Posts Tagged ‘Practical Religion’

J.C. Ryle Quote (Practical Religion, Heirs of God)

September 27, 2010 Comments off

All the children of God have a cross to carry. They have trials, troubles, and afflictions to go through for the Gospel’s sake. They have trials from the world, trials from the flesh, and trials from the devil. They have trials of hurt feelings from their relatives and friends—cruel words, harsh treatment, and unmerciful judgment. They have trials in the matter of character; slander, misrepresentation, mockery, insinuation of false motives—all these often fall heavily on them. They have trials in the matter of worldly interests. They often have to choose whether they will please man and lose glory for God, or gain glory for God and offend man. They have trials from their own hearts. In general, they each have their own thorn in the flesh—their own resident-devil, who is their worst foe. This is the experience of the sons of God.

Some of them suffer more, and some less. Some of them suffer in one way, and some in another. God measures out their portions like a wise physician, and cannot err. But I believe there never was one child of God who reached paradise without a cross.

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Some Great Quotes from J.C. Ryle, concerning “Practical Religion”

September 13, 2010 Comments off

What is the best safe-guard against false teaching? Beyond all doubt the regular study of the word of God, with prayer for the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The Bible was given to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm. 119:105.) The man who reads it aright will never be allowed greatly to err. It is neglect of the Bible which makes so many a prey to the first false teacher whom they hear. They would have us believe that “they are not learned, and do not pretend to have decided opinions.” The plain truth is that they are lazy and idle about reading the Bible, and do not like the trouble of thinking for themselves. Nothing supplies false prophets with followers so much as spiritual sloth under a cloak of humility.

Let us resolve to “talk more to believers about the Bible” when we meet them. Sorry to say, the conversation of Christians, when they do meet, is often sadly unprofitable! How many frivolous, and trifling, and uncharitable things are said! Let us bring out the Bible more, and it will help to drive the devil away, and keep our hearts in tune. Oh, that we may all strive so to walk together in this evil world, that Jesus may often draw near, and go with us, as He went with the two disciples journeying to Emmaus!

remember that the shortest path is not always the path of duty. To argue with our unconverted relatives, to “avoid” all our old friends, to withdraw entirely from mixed society, to live an exclusive life, to give up every act of courtesy and civility in order that we may devote ourselves to the direct work of Christ–all this may seem very right, and may satisfy our consciences and save us trouble.  But I venture a doubt whether it is not often a selfish, lazy, self-pleasing line of conduct, and whether the true cross and true line of duty may not be to deny ourselves, and adopt a very different course of action.

The true Christian will do well to make it a settled rule never to “waste” his evenings. Whatever others may do, let him resolve always to make time for quiet, calm thought-for Bible-reading and prayer. The rule will prove a hard one to keep. It may bring on him the charge of being unsociable and overly strict. Let him not mind this. Anything of this kind is better than habitual late hours in company, hurried prayers, slovenly Bible reading, and a bad conscience. Even if he stands alone in his church or town let him not depart from his rule. He will find himself in a minority, and be thought an eccentric man. But this is genuine Scriptural separation.

Do we desire to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? Do we wish to make progress in our religion, and become strong Christians, and not mere babes in spiritual things? Then let us pray daily for more faith, and watch our faith with most jealous watchfulness. Here is the corner-stone of our religion. A flaw or weakness here will affect the whole condition of our inner man. According to our faith will be the degree of our peace, our hope, our joy, our decision in Christ’s service, our boldness in confession, our strength in work, our patience in trial, our resignation in trouble, our sensible comfort in prayer. All will hinge on the proportion of our faith. Happy are they who know how to rest their whole weight continually on a covenant God, and to walk by faith, not by sight.

Various Scripture Thoughts: Bible Reading, J.C. Ryle

August 26, 2010 Comments off

From my recent Bible readings in a modified Horner Bible Reading plan:

Reading through Matthew 14 and 15, I especially note the spiritual condition of the disciples at this time.  In the same chapter — verses 14:2 and again in 14:26 — we see examples where both King Herod and the disciples were naturally fearful and superstitious concerning supernatural events.  Matthew 15:15-16 further emphasizes the point that the disciples too were “without understanding.”

