J.C. Ryle: Believers are a little Flock

Believers are a Little Flock by J C Ryle on Girded with Truth

Believers are a Little Flock

This passage contains a gracious word of consolation for all true believers (Luke 12:32). Our Lord knew the hearts of his disciples well. He knew how ready they were to be filled with fears of every description, fears because of the fewness of their number, fears because of the multitude of their enemies, fears because of the many difficulties in their way, fears because of their sense of weakness and unworthiness. He answers these many fears with one golden sentence (Luke 12:32).

Believers are a little flock. They always have been ever since the world began. Professing servants of God have sometimes been many. But true Christians are very few. It is foolish to be surprised at this. Listen to our Lord’s teaching (Matthew 7:14).

Believers have a glorious kingdom awaiting them. Here upon earth they are often mocked and ridiculed, persecuted and, like their Master, despised and rejected of men. But let us remember Paul’s words (Romans 8:18; Colossians 3:4).

Believers are tenderly loved by the Father. It is ‘the Father’s good pleasure’ to give them a kingdom. He does not receive them grudgingly, unwillingly and coldly. He rejoices over them as members of his beloved Son in whom he is well pleased. He regards them as his dear children in Christ. He sees no spot in them. Even now when he looks down on them from heaven in the midst of their infirmities he is well pleased and, hereafter, when presented before his glory he will welcome them with exceeding joy (Jude 24).

Are we members of Christ’s little flock? Then surely we ought not to be afraid. There are given to us exceeding great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4). God is ours and Christ is ours. Greater are those that are for us than all that are against us. The world, the flesh and the devil are mighty enemies. But with Christ on our side we have no cause to fear.

Romans 8:26-39 – Our Victory in Christ

J.C. Ryle – Expository Thoughts on the Gospels

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C.H. Spurgeon: Doctrine and Holiness

Let us never reckon that we have learned a doctrine till we have seen its bearing upon our lives

My brethren, this is a lesson for us; let us never reckon that we have learned a doctrine till we have seen its bearing upon our lives. Whatever we discover in God’s word, let us pray the Holy Spirit to make us feel the sanctifying influence of it. You know not a man because you recognize his features, you must also know his spirit, and so the mere acquaintance with the letter of truth is of small account — you must feel its influence and know its tendency.

Love Holiness as much as the Truth

There are some brethren who are so enamored of doctrine that no preacher will content them unless he gives them over and over again clear statements of certain favourite truths: but the moment you come to speak of practice they fight shy of it at once, and either denounce the preacher as being legal, or they grow weary of that which they dare not contradict. Let it never be so with us. Let us follow up truth to its practical “therefore.” Let us love the practice of holiness as much as the belief of the truth; and, though we desire to know, let us take care when we know that we act according to the knowledge, for if we do not our knowledge itself will become mischievous to us, will involve us in responsibilities, but will bring to us no effectual blessing. Let everyone here who knoweth aught, now pray God to teach him what he would have him to do, as the consequence of that knowledge.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 15:58

Excerpt from the sermon “Motives For Steadfastness” delivered by Charles H. Spurgeon, May 11, 1873.

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History of the English Bible

History of the English Bible, Roman Catholic Church, John Wycliffe, John Hus, and the Lollards

AD 1382 The first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts of the complete Bible were produced by John Wycliffe (1320-1384), an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian. Wycliffe, (also spelled ‘Wycliff’ and ‘Wyclif’), was well-known throughout Europe for his opposition to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, which he believed to be contrary to the Bible.  With the help of his followers, called the Lollards, and his assistant Purvey, and many other faithful scribes, Wycliffe produced dozens of English language manuscript copies of the scriptures. They were translated out of the Latin Vulgate, which was the only source text available to Wycliffe.  John Wycliffe is considered the main precursor of the Protestant Reformation. The Pope was so infuriated by his teachings and his translation of the Bible into English, that 44 years after Wycliffe had died, he ordered the bones to be dug-up, crushed, and scattered in the river!

