Posted tagged ‘J.C. Ryle’

J.C. Ryle on a Sinner’s Prayer

August 3, 2011

One of my favorite devotional authors is J.C. Ryle, and I have often gone to his trilogy of books, namely Practical Religion, Old Paths, and The Upper Room for personal encouragement and rebuke.  In his chapter on prayer, Ryle addresses a sinner who has yet to come to Christ in repentance and faith. Consider his counsel:

When does the building of the Spirit really begin to appear in a man’s heart? It begins, so far as we can judge, when he first pours out his heart to God in prayer.

If you desire salvation, and want to know what to do, I advise you to go this very day to the Lord Jesus Christ, in the first private place you can find, and earnestly and heartily entreat him in prayer to save your soul.

Tell him that you have heard that he receives sinners, and has said, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” Tell him that you are a poor vile sinner, and that you come to him on the faith of his own invitation. Tell him you put yourself wholly and entirely in his hands; that you feel vile and helpless, and hopeless in yourself: and that except he saves you, you have no hope of being saved at all. Beseech him to deliver you from the guilt, the power, and the consequences of sin. Beseech him to pardon you, and wash you in his own blood. Beseech him to give you a new heart, and plant the Holy Spirit in Your Soul. Beseech him to give you grace and faith and will and power to be his disciple and servant from this day forever. Oh, reader, go this very day, and tell these things to the Lord Jesus Christ, if you really are in earnest about your soul.

Tell him in your own way, and your own words. If a doctor came to see you when sick you could tell him where you felt pain. If your soul feels its disease indeed, you can surely find something to tell Christ.

Doubt not his willingness to save you, because you are a sinner. It is Christ’s office to save sinners. He says himself, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).

Wait not because you feel unworthy. Wait for nothing. Wait for nobody. Waiting comes from the devil. just as you are, go to Christ. The worse you are, the more need you have to apply to him. You will never mend yourself by staying away.

Fear not because your prayer is stammering, your words feeble, and your language poor. Jesus can understand you. Just as a mother understands the first lispings of her infant, so does the blessed Saviour understand sinners. He can read a sigh, and see a meaning in a groan.

Despair not because you do not get an answer immediately. While you are speaking, Jesus is listening. If he delays an answer, it is only for wise reasons, and to try if you are in earnest. The answer will surely come. Though it tarry, wait for it. It will surely come.

Oh, reader, if you have any desire to, be saved, remember the advice I have given you this day. Act upon it honestly and heartily, and you shall be saved.

I am one, like many of you, who have a strong reaction to the way sinners are counseled in praying the “sinner’s prayer.”  However, a reaction from the wrong-headed decisional regeneration should not lead us to counsel sinners away from praying!  In calling sinners to repent and believe, and to express that in prayer to God, I think J.C. Ryle’s counsel is a good one to follow.

Heaven – Home of Gospel-Embracing Repenters

October 13, 2009

Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Because heaven is a prepared place, our Christian lives should be characterized by rejoicing and anticipating being with the Lord.  Because heaven is for a prepared people our Christian lives should be characterized by repentance and turning away from ourselves.  Therefore, the Christian life is both one of rejoicing and repentance, at the same time.  In fact, it could be said that, though we mourn over and hate our sin, our repentance should be joyful knowing that God has promised bring to fulfillment that which he began in us, namely the glorification of His Son in us.  There is no genuine joy without thorough repentance, and genuine repentance ought to bring about increasing joy as sin is displaced and we draw nearer to Jesus.

We often call Christians “believers”.  “We are a gathering of believers . . .” but Christians are also “repenters,” so why don’t refer to a gathering of repenters?  Our response to the gospel at conversion is both – a repenting faith or believing repentance, and our response to the gospel from that moment on is the same.  The more we behold Jesus by faith as seen in the gospel, the more we are transformed into His image from one degree of glory to another.  If there are no degrees of glory being experienced on earth, then what, pray tell, would such a professing Christian claim to experience in heaven?  The very degrees of glory we experience in the daily transformation of our lives through repentance and faith are meant to be a foretaste of the fullness of glory to be seen when we are “taken up into glory.”  To miss it here is to forfeit it there.

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On Silence and Sinful Prudence

July 28, 2009

The easiest way to avoid persecution and suffering is to be silent for Christ and then come up with justifications to make such silence feel legitimate.

Jesus tells those who are entrusted with His mission in Matt. 10:17-20 two things they can count on: (1) they will be delivered up by men operating as “wolves” and (2) it will be given to them what they should say as those led by the Spirit of God.

Informed Christians might consider the call to “beware of such men” is to avoid them altogether. Don’t live among them or seek to reach them.  We think to ourselves, “After all, what does sheep have in common with wolves?  Aren’t they after us?  Just play it safe.”  This is the opposite of mission and living sent.  It is staying where you are because the comfort and safety you enjoy is of far greater value to you than the glory of Jesus Christ spread by means of suffering for His name.  At this point, one begins to look for the best alternative to mission, as though Jesus makes such a provision in his instructions.  J.C. Ryle, in his Expository Thoughts on Matthew, powerfully addresses this “so-called prudence” in the avoidance of mission:

“The extreme into which most men are liable to fall in the present day is that of silence, cowardice, and letting others alone.  Our so-called prudence is apt to degenerate into a compromising line of conduct, or downright unfaithfulness.  We are only too ready to suppose that it is of no use trying to do good to certain people: we excuse ourselves from efforts to benefit their souls by saying it would be indiscreet, or inexpedient, or would give needless offence, or would even do positive harm.  Let us all watch and be on our guard against this spirit; laziness and the devil are often the true explanation of it.  To give way to it is pleasant to flesh and blood, no doubt, and saves much trouble: but those who give way to it often throw away great opportunities of usefulness (100).”

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