Free resources for the readers...who might even become posters,lol

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Anthony D'Arienzo, Aug 10, 2017.

  1. Joe is a Verified MemberJoe Tattooed Theist
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    Might become posters?
     
  2. Anthony D'Arienzo is a Verified MemberAnthony D'Arienzo Well-Known Member
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    Yes.....some are identified as readers.....but I have not seen them post . On many sites some just read but are reluctant to post....but all sincere questions are good questions.
     
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    Here is a sample from J.C.Ryle

    I. What is that family which the Bible calls "the whole family in Heaven and earth"? Of whom does it consist?

    The family before us consists of all real Christians — of all who have the Spirit — of all true believers in Christ — of the saints of every age, and church, and nation, and tongue. It includes the blessed company of all faithful people. It is the same as the election of God — the household of faith — the mystical body of Christ — the bride — the living temple — the sheep that never perish — the Church of the first-born. All these expressions are only "the family of God" under other names.

    Membership in the family of God, does not depend on any earthly connection. It comes not by natural birth — but by new birth. Ministers cannot impart it to their hearers. Parents cannot give it to their children. You may be born in the godliest family in the land, and enjoy the richest means of grace a church can supply — and yet never belong to the family of God. To belong to it, you must be born again. None but the Holy Spirit can make a living member of this family. It is His special office and prerogative, to bring into the Church such as shall be saved. Those who are born again, are "born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man — but of God." (John 1:13.)

    Reader, do you ask the reason of this name which the Bible gives to the company of all true Christians? Would you like to know why they are called "a family"? Listen, and I will tell you.

    1. True Christians are called a "family" — because they have all one Father. They are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. They are all born of one Spirit. They are all sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. They have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, 'Abba Father!' (Galatians 3:26; John 3:8; 2 Corinthians 4:18; Romans 8:15.) They do not regard God with slavish fear — as an austere Being, only ready to punish them. They look up to Him with tender confidence as a reconciled and loving parent — as One forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, to all who believe on Jesus; and full of pity even to the least and feeblest. The words, "Our Father who is in Heaven," are no mere form in the mouth of true Christians. No wonder they are called God's "family."

    2. True Christians are called "a family" — because they all rejoice in one name. That name is the name of their great Head and Elder Brother, even Jesus Christ the Lord. Just as a common family name is the uniting link to all the members of a human family, so does the name of Jesus tie all believers together in one vast family. As members of outward visible Churches, they have various names and distinguishing appellations. As living members of Christ, they all, with one heart and mind, rejoice in one Savior. Not a heart among them, but feels drawn to Jesus as the only object of hope. Not a tongue among them, but would tell you that "Christ is all." Sweet to them all, is the thought of Christ's death for them on the cross. Sweet is the thought of Christ's intercession for them at the right hand of God. Sweet is the thought of Christ's coming again to unite them to Himself in one glorified company forever. In fact, you might as well take away the sun out of Heaven — as take away the name of Christ from believers. To the world there may seem little in His name. To believers it is full of comfort, hope, joy, rest, and peace. No wonder they are called "a family."

    3. True Christians, above all, are called "a family" — because there is so strong a family likeness among them. They are all led by one Spirit, and are marked by the same general features of life, heart, taste, and character. Just as there is a general physical resemblance among the brothers and sisters of a family, so there is a general spiritual resemblance among all the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. They all hate sin and love God. They all rest their hope of salvation on Christ, and have no confidence in themselves. They all endeavor to come out and be separate from the ways of the world, and to set their affections on things above. They all turn naturally to the same Bible as the only food of their souls, and the only sure guide in their pilgrimage toward Heaven. They find it a "lamp to their feet, and a light to their path." (Psalm. 119:105.) They all go to the same throne of grace in prayer, and find it as needful to speak to God as to breathe. They all live by the same rule, the Word of God, and strive to conform their daily life to its precepts. They have all the same inward experience. Repentance, faith, hope, charity, humility, inward conflict, are things with which they are all more or less acquainted. No wonder they are called "a family."

    Reader, this family likeness among true believers is a thing that deserves special attention. To my own mind it is one of the strongest indirect evidences of the truth of Christianity. It is one of the greatest proofs of the reality of the work of the Holy Spirit. Some true Christians live in civilized countries — and some in the midst of heathen lands. Some are highly educated — and some are unable to read a letter. Some are rich — and some are poor. Some are Churchmen — and some are Dissenters. Some are old — and some are young. And yet, notwithstanding all this, there is a marvelous oneness of heart and character among them.

