Thoughts on the Way Home

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New Testament Christianity - J. C. Ryle


"Looking unto Jesus." Hebrews 12:2

The Christianity which the world requires, is a Christianity for everyday life. A mere Sunday religion is not enough. A thing put on and off with our Sunday clothes is powerless. A weekly round of forms and ceremonies within consecrated buildings, is not enough. Wise men remember that there is a world of duty and trial, outside the walls of the church, in which they have to play their part. They want something that they can carry with them into that world. A monastic religion will never do. A faith which cannot flourish except in an ecclesiastical hot-house, a faith which cannot face the cold air of worldly business, and bear fruit except behind the fence of retirement and private asceticism—such a faith is a plant which our Heavenly Father has not planted—and it brings no fruit to perfection.

A religion of spasmodic excitement will not do. It may suit weak and sentimental minds for a little season; but it rarely lasts. It lacks bone and muscle, and too often ends in deadness.

The Christianity which the world requires, and the Word of God reveals—is of a very different stamp. It is a useful everyday religion. It is a healthy, strong, manly plant, which can live in every position, and flourish in every atmosphere, except that of sin. It is a religion which a man can carry with him wherever he goes, and never need leave behind him. It will wear, and stand, and prosper in any climate—in winter and in summer, in heat and in cold. Such a religion meets the needs of mankind.

But where is such true Christianity to be found? What are its special ingredients? What is the nature of it? What are its peculiar characteristics? The answer to these questions is to be found in the three words of the text which form the title of this paper. The secret of a vigorous, powerful, everyday Christianity—is to be ever "Looking unto Jesus!"

In the phrase "looking unto Jesus," it is useful and interesting to remember that the Greek word which we render "looking," means "looking off," looking away from other objects to one, only one, and looking on that one with a steady, fixed, intent gaze. And the object we are to look at, you will observe, is a PERSON—not a doctrine, not an abstract theological dogma—but a living Person; and that Person is Jesus the Son of God!

The New Testament Christian was a man who trusted, and loved, a living Divine Person. Of head knowledge, and accurate theological definitions, perhaps he had but little store. Very likely he would have failed a basic exam at one of our theological schools. But one thing he did know—he knew, believed, loved, and would have died for, a living Savior, a real personal Friend in heaven—even Jesus, the crucified and risen Son of God.

-(J. C. Ryle, "Looking Unto Jesus!")

HT: Grace Gems