“You have never to drag mercy out of Christ” by Charles Spurgeon

“Jesus deserves to be trusted, and trust Him we will– for He is full of power to save, for He is now upon the throne, and all power is given Him in heaven and in earth.

He is full of power to save we know, because He is saving souls every day.

Some of us are the living witnesses that He can forgive sin, for we are pardoned, accepted, and renewed in heart; and the only way in which we obtained those boons was this—we trusted Him, we did nothing else but trust Him.

If any soul here that believes in Jesus should perish, I must perish with him. I sail in that boat, and if it sinks I have no other to fly to, I avow before you all that I have no other confidence.

I have not so much as the shred of a reliance in any sacrament I have undergone or enjoyed, in any sermon I have ever preached, in any prayer I have ever prayed, in any communion with God I have ever known.

My hope lies in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ.

And I shake off as though it were a viper, into the fire, as a deadly thing only fit to be burned, all pretense of relying on anything I may be, or can be, or ever shall be, or do.

‘None but Jesus,’—this is the settled pillar upon which we must build. It will bear us up, but nothing else can.

Moreover, remember also that Jesus Christ this morning is by no means unwilling to save sinners, but on the contrary, He delights to do it.

You have never to drag mercy out of Christ, as money from a miser, but it flows freely from him, like the stream from the fountain, or the sunlight from the sun.

If He can be happier, He is made happier by giving of His mercy to the undeserving.

When a poor wretch who only deserves hell, comes to Him, and he says, ‘I have blotted out thy sins,’ it is joy to Christ’s heart to do it.

When a poor blasphemer bows his knee, and says, ‘Lord, be merciful to me a sinner,’ it makes Christ’s heart glad to say, ‘Thy blasphemies are forgiven: I suffered for them on the tree.’

When a poor little child, by her bedside, cries, ‘Gentle Jesus, teach a little child to pray, and forgive the sins which I have done;’ the Saviour loves to say, ‘Suffer these little children to come to Me, for this also is a part of My recompense for the wounds I endured in My hands, My feet, and My side.’

When any of you come to Him and confess your transgressions and trust yourselves in His hands, it will be a new heaven to Him.

It will put new stars into His ever bright and lustrous crown.

It will make Him see of the travail of His soul and give Him satisfaction.

Have we not here arguments to prove that Jesus is worthy to be trusted?”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Essence of Simplicity,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 18 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1872), 18: 728–729.

“Why does Luke pay so much attention to Jesus’ burial?” by Sinclair Ferguson

“Luke wants you to admire Joseph of Arimathea. He was ‘a good and righteous man’ (Luke 23:50). That meant he was faithful to God’s covenant and experienced its blessings. Like some others in this Gospel, he was ‘looking’– waiting expectantly– for God’s kingdom to come.

He was also a member of the Sanhedrin but had not consented to its condemnation of Jesus (perhaps its leaders had avoided summoning to the crisis meeting anyone whose loyalties they suspected). Matthew and John tell us explicitly what Luke only implies: he was also a rich man (he already owned a tomb in Jerusalem); and he was a secret disciple who, until this point, had lacked the courage to confess it (Matthew 27:57; John 19:38).

The Sanhedrin was a very select group of well-connected men. Word of mouth travelled fast in Jerusalem. Joseph must soon have learned what had happened. Jesus was dead.

It was now or never for Joseph. He stepped out of the shadows, went directly to Pilate and asked for the body. This was not without risk, or cost. If Pilate granted his request, and Joseph personally handled Jesus’ body, he would be rendering himself ritually unclean.

But he knew that otherwise Jesus’ body would probably be thrown into a common grave where the bones of many criminals already lay– perhaps right there at The Skull (was this the derivation of the name?). Some things are far more important than ritual purity.

Pilate was probably relieved. Now he could relax and forget about the problem of Jesus. Little did he know… But for Joseph there must have been three hours of feverish activity. It was already past three o’clock and the Jewish Sabbath began at six o clock– not a lot of time to get to Pilate for permission, get back to The Skull, arrange helpers, and carry Jesus’ body to the family tomb.

Why does Luke pay so much attention to Jesus’ burial? For several reasons. The first is that he removes any doubt about the reality of Jesus’ death. The Roman soldiers had made sure of that. Joseph had himself handled the body, and others had helped him prepare it for burial and carry it to the tomb.

The second is that Luke makes clear that there was no confusion about the location of Jesus’ burial place. Joseph’s tomb was new, and a variety of witnesses knew where it was.

Then, thirdly, Luke adds that the women went to prepare spices and ointments to return after the Sabbath to anoint the body. In other words, nobody– despite what Jesus had taught them– was expecting Jesus’ resurrection.

But before we come to that resurrection, we should take another look at Joseph. Of all the Gospel-writers, Luke was most like a historian in his method. But historians can also be poets and theologians. And there is something poetically theological about the way he frames his whole Gospel.

His story of Jesus life begins with him being cared for by a man named Joseph, who places him in a borrowed resting place, in which no baby had ever been laid. It ends with Jesus being cared for again by a man named Joseph, who lays him in another borrowed resting place, where no man had ever been laid.

The story has come full circle; another Joseph has received Christ into his heart and life. At the turning point of Luke’s Gospel, near the beginning of the journey to Jerusalem, Jesus had said that discipleship meant following one who had ‘nowhere to lay his head’ (Luke 9:58). Now Joseph had come out into the open as a disciple, whatever it might cost. So he gave up to Jesus the place where he had planned to lay his own head.

At the cross, Jesus had given up what was His for the sake of Joseph. Now Joseph was giving up what was his for the sake of Jesus. That is what it means to be a disciple.”

—Sinclair B. Ferguson, To Seek and to Save: Daily Reflections on the Road to the Cross (Epsom, England: Good Book Company, 2020), 142-144.

“No one is too bad to be saved” by J.C. Ryle

“No one is too bad to be saved, or beyond the power of Christ’s grace. The door of hope which the Gospel reveals to sinners is very wide open.

Let us leave it open as we find it. Let us not attempt in narrow-minded ignorance, to shut it.

We should never be afraid to maintain that Christ is ‘able to save to the uttermost,’ and that the vilest of sinners may be freely forgiven if they will only come to Him.

We should offer the Gospel boldly to the worst and wickedest, and say, ‘There is hope. Only repent and believe. Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool.’ (Isaiah 1:18.)

Such doctrine may seem to worldly people foolishness and licentiousness. But such doctrine is the Gospel of Him who saved Zacchaeus at Jericho.

Hospitals discharge many cases as incurable. But there are no incurable cases under the Gospel. Any sinner may be healed, if he will only come to Christ.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke, Vol. 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 2: 216-217.

“Lord, clothe us with humility” by J.C. Ryle

“We learn, from this passage, how ready Christians are to be puffed up with success. It is written, that the seventy returned from their first mission with joy, ‘saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.’

There was much false fire in that joy. There was evidently self-satisfaction in that report of achievements. The whole tenor of the passage leads us to this conclusion.

The remarkable expression which our Lord uses about Satan’s fall from heaven, was most probably meant to be a caution. He read the hearts of the young and inexperienced soldiers before Him.

He saw how much they were lifted up by their first victory. He wisely checks them in their undue exultation. He warns them against pride.

The lesson is one which all who work for Christ should mark and remember. Success is what all faithful laborers in the Gospel field desire.

The minister at home and the missionary abroad, the district visitor and the city missionary, the tract distributor and the Sunday-school teacher, all alike long for success. All long to see Satan’s kingdom pulled down, and souls converted to God.

We cannot wonder. The desire is right and good. Let it, however, never be forgotten, that the time of success is a time of danger to the Christian’s soul. The very hearts that are depressed when all things seem against them are often unduly exalted in the day of prosperity.

