J.C. Ryle quotes from the introduction and first chapter of Old Path.
There are certain great truths of which some knowledge, by common consent, appears essential to salvation. Such truths are the immortality of the soul,--the sinfulness of human nature, the work of Christ for us as our Redeemer, the work of the Holy Ghost in us,--forgiveness, justification,--conversion,--faith,--repentance,--the marks of a right heart,--Christ’s invitations,--Christ’s intercession, and the like. If truths like these are not absolutely necessary to salvation, it is difficult to understand how any truths whatever can be called necessary.
If people may be saved without knowing anything about these truths, it appears to me that we may throw away our Bibles altogether, and proclaim that the Christian religion is of no use. From such a miserable conclusion I hope most people will shrink back with horror.
The longer I live the more I am convinced that the world needs no new Gospel, as some profess to think. I am thoroughly persuaded that the world needs nothing but a bold, full, unflinching teaching of the “old paths.”
The heart of man is the same in every age. The spiritual medicine which it requires is always the same.
How was the Bible written? “Whence is it? From heaven, or of men?”--Had the writers of the Bible any special or peculiar help in doing their work?--Is there anything in the Bible which makes it unlike all other books, and therefore demands our respectful attention?-These are questions of vast importance.
I believe the Bible to have been written by inspiration of God, and I want others to be of the same belief. The subject is always important.
Inspiration, in short, is the very keel and foundation of Christianity. If Christians have no Divine book to turn to as the warrant of their doctrine and practice, they have no solid ground for present peace or hope, and no right to claim the attention of mankind. They are building on a quicksand, and their faith is vain. We ought to be able to say boldly, “We are what we are, and we do what we do, because we have here a book which we believe to be the Word of God.”
In a day like this the true Christian should be able to set his foot down firmly, and to render a reason of his confidence in God’s Word. He should be able by sound arguments to meet and silence the gainsayer, if he cannot convince him. He should be able to show good cause why he thinks the Bible is “from heaven, and not of men.”
If the Bible is not the Word of God and inspired, the whole of Christendom for 1800 years has been under an immense delusion;--half the human race has been cheated and deceived, and churches are monuments of folly.--If the Bible is the Word of God and inspired, all who refuse to believe it are in fearful danger; they are living on the brink of eternal misery.
In the first place, I propose to show the general truth,--that the Bible is given by inspiration of God. I say that the Book comes to us with a claim which no other book possesses. It is stamped with Divine authority. In this respect it stands entirely alone. Sermons, and tracts, and theological writings of all kinds, may be sound and edifying, but they are only the handiwork of uninspired man. The Bible alone is the Book of God.
It is a fact, that there is an extraordinary fulness and richness in the contents of the Bible. It throws more light on a vast number of most important subjects than all the other books in the world put together. It boldly handles matters which are beyond the reach of man, when left to himself. It treats of things which are mysterious and invisible,--the soul, the world to come, and eternity,--depths which man has no line to fathom.
The Bible alone gives a reasonable account of the beginning and end of the globe on which we live.
It gives us a picture of its first days; and it gives us a picture of its last. How vast and important is this knowledge! Can this be the handiwork of uninspired man? Let us try to answer that question.
The Bible alone gives a true and faithful account of man. It does not flatter him as novels and romances do; it does not conceal his faults and exaggerate his goodness, it paints him just as he is. It describes him as a fallen creature, of his own nature inclined to evil,--a creature needing not only a pardon, but a new heart, to make him fit for heaven.
The Bible alone gives us true views of God. By nature man knows nothing clearly or fully about Him.
By the Bible we know that God hates sin. The destruction of the old world by the flood; the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah; the drowning of Pharaoh and the Egyptians in the Red Sea; the cutting off the nations of Canaan; the overthrow of Jerusalem and the Temple; the scattering of the Jews;--all these are unmistakable witnesses.--By the Bible we know that God loves sinners. His gracious promise in the day of Adam’s fall; His longsuffering in the time of Noah; His deliverance of Israel out of the land of Egypt; His gift of the law at Mount Sinai; His bringing the tribes into the promised land; His forbearance in the days of the Judges and Kings; His repeated warnings by the mouth of His prophets; His restoration of Israel after the Babylonian captivity; His sending His Son into the world, in due time, to be crucified; His commanding the Gospel to be preached to the Gentiles;-all these are speaking facts.--By the Bible we learn that God knows all things. We see Him foretelling things hundreds and thousands of years before they take place, and as He foretells so it comes to pass.
The Bible alone teaches us that God has made a full, perfect, and complete provision for the salvation of fallen man. It tells of an atonement made for the sin of the world, by the sacrifice and death of God’s own Son upon the cross. It tells us that by His death for sinners, as their Substitute, He obtained eternal redemption for all that believe on Him.
It tells us that there is a complete remedy for the power of sin,--even the almighty grace of the Spirit of Christ. It shows us the Holy Ghost quickening believers, and making them new creatures It promises a new heart and a new nature to all who will hear Christ’s voice, and follow Him. Once more I say, how important is this knowledge! What should we know of all this comfortable truth without the Bible?