James 1:27true religion … to keep oneself unstained from the world. A good supplement to this is J.C. Ryle’s Practical Religion, chapter on “The World” and biblical separation.  James 1:27 is one of the verses he cites in this chapter.   A brief excerpt:

When I speak of “the world” in this paper, I mean those people who think only, or chiefly, of this world’s things, and neglect the world to come–the people who are always thinking more of earth than of heaven, more of time than of eternity, more of body than the soul, more of pleasing man than of pleasing God. It is of them and their ways, habits, customs, opinions, practices, tastes, aims, spirit, and tone, that I am speaking when I speak of “the world.” This is the world from which Paul tells us to “Come out and be separate.”

1 John 3:17 and Matthew 25:31-46 are a good pairing for the same day’s reading, for the general reference of how we treat others, including the sins of omission.  This also reminds me of J.C. Ryle’s words, again from Practical Religion (“Riches and Poverty“):

But isn’t this exactly in keeping with the history of the judgment, in the 25th chapter Matthew? Nothing is said there of the sins of commission of which the lost are guilty. How does the charge read? – “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.” [Matthew 25:42-43]

The charge against them is simply that they didn’t do certain things. On this their sentence is based. And I draw the conclusion again, that, unless we are careful, sins of omission may ruin our souls. Truly it was a solemn saying of a godly man, on his deathbed: “Lord, forgive me all my sins, but especially my sins of omission” [Usher].

Jude 5 (List 3)  also nicely complements the reading of Numbers 13 (List 2), for a vivid reminder of the specifics that Jude here refers to.

From recent readings, some historical references:
From 2 Kings 23:31 and 24:18 I noticed that Kings Jehoahaz and Zedekiah, sons of Josiah, were both born to the same mother.  2 Kings 23:36 indicates that Josiah had at least one other wife, the mother of Jehoiakim.

From the early chapters in 1 Chronicles (yes, generally more tedious and boring chapters to get through), come a few interesting things related to several Old Testament Bible characters.  These chapters include the reference to Jabez (made famous in a book several years ago), and also reference to Bathsheba’s family.  1 Chronicles 6:4-8 explains that the line of Zadok, so prominently featured in the time of David and afterwards, came from Aaron’s son Eleazar.  Verses 33-34 explain what 1 Samuel doesn’t (1 Samuel 1:1 says his parents were Ephraimites), that Samuel was a Levite, of the Kohathite division.

Amos 3:14 is apparently another prophecy concerning the destruction of Bethel, what Josiah later did (2 Kings 23:15).  The first prophecy had come long before, in 1 Kings 13:2, but Amos is writing at a mid-point, in the time of King Uzziah, still many years before Josiah.

Doing What Pleases God — and the Consequences

July 22, 2010 Comments off

A recent post over at Pyromaniacs includes an insightful list, from scripture, of the types of things that may result from doing what pleases God:

  • Getting murdered by your brother for honoring God in faith  (Genesis 4:1-8)
  • Being hated by the most powerful in the land for telling God’s truth (1 Kings 18:17, 22:8)
  • Having people run away from your preaching (i.e. a small congregation) because you preach the truth straight (2 Tim. 4:2-4)
  • Being out of sync with your spouse for remaining faithful to God  (Job 2:9)
  • Being framed, slandered, and killed for remaining loyal to your family  (1 Kings 21)
  • Seeing your good name destroyed because of your love for Christ  (Matt. 5:11)
  • Having co-workers start a vicious slander-and-ouster campaign because of your godly excellence  (Daniel 6:4-5)
  • Being abused, even physically, for doing right in God’s eyes  (1 Peter 2:20, 3:14, 3:17, 4:19)
  • Enduring a life of persecution, deprivation, and temporal misery  (Hebrews 11:36-38)

As Dan Phillips said, these are only a sampling.  A few more scriptures I would add to the above:

These are great reminders, that doing what’s right and following God does not always mean great material blessings in this world.  Yet the Christian has the true happiness that goes beyond our circumstances in this world, as J.C. Ryle also describes (Practical Religion, chapter 10: Happiness):

Give a man a sensible interest in Christ, and he will be happy “in spite of abounding public calamities.” The government of his country may be thrown into confusion, rebellion and disorder may turn everything upside down, laws may be trampled underfoot; justice and equity may be outraged; liberty may be cast down to the ground; might may prevail over right: but still his heart will not fail. He will remember that the kingdom of Christ will one day be set up. He will say, like the old minister who lived throughout the turmoil of the French revolution: “It is all right: it will be well with the righteous.”

Encouraging Words from J.C. Ryle

July 12, 2010 Comments off

From J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion (chapter 7, Love):

The love of the Bible will show itself in a believer’s “readiness to bear” evil as well as to do good. It will make him patient under provocation, forgiving when injured, meek when unjustly attacked, quiet when slandered. It will make him bear much, put up with much and look over much, submit often and deny himself often, all for the sake of peace. It will make him control his temper, and check his tongue. True love is not always asking, “What are my rights? Am I treated as I deserve?” but, “How can I best promote peace? How can I do that which is most edifying to others?”


The reasons why love is called the greatest of the three graces, appear to me plain and simple. Let me show what they are.

(a) Love is called the greatest of graces because it is the one in which there is “some likeness between the believer and his God.” God has no need of faith. He is dependent on no one. There is none superior to Him in whom He must trust.–God has no need of hope. To Him all things are certain, whether past, present, or to come.–But “God is love:” and the more love His people have, the more like they are to their Father in heaven.

(b) Love, for another thing, is called the greatest of the graces because “it is most useful to others.” Faith and hope, beyond doubt, however precious, have special reference to a believer’s own private individual benefit. Faith unites the soul to Christ, brings peace with God, and opens the way to heaven. Hope fills the soul with cheerful expectation of things to come, and, amid the many discouragements of things seen, comforts with visions of the things unseen. But love is preeminently the grace which makes a man useful. It is the spring of good works and kindnesses. It is the root of missions, schools, and hospitals. Love made apostles spend and be spent for souls. Love raises up workers for Christ and keeps them working. Love smooths quarrels, and stops strife, and in this sense “covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). Love adorns Christianity and recommends it to the world. A man may have real faith, and feel it, and yet his faith may be invisible to others. But a man’s love cannot be hidden.

(c) Love, in the last place, is the greatest of the graces because it is the one which “endures the longest.” In fact, it will never die. Faith will one day be swallowed up in sight, and hope in certainty. Their office will be useless in the morning of the resurrection, and like old almanacs, they will be laid aside. But love will live on through the endless ages of eternity. Heaven will be the home of love. The inhabitants of heaven will be full of love. One common feeling will be in all their hearts, and that will be love.

J.C. Ryle: How to Read the Bible (Practical Religion)

June 25, 2010 Comments off

“read the Bible with an earnest desire to understand it.”

Do not think for a moment that the great object is to turn over a certain quantity of printed paper, and that it matters nothing whether you understand it or not. Some ignorant people seem to fancy that all is done if they read so many chapters every day, though they may not have an idea what they are all about, and only know that they have pushed on their bookmark so many pages. This is turning Bible-reading into a mere form. It is almost as bad as the Roman catholic habit of buying indulgences, by saying an almost incredible number of “Hail Mary’s” and “Our Fathers.” Settle it in your mind as a general principle, that a Bible not understood is a Bible that does no good. Say to yourself often as you read, “What is all this about?” Dig for the meaning like an man digging for gold. Work hard, and do not give up the work in a hurry.

“read the Bible with childlike faith and humility.”

Open your heart as you open your book, and say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Resolve to believe implicitly whatever you find there, however much it may run counter to your own prejudices. Resolve to receive heartily every statement of truth, whether you like it or not.

Beware of that miserable habit of mind into which some readers of the Bible fall. They receive some doctrines because they like them: they reject others because they are condemning to themselves, or to some lover, or relation, or friend. At this rate the Bible is useless. Are we to be judges of what ought to be in the Word? Do we know better than God? Settle it in your mind that you will receive everything and believe everything, and that what you cannot understand you will take on trust. Remember, when you pray, you are speaking to God and God hears you. But, remember, when you read, God is speaking to you, and you are not to “talk back” but to listen.

“read the Bible every day.”

Make it a part of every day’s business to read and meditate on some portion of God’s Word. Private means of grace are just as needful every day for our souls as food and clothing are for our bodies. Yesterday’s meal will not feed the worker today, and today’s meal will not feed the worker tomorrow.  Do as the Israelites did in the wilderness. Gather your manna fresh every morning. Choose your own periods and hours. Do not hurry your reading. Give your Bible the best and not the worst part of your time. But whatever plan you pursue, let it be a rule of your life to visit the throne of grace and the Bible every day.

