Archives For Empowered Living

“A right view of sin is the best antidote to that sensuous, ceremonial, formal kind of Christianity, which has swept over England like a flood in the last twenty-five years, and carried away so many before it.  I can well believe that there is much that is attractive in this system of religion, to a certain order of minds, so long as the conscience is not fully enlightened.  But when that wonderful part of our constitution called conscience is really awake and alive, I find it hard to believe that a sensuous ceremonial Christianity will thoroughly satisfy us.  A little child is easily quieted and amused with gaudy toys, and dolls, and rattles, so long as it is not hungry; but once let it feel the cravings of nature within, and we know that noting will satisfy it but food.  Just so it is with man in the matter of his soul.  Music, and flowers, and candles, and incense, and banners, and processions, and beautiful vestments, and confessionals, and man-made ceremonies of a semi-romish character, may do well enough for him under certain conditions.  But once let him “awake and arise from the dead” and he will not rest content with these things.  They will seem to him mere solemn triflings, and a waste of time.  Once let him see his sin, and must see his Saviour.  He feels stricken with a deadly disease, and nothing will satisfy him but the great Physician.  He hungers and thirsts, and he must have nothing less than the bread of life.  I may seem bold in what I am about to say; but I fearlessly venture the assertion that four-fifths of the semi-Romanism of the last quarter of a century would never have existed if English people had been taught more fully and clearly the nature, vileness, and sinfulness of sin.”

Holiness, p. 14

This summer our staff will be reading JC Ryle’s book, Holiness.  The original book, written in 1877, had 7 chapters.  Ryle would update the text in 1879 adding an additional 13 chapters to the volume.  I chose this text as our summer reading project for several reasons, not the least of which is that Ryle remains one of my favorite Anglican bishops and writers.  Here are a few more reasons for my choice:

First, having read Sibbes (Bruised Reed) and Augustine (Treatise on Grace and Free Will) the two previous years, Ryle, standing in the same stream, brings us close to our own century.  and, while he wrote in and used the language of the Victorian era the challenges he faced are strikingly similar to those we face.

Second, Ryle was a clear, strong and discursive thinker who emphasized his points by cumulative effect.  Often, today, Ryle is excerpted.  I think it helpful to read him in context and in whole to feel the effect of his intellect and communucative skills.

Third, in this volume Ryle lays out afresh, biblically, systematically, and in practical terms, the true fundamentals of scriptural holiness.

Fourth, much of what Ryle has to say with regard to the interior aspects of personal holiness is of perennial importance and is uniformly relevant to Christian living here and now; challenging our own shallowness and superficialities.

We would love to have you read along with us this summer and I’d welcome your comments and questions.  I will post on my blog every Monday a link to the section of text we will be discussing.  This week, we look at chapter 6, “Growth.” Following is a snip:

To every one who is in downright earnest about his soul, and hungers and thirsts after spiritual life, the question ought to come home with searching power. Do we make progress in our religion? Do we grow?

The question is one that is always useful, but especially so at certain seasons. A Saturday night, a Communion Sunday, the return of a birthday, the end of a year—all these are seasons that ought to set us thinking, and make us look within. Time is fast flying. Life is fast ebbing away. The hour is daily drawing nearer when the reality of our Christianity will be tested, and it will be seen whether we have built on “the rock” or on “the sand.” Surely it becomes us from time to time to examine ourselves, and take account of our souls? Do we get on in spiritual things? Do we grow?

The question is one that is of special importance in the present day. Crude and strange opinions are floating in men’s minds on some points of doctrine, and among others on the point of “growth in grace,” as an essential part of true holiness. By some it is totally denied. By others it is explained away, and pared down to nothing. By thousands it is misunderstood, and consequently neglected. In a day like this it is useful to look fairly in the face the whole subject of Christian growth.

