J.C. Ryle

That Portion That Will Never Be Taken Away

The CurveLest we awake to find that we are paupers forevermore!

(J.C. Ryle)

“Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

We should observe what a high commendation our Lord Jesus Christ pronounced on Mary’s choice. There was a deep meaning in these words. They were spoken not only for Mary’s sake, but for the sake of all Christ’s believing people in every part of the world. They were meant to encourage all true Christians . . .
to be single-eyed and whole-hearted,
to follow the Lord fully,
to walk closely with God,
to make soul-business immeasurably their first business, and
to think comparatively little of the things of this fleeting world.

The true Christian’s portion is the grace of God. It is the only good thing which is substantial, satisfying, real, and lasting. The grace of God is . . .
better in sickness–and better in health,
better in youth–and better in old age,
better in adversity–and better in prosperity,
better in life–and better in death,
better in time–and better in eternity.
No circumstance and no position can be imagined, in which it is not better for man to have the grace of God.

The true Christian’s possession shall never be taken from him.
He alone, of all mankind, shall never be stripped of his inheritance.
Kings must one day leave their palaces.
Rich men must one day leave their money and lands–they only hold them until they die.

But the poorest saint on earth has a treasure of which he will never be deprived. The grace of God, and the favor of Christ–are riches which no man can take from him. They will go with him to the grave when he dies. They will rise with him in the resurrection morning, and be his to all eternity!

What do we know of this “better part” which Mary chose? Have we chosen it for ourselves? Can we say with truth that it is ours? Let us never rest until we can. Let us choose life, while Christ offers it to us without money and without price. Let us seek treasure in Heaven–lest we awake to find that we are paupers forevermore!

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The Flowers of God’s Garden

1200px-Korea-Pocheon-Herb_Island-Sunflower_an_others-01The flowers in the Lord’s garden are not all precisely alike

(J.C. Ryle)

“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said.
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” Luke 10:39-40

Let us observe how different the characters and personalities of true Christians may be! The two sisters of whom we read in this passage were faithful disciples. Both had believed. Both had been converted. Both had honored Christ, when few gave Him honor. Both loved Jesus–and Jesus loved both of them. Yet they were evidently women of very different turn of mind.

Martha was active, stirring, and impulsive, feeling strongly, and speaking out all she felt.
Mary was quiet, still, and contemplative, feeling deeply, but saying less than she felt.

Martha, when Jesus came to her house, busied herself with preparing a suitable refreshment.
Mary’s first thought was to sit at His feet and hear His word.
Grace reigned in both hearts, but each showed the effects of grace at different times, and in different ways.

We shall find it very useful to remember this lesson.

We must not expect all believers in Christ to be exactly like one another! We must not set down others as having no grace, because their experience does not entirely tally with our own.

The sheep in the Lord’s flock have each their own peculiarities.

The flowers in the Lord’s garden are not all precisely alike.

All true Christians agree in the principal things of religion.
All feel their sins.
All trust in Christ.
All repent.
All are led by one Spirit.
All are holy.

But in minor matters, they often differ widely. Let not one despise another on this account. There will be Martha’s and there will be Mary’s in the Church until the Lord comes again!

What Does the Bible Say?

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The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible!

(J.C. Ryle)

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered him, “What is written in the Law? What do you read there?” Luke 10:25-26

Notice in this passage, the high honor which our Lord Jesus Christ places on the Bible. He refers the lawyer at once to the Scriptures, as the only rule of faith and practice. He does not say in reply to his question, “What does the Jewish Church say about eternal life? What do the Scribes, and Pharisees, and priests think? What is taught on the subject in the traditions of the elders?”

He takes a far simpler and more direct course. He sends his questioner at once to the writings of the Old Testament, “What is written in the Law? What do you read there?”

