Fire in the Mouth

Confessional Presbyterian ♠️ Reader of Ryle Co-Founder & President of Christian Worldview Discipleship (CWD) Full Time Evangelist w/ Reformed Evangelistic Fellowship (REF) Pursuing M.Div @ Heidelberg Theological Seminary (HTS) 🎧 CWD Podcasts ⤵️

Kings should support Christianity

Our Lord's main object in saying "My kingdom is not of this world," [John 18:36] was to inform Pilate's mind concerning the true nature of His kingdom, and to correct any false impression he might have received from the Jews. He tells him that He did not come to set up a kingdom which would interfere with the Roman Government. He did not aim at establishing a temporal power, to be supported by armies and maintained by taxes. The only dominion He exercised was over men's hearts, and the only weapons that His subjects employed were spiritual weapons. A kingdom which required neither money nor servants for its support, was one of which the Roman Emperors need not be afraid. In the highest sense it was a kingdom "not of this world."

But our Lord did not intend to teach that the kings of this world have nothing to do with religion, and ought to ignore God altogether in the government of their subjects. No such idea, we may be sure, was in His mind. He knew perfectly well that it was written, "By Me kings reign" (Prov. 8:15), and that kings are as much required to use their influence for God, as the lowest of their subjects. He knew that the prosperity of kingdoms is wholly dependent on the blessing of God, and that kings are as much bound to encourage righteousness and godliness, as to punish unrighteousness and immorality. To suppose that He meant to teach Pilate that, in His judgment, an infidel might be as good a king as a Christian, and a man like Gallio as good a ruler as David or Solomon, is simply absurd.

Let us carefully hold fast the true meaning of our Lord's words in these latter days. Let us never be ashamed to maintain that no Government can expect to prosper which refuses to recognize religion, which deals with its subjects as if they had no souls, and cares not whether they serve God, or Baal, or no God at all. Such a Government will find, sooner or later, that its line of policy is suicidal, and damaging to its best interests. No doubt the kings of this world cannot make men Christians by laws and statutes. But they can encourage and support Christianity, and they will do so if they are wise. The kingdom where there is the most industry, temperance, truthfulness, and honesty, will always be the most prosperous of kingdoms. The king who wants to see these things abound among his subjects, should do all that lies in his power to help Christianity and to discourage irreligion.

—J.C. Ryle, 'Expository Thoughts on John

Hypocrisy & Unfaithful Ministers

Let us learn from the whole passage [Matthew 23:13–33] how abominable is hypocrisy in the sight of God. These Scribes and Pharisees are not charged with being thieves or murderers, but with being hypocrites to the very core. Whatever we are in our religion, let us resolve never to wear a cloak. Let us by all means be honest and real.

Let us learn from the whole passage how awfully dangerous is the position of an unfaithful minister. It is bad enough to be blind ourselves. It is a thousand times worse to be a blind guide. Of all men none is so culpably wicked as an unconverted minister, and none will be judged so severely. It is a solemn saying about such a one, "He resembles an unskillful pilot--he does not perish alone."

—J.C. Ryle, 'Expository Thoughts on Matthew’

The Difference between Lutheran and Reformed

The difference seems to be conveyed best by saying that the Reformed Christian thinks theologically, the Lutheran anthropologically. The Reformed person is not content with an exclusively historical stance but raises his sights to the idea, the eternal decree of God. By contrast the Lutheran takes his position in the midst of the history of redemption and feels no need to enter more deeply into the counsel of God. For the Reformed, therefore, election is the heart of the church; for Lutherans, justification is the article by which the church stands or falls. Among the former the primary question is: How is the glory of God advanced? Among the latter it is: How does a human get saved? The struggle of the former is above all against paganism—idolatry; that of the latter against Judaism—works-righteousness. The Reformed person does not rest until he has traced all things retrospectively to the divine decree, tracking down the “wherefore” of things, and has prospectively made all things subservient to the glory of God; the Lutheran is content with the “that” and enjoys the salvation in which he is, by faith, a participant. From this difference in principle, the dogmatic controversies between them (with respect to the image of God, original sin, the person of Christ, the order of salvation, the sacraments, church government, ethics, etc.) can be easily explained.

—Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 1: Prolegomena (p. 177). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The stinginess of professing Christians

This is a lesson which is taught us in a striking manner, by our Lord's commendation of a certain poor widow [Mark 12:41–44]. We are told that He "beheld how the people cast in" their voluntary contributions for God's service into the public, collecting box or "treasury." He saw "many that were rich casting in much." At last he saw this poor widow cast in all that she had for her daily maintenance. And then we hear Him pronounce the solemn words, "This poor woman has cast more in than they all" more in the sight of Him who looks not merely at the amount given, but at the ability of the giver--not merely at the quantity contributed, but at the motive and heart of the contributor.

There are few of our Lord's sayings so much overlooked as this. There are thousands who remember all His doctrinal discourses, and yet contrive to forget this little incident in His earthly ministry. The proof of this is to be seen in the meager and sparing contributions which are yearly made by Christ's church to do good in the world. The proof is to be seen in the miserably small incomes of all the missionary societies, in proportion to the wealth of the churches. The proof is to be seen in the long annual lists of self-complacent guinea subscribers, of whom many could easily give hundreds of pounds. The stinginess of professing Christians in all matters which concern God and religion, is one of the crying sins of the day, and one of the worst signs of the times. The givers to Christ's cause are but a small section of the visible church. Not one baptized person in twenty, probably, knows any thing of being "rich towards God." (Luke 12:21.) The vast majority spend pounds on themselves, and give not even pence to Christ.

Let us mourn over this state of things, and pray God to amend it. Let us pray Him to open men's eyes, and awake men's hearts, and stir up a spirit of liberality. Above all, let us each do our own duty, and give liberally and gladly to every Christian object while we can. There will be no giving when we are dead. Let us give as those who remember that the eyes of Christ are upon us. He still sees exactly what each gives, and knows exactly how much is left behind. Above all let us give as the disciples of a crucified Savior, who gave Himself for us, body and soul, on the cross. Freely we have received. Let us freely give.

—J.C. Ryle, 'Expository Thoughts on Mark’

Christ did not resist

We should mark, for another thing, the amazing condescension of our Lord Jesus Christ. We see the Son of God taken prisoner and led away bound like a malefactor--arraigned before wicked and unjust judges--insulted and treated with contempt. And yet this unresisting prisoner had only to will His deliverance, and He would at once have been free. He had only to command the confusion of His enemies, and they would at once have been confounded. Above all He was One who knew full well that Annas and Caiaphas, and all their companions, would one day stand before His judgment seat and receive an eternal sentence. He knew all these things, and yet condescended to be treated as a malefactor without resisting.

One thing at any rate is very clear. The love of Christ to sinners is "a love that passes knowledge." To suffer for those whom we love, and who are in some sense worthy of our affections, is suffering that we can understand. To submit to ill-treatment quietly, when we have no power to resist, is submission that is both graceful and wise. But to suffer voluntarily, when we a have the power to prevent it, and to suffer for a world of unbelieving and ungodly sinners, unasked and unthanked--this is a line of conduct which passes man's understanding. Never let us forget that this is the peculiar beauty of Christ's sufferings, when we read the wondrous story of His cross and passion.

He was led away captive, and dragged before the High Priest's bar, not because He could not help Himself, but because He had set His whole heart on saving sinners, by bearing their sins, by being treated as a sinner, and by being punished in their stead. He was a willing prisoner, that we might be set free. He was willingly arraigned and condemned, that we might be absolved and declared innocent. "He suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us unto God." "Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich." "He was made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." (1 Peter 3:18; 2 Cor. 8:9; 5:21.) Surely if there is any doctrine of the Gospel which needs to be clearly known, it is the doctrine of Christ's voluntary substitution. He suffered and died willingly and unresistingly, because He knew that He had come to be our substitute, and by substitution to purchase our salvation.

—J.C. Ryle, 'Expository Thoughts on John’

By what authority do you these things?

...how ready the enemies of truth are to question the authority of all who do more good than themselves.The chief priests have not a word to say about our Lord's teaching. They make no charge against the lives or conduct of Himself or His followers. The point on which they fasten is his commission--"By what authority do you these things? and who gave you this authority?"

The same charge has often been made against the servants of God, when they have striven to check the progress of ecclesiastical corruption. It is the old weapon by which the children of this world have often labored to stop the progress of revivals and reformations. It is the weapon which was often brandished in the face of the Reformers, the Puritans, and the Methodists of the last century. It is the poisoned arrow which is often shot at city-missionaries and lay-agents in the present day. Too many care nothing for the manifest blessing of God on man's work, so long as he is not sent forth by their own sect or party. It matters nothing to them, that some humble laborer in God's harvest can point to numerous conversions of souls through his instrumentality. They still cry, "By what authority do you these things?"

His success is nothing--they demand his commission. His cures are nothing--they require his diploma. Let us neither be surprised nor moved, when we hear such things. It is the old charge which was brought against Christ Himself. "There is no new thing under the sun." (Eccles. 1:9.)

—J.C. Ryle, 'Expository Thoughts on Matthew’

A "Day of Visitation"

God is sometimes pleased to give men special opportunities and invitations. We are told by our Lord, that Jerusalem "knew not the day of her visitation." Jerusalem had a special season of mercy and privilege. The Son of God Himself visited her. The mightiest miracles that man had ever seen were wrought around her. The most wonderful preaching that ever was heard was preached within her walls. The days of our Lord's ministry were days of the clearest calls to repentance and faith that ever any city received. They were calls so marked, peculiar, and unlike any previous calls Jerusalem had received, that it seemed impossible they should be disregarded. But they were disregarded! And our Lord declares that this disregard was one of Jerusalem's principal sins.

The subject before us is a deep and mysterious one. It requires careful stating and delicate handling, lest we should make one scripture contradict another. There seems no doubt that churches, nations, and even individuals are sometimes visited with special manifestations of God's presence, and that their neglect of such manifestations is the turning point in their spiritual ruin. Why this should take place in some cases and not in others we cannot tell. Facts, plain facts in history and biography, appear to prove that it is so. The last day will probably show the world, that there were seasons in the lives of many who died in sin, when God drew very near to them, when conscience was peculiarly alive, when there seemed but a step between them and salvation. Those seasons will probably prove to have been what our Lord calls their "day of visitation." The neglect of such seasons will probably be at last, one of the heaviest charges against their souls.

—J.C. Ryle, 'Expository Thoughts on Luke'

deep concern for the unconverted

We know but little of true Christianity, if we do not feel a deep concern about the souls of unconverted people. A lazy indifference about the spiritual state of others, may doubtless save us much trouble. To care nothing whether our neighbors are going to heaven or hell, is no doubt the way of the world. But a man of this spirit is very unlike David, who said, "rivers of waters run down my eyes, because men keep not your law." He is very unlike Paul, who said, "I have great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart for my brethren." (Psalm 119:136; Rom. 9:2.) Above all, he is very unlike Christ. If Christ felt tenderly about wicked people, the disciples of Christ ought to feel likewise.

—J.C. Ryle, 'Expository Thoughts on Luke'

The praise of Christ endures forever.

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster jar of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table.
But when the disciples saw this, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”
But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good work to Me.
For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial.
Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”
—Matthew 26:6–13

Let us observe, in the second place, in these verses, what honor Christ loves to put on those who honor Him. We are told that when He was "in the house of Simon the leper," a certain woman came, while He sat at table, and poured a box of precious ointment on His head. She did it, no doubt, out of reverence and affection. She had received soul-benefit from Him, and she thought no mark of honor too costly to be bestowed on Him in return. But this deed of hers called forth disapproval from some who saw it. They called it "waste." They said it might have been better to sell the ointment, and give the money to the poor. At once our Lord rebuked these cold-hearted fault-finders. He tells them that the woman has "wrought a good work," and one that he accepts and approves. And he goes on to make a striking prediction, "Wherever this Good News is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of as a memorial of her."

We see, in this little incident, how perfectly our Lord knew things to come, and how easy it is for him to confer honor. This prophecy of His about this woman is receiving a fulfillment every day before our eyes. Wherever the Gospel of Matthew is read, the deed that she did is known. The deeds and titles of many a king, and emperor, and general, are as completely forgotten, as if written in the sand. But the grateful act of one humble Christian woman is recorded in one hundred and fifty different languages, and is known all over the globe. The praise of man is but for a few days. The praise of Christ endures forever. The pathway to lasting honor, is to honor Christ.