In considering this subject there are three things which I wish to bring forward and establish:

I. The reality of religious growth. There is such a thing as “growth in grace.”

II. The marks of religious growth. There are marks by which “growth in grace” may be known.

III. The means of religious growth. There are means that must be used by those who desire “growth in grace.”

I know not who you are, into whose hands this paper may have fallen. But I am not ashamed to ask your best attention to its contents. Believe me, the subject is no mere matter of speculation and controversy. It is an eminently practical subject, if any is in religion. It is intimately and inseparably connected with the whole question of “sanctification.” It is a leading mark of true saints that they grow. The spiritual health and prosperity, the spiritual happiness and comfort of every true-hearted and holy Christian, are intimately connected with the subject of spiritual growth.

Read it all.

This summer our staff will be reading JC Ryle’s book, Holiness.  The original book, written in 1877, had 7 chapters.  Ryle would update the text in 1879 adding an additional 13 chapters to the volume.  I chose this text as our summer reading project for several reasons, not the least of which is that Ryle remains one of my favorite Anglican bishops and writers.  Here are a few more reasons for my choice:

First, having read Sibbes (Bruised Reed) and Augustine (Treatise on Grace and Free Will) the two previous years, Ryle, standing in the same stream, brings us close to our own century.  and, while he wrote in and used the language of the Victorian era the challenges he faced are strikingly similar to those we face.

Second, Ryle was a clear, strong and discursive thinker who emphasized his points by cumulative effect.  Often, today, Ryle is excerpted.  I think it helpful to read him in context and in whole to feel the effect of his intellect and communucative skills.

Third, in this volume Ryle lays out afresh, biblically, systematically, and in practical terms, the true fundamentals of scriptural holiness.

Fourth, much of what Ryle has to say with regard to the interior aspects of personal holiness is of perennial importance and is uniformly relevant to Christian living here and now; challenging our own shallowness and superficialities.

We would love to have you read along with us this summer and I’d welcome your comments and questions.  I will post on my blog every Monday a link to the section of text we will be discussing.  This week, we look at chapter 4, “The Fight.” Following is a snip:

It is a curious fact that there is no subject about which most people feel such deep interest as “fighting.” Young men and maidens, old men and little children, high and low, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, all feel a deep interest in wars, battles and fighting.

This is a simple fact, whatever way we may try to explain it. We should call that Englishman a dull fellow who cared nothing about the story of Waterloo, or Inkermann, or Balaclava or Lucknow. We should think that heart cold and stupid which was not moved and thrilled by the struggles at Sedan and Strasburg, and Metz, and Paris, during the war between France and Germany.

But there is another warfare of far greater importance than any war that was ever waged by man. It is a warfare which concerns not two or three nations only, but every Christian man and woman born into the world. The warfare I speak of is the spiritual warfare. It is the fight which everyone who would be saved must fight about his soul.

This warfare, I am aware, is a thing of which many know nothing. Talk to them about it, and they are ready to set you down as a madman, an enthusiast, or a fool. And yet it is as real and true as any war the world has ever seen. It has its hand-to-hand conflicts and its wounds. It has its watchings and fatigues. It has its sieges and assaults. It has its victories and its defeats. Above all, it has consequences which are awful, tremendous, and most peculiar. In earthly warfare the consequences to nations are often temporary and remediable. In the spiritual warfare it is very different. Of that warfare, the consequences, when the fight is over, are unchangeable and eternal.

It is of this warfare that St. Paul spoke to Timothy, when he wrote those burning words, “Fight the good fight of faith; lay hold on eternal life.” It is of this warfare that I propose to speak in this paper. I hold the subject to be closely connected with that of sanctification and holiness. He that would understand the nature of true holiness must know that the Christian is “a man of war.” If we would be holy we must fight.

Read it all.

