Saturday, September 30, 2006

Apostolic Fears - J. C. Ryle

Excerpt from “Apostolic Fears” by J.C. Ryle.

Warning #7 to the Church
Apostolic Fears
by J. C. Ryle (1816-1900)

"I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's
cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your
sincere and pure devotion to Christ."

The text which heads this page, contains one part of the experience of a very famous Christian. No servant of Christ perhaps has left such a mark for good on the world as the Apostle Paul. When he was born the whole Roman Empire, excepting one little corner, was sunk in the darkest heathenism; when he died the mighty fabric of heathenism was shaken to its very center and ready to fall. And none of the agents whom God used to produce this marvelous change did more than Saul of Tarsus, after his conversion. Yet even in the midst of his successes and usefulness we find him crying out, "I am afraid."

There is a melancholy ring about these words which demands our attention. They show a man of many cares and anxieties. He who supposes that Paul lived a life of ease, because he was a chosen Apostle, worked miracles, founded Churches, and wrote inspired Epistles, has yet much to learn. Nothing can be more unlike the truth! The eleventh chapter of the second Epistle to the Corinthians tells a very different tale. It is a chapter which deserves attentive study. Partly from the opposition of the heathen philosophers and priests, whose craft was in danger--partly from the bitter hatred of his own unbelieving countrymen--partly from false or weak brethren--partly from his own thorn in the flesh--the great Apostle of the Gentiles was like his Master--"a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering" (Isaiah 53:3).

But of all the burdens which Paul had to carry, none seems to have weighed him down so much as that to which he refers, when he writes to the Corinthians, "my concern for all the churches" (2 Corinthians 11:28). The scanty knowledge of many early Christians, their weak faith, their shallow experience, their dim hope, their low standard of holiness--all these things made them peculiarly liable to be led astray by false teachers, and to depart from the faith. Like little children, hardly able to walk, they required to be treated with immense patience. Like exotic plants in a hothouse, they had to be watched with incessant care. Can we doubt that they kept their Apostolic founder in a state of constant tender anxiety? Can we wonder that he says to the Colossians, "How much I am struggling for you," and to the Galatians, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel." "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?" (Colossians 2:1; Galatians 1:6; 3:1).

No attentive reader can study the Epistles without seeing this subject repeatedly cropping up. And the text I have placed at the head of this paper is a sample of what I mean: "I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ." That text contains three important lessons, which I wish to press on the attention of all my readers. I believe in my conscience they are lessons for the times.

I. First, the text shows us a spiritual "disease to which we are all susceptible, and which we ought to fear." That disease is corruption of our minds: "I am afraid your minds may somehow be led astray."

II. Secondly, the text shows us an "example which we ought to remember, as a beacon:" "Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning."

III. Thirdly, the text shows us "a point about which we ought to be especially on our guard." That point is being led astray "from sincere and pure devotion to Christ."
The text is a deep mine, and is not without difficulty. But let us go down into it boldly, and we shall find it contains much precious metal.

[The remainder of this article can be viewed at “Bible Bulletin Board”]

All Scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
This updated and revised manuscript is copyrighted (C)1998 by Tony Capoccia. All rights reserved.

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