Friday, June 29, 2018

Book Review: Old Paths

Old Paths. J.C. Ryle. 536 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: THE volume now in the reader’s hands consists of a series of papers, systematically arranged, on the leading truths of Christianity which are “necessary to salvation.”

J.C. Ryle's Old Paths is a must read for believers. If I were to put a hashtag on the book it would be #alwaysrelevant. I think one reason that J.C. Ryle remains relevant is because much--if not all--of his work is drawn from Scripture. That being the case, his work is timeless and relevant.

Believers of all ages could benefit from reading--from engaging in--Old Paths. The book offers much food for thought. Not that the book is hard to read and dense--it isn't. But the truths brilliantly displayed in Old Paths deserve meditation and absorption. Doctrine is to be lived. And before a doctrine can be lived it must be engaged in as an act of the mind.

This isn't a book designed to make readers feel all comfy-cozy with their faith. It just isn't. Nor is it a book designed to make readers feel so ashamed and hopeless that they never leave their rooms for fear of failure. It is a passionate plea with believers to BELIEVE what they're supposed to believe, a zealous push from behind to live out the faith. Take HOPE, find REST, experience JOY.

Chapters include:

  • Inspiration
  • Our Souls
  • Few Saved
  • Our Hope
  • Alive or Dead?
  • Our Sins
  • Forgiveness
  • Justification
  • The Cross of Christ
  • The Holy Ghost
  • Having the Spirit
  • Conversion
  • The Heart
  • Christ's Invitation
  • Repentance
  • Christ's Power to Save
  • Election
  • Perseverance

Each chapter is PACKED--and I do mean PACKED--with dazzling gems of biblical truth. It's a true treasure. It's a rewarding read. It is wonderful to come to a book and know that it is time well spent.

I have shared quotes from the first sixteen chapters of Old Paths in my Saturday 'My Victorian Year' posts. I will now share quotes from the last three chapters of Old Paths. I would love for you to see exactly what I mean about the richness of Ryle.
THERE is one subject in religion about which we can never know too much. That subject is Jesus Christ the Lord.
True Christians come unto God in a certain peculiar way. They come unto God by Christ, pleading no other plea, mentioning no other name, trusting in no other righteousness, resting on no other foundation than this, that Jesus hath lived, Jesus hath died, Jesus hath risen again for their souls.
We ought to remember that He not only died and went to the grave, but that He rose again, and ascended up on high, leading captivity captive. We ought to remember that He is now sitting on the right hand of God, to do a work as real, as true, as important to our souls, as the work which He did when He shed His blood.
Where Christ is, there His people will be. Where He lives, His perfect merit, His spotless righteousness, His intercession, will make them perfect in the sight of God the Father.
The cross was not the cause and reason of God’s mercy, but the result and consequence of the everlasting love of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, towards a poor, lost, and bankrupt world. Draw near in faith, by that living way, Christ Jesus, to the Father.
Right views of human nature are certain to lead us to the same conclusion. Once admit that we are all naturally dead in trespasses and sins, and have no power to turn to God,--once admit that all spiritual life in the heart of man must begin with God,--once admit that He who created the world by saying, “Let there be light,” must shine into man’s heart, and create light within him,--once admit that God does not enlighten all professing Christians in this manner, but only some, and that He acts in this matter entirely as a Sovereign, giving no account of His matters,--once admit all this, and then see where you are. Whether you know it or not, you admit the whole doctrine of Election!
To everyone we ought to say, “Awake,--repent,--believe, come to Christ, he converted, turn, call upon God, strive to enter in, come, for all things are ready.” To tell us that none will hear and be saved except God’s Elect, is quite needless. We know it very well. We will invite all, in the firm belief that the invitation will do good to some. We will prophesy to the dry bones, if God commands us. We will offer life to all, though many reject the offer.
THERE are two points in religion on which the teaching of the Bible is very plain and distinct. One of these points is the fearful danger of the ungodly; the other is the perfect safety of the righteous. One is the happiness of those who are converted; the other is the misery of those who are unconverted. One is the blessedness of being in the way to heaven; the other is the wretchedness of being in the way to hell. I believe that the exceeding privileges of the children of God, and the deadly peril of the children of the world, should be continually set forth in the clearest colours before the Church of Christ.
In all discussions of disputed points in theology, it is impossible to be too accurate in defining terms. Half the abuse which has unhappily been poured on perseverance, has arisen from a thorough misunderstanding of the doctrine in question. When I speak of the doctrine of perseverance, I mean this. I say that the Bible teaches that true believers, real genuine Christians, shall persevere in their religion to the end of their lives. They shall never perish. They shall never be lost. They shall never be cast away. Once in Christ, they shall always be in Christ. Once made children of God by adoption and grace, they shall never cease to be His children and become children of the devil. 
Wherever sin is truly repented of, and Christ is truly trusted, and holiness is truly followed, there is a work which shall never be overthrown. It shall stand when the earth and all the works thereof shall be burned up.
The perseverance I plead for is not that of sinners, but of saints. It is not a perseverance in carnal and ungodly ways, but a perseverance in the way of faith and grace.
I entreat you to observe how important it is for Christians to be sound in the faith, and to be armed with clear Scriptural knowledge of the whole system of the Gospel. I fear the increasing tendency to regard all doctrinal questions as matters of opinion, and to look on all “earnest-minded” men as right, whatever doctrines they maintain. I observe how one error in religion leads on to another. There is a close connection between false doctrines. It is almost impossible to take up one alone.
Truly I often think that the salvation of each saved person is a greater miracle than the passage of Israel through the Red Sea.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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