Let the principle contained in these words, be one of the foundation principles of our Christianity. Let the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, be the rule of our faith and practice. Holding this principle, we travel upon the king’s highway. The road may sometimes seem narrow, and our faith may be severely tried–but we shall not be allowed greatly to err. Departing from this principle, we enter on a pathless wilderness. There is no telling what we may be led to believe or do. Forever let us bear this in mind. Here let us cast anchor. Here let us abide.

It matters nothing who says a thing in religion–whether an ancient father, or a modern bishop, or a learned theologian.

Is it in the Bible? Can it be proved by the Bible? If not, then it is not to be believed.

It matters nothing how beautiful and clever sermons or religious books may appear. Are they in the smallest degree contrary to Scripture? If they are, they are rubbish and poison, and guides of no value!

What does the Scripture say? This is the only rule, and measure, and gauge of religious truth. “To the law and to the testimony,” says Isaiah, “if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20

Our Merciful, Compassionate Christ!

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(J.C. Ryle)

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus!” Philippians 1:6

Let us take comfort in the thought that the Lord Jesus does not cast off His believing people because of failures and imperfections. He knows what they are.

He takes them, as the husband takes the wife–with all their blemishes and defects; and once joined to Him by faith, He will never leave them. He is a merciful and compassionate High-priest. It is His glory to pass over the transgressions of His people, and to cover their many sins.

He knew what they were before conversion–wicked, guilty, and defiled; yet He loved them. He knows what they will be after conversion–weak, erring, and frail; yet He loves them. He has undertaken to save them, notwithstanding all their shortcomings–and what He has undertaken, He will perform.

“My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish–ever! No one can snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:27-28

J.C. Ryle Quotes

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To be Christian, will cost a man his love of ease!

The tree falls with a great crash, but the secret decay which accounts for it–is often not discovered until it is down on the ground. Just so, men fall in private–long before they fall in public!

Growth in grace is one way to be happy in our religion.
God has wisely linked together our comfort–and our increase in holiness.

The children of God all have a cross to bear.
A suffering Savior generally has suffering disciples.

We know nothing of humility by nature–for we are all born proud!

Naked we came upon earth–and naked we depart.
Of all our possessions–we can carry nothing with us.

There is more to be learned at the foot of the Cross–than anywhere else in the world!

People will never set their faces decidedly towards Heaven, and live like pilgrims–until they really feel that they are in danger of Hell.hqdefault

Let us be real, honest, and sincere in our Christianity.

We cannot deceive an all-seeing God!

The best of men–are men at best!

 

JC Ryle Quotes Continued

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Blessed are those who live like pilgrims and strangers in this life–their best things are all to come!

The surest mark of true conversion, is humility.

When I speak of a man growing in grace, I mean simply that . . .
his sense of sin is becoming deeper,
his faith is becoming stronger,
his hope is becoming brighter,
his love is becoming more extensive, and
his spiritual-mindedness is becoming more marked.

The Christian who keeps his heart diligently in little things–shall be kept from great falls.

Fathers and mothers–do not forget that children learn more by the eye than they do by the ear.
Imitation is a far stronger principle with children, than memory.
What they see has a much stronger effect on their minds–than what they are told.

Let us read the Bible reverently and diligently–with an honest determination to believe and practice all that we find in it.

Every fresh act of sin . . .
lessens fear and remorse,
hardens our hearts,
blunts the edge of our conscience,
and increases our evil inclination!

We may love money without having it–just as we may have money without loving it.

 

Sola Scriptura!

1200px-Gutenberg_Bible,_Lenox_Copy,_New_York_Public_Library,_2009._Pic_01J.C. Ryle

Next to praying, there is nothing so important in practical religion as Bible-reading.
By reading that Book, we may learn . . .
what to believe,
what to be,
what to do,
how to live with comfort,
and how to die in peace.

The Bible alone is “able to make a man wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:15. It alone can . . .
show you the way which leads to Heaven,
teach you everything you need to know,
point out everything you need to believe,
and explain everything you need to do.

It alone can show you . . .
what you are–a sinner,
what God is–perfectly holy,
the great giver of pardon, peace, and grace–Jesus Christ.

