Tag Archives: Mercy

“The happiness of the Christian is a serious happiness” by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“For the Christian man who mourns because of sin and because of the state of the world, there is this comfort—the comfort of the blessed hope, the glory that yet remains.

So that even here, though he is groaning, he is happy at the same time because of the hope that is set before him. There is this ultimate hope in eternity.

In that eternal state we shall be wholly and entirely blessed, there will be nothing to mar life, nothing to detract from it, nothing to spoil it.

Sorrow and sighing shall be no more; all tears shall be wiped away; and we shall bask for ever and ever in the eternal sunshine, and experience joy and bliss and glory unmixed and unspoiled. ‘Happy are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.’

How true it is. Unless we know that, we are not Christian.

If we are Christian, we do know it, this joy of sins forgiven and the knowledge of it; the joy of reconciliation; the joy of knowing that God takes us back when we have fallen away from Him; the joy and contemplation of the glory that is set before us; the joy that comes from anticipation of the eternal state.

Let us, then, try to define this man who mourns. What sort of a man is he?

He is a sorrowful man, but he is not morose.

He is a sorrowful man, but he is not a miserable man.

He is a serious man, but he is not a solemn man.

He is a sober-minded man, but he is not a sullen man. He is a grave man, but he is never cold or prohibitive.

There is with his gravity a warmth and attraction. This man, in other words, is always serious; but he does not have to affect the seriousness.

The true Christian is never a man who has to put on an appearance of either sadness or joviality. No, no; he is a man who looks at life seriously; he contemplates it spiritually, and he sees in it sin and its effects.

He is a serious, sober-minded man. His outlook is always serious, but because of these views which he has, and his understanding of truth, he also has ‘a joy unspeakable and full of glory’.

So he is like the apostle Paul, ‘groaning within himself’, and yet happy because of his experience of Christ and the glory that is to come.

The Christian is not superficial in any sense, but is fundamentally serious and fundamentally happy.

You see, the joy of the Christian is a holy joy, the happiness of the Christian is a serious happiness.

None of that superficial appearance of happiness and joy! No, no; it is a solemn joy, it is a holy joy, it is a serious happiness; so that, though he is grave and sober-minded and serious, he is never cold and prohibitive.

Indeed, he is like our Lord Himself, groaning, weeping, and yet, ‘for the joy that was set before him’ enduring the cross, despising the shame.

That is the man who mourns; that is the Christian. That is the type of Christian seen in the Church in ages past, when the doctrine of sin was preached and emphasized, and men were not merely urged to take a sudden decision.

A deep doctrine of sin, a high doctrine of joy, and the two together produce this blessed, happy man who mourns, and who at the same time is comforted.

The way to experience that, obviously, is to read the Scriptures, to study and meditate upon them, to pray to God for His Spirit to reveal sin in us to ourselves, and then to reveal to us the Lord Jesus Christ in all His fullness.

‘Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.’(Matt. 5:4)”

–D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, Second edition. (England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1976), 65-66.

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“Christian hope is hope in God” by John Webster

“Christian hope is hope in God, for the God confessed by the Christian fellowship is ‘the God of hope’ (Rom. 15:13).

Christian hope and its activities have to be explicated out of faith’s apprehension of God and God’s ways with the world as its maker, reconciler and consummator.

In formal terms, this is simply an application of the rule that Christian moral theology ought not to exist in independence of Christian doctrine.

In material terms, it is an application of the rule that all Christian teaching, including teaching about the moral life, is an extension of the doctrine of the Trinity, which is the Christian doctrine of God. Christian hope is hope in this God; and the doctrine of the Trinity can therefore rightly be said to furnish ‘the environment of Christian behaviour’. How is this so?

The Christian confession of God as Trinity attempts to indicate that the sovereign majesty and perfection which is God’s life is that of the eternal and perfect relations of Father, Son and Spirit.

God is the relations of these three persons; his being is his eternal fullness as the Father who begets the Son, the Son who is begotten of the Father before all worlds, and the Spirit who proceeds from them. In these relations, fully achieved and lacking nothing, God is one; his unity is the repleteness and blessedness of the fellowship of the three.

