Category Archives: Gospel according to Luke

“Religious affections” by J.C. Ryle

“The second caution that we learn from the parable of the sower, is to beware of resting on mere temporary impressions when we have heard the word. Our Lord tells us that the hearts of some hearers are like rocky ground.

The seed of the word springs up immediately, as soon as they hear it, and bears a crop of joyful impressions, and pleasurable emotions. But these impressions, unhappily, are only on the surface. There is no deep and abiding work done in their souls.

And hence, so soon as the scorching heat of temptation or persecution begins to be felt, the little bit of religion which they seemed to have attained, withers and vanishes away.

Feelings, no doubt, fill a most important office in our personal Christianity. Without them there can be no saving religion. Hope, and joy, and peace, and confidence, and resignation, and love, and fear, are things which must be felt, if they really exist.

But it must never be forgotten that there are religious affections, which are spurious and false, and spring from nothing better than animal excitement. It is quite possible to feel great pleasure, or deep alarm, under the preaching of the Gospel, and yet to be utterly destitute of the grace of God.

The tears of some hearers of sermons, and the extravagant delight of others, are no certain marks of conversion. We may be warm admirers of favorite preachers, and yet remain nothing better than stony-ground hearers.

Nothing should content us but a deep, humbling, self-mortifying work of the Holy Ghost, and a heart-union with Christ.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (vol. 1; New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 1: 251–252.

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“Take heed how you hear” by J.C. Ryle

“The parable of the sower is preeminently a parable of caution, and caution about a most important subject,—the way of hearing the word of God.

It was meant to be a warning to the apostles, not to expect too much from hearers.

It was meant to be a warning to all ministers of the Gospel, not to look for too great results from sermons.

It was meant, not least, to be a warning to hearers, to take heed how they hear.

Preaching is an ordinance of which the value can never be overrated in the Church of Christ. But it should never be forgotten, that there must not only be good preaching, but good hearing.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 1: 250. Ryle is commenting on Luke 8:4-15.

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“Greater love than this cannot be shown” by J.C. Ryle

Christ’s love is an active, working love. Just as the shepherd did not sit still bewailing his lost sheep, and the woman did not sit still bewailing her lost money, so our blessed Lord did not sit still in heaven pitying sinners.

He left the glory which He had with the Father, and humbled Himself to be made in the likeness of man. He came down into the world to seek and save that which was lost.

He never rested till He had made atonement for our transgressions, brought in everlasting righteousness, provided eternal redemption, and opened a door of life to all who are willing to be saved.

Christ’s love is a self-denying love. The shepherd brought his lost sheep home on his own shoulders rather than leave it in the wilderness.

The woman lighted a candle, and swept the house, and searched diligently, and spared no pains, till she found her lost money.

And just so did Christ not spare Himself, when he undertook to save sinners. ‘He endured the cross, despising the shame.’ He ‘laid down His life for His friends.’ Greater love than this cannot be shown. (John 15:13. Heb. 12:2.)

Christ’s love is a deep and mighty love. Just as the shepherd rejoiced to find his sheep, and the woman to find her money, so does the Lord Jesus rejoice to save sinners. It is a real pleasure to Him to pluck them as brands from the burning.

It was His ‘meat and drink,’ when upon earth, to finish the work which He came to do. He felt straitened in spirit till it was accomplished. It is still His delight to show mercy. He is far more willing to save sinners than sinners are to be saved.

Let us strive to know something of this love of Christ. It is a love that truly passeth knowledge. It is unspeakable and unsearchable. It is that on which we must wholly rest our souls, if we would have peace in time and glory in eternity.

If we take comfort in our own love to Christ, we are building on a sandy foundation. But if we lean on Christ’s love to us, we are on a rock.”

–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Luke, Vol. 2 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1879), 175-76. Ryle is commenting on Luke 15:1-10.

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