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Marriage and the Biblical Virtues

Written by Ian on 16/01/2014. Posted in Articles

An address given by Dr. E. S. Williams

(Former Director of Public Health for Croydon Health Authority)

 

Introduction

We live in a time when the Biblical understanding of marriage has been greatly undermined in both the Church and society. The promotion of same-sex marriage, which is attempting to re-define the meaning of marriage, is surely a symptom of our times. The Christian marriage education movement, which teaches psychological skills and techniques to help couples achieve marital happiness, has been eagerly embraced by many churches. As a consequence, many Christians are no longer sure what the Bible teaches about marriage. In my address, I aim to do two things. First to identify the influences and ideas that are undermining marriage in the eyes of society, and second, to show that the teaching of Scripture contains all that is needed for a blessed and fruitful marriage. 

The ‘Marriage’ Word

We need to recognise that the word ‘marriage’ is now deeply contentious, for there is no longer a consensus on the meaning of the word.  For over a thousand years the Biblical definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman, who become husband and wife, has been widely accepted, but society has now changed the way it thinks about marriage.  In the 1990s, the Oxford Dictionary defined marriage as ‘the legal union of a man and a woman in order to live together and often to have children’, omitting reference to husband and wife. This change has come about because of an intense ideological assault on the Biblical view of marriage, and because of reluctance on the part of many churches to teach about marriage. The void created by this reluctance has been eagerly filled by the so-called Christian marriage education movement. 

Marriage Wars

Sociological theory has portrayed marriage as the foundation of the patriarchal society, in which men have power over women. Many sociologists and intellectuals have described marriage as a relationship based on sexual inequality that oppresses women and inhibits their psychological growth. Marriage is held to be simply a lifestyle choice that, while it suits some people, is potentially harmful for others, in that it often leads to male domination and exploitation. These sociological views can be read in any standard textbook and are widely taught to students in schools, colleges and universities. They have also received wide coverage in popular news media, so that most people are aware of the so-called ‘evidence’ that disparages marriage. Sadly, many Christians have modified their views on marriage to take account of the flawed ‘evidence’ provided by sociological research. Much of what goes for Christian teaching today is an accretion of sociological theory with a few Biblical texts added to the mix. As a consequence, politically correct sociological thinking has become the new orthodoxy on family and marriage, replacing the Biblical view that held sway until the middle of the last century.

A sentiment hostile to marriage has penetrated deep into society. Even the messages of sex education, taught to school children, simply ignore marriage.  Official policy statements on sex education do not mention marriage and neither does most sex education literature.  This means that school children are taught about sex in a framework that does not recognise marriage as important. As a consequence, children are led to believe that sex outside marriage is the acceptable norm.

A teacher, brave enough to report what is actually happening in some schools, explains how she was asked by a senior member of staff to teach a sex education module to a class of 14 and 15-year-olds. She was given the task of teaching the children the mechanics of contraception, with the clear instruction, ‘We don’t, as a matter of policy, mention marriage or use the terms “husband” or “wife”.’

In the UK, the political and academic establishments are intensely hostile to traditional marriage. The terms of reference for a Government Committee on Family Policy did not even mention marriage. Opposition to marriage among the political class is such that the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ have been replaced with the word ‘partner’ in official Government reports. The 2010 Coalition Government, in its policy statement, says that it believes (quote) ‘that strong and stable families of all kinds are the bedrock of a strong and stable society’; yet the policy statement does not  use the word marriage.

The war over marriage has had major consequences for society. The past four decades have been characterised by a sharp fall in marriage rates, with a corresponding rise in couples living together who are not married, leading to an increase in the number of children that are born outside wedlock. Just under half of all births are to unmarried mothers; half of which are born to women in a cohabiting relationship. These profound social trends have led to a collapse in the traditional family. In a single generation there have been dramatic changes in family structure. Few people understand the social disaster that will inevitably result. 

Same-sex Marriage

Adding confusion to the meaning and purpose of marriage is the issue of same-sex marriage. What same-sex ‘marriage’ advocates are aiming to achieve is to divest marriage of its essential meaning as a union between one man and one woman. To call same-sex partnerships marriage is to change the meaning of the word, for same-sex ‘marriage’ dispenses with the concept of husband and wife. In effect, the same-sex lobby is seeking to usurp the word ‘marriage’. We now have the remarkable paradox of a political establishment deeply hostile to traditional marriage that is eagerly promoting same-sex marriage. 