This summer our staff will be reading JC Ryle’s book, Holiness.  The original book, written in 1877, had 7 chapters.  Ryle would update the text in 1879 adding an additional 13 chapters to the volume.  I chose this text as our summer reading project for several reasons, not the least of which is that Ryle remains one of my favorite Anglican bishops and writers.  Here are a few more reasons for my choice:

First, having read Sibbes (Bruised Reed) and Augustine (Treatise on Grace and Free Will) the two previous years, Ryle, standing in the same stream, brings us close to our own century.  and, while he wrote in and used the language of the Victorian era the challenges he faced are strikingly similar to those we face.

Second, Ryle was a clear, strong and discursive thinker who emphasized his points by cumulative effect.  Often, today, Ryle is excerpted.  I think it helpful to read him in context and in whole to feel the effect of his intellect and communucative skills.

Third, in this volume Ryle lays out afresh, biblically, systematically, and in practical terms, the true fundamentals of scriptural holiness.

Fourth, much of what Ryle has to say with regard to the interior aspects of personal holiness is of perennial importance and is uniformly relevant to Christian living here and now; challenging our own shallowness and superficialities.

We would love to have you read along with us this summer and I’d welcome your comments and questions.  I will post on my blog every Monday a link to the section of text we will be discussing.  This week, we look at chapter 3, “Holiness.” Following is a snip:

The text which heads this page opens up a subject of deep importance. That subject is practical holiness. It suggests a question which demands the attention of all professing Christians—Are we holy? Shall we see the Lord?

That question can never be out of season. The wise man tells us, “There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh—a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Eccles. iii. 4, 7); but there is no time, no, not a day, in which a man ought not to be holy. Are we?

That question concerns all ranks and conditions of men. Some are rich and some are poor—some learned and some unlearned—some masters, and some servants; but there is no rank or condition in life in which a man ought not to be holy. Are we?

I ask to be heard to-day about this question. How stands the account between our souls and God? In this hurrying, bustling world, let us stand still for a few minutes and consider the matter of holiness. I believe I might have chosen a subject more popular and pleasant. I am sure I might have found one more easy to handle. But I feel deeply I could not have chosen one more seasonable and more profitable to our souls. It is a solemn thing to hear the Word of God saying, “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb. xii. 14.)

I shall endeavour, by God’s help, to examine what true holiness is, and the reason why it is so needful. In conclusion, I shall try to point out the only way in which holiness can be attained. I have already, in the second paper in this volume, approached this subject from a doctrinal side. Let me now try to present it to my readers in a more plain and practical point of view.

I. First, then, let me try to show what true practical holiness is—what sort of persons are those whom God calls holy.

A man may go great lengths, and yet never reach true holiness. It is not knowledge—Balaam had that: nor great profession—Judas Iscariot had that: nor doing many things—Herod had that: nor zeal for certain matters in religion—Jehu had that: nor morality and outward respectability of conduct—the young ruler had that: nor taking pleasure in hearing preachers—the Jews in Ezekiel’s time 35had that: nor keeping company with godly people—Joab and Gehazi and Demas had that. Yet none of these was holy! These things alone are not holiness. A man may have any one of them, and yet never see the Lord.

What then is true practical holiness? It is a hard question to answer. I do not mean that there is any want of Scriptural matter on the subject. But I fear lest I should give a defective view of holiness, and not say all that ought to be said; or lest I should say things about it that ought not to be said, and so do harm. Let me, however, try to draw a picture of holiness, that we may see it clearly before the eyes of our minds. Only let it never be forgotten, when I have said all, that my account is but a poor imperfect outline at the best.

Read the rest.

This summer our staff will be reading JC Ryle’s book, Holiness.  The original book, written in 1877, had 7 chapters.  Ryle would update the text in 1879 adding an additional 13 chapters to the volume.  I chose this text as our summer reading project for several reasons, not the least of which is that Ryle remains one of my favorite Anglican bishops and writers.  Here are a few more reasons for my choice:

First, having read Sibbes (Bruised Reed) and Augustine (Treatise on Grace and Free Will) the two previous years, Ryle, standing in the same stream, brings us close to our own century.  and, while he wrote in and used the language of the Victorian era the challenges he faced are strikingly similar to those we face.

