Archives For Anglicanism

“Having a form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof.”–2 Tim., iii. 5.

MCILVAINE-Charles-P_1I. “THE POWER OF GODLINESS”–What is it?

We answer, it is the substance, or reality of godliness, as distinguished from all its forms. And godliness here is a term for that inward and spiritual grace which is the life and being of all genuine piety before God. Its only abiding place is the heart, which we are therefore exhorted to keep with all diligence, because out of it are the issues which make the visible life of righteousness. Just as prayer in the Spirit is essential to all reality of prayer, in distinction from the words of prayer; just as the inward grace of Baptism, signified in the sacramental “sign or form,” namely: “death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness,” is the reality of the true Baptism, in distinction from its outward administration; just as when one comes to the Lord’s Table, without “a true penitent heart, and lively faith,” he receives the outward part or sign in the Lord’s Supper, without the grace it signifies, and thus the form, without the power of that godliness which lives by faith upon the sacrifice and mediation of Christ; while another, approaching the same holy table, with the sacrifice of a contrite heart, and drawing near with faith, is a partaker not merely of the sacrament of the death of the Saviour, but of that death itself, in all the benefits of His passion, to his soul’s health. And so, in the whole life of a true believer, of which in its essential being and sustenance, the two sacraments are the concentrated expression, the power or reality of godliness is none other than, as St. Peter expressed it, “the hidden man of the heart,” in distinction from all visible ways and works of its manifestations before men.

“I am the life,” saith the Lord. “He that abideth in me, and [10/11] I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” The fruit is the effect of the life, and its evidence–notthe life.

“Your life, (saith the Scripture) is hid with Christ, in God.” [* Col. III. 3.] As branches of that “true vine,” his people abide in Him by a hidden communication of spiritual life, wherein they receive of His Spirit, just as the natural vine-branch abides in its vine, only as it is in communion with its hidden current of life. The Apostle has it thus: “The law of the Spirit of life, in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” [* Romans, VIII: 2.] That blessed Spirit of life, shedding abroad in the heart, the love of God, creating in us the faith by which we are justified in the righteousness of Christ, and the holiness which makes us meet for his presence and glory, carrying on the hidden work of grace, into more and more conformity to the mind of Christ, till it become perfect in his likeness–such is godliness in its reality and power. Until it enters and takes possession within us, we are “dead in sin.” As soon as it so enters, we are “alive unto God.” As its essential being is in that new and inward life, its only beginning is in a new and inward birth. “Born again by the Holy Ghost,” “transformed by the renewing of the mind,” having “a new heart,” in place of the old; such, according to the Scriptures, are they to whom the Gospel has come “not in word only, but in power and the Holy Ghost.”

The inward depth of that great transformation, its thorough reality as a work of internal renewal, or new creation, is given by Saint Paul, when he says to the Christians at Ephesus, that if they had “been taught as the truth is in Jesus,” they had “put off the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and were renewed in the spirit of their mind, and had put on the new man, which after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.” [* Ephes. IV: 21-24.]

Such is godliness in the power, whether abiding in a heart [11/12] just now made new by the Spirit of God, or in a believer almost full grown in grace; whether time may not have been allowed, to make itself visible in the fruits of holiness, or whether it be already full clothed therein.

We must be careful not to confound “the hidden man of the heart” with the manifested man in the outward walks and deeds of righteousness. The child of God, is “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works.” [Ephes. II: 10.] Good works do not constitute him that new creature, they follow upon a workmanship of grace, of which they are the essential fruit and evidence.

Now such godliness is power, just because it is life. It is the power of a faith which purifies the heart, and gets victory over this evil world. In some of God’s children, it is more a power than in others, according as some are riper in grace than others; precisely as this natural life, essentially active and a power, varies in powerfulness as men differ in the maturity and activity of their faculties.

True godliness cannot be a mere inoperative seed or unconscious germ of spiritual being. It is a leaven that must leaven. The godliness is itself the power. And the new creature, in Christ Jesus, living by faith and working by love, is the godliness. It is just the image of God, lost in the first Adam, renewed in the second Adam, “the Lord from heaven.” Without it, you can no more attain to fruits of righteousness, than you can raise a tree to fruitfulness, while the root is dead. All works are “dead works,” before God, that come not of that new heart. Paint them, dress them as you may, to give them the aspect of life, they are not written among the living.

And just what that hidden life is to the individual christian, it is to the whole Church, which cannot have any true godliness but as its several members are children of that new heart. All the ability of the Church for its real, living work in this world, all its existence as a living Church, depends on that. [12/13] It is written: “Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world.” And the Church overcomes the world for Christ, in the war and victory of his Gospel, only as it contains those who being so born of God, do in their personal striving so overcome. Be not deceived. There may be much outward aspect of life and growth, and none in truth. Church edifices may be built on every side, and adorned with all the magnificence that wealth and art can give. Our borders of sacramental communion may be greatly extended. Signs of flourishing increase and vigorous activity may stand in bright array before eyes that look only on the outward appearance; while to that which looketh on the heart, and finds the heart of the Church only in the hearts of its several members, that whole appearance, and all beneath it, may be only what St. Paul said he would be, “though he should give all his goods to feed the poor, and his body to be burned–and have not charity,” the love of God in his heart–“NOTHING.”

These teachings, I know, are old things, said over and over again by faithful Ministers of Christ, as they ought to be. They are too much the very marrow of the teaching of the old Bible and the old Apostles, who “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” and of the old Church, to be else than old wherever the preacher keeps to “the old paths” in which the feet of Jesus led. I rejoice to believe that they are old, and loved because so old, in this congregation. Very sad will it be for you, Brethren, if ever the old Manna of this pilgrimage, that spiritual meat of which your fathers ate and never wanted other, shall become so distasteful, that you will hunger for something new instead of it, something more progressive, something, in other words, less of inspired teaching, more of the carnal mind.

Many years ago, and during all the years when it was my happiness to be the pastor of that beloved flock from which this has grown, and in that dear Old Church, where so many dear ones, now gone to their Lord, were “begotten again by [13/14] the word of God,” and the power of His Spirit, and where it pleased Him to give most precious fruits of grace to the seed of his truth–there, my constant teaching was, as it has been (I bless God) ever since, those same old things, of grace and faith, of the new heart and the new man, “justified by faith,” and so “having peace with God, through Jesus Christ.” And thus it must be, till I put off this tabernacle, the Lord being my helper. They are just the great truths which there is a continual and dangerous tendency among professing christians to get away from, to lose sight of their transcendant importance, to put something less vital in their place, to mix them up confusedly in a crowd of inferior matters, and thus very easily and sadly to confound the outside of godliness with its reality, and satisfy themselves with a name to live, while they are spiritually dead. It is exactly here that “the god of this world” labors to blind the minds of men, “lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ should shine unto them.”

Read it all.

jc_ryle“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven–not as your father ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)

 

Few passages of Scripture have been so painfully distorted and perverted as that which we have now read. The Jews are not the only people who have striven about its meaning. A sense has been put upon it which it was never intended to bear. Fallen man, in interpreting the Bible, has an unhappy aptitude for turning food into poison. The things that were written for his benefit, he often makes an occasion for falling.

Let us first consider carefully what these verses do not mean. The “eating and drinking” of which Christ speaks do not mean any literal eating and drinking. Above all, the words were not spoken with any reference to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. We may eat the Lord’s Supper, and yet not eat and drink Christ’s body and blood. We may eat and drink Christ’s body and blood, and yet not eat the Lord’s Supper. Let this never be forgotten.

The opinion here expressed may startle some who have not looked closely into the subject. But it is an opinion which is supported by three weighty reasons. For one thing, a literal “eating and drinking” of Christ’s body and blood would have been an idea utterly revolting to all Jews, and one flatly contradictory to an often repeated precept of their law.

