Skip to comments.Bishop Ryle: "Do You Believe?" continued
Posted on 05/04/2006 12:20:47 PM PDT by sionnsar
Today I am posting another excerpt from J.C. Ryle's "Do You Believe?"--this one being what Ryle says about God's gift to the world, His only begotten Son:
II. The next thing I want you to consider is God's gift to the world. "He gave His only begotten Son."And this last paragraph is surely a comfort for any of us who are faced with some sorrow, some pain as must inevitably come in this life--what a comfort it is to remember that He who gave us such a gift as Jesus will never withhold anything that is really for our good. May we make this truth part of our very beings.
The manner in which the truth before us is stated by our Lord Jesus Christ, demands special attention. It would be well for many who talk big swelling words about "the love of God" in the present day, if they would mark the way in which the Lord Jesus sets it before us.
The love of God towards the world is not a vague, abstract idea of mercy, which we are obliged to take on trust without any proof that it is true. It is a love which has been manifested by a mighty gift. It is a love which has been put before us in a plain, unmistakeable, tangible form. God the Father was not content to sit in heaven, idly pitying and loving His fallen creatures on earth. He has given the mightiest evidence of His love towards us by a gift of unspeakable value. He has "spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all" (Rom. viii. 32). He has so loved us that He has given us Christ! A higher proof of the Father's love could not have been given.
Again, it is not written that God so loved the world that He resolved to save it, but that He so loved it that He gave Christ. His love is not displayed at the expense of His holiness and justice. It flows down from heaven to earth through one particular channel. It is set before men in one special way. It is only through Christ, by Christ, on account of Christ, and in inseparable connection with the work of Christ. Let us glory in God's love by all means. Let us proclaim to all the world that God is love. But let us carefully remember that we know little or nothing of God's love which can give us comfort, excepting in Jesus Christ. It is not written that God so loved the world that He will take all the world to heaven, but that He so loved it, that He has given His only begotten Son. He that ventures on God's love without reference to Christ, is building on a foundation of sand.
Who can estimate the value of God's gift, when He gave to the world His only begotten Son? It is something unspeakable, incomprehensible. It passes man's understanding. Two things there are which man has no arithmetic to reckon, and no line to measure. One of these things is the extent of that man's loss who loses his own soul. The other is the extent of God's gift when He gave Christ to sinners. He gave no created thing for our redemption, though all the treasures of earth, and all the stars of heaven were at His disposal. He gave no created being to be our Redeemer, though angels, principalities and powers in heavenly places, were ready to do His will. Oh! no! He gave us One who was nothing less than His own fellow, very God of very God, His only begotten Son. He that thinks lightly of man's need and man's sin, would do well to consider man's Saviour. Sin must indeed be exceeding sinful, when the Father must needs give His only Son to be the sinner's Friend!
Reader, have you ever considered to what the Father gave His only begotten Son? Was it to be received with gratitude and thankfulness by a lost and bankrupt world? Was it to reign in royal majesty on a restored earth, and put down every enemy under His feet? Was it to enter the world as a king, and to give laws to a willing and obedient people? No! The Father gave His Son to be despised and rejected of men, to be born of a poor woman, and live a life of povertyto be hated, persecuted, slandered, and blasphemed, to be counted a malefactor, condemned as a transgressor, and die the death of a felon. Never was there such love as this! Never such condescension! The man among ourselves who cannot stoop much and suffer much in order to do good, knows nothing of the mind of Christ.
For what end and purpose did the Father give His only begotten Son? Was it only to supply an example of self-denial and self-sacrifice? No! It was for a far higher end and purpose than this. He gave Him to be a sacrifice for man's sin, and an atonement for man's transgression. He gave Him to be delivered for our offences, and to die for the ungodly. He gave Him to bear our iniquities, and to suffer for our sins, the just for the unjust. He gave Him to be made a curse for us, that we might be redeemed from the curse of the law. He gave Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. He gave Him to be a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world. He gave Him to be a ransom for all, and to make satisfaction for our heavy debt to God by His own precious blood. He gave Him to be the Almighty Friend of all sinners of mankind,to be their Surety and Substitute,to do for them what they never could have done for themselvessuffer what they could never have sufferedand pay what they could never have paid. All that Jesus did and suffered on earth was according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. The chief end for which He lived and died was to provide eternal redemption for mankind.
Reader, beware of ever losing sight of the great purpose for which Christ was given by God the Father. Let not the false teaching of modern divinity, however plausible it may sound, tempt you to forsake the old paths. Hold fast the faith once delivered to the saints, that the special object for which Christ was given was to die for sinners, and to make atonement for them by His sacrifice on the cross. Once give up this great doctrine, and there is little worth contending for in Christianity. If Christ did not really bear our sins on the tree as our Substitute, there is an end of all solid peace.
Beware, again, of holding narrow and confined views of the extent of Christ's redemption. Regard Him as given by God the Father to be the common Saviour for all the world. See in Him the fountain for all sin and uncleanness, to which every sinner may come boldly, drink and live. See in Him the brazen serpent set up in the midst of the camp, to which every sin-bitten soul may look and be healed. See in Him a medicine of matchless value, sufficient for the wants of all the world, and offered freely to all mankind. The way to heaven is narrow enough already, by reason of man's pride, hardness, sloth, listlessness, and unbelief. But take heed that you do not make that way more narrow than it really is.
I confess, boldly, that I hold the doctrine of particular redemption, in a certain sense, as strongly as any one. I believe that none are effectually redeemed but God's elect. They and they only are set free from the guilt, and power, and consequences of sin. But I hold no less strongly, that Christ's work of atonement is sufficient for all mankind. There is a sense in which He has tasted death for every man, and has taken upon Him the sin of the world. I dare not pare down, and fine away, what appear to me the plain statements of Scripture. I dare not shut a door which God seems, to my eyes, to have left open. I dare not tell any man on earth that Christ has done nothing for him, and that he has no warrant to apply boldly to Christ for salvation. I must abide by the statements of the Bible. Christ is God's gift to the whole world.
Reader, I ask you to observe what a giving religion true Christianity is. Gift, love, and free grace are the grand characteristics of the pure gospel. The Father loves the world and gives His only begotten Son. The Son loves us and gives Himself for us. The Father and the Son together give the Holy Spirit to all that ask. All Three Persons in the Blessed Trinity give grace upon grace to them that believe. Never be ashamed of being a giving Christian, if you profess to have any hope in Christ. Give freely, liberally, and self-denyingly, according as you have power and opportunity. Let not your love consist in nothing more than vague expressions of kindness and compassion. Make proof of it by actions. Help forward the cause of Christ on earth, by money, influence, pains, and prayer. If God so loved you as to give His Son for your soul, you should count it a privilege, and not a burden, to give what you can to do good to men.
Reader, if God has given you His only begotten Son, beware of doubting His kindness and love in any painful providence of your daily life. Never allow yourself to think hard thoughts of God. Never suppose that He can give you anything that is not really for your good. Remember the words of St. Paul: "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things" (Rom. viii. 32.) See in every sorrow and trouble of your earthly pilgrimage, the hand of Him who gave Christ to die for your sins. That hand can never smite you except in love. He who gave you His only begotten Son, will never withhold anything from you that is really for your good. Lean back on this thought and be content. Say to yourself in the darkest hour of trial,"This also is ordered by Him who gave Christ to die for my sins. It cannot be wrong. It is done in love. It must be well."
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Bishop Ryle ping!
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