. Many dark and disturbing thoughts are apt to arise in this thing.

Few can carry up their hearts and minds to this height by faith, as to rest their souls in the love of the Father; they live below it, in the troublesome region of hopes and fears, storms and clouds.

All here is serene and quiet. But how to attain to this pitch they know not.

This is the will of God, that He may always be eyed as benign, kind, tender, loving, and unchangeable therein; and that peculiarly as the Father, as the great fountain and spring of all gracious communications and fruits of love.

This is that which Christ came to reveal: God as a Father (John 1:18).”

–John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Volume 2: Communion With God (ed. William H. Goold; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1850-53/1997), 2: 22-23.

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“An earnest of heaven” by John Newton

“Tomorrow is the Sabbath. I am usually glad when it returns, though it seldom finds me in that frame of mine which I would desire.

But it is my happiness to live amongst many who count the hours from one ordinance to another.

I know they pray that I may be a messenger of peace, and an instrument of good to their souls; and I have cause to hope their prayers are in a measure answered.

For their sakes, as much as my own, I am glad to go up to the house of the Lord. O that in watering others I may be also watered myself!

I have been praying that tomorrow may be a day of power with you and with us, and with all that love Jesus in sincerity; that we may see His glory, and taste His love in the sanctuary!

When it is thus, the Sabbath is a blessed day indeed, an earnest of heaven.

There they keep an everlasting sabbath, and cease not night or day admiring the riches of redeeming love, and adoring Him who washed His people from their sins in His own blood.

To have such imperfect communion with them as is in this state attainable in this pleasing exercise, is what alone can make life worth the name.

For this I sigh and long, and cry to the Lord to rend the vail of unbelief, scatter the clouds of ignorance, and break down the walls which sin is daily building up to hide Him from my eyes.

I hope I can say, ‘My soul is athirst for God,’ and nothing less than the light of His countenance can satisfy me. Blessed be His Name for the desire: it is His own gift, and He never gives it in vain.

He will afford us a taste of the water of life by the way; and ere long we shall drink abundantly at the fountainhead, and have done with complaint for ever.

May we be thankful for what we receive, and still earnestly desirous of more.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1988), 2: 201-202.

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