Sunday, March 30, 2008

Holiness - Week 5

Today was week 5 of our class on J.C. Ryle's book Holiness. Due to a send-off being held for our outgoing youth pastor, our class time and discussion was cut down to half an hour.

Our topic today is that of growth in grace. Growth should be expected in spiritual matters just as it is in the physical world with plants, animals and people. One area of today's discussion centered on what happens when we abuse or misdirect the private means of grace and make it into a kind of new law. One person mentioned a series of articles by Greg Johnson which were re-published in this blog. It has to do with our Quiet Time becoming a law unto itself. The links to those blog entries are just below. Paul's admonition to the Galatians was mentioned: "Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? (Galatians 3:2-3 NIV)

A quote from the chapter follows:

One thing essential to growth in grace is diligence in the use of private means of grace. By these I understand such means as a man must use by himself alone, and no one can use for him. I include under this head private prayer, private reading of the Scriptures, and private meditation and self–examination. The man who does not take pains about these three things must never expect to grow. Here are the roots of true Christianity. Wrong here, a man is wrong all the way through! Here is the whole reason why many professing Christians never seem to get on. They are careless and slovenly about their private prayers. They read their Bibles but little and with very little heartiness of spirit. They give themselves no time for self–inquiry and quiet thought about the state of their souls.

It is useless to conceal from ourselves that the age we live in is full of peculiar dangers. It is an age of great activity and of much hurry, bustle and excitement in religion. Many are "running to and fro," no doubt, and "knowledge is increased" (Dan. 12:4). Thousands are ready enough for public meetings, sermon hearing, or anything else in which there is "sensation." Few appear to remember the absolute necessity of making time to "commune with our own hearts, and be still" (Ps. 4:4). But without this, there is seldom any deep spiritual prosperity. Let us remember this point! Private religion must receive our first attention, if we wish our souls to grow.
This Sunday's Readings
Chapter 6 - Growth
Next Sunday's Readings

Next Sunday's Readings on Audio
Start at 9:00 of Part 9
End at 39:24 of Part 12

Please remember that these can be listened to online or downloaded as free mp3s. (courtesy of Still Waters Revival Books in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

Sermon Audio of Holiness - Part 9


Anonymous said...

This has been a great series so far. It would seem that J. C. Ryle is a prophet, but the truth is that Solomon was right when he proclaimed that there is "nothing new under the sun." The fallen nature of man from the time of Adam remains the same - desperately depraved and in need of salvation. So what Ryle was seeing in the people of his time is actually the timeless trait of sin that is still very visible today. Only we as a people are losing the one characteristic that separates us from base animals - self control.

Keep up the great posts!

Walter Hampel said...

Thanks for your comment. Knowing a little about church history, I do realize that some things which we think are unique to our time and place really are not.

What I find so fascinating and refreshing is that Ryle had the courage to write about trends in the church of 1879 which were deflecting glory away from Christ.

I see many of those same issues re-surfacing in a renewed way today. These issues are in need of the saints of both the past and present to address them so as to "Watch [our] life and doctrine closely."(1 Timothy 4:16)

Blessings In Christ!!!