For another thing, to take a literal view of “eating and drinking” is to interpose a bodily act between the soul of man and salvation. For this there is no precedent in Scripture. It cuts off from eternal life all who do not receive the communion: all who die in infancy and childhood, all who die of full age without coming to the communion, and also the penitent thief. It was to avoid this painful conclusion that many early Christians in Cyprian’s time held the doctrine of infant communion.

To take a literal view of “eating and drinking” opens wide a door to formalism and superstition. It would admit to heaven thousands of ignorant, godless communicants in the present day who would wish nothing better than to hear, “He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood (that is, eats the sacramental bread and drinks the sacramental wine) has eternal life.” Here is precisely what the heart of natural man likes! He likes to go to heaven by formally using ordinances. He literally eats and drinks, no doubt! But he has no eternal life and will not be raised to glory at the last day.

The plain truth is that there is a morbid anxiety in fallen man to put a carnal sense on Scriptural expressions wherever he possibly can. He struggles hard to make religion a matter of forms and ceremonies–of doing and performing, of sacraments and ordinances, of sense and of sight. He secretly dislikes that system of Christianity which makes the state of the heart the principal thing, and labors to keep sacraments and ordinances in the second place. Happy is that Christian who remembers these things and stands on his guard! Baptism and the Lord’s supper, no doubt, are holy sacraments and mighty blessings, when rightly used. But it is worse than useless to drag them in everywhere, and to see them everywhere in God’s Word.

Let us next consider carefully what these verses do mean. The expressions they contain are very remarkable. Let us try to get some clear notion of their meaning . . .

Read it all.

Dear Friends,

We stand on the shoulders of generations of faithful men and women who have called St. Andrew’s home for almost 200 years. The change this country has navigated in those two centuries is almost unimaginable. And yet, the men and women of this church rose to meet every challenge they faced.

Similarly, in our day, we are witnessing a profound cultural revolution – a revolution on par with some of the most colossal in history. There are many causes for this profound change, but one that must not be overlooked, particularly for churches, is what sociologists have come to describe as secularism. Simply stated, secularism is the emptying of God from the public spaces; leaving many of our friends and family members to wrestle with the issues of life without recourse to God.

In the face of rising cultural secularism some churches/leaders are advocating a retreat from the public square, effectively abandoning their public witness, and turning their churches into enclaves protecting them from this cultural shift. This has not been our approach at St. Andrew’s nor will it be our approach. We believe that even in these challenging times the offer of the Lord Jesus has not grown weary, neither has the Gospel lost its power. In fact, we believe that this is our kairos moment, our moment of divinely given opportunity.

For the better part of the last decade the leadership of St. Andrew’s has been studying and praying about how we grow the kingdom – how we best connect people to the presence and power of Jesus Christ. We gathered data. We explored options. We listened to the thoughts of many folks inside and outside St. Andrew’s. All the while our ministries were expanding and our impact was growing. The culmination of this process was the decision to launch a capital campaign, planning for the next 25 years of mission and ministry. We are calling our campaign, Imagine 2040.

Today, I want to update you on our status.

Where We Are

Over the past the past few months we have laid the foundation of the campaign by:

  • Presenting our vision for St. Andrew’s for the next 25 years. You can listen to that sermon here.
  • Developing (and continuing to develop) videos highlighting the breadth and depth of ministry offerings that have shaped our church and equipped our members to live the Christian life. It is through our ministry growth and expansion that we will further our mission and grow the kingdom.
  • Establishing a leadership team to direct and oversee our work. This leadership team is comprised of people from across the spectrum of St. Andrew’s.
  • We have secured Beau Clowney Architects and Building God’s Way as our architects.
  • We have secured Fred Reinhard as our Owner’s Representative.
  • We have secured Hill Construction as our contractor.
  • We have secured Thomas & Hutton as our civil engineers.
  • We have secured Dale Watson as our design illustrator.
  • We have designated Lewis Middleton as the contact person for the Imagine 2040 You may contact him at any time for an up-to-date status report.
  • We have held an informational meeting for all of the previous Senior Wardens of our Vestry to cast the vision and seek their input and garner their support.
  • We have held an informational meeting for our LifeGroup leaders to both present our ideas and solicit their input and support.
  • We have held neighborhood meetings for our immediate neighbors whose lives will be directly impacted by our building project.
  • We have appeared before the Mt. Pleasant Board of Zoning Appeals to present our conceptual plan and to gain the variances needed to proceed.
  • We have had an initial meeting with the Old Village Historic District Commission to present our conceptual plan and solicit their input.

