J.C. Ryle has given us a wonderful commentary on the Gospels in his Expository Thoughts On The Gospels. Check out my full book review here, and then enjoy a few quotes from Ryle’s insights on the Gospel of Matthew.
“The rulers of this world have often call themselves Great, Conqueror, Bold, Magnificent, and the like. The Son of God is content to call Himself Savior. These souls which desire salvation may draw near to the Father with boldness, and have access with confidence through Christ. It is His office and His delight to show mercy. ‘For God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him’ (John 3:17).”
“Trust Him at all times with all your sorrows. He will not despise you. Pour out all your heart before Him in prayer, and keep nothing back. He can sympathize with His people.”
“Let us beware of resting satisfied with head-knowledge. It is an excellent thing, when rightly used. But a man may have much of it, and yet perish everlastingly. What is the state of our hearts? This is the great question. A little grace is better than many gifts. Gifts alone save no one. Grace leads on to glory.”
“Here is one among many reasons why we ought to be diligent readers of our Bibles. The Word is the sword of the Spirit. We shall never fight a good fight, if we do not use it as our principal weapon. The Word is the lamp for our feet. We shall never keep the King’s highway to heaven, if we do not journey by its light. … Knowledge of the Bible never comes by intuition, it can only be obtained by diligent, regular, daily, attentive, wakeful reading.”
“Aim at letting men see that we find Christianity makes us happy. Never let us forget that there is no religion in looking melancholy and gloomy. Are we dissatisfied with Christ’s wages and Christ’s service? Surely not! Then let us not look as if we were.”
“Let the prayer ‘Lord, increase our faith,’ always form part of our daily petitions. We never perhaps know the weakness of our faith until we are placed in the furnace of trial and anxiety. Blessed and happy is that person who finds by experience that his faith can stand the fire, and that he can say with Job, ‘though He slays me yet will I trust in Him’ (Job 13:15).”
“The more clearly we see Christ’s power, the more likely we are to realize Gospel peace. Our position may be trying. Our hearts may be weak. The world may be difficult to journey through. Our faith may seem too small to carry us home. But let us take courage when we think on Jesus, and not be cast down. Greater is He that is for us than all those who are against us. Our Savior can raise the dead. Our Savior is Almighty.”
“Great grace and common sense are perhaps one of the rarest combinations. … Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself is our most perfect example. None were ever so faithful as He. But none were ever so truly wise. Let us make Him our pattern, and walk in His steps.”
“Let us not be ashamed to say that we expect a literal fulfillment of unfulfilled prophecy. Let us frankly allow that there are many things we do not understand, but still hold our ground tenaciously, believe much, wait long, and not doubt that all will one day be made clear.”
“Are we ever mocked and persecuted and thought foolish because of our religion? Let us bear it patiently and pray for those who persecute us. They know not what they are doing. They will certainly alter their minds one day. We may yet hear them confessing that we were wise and they were foolish. The whole world shall one day acknowledge that the saints of God made a wise choice.”
“We can never attach too much importance to the atoning death of Christ. It is the leading factor in the Word of God, on which the eyes of our soul are to be ever fixed. Without the shedding of His blood, there is no remission of sin. It is the cardinal truth on which the whole system of Christianity hinges. Without it the Gospel is an arch without a key stone, a fair building without a foundation, a solar system without a sun.”
Quotes from Ryle’s comments on the Gospels of Mark, Luke, and John coming soon.
“Jesus exalted the law of God, and made its importance more evident even than it had been before. In a word, ‘He magnified the law and made it honorable’ (Isaiah 42:21). …
“Let us beware of despising the Old Testament under any pretense whatever. Let us never listen to those who bid us throw it aside as an obsolete, antiquated, useless book. The religion of the Old Testament is the embryo of Christianity. The Old Testament is the Gospel in the bud. The New Testament is the Gospel in full flower. The Old Testament is the Gospel in the blade. The New Testament is the Gospel in full ear. …
“Let us, for another thing, beware of despising the law of the Ten Commandments. Let us not suppose for a moment that it is set aside by the Gospel, or that Christians have nothing to do with it. The coming of Christ did not alter the position of the Ten Commandments one hair’s breadth. If anything, it exalted and raised their authority (Romans 3:31). …
“In the last place, let us beware of supposing that the Gospel has lowered the standard of personal holiness, and that the Christian is not intended to be as strict and particular about his daily life as the Jew. … The more light we have, the more we ought to love God. The more clearly we see our own complete and full forgiveness in Christ, the more heartily we ought to work for His glory. …
“Jesus shows us that the law, as expounded by Him, was a far more spiritual and heart-searching rule than most of the Jews supposed.” —J.C. Ryle, in Expository Thoughts On The Gospels
The Christian In Complete Armour is a classic work about a Christian’s spiritual warfare. Check out my review of this amazingly insightful book by clicking here, and check out other quotes I’ve shared from this book by clicking here.
