Posted by Gary on March 1, 2012
1 Corinthians 11:23-32 “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”
There are two errors often made as it comes to partaking of the Lord’s Supper. One is to examine ourselves, see our sin and think that we cannot come to the Lord’s Table. When the Bible calls us to examine ourselves before coming to the Table it never assumes that we will not find sin in ourselves but that we will. The issue then is whether or not we are willing to repent and whether or not we trust the grace of God in Christ to forgive us for our sins. Here many I am afraid reveal that they do not understand or believe the gospel. As it comes to the Table they look to themselves to determine whether or not they are worthy, conclude they are not but do not take hold of Christ’s promise to cleanse them.
The other error is not examining ourselves at all or at least not honestly. Many people think very little about whether or not the bread and cup will be a blessing to them or a curse. Without concern they eat and drink and encourage their children to do so also. It is true that many examine themselves out of partaking but it is equally if not more the case that many do not honestly evaluate the condition of their soul before coming to the Table.
I have always found J.C. Ryle to be so Scriptural and helpful. He is so again in these thoughts on coming to the Lord’s Table:
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Gary on January 20, 2012
Mark 14:27 “All of you will desert Me, Jesus told them.”
“We see in this verse, how well our Lord foreknew the weakness and infirmity of His disciples. He tells them plainly what they were going to do. “All of you shall desert Me.”
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, 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.
Let us learn to pass a charitable judgment on the conduct of other believers. Let us not set them down in a low place, and say they have no grace, because we see in them much weakness and corruption. Let us remember that our Master in heaven bears with their infirmities, and let us try to bear with them too.
The Church of Christ is little better than a great hospital. We ourselves are all, more or less, weak, and all daily need the skillful treatment of the heavenly Physician. There will be no ‘complete cures’ until the resurrection day.”
(J. C. Ryle, “The Gospel of Mark”)
Posted by Gary on December 14, 2011
John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
“The plain meaning of these words is, that our divine Savior really took human nature upon Him, in order to save sinners. He really became a man like ourselves in all things, sin only excepted. Like ourselves, he was born of a woman, though born in a miraculous manner. Like ourselves, he grew from infancy to boyhood, and from boyhood to man’s estate, both in wisdom and in stature (Luke 2:52). Like ourselves he hungered, thirsted, ate, drank, slept, was wearied, felt pain, wept, rejoiced, marveled, and was moved to anger and to compassion. Having become flesh, and taken a body, He prayed, read the Scriptures, suffered being tempted, and submitted His human will to the will of God the Father. And finally, in the same body, He really suffered and shed his blood, really died, was really buried, really rose again and really ascended up into heaven. And yet all this time He was God as well as man!
Nowhere, perhaps, shall we find a more wise and judicious statement than in the second article of the Church of England. ‘The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took man’s nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin of her substance: so that two whole and perfect natures, were joined together in one Person, that is to say, the Godhead and the manhood were joined together in one person, never to be never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man.’” (J.C. Ryle from: Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of John)
Posted by Gary on January 29, 2010
Titus 2:14 “who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”
From J.C. Ryle’s sermon on zeal:
“Zeal in religion is a burning desire to please God, to do His will, and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way. It is a desire which no man feels by nature—which the Spirit puts into the heart of every believer when he is converted—but which some believers feel so much more strongly than others, that they alone deserve to be called zealous men.
This desire is so strong when it really reigns in a man, that it impels him to make any sacrifice—to go through any trouble, to deny himself to any amount—to suffer, to work, to labor, to toil—to spend himself and be spent, and even to die—if only he can please God and honor Christ.
A zealous man is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit. He only sees one thing—he cares for one thing—he lives for one thing—he is swallowed up in one thing—and that one thing is to please God.
Whether he lives—or whether he dies; whether he has health—or whether he has sickness; whether he is rich—or whether he is poor; whether he pleases man—or whether he gives offence; whether he is thought wise—or whether he is thought foolish; whether he gets blame—or whether he gets praise; whether he gets honor—or whether he gets shame—for all this, the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing, and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God’s glory. If he is consumed in the very burning, he is not worried—he is content.
—J.C. Ryle from “Be Zealous”
Sound like you?
Posted by Gary on November 13, 2009
With all our attention on the Swine Flu and the simple truth that one in four people will have cancer in their lifetime you would hope that we would all be doing some thinking.
The sad truth is that the fall of Adam has left us with hearts that by nature do not want to hear from God, to hear His word of warning of the judgment to come and even more sadly, unwilling to hear about His terms of peace through the sacrificial death and resurrection of His Son, the Lord Jesus.
We can refuse to go to church, turn off the television or radio as one of God’s messengers preaches or avoid the Christian in our work place or neighborhood but there is one messenger that God has that cannot be denied or ignored, sickness.