Few men are like Samson, and can kill a lion without telling others of it. (Judges 14:6.) No wonder that St. Paul says of a bishop, that he ought not to be ‘a novice, lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil.’ (1 Tim. 3:6.)

Most of Christ’s laborers probably have as much success as their souls can bear. Let us pray much for humility, and especially for humility in our days of peace and success.

When everything around us seems to prosper, and all our plans work well,—when family trials and sicknesses are kept from us, and the course of our worldly affairs runs smooth,—when our daily crosses are light, and all within and without like a morning without clouds,—then, then is the time when our souls are in danger!

Then is the time when we have need to be doubly watchful over our own hearts. Then is the time when seeds of evil are sown within us by the devil, which may one day astound us by their growth and strength.

There are few Christians who can carry a full cup with a steady hand. There are few whose souls prosper in their days of uninterrupted success.

We are all inclined to sacrifice to our net, and burn incense to our own drag. (Hab. 1:16.) We are ready to think that our own might and our own wisdom have procured us the victory.

The caution of the passage before us ought never to be forgotten. In the midst of our triumphs, let us cry earnestly, ‘Lord, clothe us with humility.'”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 1: 358-360. Ryle is commenting on Luke 10:17-20.

“Grace is the main thing” by J.C. Ryle

“Let the religion which we aim to possess be a religion in which grace is the main thing. Let it not content us to be able to speak eloquently, or preach powerfully, or reason ably, or argue cleverly, or profess loudly, or talk fluently.

Let it not satisfy us to know the whole system of Christian doctrines, and to have texts and words at our command.

These things are all well in their way. They are not to be undervalued. They have their use. But these things are not the grace of God, and they will not deliver us from hell.

Let us never rest until we have the witness of the Spirit within us that we are ‘washed, and sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God.’ (1 Cor. 6:11.) Let us seek to know that ‘our names are written in heaven,’ and that we are really one with Christ and Christ in us.

Let us strive to be ‘epistles of Christ known and read of all men,’ and to show by our meekness, and charity, and faith, and spiritual-mindedness, that we are the children of God.

This is true religion. These are the real marks of saving Christianity. Without such marks, a man may have abundance of gifts and turn out nothing better than a follower of Judas Iscariot, the false apostle, and go at last to hell.

With such marks, a man may be like Lazarus, poor and despised upon earth, and have no gifts at all. But his name is written in heaven, and Christ shall own him as one of His people at the last day.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 1: 361. Ryle is commenting on Luke 10:17-20.

“As if he thought every one was going to heaven” by J.C. Ryle

“The clergyman who ascends his pulpit every Sunday, and addresses his congregation as if he thought every one was going to heaven, is surely not doing his duty to God or man. His preaching is flatly contradictory to the parable of the sower.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 1: 254. Ryle is commenting on Luke 8:4-15.

“Beware of the cares of this world” by J.C. Ryle

“The third caution contained in the parable of the sower is to beware of the cares of this world. Our Lord tells us that the hearts of many hearers of the word are like thorny ground. The seed of the word, when sown upon them, is choked by the multitude of other things, by which their affections are occupied.

They have no objection to the doctrines and requirements of the Gospel. They even wish to believe and obey them. But they allow the things of earth to get such hold upon their minds, that they leave no room for the word of God to do its work.

And hence it follows that however many sermons they hear, they seem nothing bettered by them. A weekly process of truth-stifling goes on within. They bring no fruit to perfection.

The things of this life form one of the greatest dangers which beset a Christian’s path. The money, the pleasures, the daily business of the world, are so many traps to catch souls.

Thousands of things, which in themselves are innocent, become, when followed to excess, little better than soul-poisons, and helps to hell. Open sin is not the only thing that ruins souls.

In the midst of our families, and in the pursuit of our lawful callings, we have need to be on our guard. Except we watch and pray, these temporal things may rob us of heaven, and smother every sermon we hear. We may live and die thorny-ground hearers.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (vol. 1; New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 1: 252–253. Ryle is commenting on Luke 8:4-15.