What’s Next?

  • We will appear before the Old Village Historic District Commission for their approval in August.
  • Working with our architects we will develop construction documents for our project.
  • With the plans and documents completed and approved we will be able to formally kick off Imagine 2040 this fall and present to you the full scope of the project and invite your participation.
  • We will continue to keep you informed with a campaign newsletter.
  • We will establish a website dedicated to the ongoing campaign providing you regular updates of our project.

What Can You Do?

You will continue to hear more details about our plans to meet our calling over the coming months. What I want you to take away is that our efforts are ultimately focused on growing the kingdom – about deepening faith, about equipping people to be a witness wherever they are called – whether that’s their neighborhood, their workplace, in a church plant, or an international mission field.

Please pray about your part in this project that will have global impact. I invite you see this moment of divine opportunity and to put your hand to the plough with other members of this church and labor in Christ’s harvest field. This is our time to rise to the challenge of sowing the seed of the Kingdom of God in our community and the world.

To God alone be the glory,

+Steve

 

packerIf we recognize the covenantal character of the sacrament of Baptism, and follow the teaching of Articles 25 and 27, and go in principle with the first of view of baptismal regeneration that was set out above, we shall see the rite as given by God to focus and confirm faith in Jesus Christ and the gospel, and in the reality of the new covenant that binds God and ourselves to each other. We shall see Baptism as given to symbolize and pictorialize God’s bestowal of the key 7 promised blessings of the gospel (union with Christ in resurrection life in his body, the church; forgiveness of sins, through the cross; and adoption as God’s sons and heirs; as Article 27 states); and to assure believers that these blessings are theirs now. But then, what was said earlier about infant Baptism might seem to need revisiting. Can it really be appropriate, after all, to baptize babies who are not yet capable of faith, and to pray for them as regenerate persons once they have been baptized, as has been standard Anglican practice historically?

Read it all.

J.B. (Joseph Barber) Lightfoot (13 April 1828 – 21 December 1889) was Bible Scholar, theologian and Bishop of Durham. 

Psalm 8:3-4
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained . . .”


JB Lightfoot
Could any paradox be imagined greater than this — this contrast between the insignificance of man’s self and the preeminence of man’s destiny? No interval of time or transference of scene, no contrast of persons or of circumstances, has tarnished its freshness or robbed it of its power. Nay, must we not rather confess that, as the world has grown older, the chasm between the greatness and the meanness of man has widened, and the paradox has increased from age to age?

I. EACH NEW DISCOVERY HAS DEPRESSED THE RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF MAN IN THE MATERIAL UNIVERSE.

1. Astronomy has taught us our insignificance in space.

2. Geology teaches us our insignificance in time.

3. The microscope discovers to us miniature worlds, crowding under our eyes, countless in number, and each thronged with a dense population of its own.

4. The anatomist dissects and the chemist analyses the human body. Man is found to be compounded of just such substances as the brute, the tree, the stone. There is absolutely nothing besides.

5. If there is nothing in the component elements of the human frame which accounts for the preeminence of man, we may at all events look for an explanation in some peculiarities of structure. But the naturalist will tell us that all attempts at classification with a view to separating man off by a broad line from the lower creation fail signally.

II. THE MATERIALIST WILL BE CONTENT TO SAY, “WHAT IS MAN? An insignificant atom in time and space. And the son of man? An organism like other organisms.” But the believer is constrained to add, “Lord, that Thou art mindful of him! Lord, that Thou visitest him!”