The Bible alone explains the state of things that we see in the world around us. There are many things on earth which a natural man cannot explain.
We hardly know the value of the air we breathe, and the sun which shines on us, because we have never known what it is to be without them.
It is a simple broad fact, that in the matter of contents, the Bible stands entirely alone, and no other book is fit to be named in the same day with it. He that dares to say the Bible is not inspired, let him give a reasonable account of this fact, if he can.
It is another fact that there is an extraordinary unity and harmony in the contents of the Bible, which is entirely above man.
It is another fact that there is an extraordinary wisdom, sublimity and majesty in the style of the Bible, which is above man.
It is another fact that there is an extraordinary accuracy in the facts and statements of the Bible, which is above man.
It is another fact that there is in the Bible an extraordinary suitableness to the spiritual wants of all mankind. It exactly meets the heart of man in every rank or class, in every country and climate, in every age and period of life. It is the only book in existence which is never out of place and out of date. Other books after a time become obsolete and old-fashioned: the Bible never does.
It is the book of the world, because He inspired it who formed the world, who made all nations of one blood, and knows man’s common nature. It is the book for every heart, because He dictated it who alone knows all hearts, and what all hearts require. It is the book of God.
Last, but not least, it is a great fact that the Bible has had a most extraordinary effect on the condition of those nations in which it has been known, taught, and read.Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening:
- It is pleasant to pass over a country after a storm has spent itself; to smell the freshness of the herbs after the rain has passed away, and to note the drops while they glisten like purest diamonds in the sunlight. That is the position of a Christian. He is going through a land where the storm has spent itself upon His Savior’s head, and if there are a few drops of sorrow falling, they distill from clouds of mercy, and Jesus cheers him by the assurance that they are not for his destruction.
- But how terrible is it to witness the approach of a tempest: to note the forewarnings of the storm; to mark the birds of heaven as they droop their wings; to see the cattle as they lay their heads low in terror; to discern the face of the sky as it grows black, and look to the sun which shines not, and the heavens which are angry and frowning!
- And yet, sinner, this is your present position. No hot drops have as yet fallen—but a shower of fire is coming. No terrible winds howl around you—but God’s tempest is gathering its dread artillery.
- Sin soon destroys a believer’s comfort. It is the poisonous upas tree, from whose leaves distill deadly drops which destroy the life of joy and peace.
- I find in God all that I need—but I find in myself nothing but sin and misery.
- “He alone is my rock and my salvation.” Do I feed on the Word? That Word would be no food for me, unless the Lord made it food for my soul, and helped me to feed upon it.
- We, too, are lepers, and may read the law of the leper as applicable to ourselves. When a man sees himself to be altogether lost and ruined, covered all over with the defilement of sin, and in no part free from pollution; when he disclaims all righteousness of his own, and pleads guilty before the Lord—then he is clean through the blood of Jesus, and the grace of God.
- Hidden, unfelt, unconfessed iniquity—is the true leprosy; but when sin is seen and felt—it has received its deathblow, and the Lord looks with eyes of mercy upon the soul afflicted with it.
- Nothing is more deadly than self-righteousness, or more hopeful than sincere contrition. We must confess that we are “nothing else but sin,” for no confession short of this will be the whole truth; and if the Holy Spirit is at work with us, convincing us of sin, there will be no difficulty about making such an acknowledgment; it will spring spontaneously from our lips.
- Pause, my soul, and wonder! You have goings forth in the person of Jesus “from everlasting.” Not only when you were born into the world did Christ love you—but His delights were with the sons of men—before there were any sons of men!
- I am sure He would not have loved me so long—if He had not been a changeless Lover. If He could grow weary of me, He would have been tired of me long before now. If He had not loved me with a love as deep as hell, and as strong as death—He would have turned from me long ago.
- You, dear reader, have daily necessities, and because they come so frequently, you are apt to fear that the barrel of flour will one day be empty, and the cruse of oil will run dry. Rest assured that, according to the Word of God, that this shall not be the case.
- Each day, though it brings its trouble—shall bring its help; and though you should live to outnumber the years of Methuselah, and though your needs should be as many as the sands of the seashore—yet shall God’s grace and mercy last through all your necessities, and you shall never know a real lack.
- What would you do at night, when you come home jaded and weary—if there were no door of fellowship between you and Christ? Blessed be His name, He will not allow us to try our lot without Him, for Jesus never forsakes His own. Yet, let the thought of what life would be without Him, enhance His preciousness.
- Each moment of time, in season or out of season; each fragment of ability, educated or untutored; each opportunity, favorable or unfavorable, must be used—for our foes are many and our force but slender. Most of our tools need sharpening—we need quickness of perception, tact, energy, promptness, in a word, complete adaptation for the Lord’s work.
- Sickness, you may intrude—but I have a balsam ready—God has chosen me. Whatever befalls me in this valley of tears, I know that He has “chosen” me.
- If, believer, you require still greater comfort, remember that you have the Jesus with you in the furnace. In that silent chamber of yours, there sits by your side One whom you have not seen—but whom you love; and ofttimes when you know it not, He makes all your bed in your affliction, and smooths your pillow for you.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible