I am really loving this series of books by J.C. Ryle. I would love to read Luke and John this year as well.
The things that we learn by smarting experience, abide in our memories, while truths heard with the ear are often forgotten.
It is never too soon to strive and pray for the salvation of the souls of children — never too soon to speak to them as moral beings, and tell them of God, and Christ, and right, and wrong.
It is not for nothing that He reminds us again that He must die. He would have us know that His death was the great end for which He came into the world. He would remind us that by that death the great problem was to be solved — how God could be just, and yet justify sinners. He did not come upon earth merely to teach, and preach, and work miracles. He came to make satisfaction for sin, by His own blood and suffering on the cross. Let us never forget this.
There is a real hell, and that hell is eternal. Fearful and tremendous as it is, it ought to be pressed on all, as one of the great truths of Christianity.
It is not possible to say too much about Christ. But it is quite possible to say too little about hell.Mark 10
The marriage relationship lies at the very root of the social system of nations. The public morality of a people, and the private happiness of the families which compose a nation, are deeply involved in the whole question of the law of marriage...In short, the nearer a nation's laws about marriage approach to the law of Christ, the higher has the moral tone of that nation always proved to be.
So long as we think that we can keep the law of God, Christ profits us nothing. Let us pray for self-knowledge. Let us ask for the Holy Spirit to convince us of sin, to show us our own hearts, to show us God's holiness, and so to show us our need of Christ.
We must never forget that Jesus feels love and compassion for the souls of the ungodly. Without controversy He feels a distinguishing love for those who hear His voice and follow Him. They are His sheep, given to Him by the Father, and watched with a special care. They are His bride, joined to Him in an everlasting covenant, and dear to Him as part of Himself. But the heart of Jesus is a wide heart. He has abundance of pity, compassion, and tender concern even for those who are following sin and the world.
If men are lost, it is not because Jesus does not love them, and is not ready to save.Mark 11
But never let us forget that the crowning fact in all we know of Jesus Christ, is His death upon the cross. From that death flow all our hopes. Without that death we would have nothing solid beneath our feet. May we prize that death more and more every year we live; and in all our thoughts about Christ, rejoice in nothing so much as the great fact that He died for us!
It is appropriate and right that we should never forget the union of the divine and human natures in our Lord's person. If we saw His divine acts only, we might forget that He was man. If we saw His seasons of poverty and weakness only, we might forget that He was God. But we are intended to see in Jesus divine strength and human weakness united in one person. We cannot explain the mystery; but we may take comfort in the thought, "this is our Savior, this is our Christ — one able to sympathize, because He is man, but one Almighty to save, because He is God."
Justifying faith is that act of the soul by which a man lays hold on Christ, and has peace with God. Its special object is the atonement for sin which Jesus made on the cross.
God's free forgiveness of sins is our highest privilege in this world. God's free forgiveness will be our only title to eternal life in the world to come. Then let us be forgiving during the few years that we are here upon earth.Mark 12
There is no truth so little realized and believed as the "desperate wickedness" of the human heart.
Not least, let us teach our children to value the Bible. The very best portion we can give them, is a knowledge of the Scriptures.
How striking is our Lord's description of the FEELING with which we ought to regard both God and our neighbor! We are not merely to obey the one, or to abstain from injuring the other. In both cases we are to give far more than this. We are to give love, the strongest of all affections, and the most comprehensive. A rule like this includes everything. It makes all petty details unnecessary. Nothing will be intentionally lacking where there is love.
We cannot err in our affection toward God in the matter of excess. He is worthy of all we can give Him. We are therefore to love Him with all our heart.
It is only gross ignorance of the requirements of God's law which makes people undervalue the Gospel. The man who has the clearest view of the moral law, will always be the man who has the highest sense of the value of Christ's atoning blood.
But education alone will never make a Christian in the sight of God. We must not only know the leading doctrines of the Gospel with our heads, but receive them into our hearts, and be guided by them in our lives.
We know, from our Lord's own words in another place, that the Old Testament Scriptures "testify of Christ." (John 5:39.) They were intended to teach men about Christ, by types, and figures, and prophecy, until He Himself should appear on earth. We should always keep this in mind, in reading the Old Testament, but never so much as in reading the Psalms. Christ is undoubtedly to be found in every part of the Law and the Prophets, but nowhere is He so much to be found, as in the book of Psalms. His experience and sufferings at His first coming into the world — His future glory, and His final triumph at His second coming — are the chief subjects of many a passage in that wonderful part of God's word. It is a true saying, that we should look for Christ quite as much as David, in reading the Psalms.
