J. C. Ryle – Repentance, Faith, and Sin

Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:3

First of all, what is repentance? Let us see that we set down our feet firmly on this point. The importance of the inquiry cannot be overrated.

Repentance is one of the foundation stones of Christianity. Sixty times, at least, we find repentance spoken of in the New Testament. What was the first doctrine our Lord Jesus Christ reached? We are told that He said, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mar 1:15). What did the apostles proclaim when the Lord sent them forth the first time? They “preached that men should repent” (Mar 6:12). What was the charge that Jesus gave His disciples when He left the world? That “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations” (Luk 24:47). What was the concluding appeal of the first sermons that Peter preached? “Repent, and be baptized…Repent ye, and be converted” (Act 2:38; 3:19). What was the summary of doctrine that Paul gave to the Ephesian elders, when he parted from them? He told them that he had taught them publicly, and from house to house, “testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Act 20:21). What was the description that Paul gave of his own ministry, when he made his defense before Festus and Agrippa? He told them that he had showed all men that they should “repent, and do works meet for repentance” (Act 26:20). What was the account given by the believers at Jerusalem of the conversion of the Gentiles? When they heard of it, they said, “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Act 11:18)…Surely, we must all agree that these are serious considerations. They ought to show the importance of the inquiry I am now making. A mistake about repentance is a most dangerous mistake. An error about repentance is an error that lies at the very roots of our religion. What, then, is repentance? When can it be said of any man that he repents?

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Derek Rishmawy – Five Ways to Spoil the Gospel

J.C Ryle was a prominent Anglican Bishop of Liverpool in the 19th century. An advocate of the Evangelical cause in the Church of England, he penned an insightful article laying out what he took to be the essence of Evangelicalism, clarifying confusions and myths, and proposing a road forward for the Church.

Briefly, defined Evangelical religion as marked by five major commitments: (1) the supreme authority and truthfulness of Scripture, (2) the grave condition of humanity in sin, the centrality and absolute necessity of Christ’s redeeming work in life, (3) atoning death, and resurrection, (4) the necessity of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, (5) the necessarily transformative work of the Holy Spirit in leading to personal holiness and an active life of faith. (It’s interesting to see how much this overlaps with the Bebbington Quadrilateral.)

He also clarifies a number of things that Evangelical religion is not, but as interesting as that is, what I wanted to call our attention to today was a latter section in the work. Here, he tries to lay out why so much religion in the Church is un-Evangelical and confusing. He’s not even necessarily talking about outright heresy or false teaching, but the sort of thing that “spoils” the Gospel and robs people of it despite our best intentions.

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J. C. Ryle – Christ is All

“Christ is all.” Colossians 3:11

The words of the text which heads this page are few, short, and soon spoken; but they contain great things. Like those golden sayings, “To me to live is Christ,” “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,” they are singularly rich and suggestive (Phi 1:21; Gal 2:20).

These three words are the essence and substance of Christianity. If our hearts can really go along with them, it is well with our souls. If not, we may be sure we have yet much to learn.

Let me try to set before my readers in what sense Christ is all, and let me ask them, as they read, to judge themselves honestly, that they may not make shipwreck in the judgment of the Last Day.

I purposely close this volume with a message on this remarkable text. Christ is the mainspring both of doctrinal and practical Christianity. A right knowledge of Christ is essential to a right knowledge of sanctification as well as justification. He that follows after holiness will make no progress unless he gives to Christ His rightful place. I began the volume with a plain statement about sin. Let me end it with an equally plain statement about Christ.

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J. C. Ryle – Startling Questions

Where Art Thou?

“Make me to know my transgression and my sin.” Job 13:22

“Cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51:2

“The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

“Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in His blood.” Romans 3:25

READER,

The question which forms the title of this tract ought to stir up many thoughts in your heart. It concerns every man and woman born into the world. You ought never to rest till you can give it a satisfactory answer. — “WHERE ARE YOUR SINS?”

I ask you this day to look this question in the face. I ask you to give me your attention for a few minutes, while I try to enforce it on your conscience. A time draws nigh when the question must be answered. The hour cometh when all other questions shall seem like a drop of water in comparison with this. We shall not say, “Where is my money?” — or, “Where are my lands?” — or, “Where is my property?” Our only thought will be, “My sins! my sins! — Where are my sins?”

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J. C. Ryle – Growth in Grace

“Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” 2 Peter 3:18

The subject of the text which heads this page is one that ought to be deeply interesting to every true Christian. It naturally raises the questions: “Do we grow in grace?” “Do we advance in our religion?” “Do we make progress?”

To a mere formal Christian, I cannot expect the inquiry to seem worth attention. The man who has nothing more than a kind of Sunday religion — whose Christianity is like his Sunday clothes, put on once a week, and then laid aside — such a man cannot, of course, be expected to care about growth in grace. He knows nothing about such matters. They are foolishness to him (1 Corinthians 2:14). But to everyone who is in downright earnest about his soul, and hungers and thirsts after spiritual life — the question ought to come home with searching power. Do we make progress in our religion? Do we grow?

The question is one that is always useful — but especially so at certain seasons. A Saturday night, a communion Sunday, the return of a birthday, the end of a year — all these are seasons that ought to set us thinking and make us look within. Time is fast flying. Life is fast ebbing away. The hour is daily drawing nearer when the reality of our Christianity will be tested, and it will be seen whether we have built on “the rock” or on “the sand.” Surely it befits us from time to time to examine ourselves and take account of our souls? Do we advance in spiritual things? Do we grow?

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J. C. Ryle – Do You Think You Are Converted?