1. The believer may boldly claim science herself as his teacher, for it has accumulated evidence at every step that, as a thinking, hoping, aspiring, progressive being he is quite unique in God’s creation. The Psalmist thought of man’s dominion over the beasts, birds, fishes of the sea. We have lived to witness his sovereignty over the elemental powers of nature — he can order the lightning, weigh the sun, make the vapour his slave.

2. Yet this subjugation of the powers of nature is only the earnest of greater things to come. Apostles and evangelists saw the true fulfilment of the Psalmist’s prophetic saying in the ultimate and supreme destiny of mankind, as realised in the person and work of the one representative Man. The song of the Psalmist falls on the ears of Christians now with a fuller cadence, swelled with the experience of nearly thirty centuries, and prolonged into the hopes of eternity.

 

bryanMT PLEASANT, SC – Monday May 23, 2016, clergy and lay delegates from the Diocese of the Carolinas voted unanimously to elect Bishop David C. Bryan as the first Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of the Carolinas.

Bryan has served as Bishop of the Southeast (PEARUSA) Network since September 2013.This Network, one of three in PEARUSA, is part of a missionary district established by the Anglican Province of Rwanda in the United States.

This June, Archbishop Rwaje of Rwanda will formally hand over all three networks to Archbishop Foley Beach and the Anglican Church in North America. Two of the networks will become dioceses. The clergy and churches in Bishop Bryan’s network will have the opportunity to become part of an already existing Diocese of the Carolinas under Bishop Steve Wood.

“It’s the right thing for us to do here in the Carolinas,” Bryan said. “The clergy who elected me as their bishop agreed with me that we didn’t need another diocese. I am personally looking forward to working with Bishop Steve Wood and sharing episcopal ministry with him.”

The clergy and parishes in Bishop Bryan’s PEARUSA network will have until July 1 to apply for admittance into the Diocese of the Carolinas.

“I’m excited about the possibilities ahead,” Wood responded. “Bishop David and the clergy of his network are teaching all of us about humility and passion for gospel unity. The vote last night, I think, tells it all. Our clergy and lay delegates are excited about coming together.”

Archbishop Beach added, “Archbishop Rwaje and the House of Bishops of Rwanda want our Anglican witness of Jesus Christ in North America to be strong. I believe what Bishop David and the Southeast (PEARUSA) Network is doing demonstrates that witness boldly and courageously in the Carolinas.”

Related to the actions of the Southeast (PEARUSA) Network, Bishop Thad Barnum has accepted the position of Assisting Bishop in the Diocese of the Carolinas where Bishop Barnum has established an Office of Clergy Care attending to the personal and spiritual well-being of the clergy.

+Thad and his wife Erilynne have four grown children and eleven grandchildren. They reside in Pawleys Island, SC

+David and his wife Nancy have three grown children, with two married and one engaged. They reside in Columbia, SC.

+Steve and his wife Jacqui have four grown children and two grandchildren. They reside in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

“The love of Christ constraineth us.” 2 Corinthians V. 14.

Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, 1876.

LightfootWHO is this Paul that writes these strange words? Who is this Christ to whom he ascribes such marvellous power? What had been their past connexion? What were their present relations? How can we explain this tyrannous influence, this complete absorption of self in another, to which the writer confesses? Is he speaking of some devoted parent, to whose fostering care and patient self-denial he feels that he owed everything? Or of some loved brother, with whom all his fondest memories of life— in infancy, in childhood, in youth, in manhood—are bound up? Or of some friend, who has been more to him than a brother, from whose large heart and commanding intellect he has learnt lessons that were more precious than life itself, in whose purity, in whose nobleness, in whose entire self-forgetfulness, he has seen a standing protest against all that was base and mean in himself? Nay; he was none of these. He was not a parent, not a brother, not a friend, as men count friendship. He was an entire stranger, whom Paul had probably never seen on earth, whom certainly he had never cared for, never loved. And he was dead too; had been dead now more than a quarter of a century. So that there was nothing, absolutely nothing, in their human relationships to account for this strange, this extravagant, this passionate language.

And the more we examine the facts of their past history, the more hopelessly bewildering do we find them, as tested by the ordinary standard of human occurrences and human motives.