God will have His hearing and while every illness is not the direct result of sin, every illness preaches a sermon…sooner or later you and I are going to die and stand before the judgment seat of the holy God who made us. Are we ready to meet Him? Are we forgiven or still in our sins?
J.C. Ryle in his sermon, Christ in the Sick Room holds before us nine lessons that sickness teaches us. Won’t you do your soul some good today and read them and think? Maybe you’ll be moved to get serious about things and read the whole sermon. Wouldn’t it be something if we turned off the television, hung up the phone and put down the worthless books that we seem to have time for that do no good for our souls to read something that bears a message for our good? If you are not sick now, you will be soon and some day not so long from now with an illness that two aspirin and a call to the doctor will not remove. Take some moments now for Bishop Ryle:
I do not say that sickness always does good. Alas! We ministers know to our sorrow that it frequently does no good at all. Too often we see men and women, after recovering from a long and dangerous illness, more hardened and irreligious than they were before. Too often they return to the world, if not to sin, with more eagerness and zest than ever; and the impressions made on their conscience in the hour of sickness are swept away like children’s writing on the sand of the sea-shore when the tide flows.
But I do say that sickness ought to do us good. And I do say that God sends it in order to do us good. It is a friendly letter from heaven. It is a knock at the door of conscience. It is the voice of the Savior asking to be let in. Happy is he who opens the letter and reads it, who hears the knock and opens the door, who welcomes Christ to the sick room. Come now, and let me plead with you a little about this, and show you a few of the lessons which He by sickness would teach us.
1. Sickness is meant to make us think—to remind us that we have a soul as well as a body—an immortal soul—a soul that will live forever in happiness or in misery—and that if this soul is not saved we had better never have been born.
2. Sickness is meant to teach us that there is a world beyond the grave—and that the world we now live in is only a training-place for another dwelling, where there will be no decay, no sorrow, no tears, no misery, and no sin.
3. Sickness is meant to make us look at our past lives honestly, fairly, and conscientiously. Am I ready for my great change if I should not get better? Do I repent truly of my sins? Are my sins forgiven and washed away in Christ’s blood? Am I prepared to meet God?
4. Sickness is meant to make us see the emptiness of the world and its utter inability to satisfy the highest and deepest needs of the soul.
5. Sickness is meant to send us to our Bibles. That blessed Book, in the days of health, is too often left on the shelf, becomes the safest place in which to put a bank-note, and is never opened from January to December. But sickness often brings it down from the shelf and throws new light on its pages.
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Gary on October 16, 2009
Romans 8:9-11 “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
Are you reading J.C. Ryle yet? If not, get to it. Here is a site full of his sermons. A reading group within our church recently read Ryle’s sermon entitled, “Having the Spirit”. In it he lists ten marks that can be seen in the life of the person who has the Spirit, which of course is the determiner of whether or not we have been forgiven and will spend eternity with God. I will share the ten with you in separate posts, read them and answer honestly if you have the Spirit or not.
What then are these general effects which the Spirit always produces on those who really have Him? What are the marks of His presence in the soul?
All who have the Spirit are quickened by Him, and made spiritually ALIVE.
He is called in Scripture, “The Spirit of life.” (Rom. 8:3.) “It is the Spirit,” says our Lord Jesus Christ, “who quickens.” (John 6:63.) We are all by nature dead in trespasses and sins. We have neither feeling nor interest about true religion. We have neither faith, nor hope, nor fear, nor love. Our hearts are in a state of torpor; they are compared in Scripture to a stone. We may be alive about money, learning, politics, or pleasure—but we are dead towards God.
All this is changed when the Spirit comes into the heart. He raises us from this state of death, and makes us new creatures. He awakens the conscience, and inclines the will towards God. He causes old things to pass away, and all things to become new. He gives us a new heart; He makes us put off the old man, and put on the new. He blows the trumpet in the ear of our slumbering faculties, and sends us forth to walk the world as if we were new beings.
How unlike was Lazarus shut up in the silent tomb, to Lazarus coming forth at our Lord’s command! How unlike was Jairus’ daughter lying cold on her bed amidst weeping friends, to Jairus’ daughter rising and speaking to her mother as she was accustomed to do! Just as unlike is the man in whom the Spirit dwells to what he was before the Spirit came into him.
I appeal to every thinking reader. Can he whose heart is manifestly full of everything but God–hard, cold, and insensible—can he be said to “have the Spirit”? Judge for yourself.
Posted by Gary on October 10, 2009
Revelation 21:27 “and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
John 3:5 “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Reading J.C. Ryle the past few months has been such an encouragement and challenge. I have noticed in a number of sermons that Ryle comes back consistently to the issue of whether or not our hearts have been made ready for heaven while we yet remain on earth.
Ryle’s point is simple: Heaven is holy for God is there. Heaven is eternity with God, in the place of God, amongst the people of God, singing the praises of God, doing the will of God. If we have no desire for God, His people, His work and praise of Him now, why do we think we would like it later? Here is Ryle in his own words:
“Without conversion of heart we could not enjoy heaven, if we got there. Heaven is a place where holiness reigns supreme, and sin and the world have no place at all. The company will all be holy; the employments will all be holy; it will be an eternal Sabbath-day. Surely if we go to heaven, we must have a heart in tune and able to enjoy it, or else we shall not be happy. We must have a nature in harmony with the element we live in, and the place where we dwell. Can a fish be happy out of water? We know it cannot. Well, without conversion of heart we could not be happy in heaven.
Look round the neighborhood in which you live, and the people with whom you are acquainted. Think what many of them would do if they were cut off forever from money, and business, and newspapers, and cards, and partys, and races, and hunting, and shooting, and worldly amusements! Would they like it? Think what they would feel if they were shut up forever with Jesus Christ, and saints, and angels! Would they be happy? Would the eternal company of Moses, and David, and Paul, be pleasant to those who never take the trouble to read what those holy men wrote? Would heaven’s everlasting praise suit the taste of those who can hardly spare a few minutes in a week for private religion, even for prayer? There is but one answer to be given to all these questions. We must be converted before we can enjoy heaven. Heaven would be no heaven to any child of Adam without conversion.”
From a sermon entitled, “Conversion” by J.C. Ryle to read it click here
If you were to ask most people if they want to go to heaven virtually everyone would say yes. But I think an important question is, “Do we really want to go to heaven or do we just want to avoid going to hell?” Wanting to avoid hell does not mean that we will love the things of heaven, it just means that we want to escape flames.
Many people are deceived, they believe that they are on their way to heaven though they have never received the new birth or had their hearts changed by God. Being a Christian does not mean being perfect but it does mean that God has done something to us that fundamentally changes our hearts, desires and what we enjoy and live for.
Are you on your way to heaven? You may know simply by honestly asking and answering whether or not heaven dwells in your heart now. Do you love God? Do you think about Him? Do you desire to hear from Him in His Word? Do you like to talk to Him? Do you praise Him? Are you serving Him now as those who are in heaven now do? Have you divorced your heart from this world?
My question tonight is not whether or not you want to go to heaven, you may well want just to avoid hell which proves nothing more than that you have some degree of your wits about you. Have you been born again? Do you pursue the God of heaven and the things of heaven here on earth?
Posted by Gary on August 6, 2009
Galatians 6:14 “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
Our summer reading group is reading “Old Paths” by Bishop J.C. Ryle. What a collection of sermons! What preaching, what power. Ryle is not hard to understand and holds forth truth with love and power. This week’s sermon is entitled, “The Cross of Christ” and from it I share this excerpt as Ryle speaks about churches that do not hold forth Jesus and His death on the cross:
No Church will ever be honoured in which Christ crucified is not continually lifted up : nothing whatever can make up for the want of the cross. Without it all things may be done decently and in order; without it there may he splendid ceremonies, beautiful music, gorgeous churches, learned ministers, crowded communion tables, huge collections for the poor but without the cross no good will be done; dark hearts will not be enlightened, proud hearts will not be humbled, mourning hearts will not be comforted, fainting hearts will not be cheered.
Sermons about the Catholic Church and an apostolic ministry,—sermons about baptism and the Lord’s supper,—sermons about unity and schism,—sermons about fasts and communion,—sermons about fathers and saints,—such sermons will never make up for the absence of sermons about the cross of Christ.
They may amuse some: they will feed none. A gorgeous banqueting room, and splendid gold plate on the table, will never make up to a hungry man for the want of food. Christ crucified is God’s grand ordinance for good to men. Whenever a Church keeps back Christ crucified, or puts anything whatever in that foremost place which Christ crucified should always have, from that moment a Church ceases to be useful.
Without Christ crucified in her pulpits, a Church is little better than a cumberer of the ground, a dead carcass, a well without water, a barren fig tree, a sleeping watchman, a silent trumpet, a dumb witness, an ambassador without terms of peace, a messenger without tidings, a lighthouse without fire, a stumbling-block to weak believers, a comfort to infidels, a hot-bed for formalism, a joy to the devil, and an offence to God.
What a word for today and for all time. What is the message your church and mine holds forth to those who attend? Are we preaching Christ and Him crucified for our sins?
May God keep us from the temptation and error of preaching a gospel that is not the gospel. The gospel is not help with finances, marriage counseling, or sermon series on sex. No doubt, such messages will find listeners but where is the cross? No mention of sin, no forgiveness of sin. No cross, no salvation.
We are building churches, are we saving souls?