This repleteness of God’s life includes within itself, as an integral aspect of its perfection, a turn to that which is not God. In this turn there occurs a movement in which the fellowship of the immanent life of God creates a further object of love.

This turn is free, self-caused, wholly spontaneous, original to the divine being; its necessity is purely the necessity of God’s own self-determination to be in fellowship with that which is other than himself. As such, it is not a turn which completes or extends the divine life; it is a turning out of fullness, not out of lack.

More simply: it is gift, love. This turning or act of love is the work of the triune God as the world’s creator, reconciler and consummator. It takes historical form in the simple yet staggeringly complex work of God’s majesty in the entire scope of the economy, as God brings creaturely reality into being, redeems it and ensures that it will arrive at its perfection.

As Father, God purposes that in its abundance, the divine love should be directed to bringing creation into being, bestowing upon it life, order and direction. Because it is rooted in the Father’s will, this purpose is unshakeable. That is, God’s relation to what he makes is not simply an act of origination, but an act which ensures the creation’s destiny, and therefore one which oversees, directs and protects the creation so that it attains that destiny.

As Son, God intervenes in the history of creation when by its own perversity the creature seeks to struggle free from the Father’s purpose, refusing to be a creature, and in so doing exposing itself to mortal peril. Only as creature can the creature have life; and it is the work of the Son to reconcile and therefore to recreate what has brought destruction upon itself.

Through the person and work of the Son, gathering created being to himself and bearing in himself its alienation from the source of its life and well-being, creation is reintegrated into the Father’s purpose.

Lastly, as Spirit, God acts to bring to completion that which the Father purposes and the Son secures against all opposition, namely the identity and integrity of the creation in fellowship with God. God the Spirit perfects, bringing creaturely being and history to their completion.

What is the significance of this for Christian hope? Hope is that creaturely disposition which corresponds to the fact that all occasions of human history, including its future, are caught up within the economy of the triune God’s mercy.

Because God is to the depths of his eternal being triune, and because he acts in the world as the one he is in himself, then the entire scope of human history and action is embraced by God’s purpose. God is not simply originator (setting the creation in motion), nor simply end (tying up the loose ends of history at its terminus).

Rather, as Father, Son and Spirit, God is infinite—no time or space is apart from or beyond his presence and action—and so steadfast—his purpose has been, is and will be at all times constantly and reliably at work.

And it is as this one that God is the ground of hope, for hope trusts that, because the Father’s purpose has been accomplished in the Son and is now at work in the world in the Spirit’s power, then human history is God’s economy.

Within the space which the triune God creates, hope is neither a fantasy nor a gesture of defiance, but a fitting, truthful attitude and shape for action. In sum: hope rests upon God’s faithfulness, and God’s faithfulness is triune.

One immediate effect of rooting a theology of Christian hope in the doctrine of the Trinity is to prevent an exclusive orientation towards eschatology. Hope is not simply a correlate of the divine futurity or the coming of God; it is, rather, a disposition which is related to the entirety of God’s dealings with his creature, past, present and future.

Within this, hope undoubtedly has an especial regard for the future horizon of human history. But this future quickly becomes isolated when not adequately related to a theological account of God as the world’s creator and as its reconciler in the person and work of Christ.

An isolated eschatology accords little weight to created nature, and often functions with only a pale theology of incarnation and atonement, precisely because the preponderant doctrinal weight is placed in the future of God.

This imbalance within the structure of Christian teaching orients hope, not to the fulfilment of God’s eternal purpose but to an absolute eschatological novum. The corrective to the imbalance is achieved by relating hope not simply to the future but also to the triune eternity of God, that is, to God’s sovereign and purposive presence to and action within all creaturely time.

Christian hope, and therefore hopeful Christian action, rests not simply on what will be, but on what will be as the fulfilment of God’s steadfastness as Father, Son and Spirit, his already-enacted, present and promised constancy to the creature.

Hope is hope in God’s steadfast love (Psalm 33:18, 22; 130:7; 131:3; 147:11). A Christian moral theology of hope begins thus with the perfection of the triune God.”

–John Webster, “Hope,” in Confessing God: Essays in Christian Dogmatics II, The Cornerstones Series (London; New Delhi; New York; Sydney: Bloomsbury T&T Clark: An Imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc; Bloomsbury, 2016), 197–200.

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“Rest on no other work but Christ’s work” by J.C. Ryle

“Today’s sorrow will not wipe off the score of yesterday’s sins. It is not an ocean of tears that would ever cleanse an uneasy conscience and give it peace.

Where then must a man go for pardon? Where is forgiveness to be found? There is a way both sure and plain, and into that way I desire to guide every inquirer’s feet.

That way is simply to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour.

It is to cast your soul, with all its sins, unreservedly on Christ,—to cease completely from any dependence on your own works or doings, either in whole or in part,—and to rest on no other work but Christ’s work, no other righteousness but Christ’s righteousness, no other merit but Christ’s merit, as your ground of hope.

Take this course and you are a pardoned soul. “To Christ,” says Peter, “give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43)

“Through this Man,” says Paul at Antioch, “is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by Him all that believe are justified from all things.” (Acts 13:38)

“In Him,” writes Paul to the Colossians, “we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:14)

The Lord Jesus Christ, in great love and compassion, has made a full and complete satisfaction for sin, by suffering death in our place upon the cross.

There He offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, and allowed the wrath of God, which we deserved, to fall on His own head. For our sins, as our Substitute, He gave Himself, suffered, and died,—the just for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty,—that He might deliver us from the curse of a broken law, and provide a complete pardon for all who are willing to receive it.

And by so doing, as Isaiah says,—He has borne our sins; as John the Baptist says,—He has taken away sin; as Paul says,—He has purged our sins, and put away sin; and as Daniel says,—He has made an end of sin, and finished trangression. (Isaiah 53:11; John 1:29; Heb. 1:3; Heb. 9:26; Dan. 9:24)

And now the Lord Jesus Christ is sealed and appointed by God the Father to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give remission of sins to all who will have it. The keys of death and hell are put in His hand. The government of the gate of heaven is laid on His shoulder. He Himself is the door, and by Him all that enter in shall be saved. (Acts 5:31; Rev. 1:18; John 10:9.)

Christ, in one word, has purchased a full forgiveness, if we are only willing to receive it. He has done all, paid all, suffered all that was needful to reconcile us to God.

He has provided a garment of righteousness to clothe us. He has opened a fountain of living waters to cleanse us. He has removed every barrier between us and God the Father, taken every obstacle out of the way, and made a road by which the vilest may return.

All things are now ready, and the sinner has only to believe and be saved, to eat and be satisfied, to ask and receive, to wash and be clean.

And faith, simple faith, is the only thing required, in order that you and I may be forgiven.

That we will come by faith to Jesus as sinners with our sins,—trust in Him,—rest on Him,—lean on Him,—confide in Him,—commit our souls to Him,—and forsaking all other hope, cleave only to Him,—this is all and everything that God asks for.

Let a man only do this, and he shall be saved. His iniquities shall be found completely pardoned, and his transgressions entirely taken away.

Every man and woman that so trusts is wholly forgiven, and reckoned perfectly righteous. His sins are clean gone, and his soul is justified in God’s sight, however bad and guilty he may have been.”

–J.C. Ryle, “Forgiveness,” Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2013), 175-176.

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“Grace, grace, free grace, has done it all” by J.C. Ryle

“If you have a good hope, be thankful, for it, and give God daily praise. Who has made you to differ? Why have you been taught to feel your sins, and nothingness, while others are ignorant and self-righteous?

Why have you been taught to look to Jesus, while others are looking to their own goodness, or resting on some mere form of religion? Why are you longing and striving to be holy, while others are caring for nothing but this world?

Why are these things so?

There is but one answer,—Grace, grace, free grace, has done it all. For that grace praise God. For that grace be thankful.

Go on, then, to your journey’s end, “rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.” (Rom. 5:2) Go on, rejoicing in the thought that though you are a poor sinner Jesus is a most gracious Saviour, and that though you have trials here for a little season, heaven shall soon make amends for all.

