Tag Archives: Satan

“God’s chosen instrument for doing good to souls” by J.C. Ryle

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Faith, Glory of Christ, God's Power, Gospel according to Luke, grace, J.C. Ryle, Jesus Christ, Love of God, Mercy, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Sanctification, The Gospel

“The gentleness and condescension of Christ” by J.C. Ryle

“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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Faith, Gentleness, Glory of Christ, God's Power, Gospel according to Luke, grace, Humility, J.C. Ryle, Jesus Christ, Love of God, Mercy, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Sanctification, The Gospel

“When Christ is the physician nothing is impossible” by J.C. Ryle

“Let us mark, in these verses, the absolute power which the Lord Jesus Christ possesses over Satan. We are told that he “commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man,” whose miserable condition we have just head described.

At once the unhappy sufferer was healed. The “many devils” by whom he had been possessed were compelled to leave him. Nor is this all.

Cast forth from their abode in the man’s heart, we see these malignant spirits beseeching our Lord that He would “not torment” them, or “command them to go out into the deep,” and so confessing His supremacy over them.

Mighty as they were, they plainly felt themselves in the presence of One mightier than themselves. Full of malice as they were, they could not even hurt the “swine” of the Gadarenes until our Lord granted them permission.

Our Lord Jesus Christ’s dominion over the devil should be a cheering thought to all true Christians. Without it, indeed, we might well despair of salvation.

To feel that we have ever near us an invisible spiritual enemy, laboring night and day to compass our destruction, would be enough to crush out every hope, if we did not know a Friend and Protector.

Blessed be God! The Gospel reveals such an One. The Lord Jesus is stronger than that “strong man armed,” who is ever warring against our souls. The Lord Jesus is able to deliver us from the devil.

He proved his power over him frequently when upon earth. He triumphed over him gloriously on the cross. He will never let him pluck any of His sheep out of His hand. He will one day bruise him under our feet, and bind him in the prison of hell. (Rom. 16:20; Rev. 20:1-2)

Happy are they who hear Christ’s voice and follow Him! Satan may vex them, but he cannot really hurt them! He may bruise their heel, but he cannot destroy their souls. They shall be “more than conquerors” through Him who loved them. (Rom. 8:37)

Let us mark, finally, the wonderful change which Christ can work in Satan’s slaves. We are told that the Gadarenes “found the man out of whom the devil was departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind.”

That sight must indeed have been strange and astonishing! The man’s past history and condition, no doubt, were well known. He had probably been a nuisance and a terror to all the neighborhood.

Yet here, in one moment, a complete change had come over him. Old things had passed away, and all things had become new. The power by which such a cure was wrought must indeed have been almighty.

When Christ is the physician nothing is impossible.

One thing, however, must never be forgotten. Striking and miraculous as this cure was, it is not really more wonderful than every case of decided conversion to God.

Marvellous as the change was which appeared in this demoniac’s condition when healed, it is not one whit more marvellous than the change which passes over every one who is born again, and turned from the power of Satan to God.

Never is a man in his right mind till he is converted, or in his right place till he sits by faith at the feet of Jesus, or rightly clothed till he has put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Have we ever considered what real conversion to God is?

It is nothing else than the miraculous release of a captive, the miraculous restoration of a man to his right mind, the miraculous deliverance of a soul from the devil.

What are we ourselves? This, after all, is the grand question which concerns us. Are we bondsmen of Satan or servants of God? Has Christ made us free, or does she devil yet reign in our hearts? Do we sit at the feet of Jesus daily? Are we in our right minds?

May the Lord help us to answer these questions aright!”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1858/2012), 1: 205-207. Ryle is commenting on Luke 8:26-36.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Faith, Glory of Christ, God's Power, Gospel according to Luke, grace, J.C. Ryle, Jesus Christ, Love of God, Mercy, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Sanctification, The Gospel

“Greater is He that is for us” by J.C. Ryle

“The truth here taught is full of strong consolation for all true Christians. We live in a world full of difficulties and snares.