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted” – Acts 3:19

HE subject which forms the title of this paper is one which touches all mankind. It ought to come home to all ranks and classes, high or low, rich or poor, old or young, gentle or simple. Any one may get to heaven without money, rank, or learning. No one, however wise, wealthy, noble, or beautiful, will ever get to heaven without CONVERSION.

There are six points of view in which I wish to consider the subject of this paper. I will try to show that conversion is

I. A Scriptural thing;
II. A real thing;
III. A necessary thing;
IV. A possible thing;
V. A happy thing;
VI. A thing that may be seen.

Let me show, in the first place, that

I. Conversion Is a Scriptural Thing

I mean by this, that conversion is a thing plainly mentioned in the Bible. This is the first point we have to ascertain about anything in religion. It matters nothing who says a thing, and declares it to be religious truth; it matters nothing whether we like or dislike a doctrine.

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J. C. Ryle – A Call to Prayer

“I will that men pray everywhere” — 1 Timothy 2:1

1. Prayer is Needful to a Man’s Salvation

Do you pray?

I have a question to offer you. It is contained in three words, Do you pray?

The question is one that none but you can answer. Whether you attend public worship or not, your minister knows. Whether you have family prayers in your house or not, your relations know. But whether you pray in private or not, is a matter between yourself and God.

I beseech you in all affection to attend to the subject I bring before you. Do not say that my question is too close. If your heart is right in the sight of God, there is nothing in it to make you afraid. Do not turn off my question by replying that you say your prayers. It is one thing to say your prayers and another to pray. Do not tell me that my question is unnecessary. Listen to me for a few minutes, and I will show you good reasons for asking it.

Needful for salvation

I ask whether you pray, because prayer is absolutely needful to a man’s salvation.

I say, absolutely needful, and I say so advisedly. I am not speaking now of infants or idiots. I am not settling the state of the heathen. I know that where little is given, there little will be required. I speak especially of those who call themselves Christians, in a land like our own. And of such I say, no man or woman can expect to be saved who does not pray.

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J. C. Ryle – Our Hope

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“Good hope through grace.” 2 Thess. 2:10

“The hope of the ungodly shall perish.” Job 8:13

“For what is the hope of the godless, when he is cut off, when God takes away his life?” Job 27:8

“I hope,” is a very common expression. Everybody can say, “I hope.” About no subject is the expression used so commonly as it is about religion. Nothing is more common than to hear people turn off some home-thrust at conscience, by this convenient form of words, “I hope.” “I hope it will be all right at last.” “I hope I shall be a better man some day.” “I hope I shall get to heaven at last.” But why do they hope? On what is their hope built? Too often they cannot tell you! Too often it is a mere excuse for avoiding a disagreeable subject. “Hoping,” they live on. “Hoping,” they grow old. “Hoping,” they die at last—and find too often that they are lost forever in hell!

I ask the serious attention of all who read this paper. The subject is one of the deepest importance, “We are saved by hope.” (Rom. 8:24.) Let us, then, make sure that our hope is sound. Have we a hope that our sins are pardoned, our hearts renewed, and our souls at peace with God? Then let us see to it that our hope is “good,” and “living,” and one “that makes not ashamed.” (2 Thess. 2:16; 1 Pet, 1:3; Rom. 5:5.) Let us consider our ways. Let us not shrink from honest, searching inquiry into the condition of our souls. If our hope is good, examination will do it no harm. If our hope is bad, it is high time to know it, and to seek a better one.

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J. C. Ryle – 5 Ways to Spoil the Gospel

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There are many ways in which the faith of Christ may be marred and spoiled, without being positively denied. And here we venture to think is the very reason that so much religion called Christian, is not truly Evangelical. The Gospel in fact is a most curiously and delicately compounded medicine, and a medicine that is very easily spoiled.

You may spoil the Gospel by substitution . You have only to withdraw from the eyes of the sinner the grand object which the Bible proposes to faith — Jesus Christ; and to substitute another object in His place — the Church, the Ministry, the Confessional, Baptism, or the Lord’s Supper, and the mischief is done. Substitute anything for Christ, and the Gospel is totally spoiled! Do this, either directly or indirectly, and your religion ceases to be Evangelical.

You may spoil the Gospel by addition . You have only to add to Christ, the grand object of faith, some other objects as equally worthy of honour, and the mischief is done. Add anything to Christ, and the Gospel ceases to be a pure Gospel! Do this, either directly or indirectly, and your religion ceases to be Evangelical.

You may spoil the Gospel by interposition . You have only to push something between Christ and the eye of the soul, to draw away the sinner’s attention from the Saviour, and the mischief is done. Interpose anything between man and Christ, and man will neglect Christ for the thing interposed! Do this, either directly or indirectly, and your religion ceases to be Evangelical.

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J. C. Ryle – Authentic Religion

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“Rejected silver” (Jeremiah 6:30)

“Nothing but leaves” (Mark 11:13)

“Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

“You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Revelation 3:1)

If we profess to have any religion at all, let us be careful that it is authentic. I say it emphatically, and I repeat the saying: Let us be careful that our religion is authentic.

What do I mean when I use the word “authentic.” I mean that which is genuine, and sincere, and honest, and thorough. I mean that which is not inferior, and hollow, and formal, and false, and counterfeit, and sham, and nominal. “Authentic” religion is not mere show, and pretense, and skin-deep feeling, and temporary profession, and works only on the outside. It is something inward, solid, substantial, intrinsic, living, lasting. We know the difference between counterfeit and authentic money–between solid gold and tinsel–between plated metal and silver–between authentic stone and plaster imitation. Let us think of these things as we consider the subject of this paper. What is the character of our religion? Is it authentic? It may be weak, and feeble, and mingled with many defects. That is not the point before us today. Is our religion authentic? Is it true?

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