3 Simple Rules for Listening to a Sermon
It is not enough that we go to church and hear sermons. We may do so for fifty years, and be nothing better, but rather worse. “Take heed,” says our Lord, “how you hear.” Would any one know how to hear properly? Then let them lay to heart three simple rules.
1) We must hear with FAITH, believing implicitly that every word of God is true, and shall stand. The word in old time did not profit the Jews, since it was “not mixed with faith in those who heard it” (Heb. 4:2).
2) We must hear with REVERENCE, remembering constantly that the Bible is the book of God. This was the habit of the Thessalonians. They received Paul’s message, “not as the word of men, but the word of God” (1 Thess. 2:13).
3) We must hear with PRAYER, praying for God’s blessing before the sermon is preached, praying for God’s blessing again when the sermon is over. Here lies the grand defect of the hearing of many. They ask no blessing, and so they have none. The sermon passes through their minds like water through a leaky vessel, and leaves nothing behind.
Let us bear these rules in mind every Sunday morning, before we go to hear the Word of God preached. Let us not rush into God’s presence careless, reckless, and unprepared, as if it mattered not in what way such work was done. Let us carry with us faith, reverence, and prayer. If these three are our companions, we will hear with profit, and return with praise.
~ J.C. Ryle
The Reality of Eternal Hell
There is such a place as hell. Let no one deceive you with vain words. What people do not like, they try hard not to believe. When the Lord Jesus Christ comes to judge the world, He will punish all who are not His disciples with a fearful punishment:
all who are found unrepentant and unbelieving, all who have clung to sin, all who are stuck to the world, and all who have set their affections on things below. All who are without Christ shall come to an awful end. Whosoever is not written in the book of life shall be “cast into the lake of fire.” [Rev 20:15]
I call on all who profess to believe the Bible, to be on their guard.
1) Some do not believe there is any hell at all. They think it impossible there can be such a place. They call it inconsistent with the mercy of God. They say it is too awful an idea to be really true. The devil of course, rejoices in the views of such people. They help his kingdom mightily. They are preaching up his old favorite doctrine, “You shall not surely die.”
2) Some do not believe that hell is eternal. They tell us it is incredible that a compassionate God will punish people forever. He will surely open the prison doors at last. This also is a mighty help to the devil’s cause.
3) Some believe there is a hell, but never allow that anybody is going there. All people with them are good. As soon as they die, all were sincere, all meant well, and all, they hope, got to heaven. Alas! what a common delusion this is!
Summary: If I never spoke of hell, I should think I had kept back something that was profitable, and should look on myself as an accomplice of the devil. Beware of new and strange doctrines about hell and the eternity of punishment. Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who has a heaven for everybody, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and bad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own. ~ J.C. Ryle
1. Read the Bible with an EARNEST desire to understand it. Do not be content to just read the words of Scripture. Seek to grasp the message they contain.
2. Read the Scriptures with a SIMPLE, CHILDLIKE faith and humility. Believe what God reveals. Reason must bow to God's revelation.
3. Read the Word with a spirit of OBEDIENCE and SELF-APPLICATION. Apply what God says to yourself and obey His will in ALL things.
4. Read the Holy Scriptures EVERY day. We quickly lose the nourishment and strength of yesterday's bread. We must feed our souls daily upon the manna God has given us.
5. Read the WHOLE bible and read it in an ORDERLY way. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable." I know of no better way to read the Bible than to start at the beginning and read straight through to the end, a portion every day, comparing Scripture with Scripture.
6. Read the Word of God FAIRLY and HONESTLY. As a general rule, any passage of Scripture means what it appears to mean. Interpret every passage in this simple manner, in its context.
7. Read the Bible with CHRIST constantly in view. The whole Book is about Him. Look for Him on every page. He is there. If you fail to see Him there, you need to read that page again.
~ J.C. Ryle
1. The Spirit awakens a person’s heart.
2. The Spirit teaches a person’s mind.
3. The Spirit leads to the Word.
4. The Spirit convinces of sin.
5. The Spirit draws to Christ.
6. The Spirit sanctifies.
7. The Spirit makes a person spiritually minded.
8. The Spirit produces inward conflict.
9. The Spirit makes a person love the brethren.
10. The Spirit teaches a person to pray.
These are the great marks of the Holy Spirit’s presence. Put the question to your conscience and ask: Has the Spirit done anything of this kind for your soul?
~ J.C. Ryle
Tract: Having the Spirit