Sunday, March 16, 2008

Holiness - Week 3

Today was the third session in this quarter's Sunday School class on J.C. Ryle's book "Holiness." Today we discussed Chapters 2 & 3 (Sanctification, Holiness). One point that was made was asking if Ryle is trying to place a legalistic burden on Christian believers. While the person asking the question did see where Ryle was going with his arguments, the point is a good one. Justification is by grace alone through faith in Christ. Sanctification has its' origin in Christ also. However, unlike justification, sanctification is a joint effort between God and the believer. We do need to struggle and to use "means" (such as prayer) to grow in sanctification. It was mentioned that the writer of the Hebrews implies that many of his first listeners to his letter had actually stalled their progress in sanctification. (See Hebrews 5:11-14)

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
(Hebrews 5:11-14 NIV)

I want to include a reference which Ryle makes to the 17th century English Puritan John Owen:
That great divine, John Owen, the Dean of Christ Church, used to say, more than two hundred years ago, that there were people whose whole religion seemed to consist in going about complaining of their own corruptions and telling everyone that they could do nothing of themselves. I am afraid that after two centuries the same thing might be said with truth of some of Christ’s professing people in this day. I know there are texts in Scripture which warrant such complaints. I do not object to them when they come from men who walk in the steps of the apostle Paul and fight a good fight, as he did, against sin, the devil and the world. But I never like such complaints when I see ground for suspecting, as I often do, that they are only a cloak to cover spiritual laziness and an excuse for spiritual sloth. If we say with Paul, "O wretched man that I am," let us also be able to say with him, "I press toward the mark." Let us not quote his example in one thing, while we do not follow him in another (Rom. 7:24; Phil. 3:14).

This week's readings can be found at

Links for today's readings
Chapter 2 - Sanctification
Chapter 3 - Holiness

Links for next Sunday's readings
Chapter 4 - The Fight
Chapter 5 - The Cost

As promised to my class, I have the links for Sermon Audio to bring in next Sunday's readings on downloadable mp3 (courtesy of Still Waters Revival Books in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

You can listen directly from the links or do a FREE download of the mp3s.

For next week's readings, start at 29 minutes 40 seconds into Part 5 and end at 41 minutes 15 seconds of Part 7.

Sermon Audio of Holiness - Part 5
Sermon Audio of Holiness - Part 6
Sermon Audio of Holiness - Part 7


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