Today in our final installment of J C Ryle and Evangelism. It is my hope that you will love the writing of Ryle as much as I do, but moresoe, that you share the gospel with those in need.
As we continue investigating J C Ryle’s critique of evangelism and easy believism, we will often consider this to be written recently. The truth is that the 1880’s saw such pleading for numbers and liberalism that we are reaping the results still. Church growth experts are not new. They have long taught “If you want numbers you must appeal to the masses”. The full council of God is for the few who find it.
Bishop Ryle states…
. (1) Let “all the counsel of God be taught” in Scriptural proportion; and let not two or three precious doctrines of the Gospel be allowed to overshadow all other truths. (2) Let repentance be taught fully as well as faith, and not thrust completely into the background. Our Lord Jesus Christ and St. Paul always taught both.
Pet doctrines abound. One particular preacher teaches with great consistency on the end times. His entire ministry is built upon speculation and fascination. Others tend to grip the Love of God and fail to characterize it in light of wrath and sin. These are pure disservice to the discipleship of the body. Still another church is representing a man made God so well that the difficult texts are thrown out, because “it doesn’t fit our opinion of who God is to us”.
This is the point, by not teaching the whole counsel of God we tend to make God in our own image. We can thus have a God that looks just like the world and the world’s ways and values are therefore acceptable.
Preaching and discipleship from the bible is to bring sinners to knowledge of God. To have a true knowledge we need each aspect to support each aspect. To continue with Rev. Ryle, we must be taught to repent. Repentance should always include a reminder of the holiness of God, the separation we then have, and the result being wrath. If any doctrine is going to be overlooked, in my opinion it is wrath. But it is the wrath of God for which Christ died. When we share with persons that they need to be saved I hope they challenge us to ask “Saved from what?”
There is no appreciation for the Savior unless we see the whole council of God and especially our being saved from Hell. Then the supporting doctrines give a grand picture of God. He is not bent on wrath and merely appeased by “our decision”. But He is a great God who has a plan. Who works in sovereignty, who chooses on His on volition out of His love to save. Let us again see people being led to this God. He must be represented as who He is, not as man chooses to make Him.
We have forgotten how to repent. Too often faith has been turned into a religion of works. One of these works is the discomfort felt by being guilty. We think if we are guilty and say we are sorry it is enough. We attribute our uneasiness due to guilt as punishment enough. It is precisely this line of reasoning that shows we either do not know God or worldliness has crept in where the whole council of God should be taught. But as John the Baptist taught, “Repent and then do works in accordance with repentance”. This only comes by a change of heart. Outward actions do not carry any weight unless the heart be changed. Men change actions, but God evidences Himself in change of the heart.
To change and not revert back to the old self we need the doctrines of our Lord, from the whole council of scripture to be in a process of sanctification.