It is now the year 57 or 58 of our era, when S. Paul writes these words. Place yourself in imagination some twenty-five or thirty years earlier than this date. What do you see then? Here is a Jew of humble rank, a carpenter’s son, sentenced to suffer as a criminal, executed by a most ignominious death, put out of the world with the emphatic approval of all classes, the haughty Pharisees, the scornful Romans, the mocking soldiery, the hooting populace What was there to attract, to subdue, to dominate, in this most painful, most repulsive of all scenes? And yet this is the Christ—this humble peasant, this despised outcast, this hated criminal—whose constraining power the writer confesses to be absolute over all his thoughts and feelings and actions.

And next, what does past history tell us about the writer himself? Is there any key here which will unlock the secret? Place yourself again in imagination a few years later—some twenty years before the words were written. What do you find then? Why, just what the previous scene would lead you to expect. This Paul, the writer, is devoting all the energies of his sincere and passionate nature to the extermination of an infatuated sect that has gathered round the name of this dead man, this criminal whom all classes alike had agreed to execrate. He spares no pains; he shrinks from no severities. Men and women, young and old, falling into his hands, are treated alike. Imprisonment, torture, death—such is the fate that awaits his victims. No sincerity, no innocence, no patience or meekness in the sufferers touches his heart. Even the spotless purity and the transparent holiness of a Stephen only adds fuel to his indignation. The name of Christ is an abomination to him. The followers of Christ are outside the pale of our common humanity.

I have asked you to turn yourselves back in imagination some twenty-five years, and again some twenty years before these words were written. It is not a wide space of time for the memory to range over. About the same interval separates us from the Crimean War and from the Indian Mutiny. And yet it seems to us who were grown up at the time, as if these things had happened only the other day. How vividly do we picture to ourselves the struggles, the perils, the triumphs of Alma and of Inkerman! With what painful distinctness do we recall the horrors and the suspenses of Delhi and Lucknovv and Cawnpore! And can we suppose that S. Paul remembered less distinctly the incidents in his own personal career, so striking, so unique, so fraught with the most acute pain and the intensest ecstasy? Nay, we may be assured that each momentous crisis, each signal event, stood out in his recollection with a sharpness of outline and a fulness of detail, which would shame the average memory of the average man. For he was after all the same Paul, who had hounded oh the savage executioners to the stoning of Stephen; the same Paul who ‘breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of theLord;’ the same Paul who (it is his own metaphor) had harried and devastated the Church of God. His step is not quite so elastic; his face is not quite so free from furrows; his spirits are not quite so buoyant. But there is the same fire, the same zeal, the same intensity of passion and of action now as then.

The same, and yet how changed! ‘The love of Christ constraineth me.’ The love of Christ! What did he know then of the love of Christ? Had he not loathed and execrated the very name of Christ, hated it with all the hatred of which his intense nature was capable ?’ I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me.’ ‘All things through Christ’? Nay, surely, ‘in spite of Christ, against Christ.’ Had he not ‘thought that’ he ‘ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth’? And he had acted upon this conviction with a persecuting energy which has rarely been surpassed before or after. But now—he was changed, shall we say? Nay rather, let us use his own language; he was ‘born again,’ he was ‘created anew,’ he was called into being from not being. Hitherto he was not, and now he is. In Jesus Christ he is a new creature, a new creation. In Jesus Christ old things have passed away—for ever away. All things, yes, all things have become new. In Jesus Christ the prophetic anticipation is already realised. There is a new heaven overhead; there is a new earth beneath his feet. All things human and divine are changed to him now. The objects, on which his eye rests, though still the same, are not the same. They are invested with a new power and meaning. The external world has undergone a change corresponding to the inward man. His thoughts are new; his associations are new; his hopes and aspirations are new; his motive is new.