“When you see men of power and intellect using their talents against God, weep for their souls.”
“God permits satan’s temporary reign in order to increase the saint’s eternal joy.”
“If you see someone taking along, treacherous journey alone and unprotected, you conclude he expects no thieves on the road and you might well question his wisdom. Many pretenders to Christianity travel in a similar fashion. They tell you they are on their way to heaven, yet they show little inclination to travel in the company of the saints—as if they had no need of fellowship on the journey! Most of them go unfortified, without anything even resembling armor. Others brandish some vain, flighty hopes of the mercy of God, without so much as a single Scripture for ammunition. Such ‘hope’ is a rusty pistol and will fly in the fool’s face when he tries to use it.”
“Do you think for a moment your Heavenly Father would give His archenemy a sword too mighty for you, His own child, to overcome?”
“Let this encourage those of you who belong to Christ: The storm may be tempestuous, but it is only temporary the clouds that are presently rolling over your head will pass, and then you will have fair weather, an eternal sunshine of glory.”
“Trusting in your own goodness will eventually destroy it. Inherent grace is weak. Force it to endure the yoke of the law, and sooner or later it will faint by the wayside, unequal to the task of pulling the heavy load of your old nature. What you need is Christ’s yoke, but you cannot take it until you shed the one that harnesses you to works.”
“How we would ridicule the man who, when the sun shines in at his window, tries to trap the sunbeams indoors by closing the shutters. But we are just as foolish to take our present joy, then turn away from God’s presence, supposing that we have all we need. You can feel the heat from the sun only when you stand beneath its rays; you can feel God’s comfort only as you keep your face turned toward Him.”
“Watchfulness is more important for the Christian soldier than any other. In temporal battles soldiers fight against men who need sleep the same as themselves, but the saint’s enemy, satan, is always awake and walking his rounds. Since the devil never sleeps, the Christian puts himself in grave danger by falling asleep spiritually—that is, by becoming secure and careless. … The weakest temptation is strong enough to foil a Christian who is napping in security.”
“A thief is just getting up when honest men are going to bed. The devil, I am sure, begins to tempt when saints cease to watch.”
“While the Holy Spirit is a comforter, He is also a convincer: He comforts us by teaching us.”
“The King of glory” is a phrase that’s only used five times in the Bible, and all five times are packed into just four verses of Psalm 24. In this psalm, David lets us know who can enter into this awesome, heavy presence of the King of Glory.
Why do I say “heavy”? The definition of the Hebrew word for glory always refers to a heaviness. There is something majestically, awesomely heavy about going before the All-Righteous, All-Powerful, All-Holy, All-Knowing, Absolutely Perfect God. Can any mere mortal enter into this presence?
In an earlier psalm, David said, “For the Lord is righteous, He loves justice; the upright will see His face” (Psalm 11:7). But in this psalm, David asks, “Who can ascend Your holy hill? Who can come into Your presence?” (Psalm 24:3).
He answers the question with these words: the upright, the one with clean hands and a pure heart (he expands this list even more in Psalm 15), then he calls on us to Selah—pause and weigh this as if on a scale. David is asking, “Do you really want to enter into the weighty presence of the King of Glory?”
If you do, something needs to happen first. David calls his generation (and our generation) the generation of Jacob. You can read the story of Jacob’s life beginning in Genesis 27. Jacob was a pragmatic man. If he could get away with something, he did. He only looked out for his own interests. He deceived, he connived, he bribed, he calculated his odds—he did what he had to so that he could advance himself. He didn’t realize God’s weight. He saw God only through a scarcity-mindset that gave God limits. He thought there was only a limited supply, and if somebody else was getting a blessing, then that meant there was less for him to get.
Then Jacob encountered God and discovered that he couldn’t do a thing against this weighty King of Glory. When he finally submitted to God, his name was changed to Israel. Jacob—the self-sufficient man—would never be allowed to enter the doors into God’s heavy glory. But Israel—the submitted man—may ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in His holy presence. Jacob means deceitful; Israel means the man without any deceit.
For the rest of his life, Israel walked with a limp. It was a constant reminder that he simply wasn’t the man he was before he wrestled with God.
Here’s the challenge I would give you… Use either Psalm 15 or Psalm 24:3-4 and let the Holy Spirit wrestle with you. Is there anything that’s holding you back from going through those doors into the weighty presence of the King of glory? If there is, confess it, repent from it, and even limp away from it (if you have to) so that you don’t miss out on God’s eternal blessings.
Join me this coming Sunday as we continue our look at the Selahs in the Book of Psalms.
Those in pastoral ministry are ministers; they are not professional, career-minded, corporate ladder-climbers. John Piper has written a book that I believe every pastor should read: Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. Here are a few more quotes from this excellent book.
“Is not our most painful failure in the pastorate the inability to weep over the unbelievers in our neighborhoods and the carnal members of our churches? …
“I must feel the truth of hell—that it exists and is terrible and horrible beyond imaginings forever and ever. ‘These will go away into eternal punishment’ (Matthew 25:46). Even if I try to make the ‘lake of fire’ (Revelation 20:15) or the ‘fiery furnace’ (Matthew 13:42) a symbol, I am confronted with the terrifying thought that symbols are not overstatements but understatements of reality. …
“I say to you, on the authority of Scripture, remember, remember, remember the horrid condition of being separated from Christ, without hope and without God, on the brink of hell. ‘Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world’ (Ephesians 2:12). …
“When the heart no longer feels the truth of hell, the gospel passes from good news to simply news.”
“Warning has value in stirring us up to take the glories of holiness and heaven seriously so that we come to see them for what they are and delight in them. But it is the delight in them that causes the true grief when we fall short.”
“Pastors, you will know your people’s souls best by knowing your own. So try to be ruthlessly honest with yourself.”
“If the heart is without passion, it will produce lifeless, jargon-laden spontaneity. And if the heart is aflame, no form will quench it.”
“We ought to experience the deepest emotions about the deepest things. And we ought to speak often, and publicly, about what means most to us, in a way that shows its value.”
“Eating, exercising, and sleeping are more spiritually relevant in the ministry than we may think. … The point is that we be intentional about how our eating affects the ability of our body to be a helpful partner in seeing the glory of God.”
“When we say that what we do on Sunday morning is to ‘go hard after God,’ what we mean is that we are going hard after satisfaction in God, and going hard after God as our prize, and going hard after God as our treasure, our soul-food, our heart-delight, our spirit’s pleasure. Or to put Christ in His rightful place—it means that we are going hard after all that God is for us in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.”
“It will transform your pastoral leadership in worship if you teach your people that the basic attitude of worship on Sunday morning is not to come with your hands full to give to God but with your hands empty to receive from God.”
“Brothers, we are leaders, and the burden of change lies most heavily on us.”
But the key question for Christians comes down to this—Do others know that you know that God is for you?
You see, God is for you because God is joyful and happy, and He wants you to not only know this but to radiate this joy and happiness to those around you.
Here’s how it works:
(1) Joy is an inside job. The dictionary defines joy as “a feeling of great delight caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.” When we know by our personal experience with Him how good God is, joy is birthed in our heart as we see Him as All-Good and All-Satisfying.
(2) Joy is regardless of my external circumstances. Some people try to pursue happiness apart from joy. Trying to get happy without having the foundation of joy is like having a flower that has been picked from the plant. Happiness may be pretty for a short while, but it is already fading because it is completely dependent on the environment around it. True happiness isn’t dependent on external circumstances because it is rooted in something far greater.
(3) Knowing God’s favor fuels our joy. There is a Hebrew word for know which means “knowledge through intimate, personal experience.” Psalm 100 describes happy people and their joyful praise. Their joy comes from this: They know that their Lord is God and that He is good. This joy comes from seeing and savoring God’s favor.
(4) Our internal joy should bubble up into external happiness. All throughout the Bible we read how those who are filled with joy as they get to know this exceptionally good, all-satisfying God cannot help but burst out in songs of happy praise (see Psalm 28:7 and Luke 10:21).
(5) Our external happiness becomes our testimony. In Psalm 126 we read that God’s people who were full of God’s joy burst out into happy praise. When they did the people around them recognized that God had done great things for them.
Check this out—
“I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that to be a Christian and to be unhappy is a sin. An unhappy Christian gives God no praise, robs His glory, and paints God in a bad light. A happy Christian knows the Lord is his strength, his comfort, his supply. The happy Christian lifts God high and invites others to know this All-Good, All-Happy God too!” —Craig T. Owens
So let me ask you again: If you call yourself a Christian, do people know that you know that God is for you? Are you making God look All-Good and All-Satisfying by your deeply fueled joy and your face-brightening happiness?
What a testimony it is when God’s people are happy in Him!
If you have missed any of my other teachings about God’s favor, be sure to check them out: