“As precious liquors are best kept in clean vessels–so sound doctrine is best kept in a pure heart and life. Who, indeed, would knowingly pour a choice wine into a tainted cask? It would be foolish to do so.
When we hear of men living in sin, and yet claiming to be children of God–we are disgusted with their pretenses, but we are not deceived by their professions.
In the same manner, we care little for those who are orthodox Christians in creed–if it is clear that they are heterodox in life. He who believes the truth–should himself be true. How can we expect others to receive our religion–if it leaves us foul, false, malicious, and selfish?
We sicken at the sight of a dirty dish, and refuse even good food when it is placed thereon. So pure and holy is the doctrine of the cross, that he who hears it aright, will have his ears cleansed, he who believes it aright, will have his heart purged, and he who preaches it aright, will have his tongue purified. Woe unto that man who brings reproach upon the gospel by an unholy life!
Lord, evermore make us pure vessels fit for Your own use, and then fill us with the pure wine of the grapes of sound doctrine and wholesome instruction. Do not allow us to be such ‘foul cups’–as to be only fit for the wine of Sodom!”
– Charles Spurgeon
“A most sovereign antidote against all kind of errors, is to be grounded and settled in the faith: persons unfixed in the true religion, are very receptive of a false; and they who are nothing in spiritual knowledge, are easily made any thing. Clouds without water are driven to and fro with every wind, and ships without ballast liable to the violence of every tempest.”
– The Westminster Assembly, Westminster Confession of Faith, p.6
“The two great pillars upon which the kingdom of Satan is erected, and by which it is upheld, are ignorance and error…”
– The Westminster Assembly, Westminster Confession of Faith, p.5
“Sound Protestant and Evangelical doctrine is useless if it is not accompanied by a holy life. It is worse then useless; it does positive harm. It is despised by keen-sighted and shrewd men of the world, as an unreal and hollow thing, and brings religion into contempt.”
– J.C. Ryle, Holiness, p.1
“…so few today are accustomed to meditate upon the personal perfections of God. Comparatively few of those who occasionally read the Bible are aware of the awe-inspiring and worship-provoking grandeur of the divine character. That God is great in wisdom, wondrous in power, yet full of mercy, is assumed by many to be almost common knowledge; but, to entertain anything approaching an adequate conception of His being, His nature, and His attributes, as these are revealed in Holy Scripture, is something which very, very few people in these degenerate times have attained unto. God is solitary in His excellency. ‘Who is like unto You, O Lord, among the gods? who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?’ (Exodus 15:11).”
– Arthur W. Pink, The Attributes of God, p.3
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).
Here is Voice‘s music video of Whatever It Takes, a song based on Joshua Harris‘ book, Dug Down Deep. It’s from his latest album, Christ the King.