Second, Ryle was a clear, strong and discursive thinker who emphasized his points by cumulative effect.  Often, today, Ryle is excerpted.  I think it helpful to read him in context and in whole to feel the effect of his intellect and communucative skills.

Third, in this volume Ryle lays out afresh, biblically, systematically, and in practical terms, the true fundamentals of scriptural holiness.

Fourth, much of what Ryle has to say with regard to the interior aspects of personal holiness is of perennial importance and is uniformly relevant to Christian living here and now; challenging our own shallowness and superficialities.

We would love to have you read along with us this summer and I’d welcome your comments and questions.  I will post on my blog every Monday a link to the section of text we will be discussing.  This week, we look at chapter 2, “Sanctification.” Following is a snip:

What does the Bible mean when it speaks of a “sanctified” man?

Sanctification is that inward spiritual work which the Lord Jesus Christ works in a man by the Holy Ghost, when He calls him to be a true believer. He not only washes him from his sins in His own blood, but He also separates him from his natural love of sin and the world, puts a new principle in his heart, and makes him practically godly in life. The instrument by which the Spirit effects this work is generally the Word of God, though He sometimes uses afflictions and providential visitations “without the Word.” (1 Peter iii. 1.) The subject of this work of Christ by His Spirit is called in Scripture a “sanctified” man.

He who supposes that Jesus Christ only lived and died and rose again in order to provide justification and forgiveness of sins for His people, has yet much to learn. Whether he knows it or not, he is dishonouring our blessed Lord, and making Him only a half Saviour. The Lord Jesus has undertaken everything that His people’s souls require; not only to deliver them from the guilt of their sins by His atoning death, but from the dominion of their sins, by placing in their hearts the Holy Spirit; not only to justify them, but also to sanctify them. He is, thus, not only their “righteousness,” but their “sanctification.” (1 Cor. i. 30.) Let us hear what 17the Bible says: “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified.”—“Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it.”—“Christ gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”—“Christ bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness.”—“Christ hath reconciled (you) in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight.” (John xvii. 19Ephes. v. 25Titus ii. 141 Peter ii. 24Coloss. i. 22.) Let the meaning of these five texts be carefully considered. If words mean anything, they teach that Christ undertakes the sanctification, no less than the justification of His believing people. Both are alike provided for in that “everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure,” of which the Mediator is Christ. In fact, Christ in one place is called “He that sanctifieth,” and His People, “they who are sanctified.” (Heb. ii. 11.)

The subject before us is of such deep and vast importance, that it requires fencing, guarding, clearing up, and marking out on every side. A doctrine which is needful to salvation can never be too sharply developed, or brought too fully into light. To clear away the confusion between doctrines and doctrines, which is so unhappily common among Christians, and to map out the precise relation between truths and truths in religion, is one way to attain accuracy in our theology. I shall therefore not hesitate to lay before my readers a series of connected propositions or statements, drawn from Scripture, which I think will be found useful in defining the exact nature of sanctification.

From Spurgeon:

An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.

From speaking out as the Puritans did, the church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.

My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church. If it is a Christian work, why did not Christ speak of it? “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). That is clear enough. So it would have been if He had added, “and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.” No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him.

Then again, “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers .., for the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:11-12). Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.

Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles. What was the attitude of the church to the world? Ye are the salt” (Matt. 5:13), not the sugar candy—something the world will spit out not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, “Let the dead bury their dead” (Matt. 8:22) He was in awful earnestness.

Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of His teaching. I do not hear him say, “Run after these people Peter and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick Peter, we must get the people somehow.” Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them.

In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of this gospel of amusement! Their message is, “Come out, keep out, keep clean out!” Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon.

After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the church had a prayer meeting but they did not pray, “Lord grant unto thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are.” If they ceased not from preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). That is the only difference! Lord, clear the church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her, and bring us back to apostolic methods.

Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to effect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the church met them halfway, speak and testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment has been God’s link in the chain of the conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today’s ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.

How many years have we been saying this at SAMP?

I’d put together a while ago a partial reading list of primarily old dead guys, with some newer, books here.

Here’s a snip:

My friends and most of my extended family are very tolerant of my antiquarian tastes. At best, it’s an eccentricity bordering on a waste of time. At worst, it’s a snobbery they’re willing to indulge. A few of the more well-meaning sort imply that I am able to digest such ponderous tomes through some exceptional mental capacity. “You’re so smart to be able to read that,” they say. “I wouldn’t be able to make it past the first chapter.”

What all of these responses have in common is that they are justifications – not just for why someone else would read an old book (eccentricity, snobbery, superhuman intelligence), but for why they won’t. My tastes are normal. I’m not a snob. I’m not as smart as he is. They’re reasons we give ourselves for not doing something. What I’d like to do in the remainder of this article is give you an antidote for this kind of thinking. You don’t have to be a snob or a literary wunderkind to enjoy “the Great Books.” What you do need to be is open to experiences beyond your time and culture.

In On the Reading of Old Books, C.S. Lewis says that one of the chief values of old literature lies in its ability to show us the blind spots of our own day and age—assumptions we take for granted at which earlier ages (and perhaps later ages) would have scoffed:

Read the rest.

This summer our staff will be reading JC Ryle’s book, Holiness.  The original book, written in 1877, had 7 chapters.  Ryle would update the text in 1879 adding an additional 13 chapters to the volume.  I chose this text as our summer reading project for several reasons, not the least of which is that Ryle remains one of my favorite Anglican bishops and writers.  Here are a few more reasons for my choice:

First, having read Sibbes (Bruised Reed) and Augustine (Treatise on Grace and Free Will) the two previous years, Ryle, standing in the same stream, brings us close to our own century.  and, while he wrote in and used the language of the Victorian era the challenges he faced are strikingly similar to those we face.

Second, Ryle was a clear, strong and discursive thinker who emphasized his points by cumulative effect.  Often, today, Ryle is excerpted.  I think it helpful to read him in context and in whole to feel the effect of his intellect and communucative skills.

Third, in this volume Ryle lays out afresh, biblically, systematically, and in practical terms, the true fundamentals of scriptural holiness.

Fourth, much of what Ryle has to say with regard to the interior aspects of personal holiness is of perennial importance and is uniformly relevant to Christian living here and now; challenging our own shallowness and superficialities.

We would love to have you read along with us this summer and I’d welcome your comments and questions.  I will post on my blog every Monday a link to the section of text we will be discussing.  This week, we look at chapter 1, “Sin.” Following is a snip:

He that wishes to attain right views about Christian holiness, must begin by examining the vast and solemn subject of sin. He must dig down very low if he would build high. A mistake here is most mischievous. Wrong views about holiness are generally traceable to wrong views about human corruption. I make no apology for beginning this volume of papers about holiness by making some plain statements about sin.

The plain truth is that a right knowledge of sin lies at the root of all saving Christianity. Without it such doctrines as justification, conversion, sanctification, are “words and names” which convey no meaning to the mind. The first thing, therefore, that God does when He makes anyone a new creature in Christ, is to send light into his heart, and show him that he is a guilty sinner. The material creation in Genesis began with “light,” and so also does the spiritual creation. God “shines into our hearts” by the work of the Holy Ghost, and then spiritual life begins. (2 Cor. iv. 6.)—Dim or indistinct views of sin are the origin of most of the errors, heresies, and false doctrines of the present day. If a man does not realize the dangerous nature of his soul’s disease, you cannot wonder if he is content with false or imperfect remedies. I believe that one of the chief wants of the Church has been, and is, clearer, fuller teaching about sin.

Click here to read Chapter 1.

This summer our staff will be reading JC Ryle’s book, Holiness.  The original book, written in 1877, had 7 chapters.  Ryle would update the text in 1879 adding an additional 13 chapters to the volume.  I chose this text as our summer reading project for several reasons, not the least of which is that Ryle remains one of my favorite Anglican bishops and writers.  Here are a few more reasons for my choice:

First, having read Sibbes (Bruised Reed) and Augustine (Treatise on Grace and Free Will) the two previous years, Ryle, standing in the same stream, brings us close to our own century.  and, while he wrote in and used the language of the Victorian era the challenges he faced are strikingly similar to those we face.

Second, Ryle was a clear, strong and discursive thinker who emphasized his points by cumulative effect.  Often, today, Ryle is excerpted.  I think it helpful to read him in context and in whole to feel the effect of his intellect and communucative skills.

Third, in this volume Ryle lays out afresh, biblically, systematically, and in practical terms, the true fundamentals of scriptural holiness.

Fourth, much of what Ryle has to say with regard to the interior aspects of personal holiness is of perennial importance and is uniformly relevant to Christian living here and now; challenging our own shallowness and superficialities.

We would love to have you read along with us this summer and I’d welcome your comments and questions.  I will post on my blog every Monday a link to the section of text we will be discussing.  This week, we look at Ryle’s Introduction. Following is a snip.  If you’ve followed some of the arguments the past few weeks in various Christian social media outlets you will see the timeliness of Ryle’s writing:

I have had a deep conviction for many years that practical holiness and entire self-consecration to God are not sufficiently attended to by modern Christians in this country. Politics, or controversy, or party-spirit, or worldliness, have eaten out the heart of lively piety in too many of us. The subject of personal godliness has fallen sadly into the background. The standard of living has become painfully low in many quarters. The immense importance of “adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour” (Titus ii. 10), and making it lovely and beautiful by our daily habits and tempers, has been far too much overlooked. Worldly people sometimes complain with reason that “religious” persons, so-called, are not so amiable and unselfish and good-natured as others who make no profession of religion. Yet sanctification, in its place and proportion, is quite as important as justification. Sound Protestant and Evangelical doctrine is useless if it is not accompanied by a holy life. It is worse than useless: it does positive harm. It is despised by keen-sighted and shrewd men of the world, as an unreal and hollow thing, and brings religion into contempt. It is my firm impression that we want a thorough revival about Scriptural holiness, and I am deeply thankful that attention is being directed to the point.

It is, however, of great importance that the whole subject should be placed on right foundations, and that the movement about it should not be damaged by crude, disproportioned, and one-sided statements. If such statements abound, we must not be surprised. Satan knows well the power of true holiness, and the viiiimmense injury which increased attention to it will do to his kingdom. It is his interest, therefore, to promote strife and controversy about this part of God’s truth. Just as in time past he has succeeded in mystifying and confusing men’s minds about justification, so he is labouring in the present day to make men “darken counsel by words without knowledge” about sanctification. May the Lord rebuke him! I cannot however give up the hope that good will be brought out of evil, that discussion will elicit truth, and that variety of opinion will lead us all to search the Scriptures more, to pray more, and to become more diligent in trying to find out what is “the mind of the Spirit.”

I now feel it a duty, in sending forth this volume, to offer a few introductory hints to those whose attention is specially directed to the subject of sanctification in the present day. I know that I do so at the risk of seeming presumptuous, and possibly of giving offence. But something must be ventured in the interests of God’s truth. I shall therefore put my hints into the form of questions, and I shall request my readers to take them as “Cautions for the Times on the subject of holiness.”

(1) I ask, in the first place, whether it is wise to speak of faith as the one thing needful, and the only thing required, as many seem to do now-a-days in handling the doctrine of sanctification?—Is it wise to proclaim in so bald, naked, and unqualified a way as many do, that the holiness of converted people is by faith only, and not at all by personal exertion? Is it according to the proportion of God’s Word? I doubt it.