Yes, his motive is new. This is the grand central fact, the prime secret of the change. There is a new mainspring to the machinery of his moral and spiritual being. Hitherto he had acted from various considerations and impulses. He had been influenced by self-assertion or self-indulgence; he had been led by party spirit; he had been the slave of convention or of habit; he had been impelled by a desire of popularity or of fame; he had been stimulated by rivalry; he had been driven forward by fear, or held back by shame; he had been moved by higher motives than these, though not by the highest, by a spirit of patriotism, by a fire of orthodoxy, by an enthusiasm of religion, a zeal of God, though not according to knowledge. But now all these lower motives were neutralised, were crushed, were transformed, were absorbed, were glorified, in the one transcendent, overwhelming, all-pervading thought of the constraining love of Christ .

The love of Christ. The Apostle does not mean, as at a first glance we might suppose, his own affection for Christ, his own devotion to Christ. This affection, this devotion, was indeed a constraining power. But it was only second in the chain of causes and consequences. It was not the source and origin of his energy. The source must be sought farther back than this. The source must be sought outside himself. The source must be found in God, not in man. Not his love for Christ, but Christ’s love for him, for others, for all mankind, for a world steeped in ignorance and sin and misery—this was the prime cause of all his moral activity, the paramount motive which started and directed all the energies of this most magnificent of all magnificent lives. His own love for Christ was only the response, only the sequel—as he himself would have confessed, the necessary, the inevitable sequel—to Christ’s love for him once impressed upon his being. Christ first loved him, and he (how could he help himself?) was fain to love Christ. It was not he, Paul, that lived any longer; it was Christ that lived in him. It was not he, Paul, that planned, that felt, that toiled, that suffered for Christ, that traversed the world with his life in his hand for Christ, that was instant in season and out of season for Christ, that died daily for Christ; but it was Christ’s own love, fermenting like leaven in his inmost being, stirring and animating his sluggishness. This unspeakable love rises up before him, as the one great fact, which will not be thrust aside, the one clear voice which will not be silenced. It haunts him sleeping and waking. It occupies the whole background of his thoughts. Forget it? How can he forget it? Others may forget, but he can never forget.

For what had this love of Christ been to him, Paul, individually? Could he forget that he had been the chief of sinners, because the chief of rebels; that his ingratitude had far exceeded the ingratitude of that excited Jewish mob, of that flippant Roman soldiery, because he had persecuted intelligently, deliberately, persistently; giving his whole mind, as well as his whole heart, to the work? And yet Christ singled out him of all men; rebuked him, caressed him, subdued him, won him; held him up to an astonished world as a signal token of God’s long-suffering and mercy. Can we wonder that in his own emphatic language it ‘constrained’ him, that is, held him tight in its grip; that it bound him hand and foot; carried him whither it would and stayed him when it would; that it fettered all his movements and forced all his actions? Aye, he was more than a conqueror through Christ, but he was less than a captive through Christ. He was Christ’s freedman, but he was Christ’s very slave also. It was this love of Christ, this stern, imperious, relentless master, which dragged him from city to city; which exposed him to heat and cold, to famine and nakedness, to perils on all sides; which drove him to prison and to death.

Read it all.

“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – JOHN III. 16.

jc_ryleLook at the well-known text which heads this page. Its words are probably familiar to your ears. You have very likely heard them, or read them, or quoted them, a hundred times. But have you ever considered what a vast amount of divinity this text contains? No wonder that Luther called it “the Bible in miniature!” -and have you ever considered what an immensely solemn question arises out of this text? The Lord Jesus says, “Whosoever believeth shall not perish.” Now, reader, DO YOU BELIEVE?

Questions about religion are seldom popular. They frighten people. They oblige them to look within and to think. The insolvent tradesman does not like his books to be searched. The faithless steward does not like his accounts to be examined. And the unconverted Christian does not like to be asked home-questions about his soul.

But questions about religion are very useful. The Lord Jesus Christ asked many questions during His ministry on earth. The servant of Christ ought not to be ashamed to do likewise. Questions about things necessary to salvation,-questions which probe the conscience, and bring men face to face with God,-such questions often bring life and health to souls. I know few questions more important than the one before you today. DO YOU BELIEVE?

