Book Briefs: Practical Religion By JC Ryle

JC Ryle was born in 1816. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1841. He became the rector of St. Thomas’s, Winchester in 1843, then to Helmingham, Suffolk the following year. From 1843 to 1879, he wrote various works and gospel tracts. In 1880, Ryle became the bishop of Liverpool and retired in 1900 at age 83. He died later that year.fullsizeoutput_5b9

I have benefited from the writings of Bunyan, Calvin, Luther, etc. But none have been more beneficial than JC Ryle. In his work Practical Religion, Ryle cuts to the heart of the Christian life. He saw problems in his day and addressed those. But those same problems are present today.

Practical Religion is divided into 21 Chapters: Self-Inquiry, Self-Exertion, Reality, Prayer, Bible Reading, Going to the Table, Charity, Zeal, Freedom, Happiness, Formality, The World, Riches and Poverty, The Best Friend, Sickness, The Family of God, Our Home, Heirs of God, The Great Gathering, The Great Separation, and Eternity.fullsizeoutput_5b8

Ryle addressed the skewed views of the gospel of grace such as “nominal Christianity”. Ryle calls it “churchianity”. But it is the same problem that still exists in many of our Churches today. Some claim Christ when it benefits them, but when life is tough, those  “nominal” believers are found not to be true. In reading Practical Religionthe Christian will be encouraged in Praying and Reading their Bible. But they will also feel conviction on living this life for eternity, not for the “here and now”.

fullsizeoutput_5baI am thankful to God for the life of JC Ryle and his influence in my life. But I am also thankful for Banner of Truth for publishing his works and other various works that are so important for the Christian life.

If you would like to purchase Practical Religion, you may do so here.

Banner has recently released Ryle’s Autobiography, you can purchase it here.


Evan Knies is a student at SBTS, grad of Boyce College, and Minister of Students at Bullitt Lick Baptist Church in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. He is married to Lauren and you can follow him on Twitter at @Evan_Knies.

Reforming with Ryle

rsz_jc_ryle_2By Evan Knies

John Charles Ryle was born in Macclesfield, Cheshire (1816) and educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. He entered ministry around the year 1841, and served many churches up until his retirement in 1900, when he was aged 83. He died later that year.

Ryle was a minister that wrote many popular gospel tracts in his day, but he is known for his books. His Expository Thoughts on the Gospels are very helpful for young and old ministers alike. He has also written books such as Holiness, Practical Religion, and Light from Old Times. 

Reading Ryle, I have learned two primary things this summer that I’d like to share with you:

1. Ryle pushes you to the text and draws theology from it. 

Ryle writes in a way so that the Christian reader must rest in the Scripture. His examples in Holiness are straight from biblical examples (i.e. Lots wife). Ryle was a minister who rested in the sufficiency of Scripture because he rested in a sufficient God.

2. Ryle points to the martyrs as an example for the Christian life. 

In Light from Old Times, Ryle allows the martyrs to speak for themselves. They suffered and died because of what they believed. Ryle has written this work to encourage the church on its mission in declaring the truths of the gospel of grace. Ryle has a chapter on “Why the Reformers were Burned,” the conclusion is that they were burned because of their view of the Lord’s Supper:

“The end of Rowland Taylor’s weary imprisonment came at last. On the 22nd of January 1555, he was brought before the Lord Chancellor, Bishop Gardiner, and other Commissioners, and subjected to a lengthy examination. To go into the details of all that was said on this occasion would be wearisome and unprofitable. The whole affair was conducted with the same gross unfairness and partiality which characterized all the proceedings against the English Reformers, and the result, as a matter of course, was the good man’s condemnation. To use his own words, in a letter to a friend, he was pronounced a heretic because he defended the marriage of priests, and denied the doctrine of transubstantiation. Never let it be forgotten in these days, that the denial of any corporal presence of Christ’s body and blood in the elements of the bread and wine at the Lord’s Supper, was the turning point which decided the fate of our martyred Reformers. If they gave way on that point they might have lived. Because they would not admit any corporal presence they died. These things are recorded for our learning.” – pg. 109-110 (Light From Old Times) 

May we learn from these martyrs the importance of doctrine, and also the sanctity of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Doctrine matters. In a day where doctrine seems to go by the wayside, we can read first and foremost our Bibles and see that martyrs died because of what they believe about Jesus (Acts 7, Hebrews 11). We also learn from Ryle that men before us, many reformers especially, died because of important doctrinal issues. This should cause us to think more deeply about what songs we sing on Sundays, what books we hand out, etc. Doctrine is not dead. Orthodoxy did not die at the cross. But the cross influences orthodoxy. Sound doctrine is tied up in Paul’s Statement, “I wish to know nothing but Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2)”. To say you don’t desire sound doctrine, you don’t desire Christ. What you believe matters.

From the works of Ryle, we are able to see the importance of preaching, ordinances of the local church, deaths of martyrs and a clear gospel. I am thankful to God for men like Ryle who have helped the church long past their life here on earth.

Friends, you only get one life and it will soon pass. Only what is done for Christ will last!


Evan Knies (B.A., Boyce College) and his wife Lauren are originally from Louisiana. He is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is serving as as student pastor at Bullitt Lick Baptist Church. You can follow him on Twitter at @Evan_Knies.

 

Going Pro(testant): We Are Saved By Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone

Going ProCade Campbell, Associate Pastor for Preaching and Discipleship at First Baptist Church Henryville, Indiana, is preaching a summer series titled Going Pro(testant): Living the Truths of the Reformation. The series is going to attempt to be a unique blend of expository preaching, topical historical theology, and narrative church history. Each week Cade will take a specific theological theme or emphasis from the Protestant Reformation, ground it in a specific text of Scripture, and use the historical context, background, narrative, and individuals key to the Reformation as the illustrative framework. The aim is for the folks at FBC Henryville (and all who listen online) to come away with a better knowledge and appreciation of the Reformation as they are also equipped by Scripture to apply the truths of the Reformation to their own lives. Over the summer we’ll be posting links to the audio recordings of the series.

Here is the latest in the Series 

We are Saved by Grace Alone, Through Faith

For other Sermons in our Series

Going Pro(testant): Living the Truths of the Reformation 

Going Pro(testant): We Are Saved By Grace Alone

Going ProCade Campbell, Associate Pastor for Preaching and Discipleship at First Baptist Church Henryville, Indiana, is preaching a summer series titled Going Pro(testant): Living the Truths of the Reformation. The series is going to attempt to be a unique blend of expository preaching, topical historical theology, and narrative church history. Each week Cade will take a specific theological theme or emphasis from the Protestant Reformation, ground it in a specific text of Scripture, and use the historical context, background, narrative, and individuals key to the Reformation as the illustrative framework. The aim is for the folks at FBC Henryville (and all who listen online) to come away with a better knowledge and appreciation of the Reformation as they are also equipped by Scripture to apply the truths of the Reformation to their own lives. Over the summer we’ll be posting links to the audio recordings of the series.

Here is the latest in the Series

We are Saved by Grace Alone 

For other Sermons in the Series 

Going Pro(testant): Living the Truths of the Reformation

No Creed, but the Bible?

By Colton Corter

We Baptists are known for many things. Sadly, confessions of faith are not one of those things. Baptists were confessional historically but these old documents have seemed to have fallen on rough times. It is hard for us more confessional types to convince our brothers that a statement of faith is good and even necessary. “We don’t have any creed but Bible,” many will say. Let’s take some time to affirm what is good in that statement and then turn to what is misguided about it.

A Sufficient Word

The Bible is the sufficient Word of God. Along with the authority, clarity and necessity of Scripture, the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is one of those things the believer should come to understand about the Bible. These doctrines have been recognized by all faithful men throughout church history. Even more, the Bible itself affirms all four of these attributes of Scripture. We should labor the have the same view of Scripture that Jesus had. So we should ask, “What does it mean for Scripture to be sufficient?”

The sufficiency of Scripture refers to the “enoughness” of Scripture. Kevin DeYoung (albeit a Presbyterian) gives the best definition for sufficiency that I have seen. He writes in his book, Taking God at His Word, that the Bible being sufficient means that “Scripture is clear enough to make us responsible for carrying out and our present responsibilities to God.” This is a doctrine that few of us would repudiate on paper. However, no doctrine has been undermined more in modern day Southern Baptist Life. We may say the Scriptures are enough while at the same time reserving our greatest confidence and efforts in our programmatic efforts. The Bible, we may say, is sufficient; however, if you really want to see people saved then you had better have good music. Evangelicalism has fallen in love with other lovers. We have decided to try and do “God’s work” without leaning on God’s Word.

Sufficient for What?

Just what has the Bible promised to be sufficient for? Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:15-16 that the Scriptures are profitable for four things: teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness. It should be pointed out that if these things do not cover the goal of your local assembly then it might be a sign that your mission and vision for you church has been skewed by lesser goals. The four things mentioned by Paul are really two pairs. Teaching has to do with doctrinal exhortation, what someone should believe. Reproof, then, is the tearing down of that which is false doctrine. Correction deals with correcting moral practices and so then training in righteousness is more about what the believer should put on more so than being about what the Christian should denounce. Paul finishes by saying that the man of God may be perfect by simply knowing the word. “Perfect” in this instance means completeness and maturity.

So the Word of God is enough for us to know who God is and how we are to live in light of this. It is necessary now to take the argument of sufficiency up one level. The main reason we believe in a sufficient Word is because we believe in a sufficient Christ.

A Sufficient Christ

Redemption and revelation are tied together. Whenever God acts savingingly, he always interprets those acts for Himself. We are not left to grope about what God has done to redeem a lost people for Himself for His glory alone. Hebrews 1 begins with a statement about how God has spoken to His people in the past. The text reads:

[1] Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, [2] but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. [3] He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, [4] having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
(Hebrews 1:1-4 ESV)

The time frame of redemptive history is being contrasted here. It is important to note that God has not changed but the way He has communicated to us has changed. God spoke through prophets, a burning bush or even a donkey. But that time has been contrasted with “in these last days.” This is not “the last days” like we have come to think of them. Rather, the author of Hebrews is speaking of the period of time in between the two comings of Jesus. In this period, God has spoken finally through His Son. We see here the tie binding redemption and revelation. Christ has accomplished a once for all redemption for all of those who will come to put their faith in Christ. He has made purification for sin and then he sat down. The divine session is proof that our salvation has been accomplished in the gospel. Christ rose from the dead and sits in the presence of God the Father, proving that His sacrifice has been acceptable by God the Father. His name has been given the highest honor (v.4). It is finished indeed.

Since redemption is complete, revelation is complete. We are not waiting for God to say anything else. This does not mean that God is altogether silent, however. God speaks today. He simply does not speak anything new. If you are claiming to hear something from God that is extra-biblical, with all due respect, you are mistaken. God does so form our minds and affections that were led by the Spirit to obedience in our lives. But he does not give us a little whisper. Jesus does not “call us.” He has spoken to us in Christ. Everything we need to know God and enjoy Him in a life of gospel-driven obedience is found in the Bible. This fact should free us and not lead us to despair. God has promised that His Word is enough and that His goals for the heralding of that Word will be accomplished in His sovereign goodness (Isa. 55:11).

What Do Confessions Have to do with Anything?

I am jealous to maintain what our non-confessional brothers say they are eager to maintain. That is why we have explored what the Bible says about Scripture’s sufficiency. But we must see that creeds and confessions are not a rejection of Scripture’s sufficiency but rather serve to preserve it. First we must establish that we all have creeds and confessions. Every one, even now, is operating under a working understanding about what the Bible says. When anyone asks you a pointed theological question you will without fail answer in some words that may not appear directly in your KJV Bible. This is necessary and good. We have to realize that we all do this. So it is a misnomer to claim to only have the Bible as your creed and confession.

Tradition is good when held in its right place. Many Baptists are weary of one type of tradition but are quite at home with another. “Tradition” seems too established, almost too Catholic. Best case scenario, they sound too Reformed or Calvinistic. But then we will see Baptist churches run by committees with certain evangelistic methods that are nowhere to be found in the Bible. An alter call is only a tradition. When we have a conversation about tradition we must understand that we all have tradition. The real question depends on whether or not our tradition has its root in the Bible or not.

Good creeds and confessions will be the first to say they are not inerrant. They only claim to be faithful summaries of biblical doctrine. Take the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. It asks, “What is the chief end of man.” The answer given is: “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” What a beautiful summary of our great end in life. Life is all about knowing God and enjoying Him for the purpose of showing His intrinsic worth and value. Now, there is no passage in the Bible that states that exact wording. However, it would be foolish to say it is not the very heartbeat of the Bible. This confession serves, then, to give helpful summaries of biblical doctrine so that we can know the God of the Bible better. Most confessions have scriptural proofs of each section.

Used in the correct way, tradition is extremely helpful. Our churches would be much healthier if we knew anything of church history. Tradition helps us to see how good brothers from the past have dealt with problems in the church. There is nothing new under the sun, good or bad. Every heretical teaching of today has been addressed, at least at the root of the matter, in church history. Creeds and confessions also establish guardrails for us. If we find ourselves outside of traditional orthodoxy, it is probably we who are wrong and not them. Creeds and confessions help to make sure we maintain the purity of the gospel. The truth of the Bible is firm and is not subject to change. We bank our lives on these sure doctrines. When we find ourselves outside of the bounds found in good confessions, we are probably needing to return to the biblical faith once and for all delivered to the saints.

Creeds and confessions help. Explore some. They are our own heritage as Baptists. Check out some of the ones found in our sites bio. Pursue right knowledge of God for your joy and God’s glory.


 

Colton Corter is a student at SBTS. You can follow him on Twitter @coltonMcorter