“read the Bible fairly and honestly.”

Determine to take everything in its plain, obvious meaning, and regard all forced interpretations with great suspicion. As a general rule, whatever a verse of the Bible seems to mean, it does mean. Cecil’s rule is a very valuable one, “The right way of interpreting Scripture is to take it as we find it, without any attempt to force it into any particular system.” Well said Hooker, “I hold it for a most infallible rule in the exposition of Scripture, that when the literal construction will stand, the furthest from the literal is commonly the worst.”

Great words from Spurgeon and J.C. Ryle

June 19, 2010 Comments off

From Spurgeon’s sermon #117 (John 21:15-17):

a believer’s strong faith is not a strong faith in his own love to Christ—it is a strong faith in Christ’s love to him. There is no faith which always believes that it loves Christ. Strong faith has its conflicts; and a true believer will often wrestle in the very teeth of his own feelings. Lord, if I never did love thee, nevertheless, if I am not a saint, I am a sinner. Lord, I still believe; help thou mine unbelief.

And some helpful and convicting words from J.C. Ryle, in “Practical Religion,” concerning prayer:

There are wonderful examples in the Scripture of the power of prayer. Nothing seems to be too great, too hard, or too difficult for prayer to do. It has obtained things that seemed impossible and out of reach. It has won victories over fire, air earth, and water. Prayer opened up the Red Sea . Prayer brought water from the rock and bread from heaven. Prayer made the sun stand still. Prayer brought fire from the sky on Elijah’s sacrifice. Prayer turned the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. Prayer overthrew the army of Sennacherib. Well might Mary Queen of Scots say, “I fear John Knox’s prayers more than an army of ten thousand men.” Prayer has healed the sick. Prayer has raised the dead. Prayer has procured the conversion of souls. “The child of many prayers,” said and old Christian to Augustine’s mother, “shall never perish.” Prayer, pains, and faith can do anything. Nothing seems impossible when a person has the spirit of adoption. … Think of this. Is this not an encouragement?


Without controversy there is a vast difference among true Christians. There is an immense interval between the foremost and the hindermost in the army of God.

They are all fighting the same good fight but how much more valiantly some fight than others. They are all doing the Lord’s work but how much more some do than others. They are all light in the Lord; but how much more brightly some shine than others. They are all running the same race; but how much faster some get on than others. They all love the same Lord and Savior; but how much more some love him than others. I ask any true Christian whether this is not the case. Are these things not so?

There are some of the Lord’s people who seem never able to get on from the time of their conversion. They are born again, but they remain babies all their lives. You hear from them the same old experience. You remark in them the same lack of spiritual appetite, the same lack of interest in anything beyond their own little circle, which you remarked ten years ago. They are pilgrims indeed, but pilgrims like the Gibeonites of old; their bread is always dry and moldy, their shoes always old, and their garments always rent and torn. I say this with sorrow and grief; but I ask any real Christian, Is it not true?

There are others of the Lord’s people who seem to be always advancing. They grow like grass after rain; they increase like Israel in Egypt; they press on like Gideon, though sometimes faint, yet always pursuing. They are ever adding grace to grace, and faith to faith, and strength to strength. Every time you meet them their hearts seems larger, and their spiritual stature taller and stronger. Every year they appear and feel more in their religion. They not only have good works to prove the reality of their faith, but the are zealous of them. They not only do well, but they are unwearied in well doing. They attempt great things, and they do great things. When they fail they try again, and when they fall they are soon up again. And all this time they think themselves poor, unprofitable servants, and fancy that they do nothing at all. These are those who make religion lovely and beautiful in the eyes of all. They wrest praise even from the unconverted and win golden opinions even from the selfish people of the world. It does one good to see. to be with them, and to hear them. When you meet them, you could believe that like Moses, they had just come out from the presence of God. When you part with them you feel warmed by their company, as if your soul had been near a fire. I know such people are rare. I only ask, Are there not many such?

Now how can you account for the difference which I have just described? What is the reason that some believers are so much brighter and holier than others? I believe the difference, in nineteen cases out of twenty, arises from different habits about private prayer. I believe that those who are not eminently holy pray little, and those who are eminently holy, pray much.