We are ourselves weak and compassed with infirmity.

The awful thought that we have a mighty spiritual enemy ever near us, subtle, powerful, and malicious as Satan is, might well disquiet us, and cast us down.

But, thanks be unto God, we have in Jesus an almighty Friend, who is ‘able to save us to the uttermost.’

He has already triumphed over Satan on the cross. He will ever triumph over him in the hearts of all believers, and intercede for them that their faith fail not.

And He will finally triumph over Satan completely, when He shall come forth at the second advent., and bind him in the bottomless pit.

And now, Are we ourselves delivered from Satan’s power? This after all is the grand question that concerns our souls.—He still reigns and rules in the hearts of all who are children of disobedience. (Eph. 2:3.)

He is still a king over the ungodly. Have we, by grace, broken his bonds, and escaped his hand? Have we really renounced him and all his works?

Do we daily resist him and make him flee? Do we put on the whole armour of God and stand against his wiles?

May we never rest till we can give satisfactory answers to these questions.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1857/2012), 72-73. Ryle is commenting on Mark 5:1-17.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, J.C. Ryle, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“I’m going to live like a Narnian” by C.S. Lewis

“Narnia?” said the Witch. “Narnia? I have often heard your Lordship utter that name in your ravings. Dear Prince, you are very sick. There is no land called Narnia.”

“Yes there is, though, Ma’am,” said Puddleglum. “You see, I happen to have lived there all my life.”

“Indeed,” said the Witch. “Tell me, I pray you, where that country is?”

“Up there,” said Puddleglum, stoutly, pointing overhead. “I—I don’t know exactly where.”

“How?” said the Queen, with a kind, soft, musical laugh. “Is there a country up among the stones and mortar on the roof?”

“No,” said Puddleglum, struggling a little to get his breath. “It’s in Overworld.”

“And what, or where, pray is this … how do you call it … Overworld?”

“Oh, don’t be so silly,” said Scrubb, who was fighting hard against the enchantment of the sweet smell and the thrumming. “As if you didn’t know! It’s up above, up where you can see the sky and the sun and the stars. Why, you’ve been there yourself. We met you there.”

“I cry you mercy, little brother,” laughed the Witch (you couldn’t have heard a lovelier laugh). “I have no memory of that meeting. But we often meet our friends in strange places when we dream. And unless all dreamed alike, you must not ask them to remember it.”

“Madam,” said the Prince sternly, “I have already told your Grace that I am the King’s son of Narnia.”

“And shalt be, dear friend,” said the Witch in a soothing voice, as if she was humoring a child, “shalt be king of many imagined lands in thy fancies.”

“We’ve been there, too,” snapped Jill. She was very angry because she could feel enchantment getting hold of her every moment. But of course the very fact that she could still feel it, showed that it had not yet fully worked.

“And thou art Queen of Narnia too, I doubt not, pretty one,” said the Witch in the same coaxing, half-mocking tone.

“I’m nothing of the sort,” said Jill, stamping her foot. “We come from another world.”

“Why, this is a prettier game than the other,” said the Witch. “Tell us, little maid, where is this other world? What ships and chariots go between it and ours?”

Of course a lot of things darted into Jill’s head at once: Experiment House, Adela Pennyfather, her own home, radio-sets, cinemas, cars, airplanes, ration-books, queues. But they seemed dim and far away. (Thrum—thrum—thrum— went the strings of the Witch’s instrument.) Jill couldn’t remember the names of the things in our world. And this time it didn’t come into her head that she was being enchanted, for now the magic was in its full strength; and of course, the more enchanted you get, the more you feel that you are not enchanted at all. She found herself saying (and at the moment it was a relief to say):

“No. I suppose that other world must be all a dream.”

“Yes. It is all a dream,” said the Witch, always thrumming.

“Yes, all a dream,” said Jill.

“There never was such a world,” said the Witch.

“No,” said Jill and Scrubb, “never was such a world.”

“There never was any world but mine,” said the Witch.