    Their joys and their sorrows,
    their love and their hatred,
    their likes and their dislikes,
    their tastes and their distastes,
    their hopes and their fears —
    are all most curiously alike! Let others think what they please, I see in all this the finger of God. His handiwork is always one and the same. No wonder that true Christians are compared to "a family."

    Take an converted Englishman and a converted Hindu, and let them suddenly meet for the first time. I will engage, if they can understand one another's language, they will soon find common ground between them, and feel at home. The one may have been brought up at school and college, and enjoyed every privilege of English civilization. The other may have been trained in the midst of gross heathenism, and accustomed to habits, ways, and manners as unlike the Englishman's as darkness compared to light. And yet now in half an hour, they feel that they are friends! The Englishman finds that he has more in common with his Hindu brother — than he has with many an old college companion or school-fellow! Who can account for this? How can it be explained? Nothing can account for it but the unity of the Spirit's teaching. It is "one touch" of grace, not nature, "that makes the whole world kin." God's people are in the highest sense "a family."

    Reader, this is the family to which I wish to direct your attention this Christmas. This is the family to which I want you to belong. I ask you this day to consider it well, if you never considered it before. I have shown you the Father of the family, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I have shown you the Head and Elder Brother of the family, the Lord Jesus Himself. I have shown you the features and characteristics of the family. Its members have all great general marks of resemblance. Once more I say, consider it well.

    Outside this family, remember, there is no salvation. None but those who belong to it, according to the Bible, are in the way that leads to Heaven. The salvation of our souls does not depend on union with one church or separation from another. They are miserably deceived, who think that it does, and will find it out to their cost one day, except they awake. No, reader, the life of our souls depends on something far more important! This is life eternal, to be a member of "the whole family in Heaven and earth." I will now pass on to the secondthing which I promised to consider.
     
  4. Joe is a Verified MemberJoe Tattooed Theist
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    Oh no I was just confused by what you posted. Maybe more detail about each link and why you're posting it. It looked like you were just throwing out sites randomly.

    My misinterpretation, that's all. They are good sources.
     
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    http://gracegems.org/Ryle/happiness.htm

    I will mention by name some of the principal delusions about happiness. I do it in love, and charity, and compassion to men's souls. I believe it to be a public duty to warn people against cheats, quacks, and impostors! Oh, how much trouble and sorrow it might save my readers, if they would only believe what I am going to say!

    It is an utter mistake to suppose that RANK and GREATNESS alone can give happiness.
    It is an utter mistake to suppose that RICHES alone can give happiness.
    It is an utter mistake to suppose that LEARNING and SCIENCE alone can give happiness.
    It is an utter mistake to suppose that IDLENESS alone can give happiness
    It is an utter mistake to suppose that PLEASURE-SEEKING and AMUSEMENTS alone can give happiness
    The true Christian is happy, because he is in his right position.

    His abilities are being directed to right ends.

    His affections are not set on things below — but on things above.

    His will is not bent on self-indulgence — but is submissive to the will of God.

    His mind is not absorbed in wretched perishable trifles.

    He desires useful employment — he enjoys the luxury of doing good.


    Who does not know the misery of disorder? Who has not tasted the discomfort of a house where everything and everybody are in their wrong places, the last things first — and the first things last? The heart of an unconverted man is just such a house! Saving grace puts everything in that heart in its right position. The things of the soul come first — and the things of the world come second. Anarchy and confusion cease — unruly passions no longer run loose. Christ reigns over the whole man — and each part of him does his proper work.

    The heart of the Christian is the only heart that is in order. He has laid aside his pride and self-will; he sits at the feet of Jesus, and is in his right mind. He loves God and loves man — and so he is happy. In Heaven all are happy — because all do God's will perfectly. The nearer a man gets to this standard — the happier he will be.

    The plain truth is, that without Christ there is no happiness in this world! He alone can give the Comforter who abides forever.

    He is the sun — without Him, men never feel warm.

    He is the light — without Him, men are always in the dark.

    He is the bread — without Him, men are always starving.

    He is the living water — without Him, people are always athirst.

    Give them what you like — place them where you please — surround them with all the comforts you can imagine — it makes no difference. Separate from Christ, the Prince of Peace — a man cannot be happy.
     
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    Formal Religion

    J.C. Ryle, 1878


    "Having a form of godliness — but denying the power thereof." 2 Timothy 3:5

    "A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God." Romans 2:28-29

    READER,
    The texts which head this page deserves your serious attention at any time. I take it for granted that you have some religion. You are not an infidel. You profess and call yourself a Christian. Well, is your Christianity formal — or spiritual? Is religion with you a matter of form — or a matter of the heart? Is it form — or heart?

    The question deserves especial notice in this age of the church and world. Never since the Lord Jesus Christ left the earth, was there so much formality and false profession, as there is at the present day. Now, if ever, we ought to examine ourselves, and search our religion, that we may know of what sort it is. Reader, let us find out whether our Christianity is a thing of form — or a thing of heart.

    I know no better way of unfolding the subject than by turning to a plain passage of the Word of God. Let us hear what the apostle Paul says about it. He lays down the following great principles in his Epistle to the Romans: "A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God." Three most instructive lessons appear to me to stand out on the face of that passage. Let us see what they are.

    I. We learn, firstly, that formal religion is not true religion; and a formal Christian is not a true Christian in God's sight.

    II. We learn, secondly, that the heart is the seat of true religion, and that the true Christian is the Christian in heart.

    III. We learn, thirdly, that true religion must never expect to be popular. It will not have the "praise of man — but of God."

    Let us thoroughly consider these great principles. Two hundred years have passed away since a mighty Puritan divine said, "Formality, formality, formality, is the great sin of England at this day, under which the land groans. There is more light than there was — but less life; more shadow — but less substance; more profession — but less holiness." (Thomas Hall, 1658). What would this good man have said if he had lived in our times?
     
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    I. We learn, first, that formal religion is not true religion, and a formal Christian is not a true Christian in God's sight.

    What do I mean when I speak of formal religion? This is a point that must be made clear. Thousands, I suspect, know nothing about it. Without a distinct understanding of this point, my whole paper will be useless. My first step shall be to paint, describe, and define. When a man is a Christian in name only — and not in reality; in outward things only — and not in his inward feelings; in profession only — and not in practice; when his Christianity, in short, is a mere matter of form, or fashion, or custom, without any influence on his heart or life — in such a case as this, the man has what I call a "formal religion." He possesses indeed the form, or husk, or skin of religion — but he does not possess its substance or its power.

    Look, for example, at those thousands of people whose whole religion seems to consist in keeping religious ceremonies and ordinances. They attend regularly on public worship. They go regularly to the Lord's table. But they never get any further. They know nothing of experimental Christianity. They are not familiar with the Scriptures — and take no delight in reading them. They do not separate themselves from the ways of the world. They draw no distinction between godliness and ungodliness in their friendships, or matrimonial alliances. They care little or nothing about the distinctive doctrines of the Gospel. They appear utterly indifferent as to what they hear preached. You may be in their company for weeks, and for anything you may hear or see — you might suppose they were infidels! What can be said about these people? They are Christians undoubted, by profession; and yet there is neither heart nor life in their Christianity. There is but one thing to be said about them: They are formal Christians — their religion is a mere form!

    Look in another direction, at those hundreds of people whose whole religion seems to consist in talk and high profession. They know the theory of the Gospel with their heads, and profess to delight in Evangelical doctrine. They can say much about the "soundness" of their own views, and the "darkness" of all who disagree with them; but they never get any further! When you examine their inner lives — you find that they know nothing of practical godliness. They are neither truthful, nor charitable, nor humble, nor honest, nor kind-tempered, nor unselfish, nor honorable. What shall we say of these people? They are Christians, no doubt, in name — and yet there is neither substance nor fruit in their Christianity. There is but one thing to be said: They are formal Christians — their religion is an empty form!

    Such, reader, is the formal religion against which I wish to warn you this day. Here is the point about which I offer you a question. Here is a rock on which myriads on every side are making miserable shipwreck of their souls. One of the wickedest things that Machiavel ever said was this, "Religion itself should not be cared for — but only the appearance of it." Such notions, reader, are of the earth, earthy. Nay, rather, they are from beneath; they smell of the pit. Beware of them, and stand upon your guard. If there is anything about which the Scripture speaks expressly — it is the sin and uselessness of formality!

    Hear what Paul tells the Romans: "A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code." These are strong words indeed! A man might be a son of Abraham according to the flesh, a member of one of the twelve tribes, circumcised the eighth day, a keeper of all the feasts, a regular worshiper in the temple — and yet in God's sight, not be a Jew!

    Just so, a man may be a Christian by outward profession — a member of a Christian Church — baptized with Christian baptism — an attendant on Christian ordinances — and yet, in God's sight, not a Christian at all!

    Hear what the prophet Isaiah says: "The multitude of your sacrifices — what are they to me?" says the LORD. "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations — I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts — my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood. Take your evil deeds out of my sight!" (Isaiah 1:11-15)

    These words, when duly weighed, are very extraordinary. The sacrifices which are here declared to be useless were appointed by God Himself. The feasts and ordinances which God says He "hates," had been prescribed by Himself! God Himself pronounces His own institutions to be useless — when they are used formally and without heart in the worshiper. In fact they are worse than useless; they are even offensive and hurtful. Words cannot be imagined more distinct and unmistakable. They show that formal religion is worthless in God's sight. It is not worth calling religion!
     
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    Hear, lastly, what our Lord Jesus Christ says. We find Him saying of the Jews of His day, "This people draws near unto Me with their mouth, and honors Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. In vain do they worship Me!" (Matthew 15:8, 9). We see Him repeatedly denouncing the formalism and hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees, and warning His disciples against it. Eight times in one chapter (Matthew 23) He says to them, "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!"

    For sinners of the worst description He always had a word of kindness, and held out to them an open door. But formalism, He would have us know, is a desperate disease, and must be exposed in the severest language. To the eye of the ignorant man, a formalist may seem to have a very decent quantity of religion, though not perhaps of the best quality. In the eye of Christ, however, the case is very different. In His sight, formality is no religion at all.

    Reader, what shall we say to these testimonies of Scripture? It would be easy to add to them. They do not stand alone. If words mean anything, they are a clear warning to all whoprofess and call themselves Christians. They teach you plainly that as you dread sin and avoid sin — so you ought to dread formality and avoid formality. Formalism may take your hand with a smile, and look like a brother — while sin comes against you with sword drawn, and strikes at you like an open enemy. But both have one end in view. Both want to ruin your soul; and, of the two, formalism is far the most likely to do it! Reader, if you love life, beware of formality in religion.

    Nothing is so common. It is one of the great family diseases of the whole race of mankind. It is born with us, grows with us, and is never completely cast out of us until we die. It meets us in church — and it meets us in chapel. It meets us among rich — and it meets us among poor. It meets us among learned people — and it meets us among unlearned. It meets us among Romanists — and it meets us among Protestants. It meets us among High Churchmen — and it meets us among Low Churchmen. It meets us among Evangelicals — and it meets us among Tractarians. Go wherever we will, and join whatever Church we may — we are never beyond the risk of its infection! We shall find it among Quakers and Plymouth Brethren, as well as at Rome. The man who thinks that there is no formal religion in his own camp, at any rate, is a very blind and ignorant person! Reader, if you love life, beware of formality!

    Nothing is so dangerous to a man's own soul. Familiarity with the form of religion, while we neglect its reality — has a fearfully deadening effect on the conscience. It brings up by degrees a thick crust of insensibility over the whole inner man. None seem to become so desperately hard, as those who are continually repeating holy words and handling holy things, while their hearts are running after sin and the world. Landlords who only go to church formally, to set an example to their tenants; masters who have family prayers formally, to keep up a good appearance in their households; unconverted clergymen, who are every week reading prayers and lessons of Scripture in which they feel no real interest; unconverted clerks, who are constantly reading responses and saying "Amen," without feeling what they say; unconverted singers, who sing the most spiritual hymns every Sunday, merely because they have good voices, while their affections are entirely on things below — all, all, all are in solemn danger! They are gradually hardening their hearts, and searing the skin of their consciences. Reader, if you love your own soul, beware of formality!

    Nothing, finally, is so foolish, senseless, and unreasonable. Can a formal Christian really suppose that the mere outward Christianity he professes, will comfort him in the day of sickness and the hour of death? The thing is impossible. A painted fire cannot warm, and a painted banquet cannot satisfy hunger — and a formal religion cannot bring peace to the soul.