Go on, wearing hope as a helmet in all the battles of life,—a hope of pardon, a hope of perseverance, a hope of acquittal in the judgment day, a hope of final glory.

Put on the breast-plate of righteousness: take the shield of faith; have your loins girt about with truth: wield valiantly the sword of the Spirit. But never forget—as ever you would be a happy Christian—never forget to put on the “helmet of hope.” (1 Thess. 5:8)

Go on, in spite of an ill-natured world, and be not moved by its laughter or its persecution, its slanders or its sneers. Comfort your heart with the thought that the time is short, the good things yet to come, the night far spent, the “morning without clouds” at hand. (2 Sam. 23:4) When the wicked man dies his expectation perishes; but your expectation shall not deceive you,—your reward is sure.

Go on, and be not cast down because you are troubled by doubts and fears. You are yet in the body: this world is not your rest. The devil hates you because you have escaped from him, and he will do all he can to rob you of peace.

The very fact that you have fears is an evidence that you feel you have something to lose. The true Christian may ever be discerned by his warfare quite as much as by his peace, and by his fears quite as much as by his hopes.

The ships at anchor at Spithead may swing to and fro with the tide, and pitch heavily in a south-eastern gale; but so long as their anchors hold the ground they ride safely, and have no cause to fear.

The hope of the true Christian is the “anchor of his soul, sure and steadfast.” (Heb. 6:19) His heart may be tossed to and fro sometimes, but he is safe in Christ. The waves may swell, and lift him up and down, but he will not be wrecked.

Go on, and “hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:13) Yet a little time, and faith shall be changed to sight, and hope to certainty: you shall see even as you have been seen, and know even as you have been known.

A few more tossings to and fro on the waves of this troublesome world,—a few more battles and conflicts with our spiritual enemy,—a few more years of tears and partings, of working and suffering, of crosses and cares, of disappointments and vexations,—and then, then we shall be at home.

The harbour lights are already in view: the haven of rest is not far off. There we shall find all that we have hoped for, and find that it was a million times better than our hopes.

There we shall find all the saints,—and no sin, no cares of this world, no money, no sickness, no death, no devil. There, above all, we shall find Jesus, and be ever with the Lord! (1 Thess. 4:17)

Let us hope on. It is worth while to carry the cross and follow Christ. Let the world laugh and mock, if it will; it is worth while to have “a good hope through grace,” and be a thorough decided Christian.

I say again,—Let us hope on.”

–J.C. Ryle, “Our Hope,” Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2013), 111-113.

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“A good hope is a hope that rests entirely on Jesus Christ” by J.C. Ryle

“A good hope is a hope that rests entirely on Jesus Christ.

What says St. Paul to Timothy? He says that Jesus Christ ‘is our hope.’ What says he to the Colossians? He speaks of ‘Christ in you the hope of glory.’ (1 Tim. 1:1. Coloss. 1:27)

The man who has a good hope founds all his expectations of pardon and salvation on the mediation and redeeming work of Jesus the Son of God.

He knows his own sinfulness; he feels that he is guilty, wicked, and lost by nature: but he sees forgiveness and peace with God offered freely to him through faith in Christ.

He accepts the offer: he casts himself with all his sins on Jesus, and rests on Him.

Jesus and His atonement on the cross,—Jesus and His righteousness,—Jesus and His finished work,—Jesus and His all-prevailing intercession,—Jesus, and Jesus only, is the foundation of the confidence of his soul.

Let us beware of supposing that any hope is good which is not founded on Christ. All other hopes are built on sand.

They may look well in the summer time of health and prosperity, but they will fail in the day of sickness and the hour of death. ‘Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.’ (1 Cor. 3:11)

Church-membership is no foundation of hope. We may belong to the best of Churches, and yet never belong to Christ.

We may fill our pew regularly every Sunday, and hear the sermons of orthodox, ordained clergymen, and yet never hear the voice of Jesus, or follow Him. If we have nothing better than Church-membership to rest upon we are in a poor plight: we have nothing solid beneath our feet.

Reception of the sacraments is no foundation of hope. We may be washed in the waters of baptism, and yet know nothing of the water of life.