“There never was any world but yours,” said they.

Puddleglum was still fighting hard. “I don’t know rightly what you all mean by a world,” he said, talking like a man who hasn’t enough air. “But you can play that fiddle till your fingers drop off, and still you won’t make me forget Narnia; and the whole Overworld too. We’ll never see it again, I shouldn’t wonder. You may have blotted it out and turned it dark like this, for all I know. Nothing more likely. But I know I was there once. I’ve seen the sky full of stars. I’ve seen the sun coming up out of the sea of a morning and sinking behind the mountains at night. And I’ve seen him up in the midday sky when I couldn’t look at him for brightness.”

Puddleglum’s words had a very rousing effect. The other three all breathed again and looked at one another like people newly awaked.

“Why, there it is!” cried the Prince. “Of course! The blessing of Aslan upon this honest Marsh-wiggle. We have all been dreaming, these last few minutes. How could we have forgotten it? Of course we’ve all seen the sun.”

“By Jove, so we have!” said Scrubb.

“Good for you, Puddleglum! You’re the only one of us with any sense, I do believe.”

Then came the Witch’s voice, cooing softly like the voice of a wood-pigeon from the high elms in an old garden at three o’clock in the middle of a sleepy, summer afternoon; and it said:

“What is this sun that you all speak of? Do you mean anything by the word?”

“Yes, we jolly well do,” said Scrubb.

“Can you tell me what it’s like?” asked the Witch (thrum, thrum, thrum, went the strings).

“Please it your Grace,” said the Prince, very coldly and politely. “You see that lamp. It is round and yellow and gives light to the whole room; and hangeth moreover from the roof. Now that thing which we call the sun is like the lamp, only far greater and brighter. It giveth light to the whole Overworld and hangeth in the sky.”

“Hangeth from what, my lord?” asked the Witch; and then, while they were all still thinking how to answer her, she added, with another of her soft, silver laughs: “You see? When you try to think out clearly what this sun must be, you cannot tell me. You can only tell me it is like the lamp. Your sun is a dream; and there is nothing in that dream that was not copied from the lamp. The lamp is the real thing; the sun is but a tale, a children’s story.”

“Yes, I see now,” said Jill in a heavy, hopeless tone. “It must be so.” And while she said this, it seemed to her to be very good sense.

Slowly and gravely the Witch repeated, “There is no sun.” And they all said nothing. She repeated, in a softer and deeper voice. “There is no sun.” After a pause, and after a struggle in their minds, all four of them said together, “You are right. There is no sun.” It was such a relief to give in and say it.

“There never was a sun,” said the Witch.

“No. There never was a sun,” said the Prince, and the Marsh-wiggle, and the children.

For the last few minutes Jill had been feeling that there was something she must remember at all costs. And now she did. But it was dreadfully hard to say it. She felt as if huge weights were laid on her lips. At last, with an effort that seemed to take all the good out of her, she said:

“There’s Aslan.”

“Aslan?” said the Witch, quickening ever so slightly the pace of her thrumming. “What a pretty name! What does it mean?”

“He is the great Lion who called us out of our own world,” said Scrubb, “and sent us into this to find Prince Rilian.”

“What is a lion?” asked the Witch.

“Oh, hang it all!” said Scrubb. “Don’t you know? How can we describe it to her? Have you ever seen a cat?”

“Surely,” said the Queen. “I love cats.”

“Well, a lion is a little bit—only a little bit, mind you—like a huge cat—with a mane. At least, it’s not like a horse’s mane, you know, it’s more like a judge’s wig. And it’s yellow. And terrifically strong.”

The Witch shook her head. “I see,” she said, “that we should do no better with your lion, as you call it, than we did with your sun. You have seen lamps, and so you imagined a bigger and better lamp and called it the sun. You’ve seen cats, and now you want a bigger and better cat, and it’s to be called a lion. Well, ‘tis a pretty make-believe, though, to say truth, it would suit you all better if you were younger. And look how you can put nothing into your make-believe without copying it from the real world, this world of mine, which is the only world. But even you children are too old for such play. As for you, my lord Prince, that art a man full grown, fie upon you! Are you not ashamed of such toys? Come, all of you. Put away these childish tricks. I have work for you all in the real world. There is no Narnia, no Overworld, no sky, no sun, no Aslan. And now, to bed all. And let us begin a wiser life tomorrow. But, first, to bed; to sleep; deep sleep, soft pillows, sleep without foolish dreams.”

The Prince and the two children were standing with their heads hung down, their cheeks flushed, their eyes half closed; the strength all gone from them; the enchantment almost complete. But Puddleglum, desperately gathering all his strength, walked over to the fire. Then he did a very brave thing. He knew it wouldn’t hurt him quite as much as it would hurt a human; for his feet (which were bare) were webbed and hard and cold-blooded like a duck’s. But he knew it would hurt him badly enough; and so it did. With his bare foot he stamped on the fire, grinding a large part of it into ashes on the flat hearth. And three things happened at once.

First, the sweet, heavy smell grew very much less. For though the whole fire had not been put out, a good bit of it had, and what remained smelled very largely of burnt Marsh-wiggle, which is not at all an enchanting smell. This instantly made everyone’s brain far clearer. The Prince and the children held up their heads again and opened their eyes.

Secondly, the Witch, in a loud, terrible voice, utterly different from all the sweet tones she had been using up till now, called out, “What are you doing? Dare to touch my fire again, mud-filth, and I’ll turn the blood to fire inside your veins.”

Thirdly, the pain itself made Puddleglum’s head for a moment perfectly clear and he knew exactly what he really thought. There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic.

“One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”

‘Oh, hurrah! Good old Puddleglum!’ cried Scrubb and Jill.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair (Chronicles of Narnia Book 4) (New York: Collier, 1953), 151-159.

2 Comments

Filed under Aslan, C.S. Lewis, Christian Theology, Faith, Heaven, Jesus Christ, Literature, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Sanctification, The Gospel, Worldliness, Worldview

“He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them” by C.S. Lewis

“My Dear Wormwood,

I am delighted to hear that your patient’s age and profession make it possible, but by no means certain, that he will be called up for military service. We want him to be in the maximum uncertainty, so that his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear.

There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.

Your patient will, of course, have picked up the notion that he must submit with patience to the Enemy’s will. What the enemy means by this is primarily that he should accept with patience the tribulation which has actually been dealt out to him– the present anxiety and suspense.

It is about this that he is to say “Thy will be done”, and for the daily task of bearing this that the daily bread will be provided. It is your business to see that the patient never thinks of the present fear as his appointed cross, but only of the things he is afraid of.

Let him regard them as his crosses: let him forget that, since they are incompatible, they cannot all happen to him, and let him try to practice fortitude and patience to them all in advance.

For real resignation, at the same moment, to a dozen different and hypothetical fates, is almost impossible, and the Enemy does not greatly assist those who are trying to attain it: resignation to present and actual suffering, even where that suffering consists of fear, is far easier and is usually helped by this direct action.”

–C.S. Lewis, “Letter VI,” The Screwtape Letters (New York: Macmillian, 1950), 34-35.

Leave a comment

Filed under Anxiety, C.S. Lewis, Christian Theology, Faith, Hope, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Sanctification, Satan, Screwtape, Sin

“The four prime things that should be first and most studied and searched” by Thomas Brooks

“Beloved in our dearest Lord, Christ, the Scripture, your own hearts, and Satan’s devices, are the four prime things that should be first and most studied and searched.

If any cast off the study of these, they cannot be safe here, nor happy hereafter.

It is my work as a Christian, but much more as I am a Watchman, to do my best to discover the fullness of Christ, the emptiness of the creature, and the snares of the great deceiver.”

–Thomas Brooks, “Precious Remedies,” in The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, Ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 3.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Jesus Christ, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Sanctification, Satan, The Gospel, Thomas Brooks, Worship