Last, but not least, we see in this incident a blessed foretaste of things that will yet take place in the day of judgment. In that great day no honor done to Christ on earth shall be found to have been forgotten. The speeches of parliamentary orators, the exploits of warriors, the works of poets and painters, shall not be mentioned in that day. But the least work that the weakest Christian woman has done for Christ, or His members, shall be found written in a book of everlasting remembrance. Not a single kind word or deed, not a cup of cold water, or a box of ointment, shall be omitted from the record. Silver and gold she may have had none--rank, power, and influence she may not have possessed--but if she loved Christ, and confessed Christ, and worked for Christ, her memorial shall be found on high. She shall be commended before assembled worlds.

—J.C. Ryle, 'Expository Thoughts on Matthew’

the wrathful God is loving

It is one thing to say that the wrathful God is made loving. That would be entirely false. It is another thing to say the wrathful God is loving. That is profoundly true. But it is also true that the wrath by which he is wrathful is propitiated through the cross. This propitiation is the fruit of the divine love that provided it.

—John Murray, 'Redemption—Accomplished and Applied' pg. 26

be willing to offend family, rather than offend Christ

true Christians must be ready, if need be, to give up everything for Christ's sake. This is a lesson which is taught in very remarkable language. Our Lord says, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." [Luke 14:26]

This expression must doubtless be interpreted with some qualification. We must never explain any text of Scripture in such a manner as to make it contradict another. Our Lord did not mean us to understand that it is the duty of Christians to hate their relatives. This would have been to contradict the fifth commandment. He only meant that those who follow Him must love Him with a deeper love even than their nearest and dearest relatives, or their own lives. He did not mean that it is an essential part of Christianity to quarrel with our relatives and friends. But He did mean that if the claims of our relatives and the claims of Christ come into collision, the claims of relatives must give way. We must choose rather to displease those we love most upon earth, than to displease Him who died for us on the cross.

The demand which our Lord makes upon us here is peculiarly stringent and heart-searching. Yet it is a wise and a necessary one. Experience shows, both in the church at home, and in the mission-field abroad, that the greatest foes to a man's soul are sometimes those of his own house. It sometimes happens that the greatest hindrance in the way of an awakened conscience, is the opposition of relatives and friends. Ungodly fathers cannot bear to see their sons "taking up new views" of religion. Worldly mothers are vexed to see their daughters unwilling to enter into the gaieties of the world. A collision of opinion takes place frequently, as soon as grace enters into a family. And then comes the time when the true Christian must remember the spirit of our Lord's words in this passage. He must be willing to offend his family, rather than offend Christ.

The line of duty in such cases is doubtless very painful. It is a heavy cross to disagree with those we love, and especially about spiritual things. But if this cross be laid upon us, we must remember that firmness and decision are true kindness. It can never be true love to relatives to do wrong, in order to please them. And, best of all, firmness accompanied by gentleness and consistency, in the long run of life, often brings its own reward. Thousands of Christians will bless God at the last day, that they had relatives and friends who chose to displease them rather than Christ. That very decision was the first thing that made them think seriously, and led finally to the conversion of their souls.

—J.C. Ryle, 'Expository Thoughts on Luke’

power and success in prayer

In the first place, our Lord declares, "If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you." This is a distinct promise of power and success in prayer. And what does it turn upon? We must "abide in Christ," and Christ's "words must abide in us." [John 15:]

To abide in Christ means to keep up a habit of constant close communion with Him--to be always leaning on Him, resting on Him, pouring out our hearts to Him, and using Him as our Fountain of life and strength, as our chief Companion and best Friend. To have His words abiding in us, is to keep His sayings and precepts continually before our memories and minds, and to make them the guide of our actions and the rule of our daily conduct and behavior.

Christians of this stamp, we are told, shall not pray in vain. Whatever they ask they shall obtain, so long as they ask things according to God's mind. No work shall be found too hard, and no difficulty insurmountable. Asking they shall receive, and seeking they shall find. Such men were Martin Luther, the German Reformer, and our own martyr, Bishop Latimer. Such a man was John Knox, of whom Queen Mary said, that she feared his prayers more than an army of twenty thousand men. It is written in a certain place, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." (James 5:16.)