    Can he suppose that God does not see the heartlessness and deadness of his Christianity? Though he may deceive neighbors, acquaintances, fellow-worshipers, and ministers with aform of godliness, does he think that he can deceive God? The very idea is absurd. He who formed the eye — shall He not see? He knows the very secrets of the heart. He will judge the secrets of men at the last day. He who said to each angel of the seven churches, "I know your works," is not changed. He who said to the man without the wedding garment, "Friend, how did you get in here?" will not be deceived by a little cloak of outward religion. Reader, if you would not be put to shame at the last day, once more I say, beware of formality!
     
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    II. I pass on to the second thing which I proposed to consider. The heart is the seat of true religion — and the true Christian is the Christian in heart.

    The heart is the real test of a man's character. It is not what he says or what he does, by which the man may be always known. He may say and do things that are right from false and unworthy motives — while his heart is altogether wrong. The heart is the man! "As he thinks in his heart — so is he" (Proverbs 23:7).

    The heart is the right test of a man's religion. It is not enough that a man holds a correct creed of doctrine, and maintains a proper outward form of godliness. What is his heart? That is the grand question. This is what God looks at. "Man looks on the outward appearance — but the Lord looks on the heart!" (1 Samuel 16:7). This is what Paul lays down distinctly as the standard measure of the soul: "A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code." (Romans 2:28). Who can doubt that this mighty sentence was written for Christians as well as for Jews? He is a Christian, the apostle would have us know — who is one inwardly, and baptism is that of the heart.

    The heart is the place where saving religion must begin. It is naturally irreligious, and must be renewed by the Holy Spirit. "A new heart will I give unto you." It is naturally hard, and must be made tender and broken. "I will take away the heart of stone, and I will give you a heart of flesh." "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit — a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise." It is naturally closed and shut against God, and must be opened. The Lord "opened the heart" of Lydia (Ezekiel 36:26; Psalm 51:7; Acts 16:14).

    The heart is the seat of true saving faith. "With the heart man believes unto righteousness" (Romans 10:10). A man may believe that Jesus is the Christ, as the devils do — and yet remain in his sins. He may believe that he is a sinner, and that Christ is the only Savior, and feel occasional, lazy wishes that he was a better man. But no one ever lays hold on Christ, and receives pardon and peace, until he believes with the heart. It is heart-faith which justifies.

    The heart is the spring of true holiness and steady continuance in well doing. True Christians are holy, because their hearts are renewed. They obey from the heart. They do the will of God from the heart. Weak, and feeble, and imperfect as all their doings are — they please God, because they are done from a loving heart. He who commended the widow's mite more than all the offerings of the wealthy Jews — regards quality far more than quantity. What He likes to see is, a thing done from an honest and good heart. There is no real holiness without a right heart.

    Reader, the things I am saying may sound strange. Perhaps they run counter to all your notions. Perhaps you have thought that if a man's religion is correct outwardly — he must be one with whom God is well pleased. You are completely mistaken! You are rejecting the whole tenor of Bible teaching. Outward correctness, without a right heart — is neither more nor less than Phariseeism! The outward things of Christianity — baptism, the Lord's Supper, Church-membership, alms-giving, and the like — will never take any man's soul to Heaven, unless his heart is right. There must be inward things, as well as outward — and it is on the inward things, that God's eyes are chiefly fixed.

    Hear how Paul teaches us about this matter, in three most striking texts. "In Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision — but faith which works by love." "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing — but the keeping of the commandments of God" (Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:5; 1 Corinthians 7:9). Did the Apostle only mean in these texts, that circumcision was no longer needed under the Gospel? Was that all? No, indeed! I believe he meant much more. He meant that true religion did not consist of forms, and that its essence was something far greater than being circumcised or not circumcised. He meant that under Christ Jesus, everything depended on being born again — on having true saving faith — on being holy in life and conduct. He meant that these are the things we ought to look at chiefly, and not at outward forms. "Am I a new creature? Do I really believe on Christ? Am I a holy man?" These are the grand questions that I must seek to answer.

    When the heart is wrong — all is wrong in God's sight! Many right things may be done. The forms and ordinances which God Himself has appointed may seem to be honored. But so long as the heart is at fault, God is not pleased. He will have man's heart — or nothing.
     

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