The Bible applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit, is the grand instrument by which souls are converted to God. In this way the Bible has worked moral miracles by thousands! It has made . . .
drunkards become sober,
immoral people become pure,
thieves become honest, and
violent people become meek!

The Bible has wholly altered the course of men’s lives!
It has caused their old things to pass away–and made all their ways new.
It has taught worldly people–to seek first the kingdom of God.
It has taught lovers of pleasure–to become lovers of God.
It has changed the stream of men’s affections–to run upwards instead of running downwards.
It has made men think of Heaven–instead of always thinking of earth.

The Bible can enable a man . . .
to bear afflictions without murmuring, and say, “It is well.”
to look down into the grave, and say, “I fear no evil.”
to think on judgment and eternity, and not feel afraid.

Is a man drowsy in soul? The Bible can awaken him.

Is he mourning? The Bible can comfort him.

Is he erring? The Bible can restore him.

Is he weak? The Bible can strengthen him.

Is he in company? The Bible can keep him from evil.

Is he alone? The Bible can talk with him. (Proverbs 6:22)

All this the Bible can do for all believers;
for the least–as well as the greatest;
for the richest–as well as the poorest.
It has done it for thousands already–and is doing it for thousands every day!

It is in Scripture alone that infallibility resides. It is not in the Church. It is not in the Councils. It is not in ministers. It is only in the written Word.

All other books in the world, however good and useful in their way–are more or less defective. The more you look at them–the more you see their defects and blemishes. The Bible alone is absolutely perfect. From beginning to end, it is “the Word of God.”

A man must make the Bible alone his rule. He must receive nothing, and believe nothing, which is not according to the Word. He must try all religious teaching by one simple test: Does it square with the Bible? What do the Scriptures say?
The only question is: Is the thing said Scriptural?
If it is–then it ought to be received and believed.
If it is not–then it ought to be refused and cast aside.

The churches which are most flourishing at this day, are churches which honor the Bible.
The nations which enjoy most moral light, are nations in which the Bible is most treasured.
The godliest families are Bible-reading families.
The holiest men and women are Bible-reading people.
These are simple facts which cannot be denied.

Every one who cares for his soul ought . . .
to treasure the Bible highly,
to study it regularly, and
to make himself thoroughly acquainted with its contents.

Remember the Holy Spirit?

J.C. Ryle

“For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?” 1 Corinthians 14:8

We need a more certain sound about the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

There is a great quantity of teaching, I am afraid, in which there is no place left for the Third Person of the Trinity. His presence in the hearts of professing Christians is taken for granted. They think that they possess Him as a matter of course–because they are baptized, or because they belong to the Church, or because they are communicants! In short, many would say, like the Ephesians of old, “We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit!” Acts 19:2

But surely this is not Apostolic teaching. People need to be told now as much as they were told eighteen centuries ago, that the fruits of the Spirit are the only evidence of having the Spirit, and that those fruits must be seen–that we must be . . .
born of the Spirit,
led by the Spirit,
sanctified by the Spirit, and
experience the operations of the Spirit.

“If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ–he does not belong to Christ.” Romans 8:9

There is far more heresy concerning the Holy Spirit in the present time, than most people suppose.

“Ask for the old paths, where the good way is–and walk in it. Then you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16

It Sticks To Us Like Skin

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“An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.” Luke 9:46

“Then He said to them: He who is least among you all–he is the greatest.” Luke 9:48

As astonishing as it may seem, this little company of fishermen and publicans was not beyond the plague of a self-seeking and prideful spirit. Such is the heart of man. There is something very instructive in this fact. It ought to sink down deeply into the heart of every Christian reader.

Of all sins, there is none against which we have such need to watch and pray, as pride.
It is a pestilence that walks in darkness–and a sickness that destroys at noon-day.

No sin is so deeply rooted in our nature as pride! It cleaves to us like our skin! Its roots never entirely die–they are ready, at any moment, to spring up, and exhibit a most pernicious vitality.