Now, why is there so little power of prayer like this in our own time? Simply because there is so little close communion with Christ, and so little strict conformity to His will. Men do not "abide in Christ," and therefore pray in vain. Christ's words do not abide in them, as their standard of practice, and therefore their prayers seem not to be heard. They ask and receive not, because they ask amiss. Let this lesson sink down into our hearts. He that would have answers to his prayers, must carefully remember Christ's directions. We must keep up intimate friendship with the great Advocate in heaven, if our petitions are to prosper.

—J.C. Ryle, 'Expository Thoughts on John’

Compel men to come in

We must even not be ashamed to use a gentle violence. We must be instant in season, out of season. (2 Tim. 4:2.) We must deal with many an unconverted man, as one who is half-asleep, half out of his mind, and not fully conscious of the state he is in. We must press the Gospel on his notice again and again. We must cry aloud and spare not. We must deal with him as we would with a man about to commit suicide. We must try to snatch him as a brand from the burning. We must say, "I cannot--I will not--I dare not let you go on ruining your own soul." The men of the world may not understand such earnest dealing. They may sneer at all zeal and fervor in religion as fanaticism. But the "man of God," who desires to do the work of an evangelist, will heed little what the world says. He will remember the words of our parable. He will "compel men to come in." [Luke 14:23]

—J.C. Ryle, 'Expository Thoughts on Luke’

many refuse Gospel invitations

We read that when the servant announced that all things were ready, those who were invited "all with one consent began to make excuse." [Luke 14:18] One had one trivial excuse, and another had another. In one point only all were agreed--they would not come.

We have in this part of the parable a vivid picture of the reception which the Gospel is continually meeting with wherever it is proclaimed. Thousands are continually doing what the parable describes. They are invited to come to Christ, and they will not come. It is not ignorance of religion that ruins most men's souls. It is lack of will to use knowledge; or love of this present world. It is not open profligacy that fills hell. It is excessive attention to things which in themselves are lawful. It is not avowed dislike to the Gospel which is so much to be feared. It is that procrastinating, excuse-making spirit, which is always ready with a reason why Christ cannot be served today. Let the words of our Lord on this subject sink down into our hearts. Infidelity and immorality, no doubt, slay their thousands. But decent, plausible, smooth-spoken excuses slay their tens of thousands. No excuse can justify a man in refusing God's invitation, and not coming to Christ.

—J.C. Ryle, 'Expository Thoughts on Luke’

the offers and invitations of the Gospel are most broad and liberal.

We read that he who made the supper "sent his servant at the time of the banquet to say to those who were invited, Come for all things are now ready." [Luke 14:17]

There is nothing lacking on God's part for the salvation of man. If man is not saved, the fault is not on God's side. The Father is ready to receive all who come to Him by Christ. The Son is ready to cleanse all from their sins who apply to Him by faith. The Spirit is ready to come to all who ask for Him. There is an infinite willingness in God to save man, if man is only willing to be saved.

There is the fullest warrant for sinners to draw near to God by Christ. The word "Come," is addressed to all without exception. Are men laboring and heavy-laden? "Come unto me," says Jesus, "and I will give you rest." Are men thirsting? "If any man thirst," says Jesus, "let him come unto me and drink." Are men poor and hungry? "Come," says Jesus, "buy wine and milk without money and without price." No man shall ever be able to say that he had no encouragement to seek salvation. That word of the Lord shall silence every objector--"Him that comes to me, I will in no wise cast out."

—J.C. Ryle, 'Expository Thoughts on Luke’

strive to live like men who believe in a resurrection

There is a resurrection after death. Let this never be forgotten. The life that we live here in the flesh is not all. The visible world around us is not the only world with which we have to do. All is not over when the last breath is drawn, and men and women are carried to their long home in the grave. The trumpet shall one day sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible. All that are in the graves shall hear Christ's voice and come forth--those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of damnation. This is one of the great foundation truths of the Christian religion. Let us cling to it firmly, and never let it go.

Let us strive to live like men who believe in a resurrection and a life to come, and desire to be always ready for another world. So living, we shall look forward to death with calmness. We shall feel that there remains some better portion for us beyond the grave. So living, we shall take patiently all that we have to bear in this world. Trial, losses, disappointments, ingratitude, will affect us little. We shall not look for our reward here. We shall feel that all will be rectified one day, and that the Judge of all the earth will do right. (Gen. 18:25.)

—J.C. Ryle, 'Expository Thoughts on Luke’