Category Archives: Apostasy

“A symptom of spiritual disease” by J.C. Ryle

“It ought to be a settled principle in our minds, that a man’s soul is in a bad state, when he begins to regard man-made rites and ceremonies, as things of superior importance, and exalts them above the preaching of the Gospel.

It is a symptom of spiritual disease. There is mischief within. It is too often the resource of an uneasy conscience. The first steps of apostasy from Protestantism to Romanism have often been in this direction.

No wonder that St. Paul said to the Galatians, ‘Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed on you labour in vain,’ (Gal. 4:10, 11).”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1857/2012), 30. Ryle is commenting on Mark 2:23-28.

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“A prayer request for pastors” by J.C. Ryle

“I will ask one favour on behalf of the brethren who have done the principal part of the labour in the meeting now nearly concluded. We ask a special place in your intercessory prayers.

You should consider the position in which we are placed. We are often put forward into positions which others perhaps would fill just as well, if they would but make the trial, and we are deeply sensible of our own deficiencies.

But still, being put forward in the forefront of the battle, we may surely ask for a special place in your prayers.

We are only flesh and blood. We are men of like passions with yourselves. We have our private trials, and our special temptations.

Often, while watering the vineyards of others, our own is comparatively neglected. Surely, it is not too much to ask you to pray for us.

Pray that we may be kept humble and sensible of our own weakness, and ever mindful that in the Lord alone can we be strong.

Pray that we may have wisdom to take the right step, to do the right thing, in the right way, and to do nothing to cause the Gospel to be blamed.

Pray, above all, that we may go straight on, even unto the end– that we may never lose our first love, and go back from first principles,– that it may never be said of us, that we are not the men we once were, but that we may go on consistently and faithfully, die in harness, and finish our course with joy, and the ministry which we have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God.”

–J.C. Ryle, “What Is Our Position,” Home Truths, seventh series (Ipswich: William Hunt, 1859), 267-268. These words were addressed to pastors at Weston-Super-Mare in August 1858.

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“A sober lesson” by D.A. Carson

“The main thrust of Judges, shot through with tragedy, is the cyclical failure of the covenant community, and how God intervenes to rescue them again and again. Initially, the people remained faithful throughout Joshua’s lifetime and the lifetime of the elders who outlived him (2:6).

But by the time that an entirely new generation had grown up—one that had seen nothing of the wonders God had performed, whether at the Exodus, during the wilderness years, or at the time of the entrance into the Promised Land—fidelity to the Lord dwindled away.

Syncretism and paganism abounded; the people forsook the God of their fathers and served the Baals, i.e., the various ‘lords’ of the Canaanites (2:10–12). The Lord responded in wrath; the people were subjected to raids, reversals, and military defeats at the hands of surrounding marauders.

When the people cried to the Lord for help, He raised up a judge—a regional and often national leader—who freed the people from tyranny and led them in covenantal faithfulness. And then the cycle began again. And again. And again.

Here is a sober lesson. Even after times of spectacular revival, reformation, or covenantal renewal, the people of God are never more than a generation or two from infidelity, unbelief, massive idolatry, disobedience, and wrath. God help us.”

–D. A. Carson, “July 19” in For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word. Volume 1 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998).

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“Not the way it’s supposed to be” by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

“The Bible presents sin by way of major concepts, principally lawlessness and faithlessness, expressed in an array of images: sin is the missing of a target, a wandering from the path, a straying from the fold. Sin is a hard heart and a stiff neck. Sin is blindness and deafness. It is both the overstepping of a line and the failure to reach it—both transgression and shortcoming.

Sin is a beast crouching at the door. In sin, people attack or evade or neglect their divine calling. These and other images suggest deviance: even when it is familiar, sin is never normal. Sin is disruption of created harmony and then resistance to divine restoration of that harmony. Above all, sin disrupts and resists the vital human relation to God.”

–Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 5.

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“You need to be there” by Carl R. Trueman

“Church involvement is absolutely critical for any healthy Christian life because it constitutes a basic reality check. Most Christians spend their weeks surrounded by people who are not Christians, being exposed to ideas, images, and values which are antithetical to Christianity which sell us myths as if they were reality, which teach us that madness is sanity and sanity is madness. Time spent with brothers and sisters in Christ on the Lord’s Day is thus time spent resetting your moral, spiritual, and intellectual bearings.

Whether you are a banker being tempted to greed by life during the week or a New Testament PhD student being bombarded with scholarship that mocks God’s word in the classroom from Monday to Friday, meeting with the people of God, singing his word, hearing his word read and preached and, indeed, meeting with the Triune in the awesome context of a worship service, is vital to your well-being.

You need to be there; and in nearly two decades of teaching, I have never yet met a student who messes up badly at an intellectual level who did not first mess up at an ecclesiastical level, whether through wrong choice of fellowship or no choice of fellowship at all. Put simply: if you are not involved in a church, then do not look for sympathy when your life leaves the rails and dives into a ditch.”

–Carl R. Trueman, “Minority Report: A Question of Accountability,” Themelios 34.2 (2009): 158-161. Available online here.

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“Advice to seminarians and PhD students” by Carl R. Trueman

“The simple way for theological students to resist both the temptation to pontificate beyond their pay grade and the temptation to pride and the moral and intellectual problems that inevitably come in its wake-fall is to find the proper context for accountability, to find their true home; and the good news is that this true home is easy to find—simply join an orthodox, gospel-believing and proclaiming church as member, submit to the elders, attend the corporate worship services, fellowship with the saints on a regular basis, get involved in the day to day work of the local body, even if it is ‘only’ the cleaning rota (and, hey, worshipping in a dirty church quickly reveals how important that is), and pursue a disciplined life of private devotion.”

–Carl R. Trueman, “Minority Report: A Question of Accountability,” Themelios 34.2 (2009): 158-161. Available online here.

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“The root of apostasy” by Jeremiah Burroughs

“Earthly-mindedness is the root of apostasy.”

-–Jeremiah Burroughs, A Treatise Concerning Earthly-Mindedness: Showing the Great Sin of Thinking as the World Thinks Rather Than Thinking God’s Thoughts After Him, Ed. Don Kistler. (Orlando, FL: Soli Deo Gloria, 1649/2006), 43.

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