Reader, the question before you is no easy one to answer. Think not to thrust it aside by the off-hand answer, “Of course I believe.” I tell you this day that true belief is no such “matter of course” as you suppose. I tell you that myriads of Protestants and Roman Catholics are constantly saying on Sundays, “I believe,” who know nothing whatever of believing. They cannot explain what they mean. They neither know what, nor in whom, they believe. They can give no account of their faith. Reader, a belief of this kind is utterly useless. It can neither satisfy, nor sanctify, nor save.

I invite you in all affection to consider the question which heads this tract. I ask you to give me your attention while I try to place it before you in its full proportions. In order to see clearly the importance of “believing,” you should ponder well the words of Christ to which I have already referred. It is by the unfolding of these words, that I shall hope to make you feel the weight of the question, “Do you believe?”

There are four things which I wish to show you, and to impress upon your mind.

I. God’s mind towards the world – He “loved” it.

II. God’s gift to the world – “He gave His only begotten Son.”

III. The only way to obtain the benefit of God’s gift – “Whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish.”

IV. The marks by which true belief may be known.

Read it all.

 

John 7:37-39, “In the last day, that great [day] of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.”

(c) David Martin; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Nothing has rendered the cross of Christ of less effect; nothing has been a greater stumbling-block and rock of offense to weak minds, that a supposition, now current among us, that most of what is contained in the gospel of Jesus Christ, was designed only for our Lord’s first and immediate followers, and consequently calculated but for one or two hundred years. Accordingly, many now read the life, sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, in the same manner as Caesar’s Commentaries, or the Conquests of Alexander are read: as things rather intended to afford matter for speculation, than to be acted over again in and by us.

As this is true of the doctrines of the gospel in general, so it is of the operation of God’s Spirit upon the hearts of believers in particular; for we no sooner mention the necessity of our receiving the Holy Ghost in these last days, as well as formerly, but we are looked upon by some, as enthusiasts and madmen; and by others, represented as willfully deceiving the people, and undermining the established constitution of the church.

Judge ye then, whether it is not high time for the true ministers of Jesus, who have been made partakers of this heavenly gift, to lift up their voices like a trumpet; and if they would not have those souls perish, for which the Lord Jesus has shed his precious blood, to declare, with all boldness, that the Holy Spirit is the common privilege and portion of all believers in all ages; and that we as well as the first Christians, must receive the Holy Ghost, before we can be truly called the children of God.

Read it all.

jc_ryle“A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11.28)

The words which form the tittle of this paper refer to the subject of vast importance. That subject is the Lord’s Supper.

Perhaps no part of the Christian religion is so thoroughly misunderstood as the Lord’s Supper. On no point have there been so many disputes, strifes, and controversies for almost 1800 years. On no point have mistakes done so much harm. The very ordinance which was meant for our peace and profit has
become the cause of discord and the occasion of sin. These things ought not to be!

I make no excuse for including the Lord’s Supper among the leading points of “practical” Christianity. I firmly believe that ignorant views or false doctrine about this ordinance lie at the root of some of the present divisions of professing Christians. Some neglect it altogether; some completely misunderstand it; some exalt it to a position it was never meant to occupy, and turn it into an idol. If I can throw a little light on it, and clear up the doubts in some minds, I will feel very thankful. It is hopeless, I fear, to expect that the controversy about the Lord’s Supper will ever be finally closed until the Lord comes. But it is not too much to hope that the fog and mystery and obscurity with which it is surrounded in some minds, may be cleared away by plain Bible truth.

In examining the Lord’s Supper I will be content with asking four practical questions, and offering answers to them.

I. Why was the Lord’s Supper ordained?

II. Who ought to go to the Table and be communicants?

III. What may communicants expect from the Lord’s Supper?

IV. Why do many so-called Christians (church-going unbelievers) never go to
the Lord’s Table?

I think it will be impossible to handle these four questions fairly, honestly, and impartially, without seeing the subject of this paper more clearly, and getting some distinct and practical ideas about some leading errors of our day.

Read it all.