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Daily Readings - John 3:16-21

J.C. Ryle, Daily Readings
John 3:16-21

These verses show us the true cause of the loss of man's soul. Our Lord says to Nicodemus, "This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."

The words before us form a suitable conclusion to the glorious tidings which we have just been considering. They completely clear God of injustice in the  condemnation of sinners. They show in simple and unmistakable terms that, although man's salvation is entirely of God, his ruin, if he is slost, will be entirely from himself. He will reap the fruit of his own sowing.

"God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." There is no unwillingness on God's part to receive any sinner, however great his sins. God has sent "light" into the world and if man will not come to the light the fault is entirely on man's side. His blood will be on his own head if he makes shipwreck of his soul. The blame will be on his own door if he misses heaven. His eternal misery will be the result of his own choice. His destruction will be the work of his own hand. God loved him and was willing to save him, but he loved darknesss and therefore darkness must be his everlasting portion. He wouldl not come to Christ and therefore he could not have life (John 5:40).

The truths we have been considering are peculiarly weighty and solemn. Do we live as if we believed them? Salvation by Christ's death is close to us today. Have we embraced it by faith and made it our own? Let us never rest till we know Christ as our own Saviour. Let us look to him without delay for pardon and peace, if we have never looked before. Let us go on believing on him, if we have already believed. "Whosoever" is his own gracious word -- "whosoever believeth on him, shall not perish, but have eternal life." 


Seminary gets me out of the echo chamber

For many years, I knew very few women who liked to discuss theology; who were even all that interested in it. Yes, there were women I attended Bible study with, but I had a frustration with some of the directions the studies went: more about me than about God.

When I began homeschooling and visiting a parent forum, I met other like-minded women. Then I began blogging. Then there was Twitter and Facebook, and the rest, as they say, is history. Over time, though, I am afraid that I have been tempted to stay more within the circles with whom I agree, and shown reluctance to interact with those I disagree with. At times, there was criticism directed to those who went outside the circle. And in true female fashion, there was often the cold shoulder to the one who dared question the status quo. That discouraged me. I didn't want to be frozen out or or criticized. I'm afraid I have tended to live in a bit of an echo chamber, and it's something I'm trying to remedy.

It is not an quick or easy process. I am a creature of habit. Mentioning that I agree with something an egalitarian says may cause people to question if I have abandoned complementarianism (I am wondering if that word has gone the way of "evangelical" and has become meaningless) or even worse, *whisper* become a feminist. In the past couple of years, I have braved the waters and sampled from voices outside of the echo chamber in which I often take refuge. It's been very educational, and I have lost my fear that I will spontaneously combust if I read an egalitarian writer.

Going to seminary has really helpled in that regard. We are encouraged to read outside where our convictions may lie. We are encouraged to evaluate our presuppositions. My theology prof, in relation to the Trinity controversy, suggested we read all views, not just the ones by the popular writers. In addition, being in seminary takes me out of a strictly female, married with children venue. 

My theology class this semester has more women than lasts semester: there are five of us. One of the ladies is not originally from North America. There are men young enough to be my children, men with young families, retired men, and single women. It is more ethnically diverse than my own local church. This is what I like about this class. There are varieties of opinions and backgrounds. Yes, we all chose to attend this institution, and that probably says something about what we believe, but there are still differences in experience, and that means we all see things a little differently. And we can learn from one another. There are writers I read, both male and female, who attract large audiences to their writing who could learn from my classmates. And everyone is gracious, respectful, and kind. That isn't always the case when one gets her theology talk fix from social media.

Some may say I'm just in a different echo chamber, and that's partly true. All of us in the class are focused on a similar goal: getting a theological education. Every private group runs the risk of becoming an echo chamber. However, this group has provided a breath of fresh air for me, and I'm thankful to God for being able to interact regularly.


Beware of slacking our hands

From J.C. Ryle, Daily Readings, January 31, morning:

Let us never despair about the cause of God's truth, however black and unfavourable its prospects might appear. At the very time when things see hopeless, God may be preparing a mighty deliverance. Let us beware of slacking our hands from any work of God because of the wickedness of the times or the number and power of our adversaries (Eccl. 11:4). Let us work on, and believe that help will come from heaven when it is most wanted.


Thankful Monday

I need to be thankful. After a weekend like the one that has just passed, I really need to focus on what I can be thankful for.

I am thankful for having dinner with all three kids last night. Yes, we talked a lot about politics. I am so thankful my kids are kind, compassionate, and thoughtful people.

I am thankful for God's truth, which endures forever. I am thankful for those who share a reverence for God's Word. It isn't just a book. It isn't just propositions and poetry. It's his revealed will.

I am thankful for Canadians who are loyal and supportive to this country, and who aren't afraid to show their patriotism.

I am thankful that I have a warm home, food to eat, and am not wandering aimlessly, looking for a place to live. I have done nothing to deserve this. It is all God's goodness and grace.

I am thankful for school, and for my classmates who challenge and encourage me. I am thankful for learning so much and seeing how much more there is to learn. I am thankful for good books and resources to help me with my studies.

I am thankful for my salvation, which was not my doing, but was a gift. I am thankful for the ability to be led by the Spirit, and to be enabled to love others because Christ first loved me.


Daily Readings - Luke 2:41-52

Daily Readings, J.C. Ryle
Luke 2:41-52

There is a lesson in this passage for all married people in the conduct of Joseph and Mary. We are told that they regularly honoured God's appointed ordinances and that they honoured them together (v.41). The distance from Nazareth to Jerusalem was great. The journey, to poor people without any means of conveyance, was troublesome and fatiguing. To leave house and home for ten days or a fortnight was no slight expense. But God had given Israel a command and Joseph and Mary strictly obeyed it. And all that they did concerning the Passover they did together. When they went up to the feast they always went side by side.

So ought it to be with all Christian husbands and wives. They ought to help one another in spiritual things and to encourage one another in the service of God. Marriage, unquestionably, is not a sacrament, as the Roman church vainly asserts. But marriage is a state of life which has the greatest effect on the souls of those who enter it. It helps them upwards or downwards. It leads them nearer to heaven or nearer to hell. We all depend much on the company we keep. Our characters are insensibly moulded by those with whom we pass our time. To none does this apply so much as to married people. Husbands and wives are continually doing good or harm to one another's souls.

Let all who are married, or think of being married, ponder these things well. Let them take example from the conduct of Mary and Joseph, and resolve to do likewise. Let them pray together, and read the Bible together, go to the house of God together and talk to one another about spiritual matters. Above all, let them beware of throwing obstacles and discouragements in one another's way about the means of grace. Blessed are those who say to their partners as Leah and Rachel did to Jacob in Genesis 31:16.