No sin is so senseless and deceitful as pride. It can wear the garb of humility itself. It can lurk in the hearts of the ignorant, the ungifted, and the poor–as well as in the minds of the great, the learned, and the rich.

Of all creatures, none has so little right to be proud as man–and of all men, none ought to be so humble as the Christian!

Is it really true that we confess ourselves to be “miserable sinners,” and daily debtors to mercy and grace? Are we the followers of Jesus, who was “meek and lowly of heart,” and “made Himself nothing” for our sakes? Then let that same mind be in us, which was in Christ Jesus. Let us lay aside all proud thoughts and self-conceit. In lowliness of mind, let us esteem others better than ourselves. Let us be ready, on all occasions, to take the lowest place. And let the words of our Savior ring in our ears continually, “He who is least among you all–he is the greatest.”

Let a prayer for humility form part of our daily supplications.

Catch Those Little Sins

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(J.C. Ryle)

Catch the little foxes that ruin the vineyards; for our vines have tender grapes.” Song of Songs 2:15

Resolve at once, by God’s help, to break off every known sin, however small.

Look within, each one of you. Examine your own hearts. Do you see there any habit which you know is wrong in the sight of God? If you do, resolve at once to cast it off!

Nothing darkens the eyes of the mind so much, and deadens the conscience so surely–as an allowed sin. It may be a little one–but it is not any less dangerous.

A small leak will sink a great ship.
A small spark will kindle a great fire.
In the same way, a little allowed sin will ruin an immortal soul.

Take my advice, and never spare a little sin! Israel was commanded to kill every Canaanite, both great and small. Act on the same principle–and show no mercy to little sins.

You can be sure that no wicked man ever meant to be so wicked at his first beginnings. But he began with allowing himself some little sins, and that led on to something greater, and that in time produced something greater still, and thus he became the miserable being that he now is.

Brethren, resist sin in its beginnings. Some sins may look small and insignificant, but mind what I say–resist them, make no compromise, let no sin lodge quietly and undisturbed in your heart. Remember the Apostle’s words, “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough!” 1 Corinthians 5:6

Many a man could tell you with sorrow and shame, that he traces his ruin to the point I speak of–to giving way to sin in its beginnings. He began habits of deception and dishonesty in little things–and they grew on him. Step by step, he has gone on from bad to worse–until he has done things that at one time he would have thought impossible. At last he has lost his character, lost his peace, and almost lost his soul. He allowed a gap in the wall of his conscience, because it seemed a little one–and once allowed, that gap grew larger every day, until in time the whole wall came down!

Whatever the world may like to think–there are no little sins! All habits are formed by a succession of little acts, and the first little act is of mighty consequence.

The ax in the fable, only begged the trees to let him have one little piece of wood to make a handle–and he would never trouble them any more. He got it, and then he soon cut them all down!

The devil only wants to get the wedge of a little allowed sin into your heart–and you will soon be all his own.

It is a wise saying, “There is nothing small between us and God–for God is an infinite God.”

There are two ways of coming down from the top of a ladder.
One is to jump down–and the other is to come down by the steps.
Both will lead you to the bottom.

Just so, there are two ways of going to Hell.
One is to walk into it with your eyes open–few people do that.
The other is to go down by the steps of little sins–and that way is only too common. Put up with a few little sins–and you will soon tolerate a few more. Even a heathen could say, “Who was ever content with only one sin?” If you put up with little sins, then your path in life will be worse and worse every year.

Jeremy Taylor very clearly described the progress of sin in a man:

First sin startles him,
then it becomes pleasing,
then it becomes easy,
then it becomes delightful,
then it becomes frequent,
then it becomes habitual,
then it becomes a way of life.
Then the man feels no guilt,
then he becomes obstinate,
and then he is damned!

Friends, if you don’t want to come to this, remember the rule I give you this day–resolve at once to break off every known sin!