We may go to the Lord’s table every Sunday of our lives, and yet never eat Christ’s body and drink Christ’s blood by faith.

Miserable indeed is our condition if we can say nothing more than this! We possess nothing but the outside of Christianity: we are leaning on a reed.

Christ Himself is the only true foundation of a good hope.

He is the rock,—His work is perfect.

He is the stone,—the sure stone,—the tried corner-stone.

He is able to bear all the weight that we can lay upon Him. He only that buildeth and ‘believeth on Him shall not be confounded.’ (Deut. 32:4; Isa. 28:16; 1 Peter 2:6)”

–J.C. Ryle, “Our Hope,” Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2013), 94-95.

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“Stick to your Bible” by J.C. Ryle

“The hope which ‘maketh not ashamed’ (Rom. 5:5) is never separate from God’s Word.

Men wonder sometimes that ministers press them so strongly to read the Bible. They marvel that we say so much about the importance of preaching, and urge them so often to hear sermons.

Let them cease to wonder, and marvel no more. Our object is to make you acquainted with God’s Word.

We want you to have a good hope, and we know that a good hope must be drawn from the Scriptures.

Without reading or hearing you must live and die in ignorance. Hence we cry, “Search the Scriptures” “Hear, and your soul shall live.” (John 5:39. Isa. 55:3.)

I warn every one to beware of a hope not drawn from Scripture. It is a false hope, and many will find out this to their cost.

That glorious and perfect book, the Bible, however men despise it, is the only fountain out of which man’s soul can derive peace.

Many sneer at the old book while living, who find their need of it when dying.

The Queen in her palace and the pauper in the workhouse, the philosopher in his study and the child in the cottage,—each and all must be content to seek living water from the Bible, if they are to have any hope at all.

Honour your Bible,—read your Bible,—stick to your Bible.

There is not on earth a scrap of solid hope for the other side of the grave which is not drawn out of the Word of God.”

–J.C. Ryle, “Our Hope,” Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2013), 94.

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“Cleave to the Lord” by J.C. Ryle

“My last word of application shall be an affectionate exhortation to every reader of this paper who has found out the value of his soul, and believed in Jesus Christ. That exhortation shall be short and simple.

I beseech you to cleave to the Lord with all your heart, and to press towards the mark for the prize of your high calling.

I can well conceive that you find your way very narrow. There are few with you and many against you.

Your lot in life may seem hard, and your position may be difficult. But still cleave to the Lord, and He will never forsake you.

Cleave to the Lord in the midst of persecution.

Cleave to the Lord, though men laugh at you and mock you, and try to make you ashamed.

Cleave to the Lord, though the cross be heavy and the fight be hard. He was not ashamed of you upon the Cross of Calvary: then do not be ashamed of Him upon earth, lest He should be ashamed of you before His Father who is in heaven.

Cleave to the Lord, and He will never forsake you. In this world there are plenty of disappointments,—disappointments in properties, and families, and houses, and lands, and situations.

But no man ever yet was disappointed in Christ. No man ever failed to find Christ all that the Bible says He is, and a thousand times better than he had been told before.

Look forward, look onward and forward to the end! Your best things are yet to come. Time is short. The end is drawing near. The latter days of the world are upon us.

Fight the good fight. Labour on. Work on. Strive on. Pray on. Read on.

Labour hard for your own soul’s prosperity. Labour hard for the prosperity of the souls of others.

Strive to bring a few more with you to heaven, and by all means to save some.

Do something, by God’s help, to make heaven more full and hell more empty.

Speak to that young man by your side, and to that old person who lives near to your house.

Speak to that neighbour who never goes to a place of worship.

Speak to that relative who never reads the Bible in private, and makes a jest of serious religion.

Entreat them all to think about their souls. Beg them to go and hear something on Sundays which will be for their good unto everlasting life.

Try to persuade them to live, not like the beasts which perish, but like men who desire to be saved.

Great is your reward in heaven, if you try to do good to souls.”

–J.C. Ryle, “Our Souls,” Old Paths: Being Plain Statements of Some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1877/2013), 58-59.

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