Let us beware of undervaluing, or despising the Old Testament. In its place and proportion, the Old Testament is just as valuable as the New. There are probably many rich passages in that part of the Bible which have never yet been fully explored. There are deep things about Jesus in it, which many walk over like hidden gold mines, and know not the treasures beneath their feet. Let us reverence all the Bible. All is given by inspiration, and all is profitable. One part throws light upon another, and no part can ever be neglected without loss and damage to our souls. A boastful contempt for the Old Testament Scriptures has often proved the first step towards infidelity.Mark 13
Let us understand that we live in a day of election, and not of universal conversion. There will be no universal peace until the Prince of Peace appears. There will be no universal holiness until Satan is bound.
The second coming of Christ shall be utterly unlike the first. He came the first time in weakness, a tender infant, born of a poor woman in the manger at Bethlehem, unnoticed, unhonored, and scarcely known. He shall come the second time in royal dignity, with the armies of heaven around Him, to be known, recognized, and feared by all the tribes of the earth. He came the first time to suffer — to bear our sins — to be reckoned a curse — to be despised, rejected, unjustly condemned, and slain. He shall come the second time to reign — to put down every enemy beneath His feet — to take the kingdoms of this world for His inheritance — to rule them with righteousness — to judge all men, and to live for evermore.Mark 14
If a man once understands the sinfulness of sin, and the mercy of Christ in dying for him, he will never think anything too good or too costly to give to Christ.
How many truths we read yearly in the Bible, and yet remember them no more than if we had never read them at all! How many words of wisdom we hear in sermons heedlessly and thoughtlessly, and live on as if we had never heard them!
Let us pray for a quick understanding in hearing and reading God's word. Let us search into every part of it, and not lose any precious truth in it for lack of care.
"Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak." It should be the Christian's daily motto from the time of his conversion to the hour of his death.
We must pray without ceasing, regularly, habitually, carefully, and at stated times. We must pray as well as watch, and watch as well as pray. Watching without praying is self-confidence and self-conceit. Praying without watching is enthusiasm and fanaticism.
There was no accident or chance in any part of the close of our Lord's earthly ministry. The steps in which He walked from Gethsemane to Calvary were all marked out hundreds of years before.
Let us learn to be charitable in our judgment of other Christians. Let us not expect too much from them, or set them down as having no grace at all, if we see them overtaken in a fault. Let us not forget that even our Lord's chosen apostles forsook Him in His time of need. Yet they rose again by repentance, and became pillars of the Church of Christ.
Let us live in the daily recollection that our Savior is one day coming back to this world. Let the Christ in whom we believe, be not only the Christ who died for us and rose again — the Christ who lives for us and intercedes — but the Christ who will one day return in glory, to gather together and reward His people, and to punish fearfully all His enemies.Mark 15
We should remember that His death is the life of our souls, and that unless His blood had been shed, we must have perished miserably in our sins.
We are all by nature in the position of Barabbas. We are guilty, wicked, and worthy of condemnation. But "when we were without hope," Christ the innocent died for the ungodly.
Our plea must ever be, not that we are deserving of acquittal, but that Christ has died for us.
May we never rest until we can say by faith, "Christ is mine. I deserve hell. But Christ has died for me, and believing in Him I have a hope of heaven."
In the instant that our Lord drew His last breath, the work of atonement for a world's sin was accomplished. The ransom for sinners was at length paid. The kingdom of heaven was thrown fully open to all believers. All the solid hope that mortal men enjoy about their souls, may be traced to the giving up the spirit on the cross.Mark 16
A slight sense of our debt to God will always be attended by a slight sense of what we owe for our redemption.
Finally, let us never forget, that Christ's believing Church in the world is of itself a standing miracle. The conversion and perseverance in grace of every member of that Church, is a sign and wonder, as great as the raising of Lazarus from the dead. The renewal of every saint is as great a marvel as the casting out of a devil, or the healing of a sick man, or the speaking with a new tongue. Let us thank God for this and take courage. The age of spiritual miracles is not yet past. Happy are they who have learned this by experience, and can say, "I was dead, but am alive again — I was blind, but I see."© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible