Book Review: Regeneration – J.C. Ryle

What does it mean to be “born again”? Does it matter if I am regenerate or not? How does one become born again? There is confusion on this topic still today. In his clear, straightforward bible exposition, J.C. Ryle answers these questions from Scripture in his book, Regeneration. In addition to answering these vital questions, he draws from the book of First John to give six marks of those who are born of the Spirit. Here are the marks:

1. A regenerate person does not commit sin as a habit.

2. A regenerate person believes that Jesus Christ is the only Savior by whom their soul can be pardoned and redeemed.

3. A regenerate person is a holy person.

4. A regenerate person has a special love for all true disciples of Christ.

5. A regenerate person does not make the world’s opinion their rule of right and wrong.

6. A regenerate person is very careful of their own soul.

He asks the reader to evaluate himself/herself in light of these characteristics. He encourages regenerate to grow in these all the more and warns the unregenerate to pray and ask the Spirit for the gift of a new heart and new nature. In the last chapter Bishop Ryle answers various objections in his day to his convictions on regeneration.

Overall, this was an edifying read. The first three chapters were concise, solid biblical teaching. In the last chapter on answering various objections, which was about half the book (over 50 pages!), he answers some interesting objections, but they mainly refer to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration and specifically how the Church of England adheres to it. (If you don’t know what baptismal regeneration is, it’s the doctrine that teaches that baptism is necessary for salvation.) I could see why some people might want to skip this chapter because it’s just some theological debate, but I thought it was helpful to see how Ryle interpreted and used Scripture to come to his sound, logical conclusions.

I would recommend this book to Christians and non-Christians alike. Regardless of your theological background, Ryle is very readable and I think this would be a good, short book to get a introduction to his writing.

If you are curious to get more excepts of this book, I don’t have too many quotes from this book on my blog, but you can find some here (and many other encouraging J.C. Ryle quotes).

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A Puritan’s View of Lust

9780851519814mImpure Lust is a small book from Banner of Truth‘s Pocket Puritans series. The author, John Flavel, addresses the sin of lust for the first half of the book (46 pages) and the second half was a concise introduction to Flavel’s life and his writings (34 pages).  The book breaks down into ten arguments to show the sinfulness of the sin of lust and warnings why you should avoid it, and then gives seven directions to follow if ensnared by lust.

Reflecting back on the book, I thought it was heavier on sin than on grace. (A big surprise coming from a Puritan.) Using scriptural arguments, he clearly communicated the evil of the sin of lust, but with that conviction I felt that the reader isn’t lead to the cross where that sin is atoned for (for the believer). I don’t know if I would recommend it to a believer who isn’t rooted in grace. But maybe I am the one who is imbalanced in my theology. Perhaps I need to take lust more seriously and not presume on the grace of God in this area. In our sex-saturated culture, I am certain that I am desensitized to the filthiness of lust. I probably needed to read this book (and need to return to it later).I don’t doubt that these warnings to avoid sexually immorality isn’t done in love, but I wanted to hear more of the Gospel that is available to adulterers,fornicators and impure sinners who repent of their lust and trust in the perfectly pure righteousness of Christ.  To be fair, it was a very short book, so it’s easy to say there could a have been more written. Also, I imagine that this was not intended to be an exhaustive book, but just a small selection of his writings on the topic of lust. Regardless, there are several nuggets worth chewing on that I have been posting recently (and will continue to post in the near future). Here is one quote that impacted me the most:

“Oh consider, how will [God’s] almighty power rack and torment you! Think on this when sin comes with a smiling face towards you in the temptation. Oh think! If the human nature of Christ recoiled, when his cup of wrath was given him to drink; if he was sore amazed at it, how shall you, a poor worm, bear and grapple with it for ever?” (p. 31)

I read through this book slowly and I believer that is the way it was intended to be read. If battle lust in any way (and if you have a pulse, chances are you likely do), then you should read this book. I would especially recommend to it if you regularly practice this sin and you aren’t convinced of it’s impurity in light of a Holy God. If you do consider reading it, read and meditate on one argument/direction at a time for at least day or a two.

Overall, I give it 4 stars out of 5. Both the section on lust and the brief biography made me somewhat curious to read more of Flavel’s work. His writing is typically classed with other popular Puritan divines such as John Bunyan, Matthew Henry, and John Owen.

Be a Man and Read It

Be a man and read it!

Be a man and read it!

J.C. Ryle is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I began reading some of his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels several months ago as my church was preaching through John and I was hooked. I love his writing because he writes in a way that is simple yet profound. His analogies are helpful and illustrations are vivid. Also, he is a man a conviction. Even though you may not entirely agree with every point of his doctrine, you must respect his firm convictions based on the Scripture.

All of these qualities are evident in his Thoughts for Young Men (online version). I picked this book up for a few reasons. I read it for myself. At the age of 25, I am relatively a young man (even though I don’t feel like it at times) and J.C. Ryle is an author whom I love and respect. I also read this book in order to minister to others. I lead in two contexts at my church. I lead a singles care group and men’s accountability group. I also lead as a community group leader in my church’s youth ministry and I was recently asked to address the male seniors at our semi-formal banquet.

Thoughts for Young Men did not disappoint me in my expectations. This was short read of 62 pages, but it is packed with sobering truth and wise counsel.  The book broken down into five sections:

1. Reasons for Exhorting Young Men
2. Dangers of Young Men
3. General Counsels to Young Men
4. Special Rules for Young Men
5. Conclusion

As a man himself and a father of three sons, J.C. Ryle understands the dangers and temptations that men face and is qualified to address them because of his understanding of Scripture. Reading this is like reading the book of Proverbs, a father addressing his son: “My son, do not forget my teaching…” (Proverbs 3:1). Some might perceive him as coming down hard on young men, but I believe that his heart in his exhortations is to serve and care for them by warning them of the consequences of their decisions. Although he specifically addresses young men, much of his wisdom applies to any believer, young or old, male or female alike.

Over a hundred years later, his thoughts still apply today. I read this in the span of just a few days, but I will definitely read it again to slowly digest it. I highly recommend this book so much that I will likely give it as a gift to other young men.