Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Luke Day #24

From J.C. Ryle's Exposition of the Gospel of Luke:
The resurrection of Christ is one of the great foundation-stones of the Christian religion. In practical importance it is second only to the crucifixion. The chapter we have now begun directs our mind to the evidence of the resurrection. It contains unanswerable proof that Jesus not only died, but rose again.
It is not so certain that Julius Caesar once lived, as it is that Christ rose again.
Let us cling firmly to the resurrection of Christ, as one of the pillars of the Gospel. It ought to produce in our minds a settled conviction of the truth of Christianity.
The true cure for a dull memory in religion, is to get deeper love toward Christ, and affections more thoroughly set on things above. We do not readily forget the things we love, and the objects which we keep continually under our eyes. The names of our parents and children are always remembered. The face of the husband or wife we love is engraved on the tablets of our hearts. The more our affections are engaged in Christ's service, the more easy shall we find it to remember Christ's words. The words of the apostle ought to be carefully pondered — "We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." (Heb. 2:1.)
Let us mark, in these verses, what encouragement there is to believers to speak to one another about Christ. [Luke 24:13-35] We are told of two disciples walking together to Emmaus, and talking of their Master's crucifixion. And then come the remarkable words, "While they communed together and reasoned, Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them." Conference on spiritual subjects is a most important means of grace. As iron sharpens iron, so does exchange of thoughts with brethren sharpen a believer's soul. It brings down a special blessing on all who make a practice of it. The striking words of Malachi were meant for the Church in every age -"Then those who feared the Lord spoke often one to another — and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for those who feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name. And they shall be mine says the Lord, in that day when I make up my jewels." (Mal. 3:16, 17.) What do we know ourselves of spiritual conversation with other Christians? Perhaps we read our Bibles, and pray in private, and use public means of grace. It is all well, very well. But if we stop short here we neglect a great privilege and have yet much to learn. We ought to "consider one another to provoke to love and good works." We ought to "exhort" and "edify one another." (Heb. 10:24; 1 Thess. 5:11.) Have we no time for spiritual conversation? Let us think again. The quantity of time wasted on frivolous, trifling, and unprofitable talk, is fearfully great. Do we find nothing to say on spiritual subjects? Do we feel tongue-tied and speechless on the things of Christ? Surely if this is the case, there must be something wrong within. A heart right in the sight of God will generally find words. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matt. 12:34.)
Let us speak of Jesus, when we are sitting in our houses and when we are walking by the way, whenever we can find a disciple to speak to. (Deut. 6:7.) If we believe we are journeying to a heaven where Christ will be the central object of every mind, let us begin to learn the manners of heaven, while we are yet upon earth. So doing we shall often have One with us whom our eyes will not see, but One who will make our hearts "burn within us" by blessing the conversation.
Let us mark, thirdly, in these verses, how full the Old Testament is of Christ. We are told that our Lord began "with Moses and all the prophets, and expounded in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." How shall we explain these words? In what way did our Lord show "things concerning himself," in every part of the Old Testament field? The answer to these questions is short and simple. Christ was the substance of every Old Testament sacrifice, ordained in the law of Moses. Christ was the true Deliverer and King, of whom all the judges and deliverers in Jewish history were types. Christ was the coming Prophet greater than Moses, whose glorious advent filled the pages of prophets. Christ was the true seed of the woman who was to bruise the serpent's head — the true seed in whom all nations were to be blessed — the true Shiloh to whom the people were to be gathered, the true scape-goat — the true bronze serpent — the true Lamb to which every daily offering pointed — the true High Priest of whom every descendant of Aaron was a figure. These things, or something like them, we need not doubt, were some of the things which our Lord expounded in the way to Emmaus. Let it be a settled principle in our minds, in reading the Bible, that Christ is the central sun of the whole book. So long as we keep Him in view, we shall never greatly err in our search for spiritual knowledge. Once losing sight of Christ, we shall find the whole Bible dark and full of difficulty. The key of Bible knowledge is Jesus Christ.
He that desires to read his Bible with profit, must first ask the Lord Jesus to open the eyes of his understanding by the Holy Spirit. Human commentaries are useful in their way. The help of good and learned men is not to be despised. But there is no commentary to be compared with the teaching of Christ. A humble and prayerful spirit will find a thousand things in the Bible, which the proud, self-conceited student will utterly fail to discern.
The death of Christ was necessary to our salvation. His flesh and blood offered in sacrifice on the cross were "the life of the world." (John 6:51.) Without the death of Christ, so far as we can see, God's law could never have been satisfied — sin could never have been pardoned — man could never have been justified before God — and God could never have shown mercy to man. The cross of Christ was the solution of a mighty difficulty. It untied a vast knot. It enabled God to be "just, and yet the justifier" of the ungodly. (Rom. 3:26.) It enabled man to draw near to God with boldness, and to feel that though a sinner he might have hope. Christ by suffering as a Substitute in our stead, the just for the unjust, has made a way by which we can draw near to God. We may freely acknowledge that in ourselves we are guilty and deserve death. But we may boldly plead, that One has died for us, and that for His sake, believing on Him, we claim life and acquittal. Let us ever glory in the cross of Christ. Let us regard it as the source of all our hopes, and the foundation of all our peace. Ignorance and unbelief may see nothing in the sufferings of Calvary but the cruel martyrdom of an innocent person. Faith will look far deeper. Faith will see in the death of Jesus the payment of man's enormous debt to God, and the complete salvation of all who believe.
"Repentance and forgiveness of sins" are the first things which ought to be pressed on the attention of every man, woman, and child throughout the world. All ought to be told the necessity of repentance. All are by nature desperately wicked. Without repentance and conversion, none can enter the kingdom of God. All ought to be told God's readiness to forgive every one who believes on Christ. All are by nature guilty and condemned. But any one may obtain by faith in Jesus, free, full, and immediate pardon. All, not least, ought to be continually reminded, that repentance and forgiveness of sins are inseparably linked together. Not that our repentance can purchase our pardon. Pardon is the free gift of God to the believer in Christ. But still it remains true, that an impenitent man, is an unforgiven man.
Repentance and forgiveness are not mere elementary truths, and milk for babes. The highest standard of sanctity is nothing more than a continual growth in practical knowledge of these two points. The brightest saint is the man who has the most heart-searching sense of his own sinfulness, and the liveliest sense of his own complete acceptance in Christ.
We must never despair of any one being saved, however bad and profligate he may have been. We must open the door of repentance to the chief of sinners. We must not be afraid to invite the worst of men to repent, believe, and live. It is the glory of our Great Physician, that He can heal incurable cases. The things that seem impossible to men are possible with Christ.
As a Forerunner, Jesus has gone into heaven to prepare a place for all His members. Our great Head has taken possession of a glorious inheritance in behalf of His mystical body, and holds it as an elder brother and trustee, until the day comes when His body shall be perfected. As a High Priest, Jesus has gone into heaven to intercede for all who believe on Him. There in the holy of holies He presents on their behalf the merit of His own sacrifice, and obtains for them daily supplies of mercy and grace. The grand secret of the perseverance of saints is Christ's appearance for them in heaven. They have an everlasting Advocate with the Father, and therefore they are never cast away. (Heb. 9:24. 1 John 2:1.)
Christ dying on the cross for sinners — Christ living in heaven to intercede — Christ coming again in glory, are three great objects which ought to stand out prominently before the eyes of every true Christian.
Let it be a settled principle with us, that the little degree of joy which many believers feel arises often from lack of knowledge. Weak faith and inconsistent practice are doubtless two great reasons why many of God's children enjoy so little peace. But it may well be suspected that dim and indistinct views of the Gospel are the true cause of many a believer's discomfort. When the Lord Jesus is not clearly known and understood, it must needs follow that there is little "joy in the Lord." Let us leave the Gospel of Luke with a settled purpose of heart to seek more spiritual knowledge every year we live. Let us search the Scriptures more deeply and pray over them more heartily. Too many believers only scratch the surface of Scripture, and know nothing of digging down into its hidden treasures. Let the word dwell in us more richly. Let us read our Bibles more diligently. So doing we shall taste more of joy and peace in believing, and shall know what it is to be "continually praising and blessing God."
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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