Some fresh snippets.


As human beings, one of our persistent traits is the marginalization of evil. We find it hard to believe in the existence of evil inside ourselves and the ones we love; instead, we reserve that sobriquet for the perpetrators of genocide and mass murder. We are ready to recognize that Hitler may have been evil, and perhaps Charles Manson and others of his ilk, but we are reluctant to admit that all of us are tainted with the same brush. We start from the premise that we are all basically good. And if we are basically good, how can a good God permit “bad things” to happen to us?

The Bible has a radically different perspective. All of us are basically bad, as Paul makes clear in Romans 3:23: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Until we grasp the accuracy of this statement as a description not merely of the worst of people but the very best, we will never understand the nature of the world in which we live. Our hearts will be filled with resentment at the impossible demands that God makes on us and his inexplicable anger at our inevitable failures.

But when we (all too rarely) experience genuine guilt over our actions, then our eyes are finally opened to the truth about our standing in God’s sight. We realize that a God who is not moved to anger by what we have done cannot be a good being. If that is so, and we are in fact much worse than we ever thought, then the astonishing aspect of the world is not the bad things that happen to good people but the good things that happen to bad people. Why should God send his rain on good and evil alike? God’s patience with sinners is the really mysterious side of providence.[1]

[1] Iain M. Duguid, Ezekiel, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 197–198.

Was Jerusalem really worse in its idolatry and social sins than New York or San Francisco or any of our modern cities? Are our small towns and villages really more God-fearing than the ancient Israelites were? The astonishing fact is not that God judged Jerusalem, but that God allows our contemporary society, with all its sins, flagrant and secret, to continue to exist. We should not regard that patience as inability to act, however. God’s “slowness” is patience in order to allow time for all of his chosen people to repent. But once that harvest is complete, the Day of Judgment will come with speed and finality (2 Peter 3:9–10). The sheep will be separated out from the goats, the children of the kingdom from the children of wrath, and there will be no room for quibbling at the justice of God.[1]

[1] Iain M. Duguid, Ezekiel, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 198.

“He only lives who lives to God,

And all are dead beside.”

This is the true explanation of sin not felt,—and sermons not believed,—and good advice not followed,—and the Gospel not embraced,—and the world not forsaken,—and the cross not taken up,—and self-will not mortified,—and evil habits not laid aside,—and the Bible seldom read—and the knee never bent in prayer. Why is all this on every side? The answer is simple. Men are dead.[1]

[1] J. C. Ryle, Living or Dead? A Series of Home Truths (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1851), 11.

To hew a block of marble from the quarry, and carve it into a noble statue,—to break up a waste wilderness, and turn it into a garden of flowers,—to melt a lump of iron-stone, and forge it into watch-springs;—all these are mighty changes. Yet they all come short of the change which every child of Adam requires, for they are merely the same thing in a new form, the same substance in a new shape. But man requires the grafting in of that which he had not before. He needs a change as great as a resurrection from the dead. He must become a new creature. Old things must pass away, and all things must become new. He must be born again, born from above, born of God. The natural birth is not a whit more necessary to the life of the body, than is the spiritual birth to the life of the soul.[1]

[1] J. C. Ryle, Living or Dead? A Series of Home Truths (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1851), 15–16.

Whitefield’s desire, “I want to go where I shall neither sin myself, nor see others sin any more.”[1]

[1] J. C. Ryle, Living or Dead? A Series of Home Truths (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1851), 23.

The words which good old Berridge had graven on his tomb-stone are faithful and true, “Reader, art thou born again? Remember! no salvation without a new birth.”[1]

[1] J. C. Ryle, Living or Dead? A Series of Home Truths (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1851), 26.

The most splendid marble statue in Greece or Italy is nothing by the side of the poor sickly child that crawls over the cottage floor; for with all its beauty it is dead. And the weakest member of the family of Christ is far higher and more precious in God’s eyes, than the most gifted man of the world. The one lives unto God, and shall live forever;—the other, with all his intellect, is still dead in sins.[1]

[1] J. C. Ryle, Living or Dead? A Series of Home Truths (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1851), 27.

One thing is very clear;—we cannot work this mighty change ourselves. It is not in us. We have no strength or power to do it. We may change our sins, but we cannot change our hearts. We may take up a new way, but not a new nature. We may make considerable reforms and alterations. We may lay aside many outward bad habits, and begin many outward duties. But we cannot create a new principle within us. We cannot bring something out of nothing.[1]

[1] J. C. Ryle, Living or Dead? A Series of Home Truths (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1851), 28–29.

Never, never will the Spirit turn away from a soul because of its corruption. He never has done so;—He never will. It is His glory that He has purified the minds of the most impure, and made them temples for His own abode. He may yet take the worst man who reads this paper, and make him a vessel of grace.[1]

[1] J. C. Ryle, Living or Dead? A Series of Home Truths (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1851), 34.

Believe me, if you have no other proof of spiritual life but your baptism, you are yet a dead soul.[1]

[1] J. C. Ryle, Living or Dead? A Series of Home Truths (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1851), 41.

Are you alive? Then see that you prove it by your growth. Let the great change within become every year more evident. Let your light be an increasing light,—not like Joshua’s sun in the valley of Ajalon, standing still,—nor Hezekiah’s sun, going back,—but ever shining more and more to the very end of your days. Let the image of your Lord, wherein you are renewed, grow clearer and sharper every month. Let it not be like the image and superscription on a coin, more indistinct and defaced the longer it is used. Let it rather become more plain, the older it is, and the likeness of your King stand out more fully. I have no confidence in a standing-still religion. I do not think a Christian was meant to be like an animal, to grow to a certain age, and then stop growing. I believe rather he was meant to be like a tree, and to increase more and more in strength and vigor all his days.[1]

[1] J. C. Ryle, Living or Dead? A Series of Home Truths (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1851), 49–50.

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