That faith in Christ is the root of all holiness—that the first step towards a holy life is to believe on Christ—that until we believe we have not a jot of holiness—that union with Christ by faith is the secret of both beginning to be holy and continuing holy—that the life that we live in the flesh we must live by the faith of the Son of God—that faith purifies the heart—that faith is the victory which overcomes the world—that by faith the elders obtained a good report—all these are truths which no well-instructed Christian will ever think of denying. But surely the Scriptures teach us that in following holiness the true Christian needs personal exertion and work as well as faith. The very same Apostle who says in one place, “The life that I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God,” says in another place, “I fight—I run—I keep under my body;” and in other places, “Let us cleanse ourselves—let us labour, let us lay aside every weight.” (Gal. ii. 201 Cor. ix. 262 Cor. vii. 1Heb. iv. 11; xii. 1 .) Moreover, the Scriptures nowhere teach us that faith sanctifies us in the same sense, and in the same manner, that faith justifies us! Justifying faith is a grace that “worketh not,” but simply trusts, rests, and leans on Christ. (Rom. iv. 5.) Sanctifying faith is a grace of which the very life is action: it “worketh by love,” and, like a main-spring, moves the whole inward man. (Gal. v. 6.) After all, the precise phrase “sanctified by faith” is only found once in the New Testament. The Lord Jesus said to Saul, “I send thee, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.” Yet even there I agree with Alford, that “by faith” belongs to the whole sentence, and must not be tied to the word “sanctified.” The true sense is, “that by faith in Me they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them that are sanctified.” (Compare Acts xxvi. 18 with Acts xx. 32.)

As to the phrase “holiness by faith,” I find it nowhere in the New Testament. Without controversy, in the matter of our justification before God, faith in Christ is the one thing needful. All that simply believe are justified. Righteousness is imputed “to him that worketh not but believeth.” (Rom. iv. 5.) It is thoroughly Scriptural and right to say “faith alone justifies.” But it is not equally Scriptural and right so say “faith alone sanctifies.” The saying requires very large qualification. Let one fact suffice. We are frequently told that a man is “justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” by St. Paul. But not once are we told that we are “sanctified by faith without the deeds of the law.” On the contrary, we are expressly told by St. James that the faith whereby we are visibly and demonstratively justified before man, is a faith which “if it hath not works is dead, being alone.” (James ii. 17.) I may be told, in reply, that no one of course means to disparage “works” as an essential part of a holy life. It would be well, however, to make this more plain than many seem to make it in these days.

Click here to read the Introduction online.

Holiness by J C Ryle 2For the past few years the SAMP staff has been reading and discussing primary source theology during our summers.  My reasons are manifold: There is the simple an practical matter of equipping and encouraging.  While I am the bishop of a diocese and the rector of a parish, I am still the pastor to my staff.  Secondly, I find that the languid days of summer parish life allow for a more considered and reflective pace of reading, thought and discussion – things which the pressing needs of parish life and ministry are too easily eclipsed during the ministry year. And thirdly, I want to expose our staff to the richness of the Christian faith.  So, we tend to read “old dead guys” – often because they are unknown and neglected.  I especially prefer to read old books of theology. I find in these books a fresh perspective as the writers are both free from the spirit of the age in which we live and the errors of their age are now plain to us.

Two summers ago we read The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes.  We created a .pdf of the original document and broke it down by weekly readings, including discussion questions.  This resource is still housed on the SAMP site and may be accessed here.

Last summer we read A Treatise on Grace and Free Will by Augustine.

This summer we will be reading Holiness by J.C. Ryle.  As I told the staff, Ryle has much to say of perennial importance regarding Christian living here and now.  Holiness speaks strongly to our contemporary shallowness and superficialities; laying out afresh, biblically, systematically, and in practical terms the true fundamentals of Christian sanctity.

I’d love to have you read along with us.  You can click the link above to read the book online.  Alternatively, I’ve had Catherine Guerry, the Manager of our bookstore, Common Grounds, stock a few books.