Where did the last month go? I blinked and [poof]…
After much delay, here is the rest of section II of Bishop Ryle’s The Cross.
The Cross – Section II part 2
Reader, mark what I say. You may know a good deal about the Bible. You may know the outlines of the histories it contains, and the dates of the events described, just as a man knows the history of England. You may know the names of the men and women mentioned in it, just as a man knows Caesar, Alexander the Great, or Napoleon. You may know the several precepts of the Bible, and admire them, just as a man admires Plato, Aristotle, or Seneca. But if you have not yet found out that Christ crucified is the foundation of the whole volume, you have read your Bible hitherto to very little profit. Your religion is a heaven without a sun, an arch without a keystone, a compass without a needle, a dock without spring or weights, a lamp without off. It will not comfort you. It will not deliver your soul from hell.
Reader, mark what I say again. Yon may know a good deal about Christ, by a kind of head know ledge, as the dead Oriental churches know the facts of Christianity as well as we do. You may know who Christ was, and where He was born, and what He did. You may know His miracles, His sayings, His prophecies, and his ordinances. You may know how He lived, and how he suffered, and how He died. But unless you know the power of Christ’s cross by experience–unless you have reason to know that the blood shed on that cross has washed away your own particular sins, unless you are willing to confess that your salvation depends entirely on the work that Christ did upon the cross,–unless this be the case, Christ will profit you nothing. The mere knowing Christ’s name will never save you. You must know His cross, and His blood, or else you will die in your sins.
Reader, as long as you live, beware of a religion in which there is not much of the cross. You live in times when the warning is sadly needful. Beware, I say again, of a religion without the cross.
There are hundreds of places of worship, in this day, in which there is every thing almost except the cross. There is carved oak and sculptured stone. There is stained glass and brilliant painting. There are solemn services and a constant round of ordinances. But the real cross of Christ is not there. Jesus crucified is not proclaimed in the pulpit. The Lamb of God is not lifted up, and salvation by faith in him is not freely proclaimed. And hence all is wrong. Beware of such places of worship. They are not apostolical. They would not have satisfied St. Paul.
There are thousands of religious books published in our times, in which there is everything except the cross. They are full of directions about sacraments and praises of the church. They abound in exhortations about holy living, and rules for the attainment of perfection. They have plenty of fonts and crosses both inside and outside. But the real cross of Christ is left out. The Savior and His dying love are either not mentioned, or mentioned in an unscriptural way. And hence they are worse than useless. Beware of such books. They are not apostolical. They would never have satisfied St. Paul.
Dear reader, remember that St. Paul gloried in nothing but the cross. Strive to be like him. Set Jesus crucified fully before the eyes of your soul. Listen not to any teaching which would interpose anything between you and Him. Do not fall into the old Galatian error. Think not that any one in this day is a better guide than the apostles. Do not be ashamed of the old paths, in which men walked who were inspired by the Holy Ghost. Let not the vague talk of men who speak great swelling words about catholicity, and the church, and the ministry, disturb your peace, and make you loose your hands from the cross. Churches, ministers, and sacraments, are all useful in their way, but they are not Christ crucified. Do not give Christ’s honor to another. “he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
Here is the second portion of section I in dear Ryle’s The Cross.
I shudder to even ask. I fear the closest many church goers will come this Sunday to a word about the cross will be a crossword puzzle in the Sunday paper. No mention of the cross in the speech given from the stage. Not a whiff of the stink raised in God’s nostrils from our sin. No groping to describe the total darkness sin has left us in. No recognition of the havoc wreaked on every level of creation by sin. No biblical scalpel wielded by the pastor to remove the malignant, terminal tumor of sin entwined in our hearts and minds. And certainly no mention of the bloody and shameful death of the Messiah on the cruel cross at the hands of hate-filled sinners.
“What do you think and feel about the cross of Christ?”
Everyone recognizes they aren’t happy, so we tell them that God will make them happy. Everyone recognizes there are tragedies in the world, so we tell them God never wanted the tragedies to happen. Everyone recognizes life isn’t fair, so we tell them God will bring blessings into their lives. Everyone worries, so we tell them that God is on their side.
Where is the cross? It’s not on display in many churches. It’s not mentioned in the “sermon” (which is actually more of an inspirational talk in many cases). But it’s exactly what Paul preached.
“What do you think and feel about the cross of Christ?” Does the sin-bearing life and death of Christ deserve any reflection? Does the one answer to sin’s slaughter of mankind merit any consideration? Does the pinnacle of God’s message to man ascend before our notice?A reality check for modern man.