Just In Case You Missed It: March 18-25, 2023

Recent Podcast Worth Listening To: “Why Preaching Matters” (H.B. Charles, Jr.)

Blog Posts Worth Reading:

5 Lessons from “Rock of Ages”

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood, From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure, save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands can fulfill Thy law’s demands;

Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress; helpless, look to Thee for grace;

Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Foul, I to the fountain fly; wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath, when my eyes shall close in death,
When I rise to worlds unknown, and behold Thee on Thy throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.

Date: 18th century

Writer(s): Augustus M. Toplady 

Background for writing: Augustus wrote this hymn to counter – what he believed – was errant theology being taught from Charles and John Wesley. Augustus was a staunch Calvinist looking to refute the Wesley’s Arminian theology. The hymn “Rock of Ages” was his poetic defense of the doctrine of election and appeared in poetic form in a 1776 issue of The Gospel Magazine. Augustus argued that just like countries cannot always pay their national debt, nor can we pay the debt we owe to God for our salvation. This is really the only surviving hymn that we have of his today.

5 Lessons:

  1. God’s is a refuge for those in times of trouble.
  2. Jesus physical death on the cross absorbed the wrath of God.
  3. We cannot earn out way to eternal life.
  4. The only thing we contribute to our salvation is our sin.
  5. The ultimate deliverance for us is from this world, which is followed by meeting the Lord in heaven.

J.C. Ryle – A Primer on His Life (Part 2)

1837 was the year of J.C. Ryle’s conversion. The day of Ryle’s conversion began with him being late for church. He admitted through his life he was not good at keeping time and when he arrived, the sermon had already started at the church in Oxford and the pastor was reading Ephesians 2:8, which became Ryle’s life verse. Ryle said, “That verse was like an arrow strung to the bow of the Divine Archer and its flight was winged in mercy to the heart of the chosen mortal.”[1] He immediately gave his life to the Lord.

He shares his testimony this way, “Nothing I can remember to this day appeared to me so clear and distinct as my own sinfulness, Christ’s preciousness, the value of the Bible, the absolute necessity of coming out of the world, the need of being born again and the enormous folly of the whole doctrine of baptismal regeneration. All these things … seemed to flash upon me like a sunbeam in the winter of 1837 and have stuck in my mind from that time down to this. People may account for such a change as they like; my own belief is that … it was what the Bible calls ‘conversion’ or ‘regeneration’. Before that time I was dead in sins and on the high road to hell, and from that time I have become alive and had a hope of heaven. And nothing to my mind can account for it, but the free sovereign grace of God.”[2]

He also shared about another person whose writing influenced him to conversion: the reading of William Wilberforce’s Practical View of Christianity, who died 4 years before Ryle’s conversion about the time he was headed off to Oxford.

Ryle was uncertain about what career path to follow after his conversion. His first thoughts were to pursue law school or enter Parliament as his father encouraged him to go often. His father’s influence was important to him during this period of his young life and he seriously considered a role in politics. But then 1841 came.

Ryle JC 21841 was arguably the most roller-coaster year of Ryle’s life. In June 1841, his father lost everything due to a failure to insure all of his assets. He lost all his business and his home to bankruptcy. Ryle admitted that if he not known the Lord, it would have devastated his own life as well and might have even considered suicide.

Later he wrote, “God alone knows how the iron entered into my soul. … I am quite certain it inflicted a wound on my body and mind of which I feel the effects most heavily at this day and shall feel it if I live to be hundred. To suppose that people do not feel things because they do not scream and yell and fill the air with their cries, is simple nonsense. … I do not think there has been a single day in my life for 32 years, that I have not remembered the … humiliation.”[3]

He called it the blackest period of his life.[4]

But with the low of this family tragedy, it also contained a tremendous high. For this was the year Ryle officially entered full-time ministry. A rector (means “a school or church administrator”) by the name of Reverend Gibson noticed the leadership gifts and asked him to become the curate (means “a priest or assistant priest of a local parish”) of a town called Exbury.

And he did this out of great compulsion by God: “I never had any particular desire to become a clergyman, and those who fancied that my self will and natural tastes were gratified by it were totally and entirely mistaken. I became a clergyman because I felt shut up to do it, and saw no other course of life open me.”[5]

He was officially ordained as Bishop of Winchester in December of that year at the age of 26. This parish has some 3,000 members and he was paid a stipend of 100 pounds ($158 back then but like $3300 today) annually plus given a parsonage to live in.

He would soon conclude from this tumultuous time in his life, “Banks may break and money make itself wings and flee away. But the man who has come to Christ by faith will still possess something which can never be taken away from him.”[6]

More about his early ministry in nedxt week’s post.

[1] That Man of Granite, page 25.

[3] J.C. Ryle: A Self-Portrait, a Partial Autobiography, page. 55.

[4] That Man of Granite, page 31.

[5] J.C. Ryle: A Self-Portrait, a Partial Autobiography, 59.

[6] That Man of Granite, page 33.

The Devil Wants You Angry

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the might, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32).

Jerry Bridges says anger is “a strong feeling of displeasure, and usually of antagonism…often accompanied by sinful emotions, words, and actions hurtful to those who are the objects of the anger.” (Respectable Sins, pg. 156)  

And remember this: anger is always a choice. No one forces us to be angry. We can never make the claim, “You are making me angry.” Someone’s actions or speech may tempt us to be angry, but we still choose to react in anger.

Now, there is righteous and unrighteous anger. God is sinless and yet the Bible teaches us that God is angry. Let me give you a few examples of when God was angry (I Kings 11:9; II Kings 17:18; Ps 7:11; 79:5; Mark 3:5; John 2:13-22).  

Determining whether our anger is sinful or not depends on the answers to this question: “Why am I angry?” For example, our anger is sinful when there is no reason for it. Our anger is sinful when it is directed at the person and not their sin. Our anger is sinful when it is vengeful. Our anger is sinful when it is cherished. Our anger is sinful when it is accompanied with unforgiveness.  Our anger is sinful when pride drives it.These forms of anger are not the forms of anger that produce the righteousness of God (Jas 1:20).  

Don’t let anger fester. Don’t sleep on it. Why? The Devil is given room to roam in your heart if you remain angry! How? By tempting us to be resentful, bitter (Heb 12:15), judge and jury over others, divisive, and hateful.

Before we know it, our anger becomes a grudge or a refusal to forgive or a wish for vengeance. We ought not to give the Devil any ground on which to stand.