Wednesday, November 10, 2010

True Christianity



by J.C. Ryle, from "What Is Needed?" 1895

(1) True Christianity has always taught the inspiration, sufficiency, and supremacy of Holy Scripture. It has told men that "God's written Word" is the only trustworthy rule of faith and practice in religion; that God requires nothing to be believed that is not in this Word; and that nothing is right which contradicts it. It has never allowed reason, or the voice of the Church, to be placed above, or on a level with Scripture. It has steadily maintained that, however imperfectly we may understand it, the Old Book is meant to be the only standard of life and doctrine.

(2) True Christianity has always taught fully the sinfulness, guilt and corruption of human nature. It has told men, that they are born in sin, deserve God's wrath and condemnation, and are naturally inclined to do evil. It has never allowed that men and women are only weak and pitiable creatures, who can become good when they please, and make their own peace with God. On the contrary, it has steadily declared man's danger and vileness, and his pressing need of a Divine forgiveness and atonement for his sins, a new birth or conversion, and an entire change of heart.

(3) True Christianity has always set before men, the Lord Jesus Christ as the chief object of faith and hope in religion—as the Divine Mediator between God and men, the only source of peace of conscience, and the root of all spiritual life. The main things it has ever insisted on about Christ, are—the atonement for sin He made by His death, His sacrifice on the cross, the complete redemption from guilt and condemnation by His blood, His victory over the grave by His resurrection, His active life of intercession at God's right hand, and the absolute necessity of simple faith in Him. In short, it has made Christ the Alpha and the Omega in Christian theology.

(4) True Christianity has always honored the Person of God the Holy Spirit, and magnified His work. It has never taught that all professing Christians have the grace of the Spirit in their hearts, as a matter of course—because they are baptized, or because they belong to a Church. It has steadily maintained that the fruits of the Spirit are the only evidence of having the Spirit, and that those fruits must be seen! It has always taught, that we must be born of the Spirit, led by the Spirit, sanctified by the Spirit, and feel the operations of the Spirit—and that a close walk with God in the path of His commandments, a life of holiness, love, self-denial, purity, and zeal to do good—are the only satisfactory marks of the Holy Spirit.

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