Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Ryle on the Remedy for Spiritual Poverty [= Spiritual Reformation]

[The following was originally posted on September 22, 2007. The subject-matter of the below post, focused on the continuing need for spiritual reform, is especially appropriate now, as tomorrow is the 500th anniversary for the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.]

Over a hundred and thirty years ago, J.C. Ryle, the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool from 1880-1900, wrote the following in his classic work on Holiness:

It has long been my sorrowful conviction that the standard of daily life among professing Christians in this country has been gradually falling. I am afraid that Christ-like charity, kindness, good-temper, unselfishness, meekness, gentleness, good-nature, self-denial, zeal to do good, and separation from the world, are far less appreciated than they ought to be, and than they used to be in the days of our fathers.

What was true in England so long ago is no less true in the United States today. But what is the remedy? Ryle gives the following answer:
As to the best remedy for the state of things I have mentioned, I shall venture to give an opinion. Other schools of thought in the Churches must judge for themselves. The cure for Evangelical Churchmen, I am convinced, is to be found in a clearer apprehension of the nature and sinfulness of sin.

He then adds:
We need not go back to Egypt, and borrow semi-Romish practices in order to revive our spiritual life.

Of these "semi-Romish practices," Ryle had previously written:
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 [a man] “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 he 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.

It is my concern as well that many today, rightly discerning the impoverished condition of the Church in America, nevertheless turn to the wrong means by which to combat the situation. Turning to unscriptural means such as praying through icons, prayer labyrinths, ringing of bells and other man-made practices and ceremonies may invoke religious feelings within a person, but these have nothing to do with biblical holiness. Instead, let us turn to what the Bible concerning sin and sanctification. Let us study the Scriptures and receive wisdom from older teachers who faithfully expound God's Word.



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