One of Wycliffe’s followers, John Hus, actively promoted Wycliffe’s ideas: that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language, and they should oppose the tyranny of the Roman Catholic Church that threatened anyone possessing a Non-Latin Bible with execution.  In Constance on July 6, 1415, having been condemned by the Council of Constance in an unfair trial, Hus fell upon his knees, and with a low voice he asked God to forgive all his enemies, and declared, “God is my witness that I have never taught that of which I have been accused by false witnesses. In the truth of the Gospel which I have written, taught, and preached, I will die today with gladness.”  Then followed his degradation; he was enrobed in priestly vestments and again asked to recant; again he refused. With curses, his ornaments were taken from him, his priestly tonsure was destroyed, and sentence was pronounced that the Church had deprived him of all rights and delivered him to the secular powers whereupon he was burned at the stake with Wycliffe’s manuscript Bibles used as kindling for the fire.  The last words of John Hus were that, “In 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed.” Almost exactly 100 years later, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses of Contention (a list of 95 issues of heretical theology and crimes of the Roman Catholic Church) into the church door at Wittenberg. Thus, the prophecy of Hus had come true! Martin Luther went on to be the first man to print the Bible in the German language. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs records that in that same year, 1517, seven people were burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church for the crime of teaching their children to say the Lord’s Prayer in English rather than Latin.

Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1450’s, and the first book to ever be printed was a Latin language Bible, printed in Mainz, Germany. Gutenberg’s Bibles were surprisingly beautiful, as each leaf Gutenberg printed was later colourfully hand-illuminated.  Ironically, though he had created what many believe to be the most important invention in history, Gutenberg was a victim of unscrupulous business associates who took control of his business and left him in poverty.

Nevertheless, the invention of the movable-type printing press meant that Bibles and books could finally be effectively produced in large quantities in a short period of time. This was essential to the success of the Reformation – delivering the people from heretical theology and doctrine.

In the 1490’s, another Oxford professor, and the personal physician to King Henry: the 7th and the 8th, Thomas Linacre, decided to learn Greek. After reading the Gospels in Greek, and comparing it to the Latin Vulgate, he wrote in his diary, “Either this (the original Greek) is not the Gospel, or we are not Christians.”

The Latin had become so corrupt that it no longer even preserved the message of the Gospel, yet the Church still threatened to kill anyone who read the scripture in any language other than Latin, though Latin was not an original language of the scriptures.  (Hebrew and Greek is the original language of the scriptures).

In 1496, John Colet, another Oxford professor, and the son of the Mayor of London, started reading the New Testament in Greek and translating it into English for his students at Oxford, and later for the public at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. The people were so hungry to hear the Word of God in a language they could understand, that within six months there were 20,000 people packed in the church and at least that many outside trying to get in! (Sadly, the enormous and beautiful Saint Paul’s Cathedral today: typical Sunday morning worship attendance is only around 200 people and mostly tourists).  Fortunately for Colet, he was a powerful man with friends in high places, so he amazingly managed to avoid execution.

William Tyndale (1494-1536) was the Captain of the Army of Reformers, and was their spiritual leader. Tyndale holds the distinction of being the first man to ever print the New Testament in the English language taking advantage of Gutenberg’s movable-type press.  Tyndale was a true scholar and a genius having received his Masters degree in 1515 at the age of twenty-one.  He was so fluent in eight languages; Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Italian, English, and German, that it was said one would think any one of them to be his native tongue. He is frequently referred to as the ‘Architect of the English Language,’ (even more so than William Shakespeare) as so many of the phrases Tyndale coined are still in our language today.

A clergyman hopelessly entrenched in Roman Catholic dogma once taunted Tyndale with the statement, “We are better to be without God’s laws than the Pope’s.”  Tyndale was infuriated by Roman Catholic heresies, and he replied, “I defy the Pope and all his laws.  If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the scriptures than you!

The authorities banned Tyndale’s translation.  A friend, Philips, who was the agent either of Henry VIII, or of English ecclesiastics, or possibly both, betrayed Tyndale.  Tyndale was arrested and tried for heresy and treason in a ridiculously unfair trial, and convicted. Tyndale was strangled and burnt at the stake in the prison yard on October 6, 1536 – two years after the ‘Church of England’ (Anglican Church) had been founded.  His last words were, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.

The ‘Church of England’ was founded in 1534 when the Parliament of England declared King Henry VIII the head of the church, not the Pope (Act of Supremacy).

[First title of ‘Pope’ was given in 607 AD.]

The Roman Catholic Church placed the Bible on the index of forbidden books in 1229 AD.  Canon 14:

“We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; unless anyone from motive of devotion should wish to have the Psalter or the Breviary for divine offices or the hours of the blessed Virgin; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.”

Article is from research gleaned whilst searching for the truth. [more to follow]

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A.W. Tozer: The Word of God

“The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.”

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