J.C. Ryle reminds us that some biblical truths are so foundational to the faith, they must therefore be re-affirmed and re-established ogoingly in the hearts and lives of God’s covenant people.
As we prepare to enter 2011, it would behoove us to hear Ryle’s clarion call for these essential doctrines.
#1: The Total Corruption of the Human Nature
“The corruption of human nature is no slight thing. It is no partial, skin-deep disease, but a radical and universal corruption of man’s will, intellect, affections, and conscience. We are not merely poor and pitiable sinners in God’s sight: we are guilty sinners; we are blameworthy sinners: we deserve justly God’s wrath and God’s condemnation. I believe there are very few errors and false doctrines of which the beginning may not be traced up to unsound views about the corruption of human nature. Wrong views of a disease will always bring with them wrong views of the remedy. Wrong views of the corruption of human nature will always carry with them wrong views of the grand treatment and cure of that corruption.”
#2: The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible
“Let us boldly maintain, in the face of all the opposition, that the whole of the Bible is given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that all is inspired completely, not one part more than another, and that there is an entire gulf between the Word of God and any other book in the world. We need not be afraid of difficulties in the way of the doctrine of absolute inspiration. There may be many things about it far too high for us to comprehend: it is a miracle, and all miracles are necessarily mysterious. But if we are not to believe anything until we can entirely explain it, there are very few things indeed that we shall believe. We need not be afraid of all the assaults that criticism brings to bear upon the Bible. From the days of the apostles the Word of the Lord has been incessantly ‘tried,’ and has never failed to come forth as gold, uninjured and spotless.”
#3: The Atonement and Priestly Office of Christ
“We must boldly maintain that the death of our Lord on the cross was no common death. It was not the death of one who died only as a martyr. It was not the death of one who only died to give us a mighty example of self-sacrifice and self-denial. The death of Christ was an offering up to God of Christ’s own body and blood, to make satisfaction for man’s sin and transgression. It was a sacrifice and appeasement; a sacrifice typified in every offering of the Mosaic law, a sacrifice of the mightiest influence on all mankind. Without the shedding of that blood there could not be, there never was to be, any remission of sin.”
#4: The Work of God in the Holy Spirit
“Let us settle it in our minds that His work is no uncertain invisible operation on the heart: and that where He is, He is not hidden, not unfelt, not unobserved. We do not believe that the dew, when it falls, cannot be felt, or that where there is life in a man it cannot be seen and observed by his breath. So is it with the influence of the Holy Spirit. No man has any right to lay claim to it, except its fruits and its experimental effects can be seen in his life. Where He is, there will ever be a new creation, and a new man. Where He is, there will ever be new knowledge, new faith, new holiness, new fruits in the life, in the family, in the world, in the Church. And where these new things are not to be seen we may well say, with confidence, there is no work of the Holy Spirit.”