Marriage Education

Another challenge to traditional marriage is the marriage education movement, which really gained prominence in the 1990s. Marriage education, which is an important arm of the psychotherapeutic industry, is aimed at a group of people who are taught the skills and techniques needed for a successful marriage. Marriage therapy, on the other hand, deals with the marital problems of a single couple, on a one to one basis, between therapist and the unhappy couple.

During the last two decades there has been a massive growth in marriage education on both sides of the Atlantic, with literally hundreds of organisations, both Christian and secular, delivering marriage education courses, seminars and conferences. A plethora of books on marriage education, like 12 Hours to a Great Marriage, or The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work or 5 Languages of Love have become best-sellers.

Marriage education has developed out of a branch of psychotherapy, usually referred to as marriage and family therapy, a profession that is ideologically opposed to traditional marriage. So when the proponents of marriage education claim to support marriage, it is not the Biblical view of marriage they support, but their own, so-called ‘equal-regard’ version of marriage; a version that strongly opposes the concept of male headship of the family, as taught in Scripture.

Marriage education is seeking to create a new marriage culture, based on the philosophy of Carl Rogers, the most influential psychological thinker of the twentieth century and one of the fiercest opponents of the Biblical view of marriage. In his book, Becoming Partners – Marriage and its Alternatives (1972), Rogers aims to help couples find alternatives to traditional marriage.  In many ways, Rogers can be seen as the prophet of modern marriage education, for it is his psychological theories that form the foundation of virtually all marriage education programmes.  He ridicules the Biblical view of marriage – and encourages people to follow their own way and do whatever makes them feel good. 

The Marriage Course

The Marriage Course, which originated from Holy Trinity Brompton, is massively popular in the UK and taught in around 70 countries worldwide. The seven sessions of The Course focus on psychological skills and techniques, such as the art of communication, conflict resolution, positive emotions and the power of forgiveness.

The first session focuses on the emotional needs of a couple. In the second session, the couple are required to each separately complete a psychological questionnaire and then to ‘write down their own three desires and give examples of how their husband or wife could meet their desires’.  The outcome of this exercise is that in the coming weeks a husband will concentrate on meeting his wife’s desires and, likewise, the wife on meeting her husband’s wants and desires. The MC, following Carl Rogers’ therapeutic model, places great emphasis on participants sharing their deepest emotional feelings. Husband and wife are told that they must learn to talk about their thoughts, feelings and desires. 

Why the Marriage Course Fails

The MC is promoting a psychological view of marriage. Although the MC refers to a few Biblical texts, the underlying pre-suppositions are based on psychological theories.  The Marriage Course cynically selects and twists Scripture in order to promote the concept of equal-regard marriage, entirely ignoring the Biblical concept of male headship and submission of the wife to her husband. So the essential Biblical teaching about the role of husband and wife and the governance of the family, as taught in Scripture, is simply disregarded. At this point, we see that so-called Christian marriage education is promoting a view of marriage that is contrary to Scripture. 

The Biblical View of Marriage

Now we turn to the Biblical view of marriage. God’s plan for sexual conduct and marriage is one of the most profound teachings of Scripture, for it forms the basis of family life and order in the Church. The Divine plan for marriage and the family is indeed the foundation on which a stable society is built. Because God’s plan for sexual conduct is based in Divine wisdom, it has a great appeal to the human heart. Those who hear God’s plan for marriage know in their conscience that what they are hearing is Divine truth—sometimes they even yearn for this ideal, whatever their own reality may be. In His great wisdom and kindness, God ordained the institution of marriage as a life-long union between husband and wife and safe-guarded marriage with four virtues—chastity, modesty, chivalry and fidelity.

The Sexual Nature of Mankind

Scripture makes it clear that sex is God’s idea. The God of the Bible, who created human beings in His own image, created mankind male and female. In His infinite wisdom, God created human beings as creatures who would reproduce sexually. God’s first command to mankind was to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28), which of course requires sexual relationships.  As we shall see, it is God’s will that children should be born into the family created at the time of marriage. After God had created the man from the dust of the earth, He said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him’ (Genesis 2:18). The Wycliffe Bible is helpful: ‘And the Lord God said, It is not good that a man be alone; make we to him an helper like to himself (let us make for him a helper like himself)’.

God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep and created the woman from a rib taken from the side of the man.  This is an important truth – for it shows the closeness of the relationship between the sexes. 

The Marriage Ordinance

The first marriage is described in the second chapter of Genesis. God brings the woman to Adam and he cries out with delight, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man’ (Genesis 2:23). God ordained marriage with these words: ‘Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24). Note in the Biblical definition a man is united to his wife.

The symbolism of the rib provides a picture of marriage, for at marriage the rib symbolically returns into the man, as husband and wife become one flesh; they are no longer two separate individuals but one entity—a new family. This is why the woman takes the man’s name, thereby fully identifying herself and their offspring as one family. There is something so deep and wonderful in the marriage bond that we need spiritual insight to understand its divine significance.  Scripture uses the unity between Christ and his Church as a symbol of the marriage union of husband and wife (Ephesians 5:31-32). Yet marriage is a creation ordinance, which means that it is for all people, not just Christians.

The Lord Jesus emphasised and confirmed the one flesh union created at marriage with the words: ‘Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder’ (Matthew 19:6). The one flesh union is complete when the couple consummate their marriage union by sexual intercourse. Husband and wife lovingly share their sexual life, accepting that their union, in the providence of God, is likely to be blessed with children. They accept with joy the children that result, for they are the natural, legitimate products of their marriage—clear evidence that they are truly one flesh. The concept of one flesh is illustrated by the children who are born into the family. Both parents contribute equally to the genetic make-up of their children and their physical likeness to their parents witnesses to this fact. Biblical teaching makes it clear that a family is formed by the marriage of a man and a woman.

According to the Lord Jesus, it is God who joins a husband and wife in marriage. And so we see a profound Biblical truth— families are created by God and not by man. Those who marry must understand that they have entered into a life-long union; there is no turning back, no second chance; for the marriage vow is ‘till death us do part’. This is why it is so important for husband and wife to remain faithful to each other. 

Working Together in Partnership

The Lord God planted a garden in Eden and put the man in the garden to tend and keep it (Genesis 2:8, 15). Here we see from Scripture that the prime task of man is to work the Garden of God, standing for this world in general. Even before the Fall, it was God’s intention that man, created in the image of God, should work to develop the world. This is a fundamental Biblical truth—work is intrinsic to human life. And God created the woman to help the man work the Garden. God said: ‘let us make for him a helper like himself’. ‘I will make him an help meet for him’ (Genesis 2:18). And here we see an important truth about marriage that is largely forgotten in our day. The man and woman – united in marriage – are together, as husband and wife, to work the Garden.

The primary task of a Godly marriage is for husband and wife to work together to develop God’s creation. The primary task of a Christian husband and wife is to work together as they care for their family, support others and build the Church of God. This means that a Godly marriage is a relationship that is directed toward God and is outward- looking, in which husband and wife engage in their God-given task of working for others. The modern idea of the inward-looking marriage, in which the prime task of husband and wife is to meet each other’s emotional needs, is an aberration. Such a marriage, which focuses on the desires and wants and happiness of husband and wife, is a selfish enterprise that entirely fails to understand the purposes of God. 

The Four Biblical Virtues That Protect Marriage

The Bible is clear that holiness must be exhibited in the sexual realm. In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 we read: ‘For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:  that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God’… Therefore, having the promises of God, ‘let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God’ (2 Corinthians 7:1). The Apostle Paul instructed young Timothy to relate to young women as sisters ‘with all purity’ (1Timothy 5:2). It is God’s will that His people should be pure and faithful in their relationships with members of the opposite sex.

Christian sexual conduct is expressed in the four virtues— chastity, modesty, chivalry and fidelity. Purity of heart and mind is the foundation on which these virtues are built. While each virtue applies to an aspect of sexual behaviour, together they form a coherent inner belief system that witnesses to God’s holiness and sets a standard for sexual conduct that gives meaning to marriage and the family. Marriage and the family flourish when all four virtues are practised. And, most important of all, these are the Christian virtues that guard children from danger and abuse—they provide children with God-given security, protecting them from the ravages that result from sexual immorality. In His great wisdom and kindness, God has instituted moral laws around human sexual conduct that preserve marriage, secure the family and protect children. These virtues are based in the holy, righteous character of God and are reflected in His moral law. 

The Virtue of Chastity

Chastity is a way of life that seeks after God’s holiness in thought, word and deed and especially in the realm of sexual conduct. The Biblical word ‘chastity’ is translated from the Greek word hagnos; it means ‘pure from every fault’, ‘undefiled’, and is derived from the word hagios, which means ‘holy’, ‘free from evil’, ‘separated from sin’. A chaste mind strives for purity in every aspect of life: ‘Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully’ (Psalm 24:3, 4). Chastity understands and rejoices in God’s purpose that a sexual relationship is meant only for the marriage union between husband and wife. It encompasses the way we think, the way we speak, the way we act, both before and during marriage. Because chastity is based on the inner desire of the heart for a pure life, all unbecoming, indecent, impure, immoral conduct is recognised as sinful.

Chastity is an essential doctrine of the Christian Church, for chaste conduct is pleasing to God. Our Lord said: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God’ (Matthew 5:8). A chaste mind is cultivated by obedience to God’s word. ‘Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Thy Word… Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee’ (Psalm 119: 9, 11).

Essential attributes of chaste conduct are purity of speech and purity of the eyes. God’s people must rid themselves of ‘filthy communication’ (Colossians 3:8). We should not let any unwholesome talk’ come out of our mouths, and there must be no ‘obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place… Christian believers do not indulge in course or smutty language.

Our eyes are powerful receptors of both light and darkness. Jesus said: ‘The light of the body is the eye; therefore, when thine eye is single (good), thy whole body also is full of light, but when thine eye is evil (bad), thy body also is full of darkness. (Luke 11:34-35). We must guard our eyes against evil images that deaden our spiritual life.

According to the Heidelburg Catechism: ‘Since both our body and soul are temples of the Holy Ghost, it is His will that we keep both pure and holy; therefore, He forbids all unchaste actions, gestures, words, thoughts, desires and whatever may entice thereto.’

A key ministry for Godly older Christian women is to train younger women to be discreet, chaste and good wives. (Titus 2:4-5). 

The Virtue of Modesty – Inner Beauty, Outward Conduct

Modesty is a Biblical virtue that flows from a chaste lifestyle. It is the virtue that reveals a woman’s inner beauty by her outward conduct and good works. The Apostle Paul emphasises the importance of modesty in his letter to Timothy: ‘In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety [decency and self-control]; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works’ (1 Timothy 2:9-10).  Modesty is the fruit of Godliness, which reveals itself in the way a woman dresses and speaks, her general demeanour – and especially the way she behaves in the presence of men. A modest woman does not make an outward show of her female attributes and does not dress or behave in a way that is sexually provocative or that attracts undue attention.

The great value of modesty is that it enhances the inner beauty and character of a woman. The Apostle Peter teaches a Christian wife to witness to her unbelieving husband by the purity and reverence of her life; for her beauty comes not from ‘outward adorning’, like clothes and make up, ‘but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price’ (1 Peter 3:3-4). So an important feature of modesty is a quiet and gentle spirit, which demonstrates a woman’s true worth as a person. Modesty is primarily directed towards men – and makes a clear statement of a woman’s intention to preserve her sexuality for the one man who will be her husband and the father of her children. The meek and quiet spirit of a modest wife willingly submits to the headship of her husband in everything. And there is a mystery about the modest woman, for although she does not strive to be overtly sexual, she radiates true feminine attributes.  Because modesty reveals a woman’s inner beauty, it is attractive to the man who loves her and chooses her to be his wife.

Scripture provides us with the picture of modesty in Rebecca, the wife of Isaac. ‘…the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her’ (Genesis 24:16).  When Rebecca saw Isaac, her future husband, she protected her modesty by alighting from the camel and by taking her veil and covering herself (Genesis 24:64-65). 

The Virtue of Chivalry

Chivalry is a male virtue based in the respect and honour that men have towards women. It is cultivated by the inner desire for self-control. Although the term is not used in Scripture, the virtue of chivalry flows from Peter’s instruction to husbands to treat their wives with respect ‘giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life’ (1 Peter 3:7). In verse 8, the Apostle instructs believers to have compassion for one another and to be courteous.

Bound up in the virtue of chivalry is recognition that women are the weaker sex, for they do not have the same physical strength or aggressive nature as men. Chivalry recognises a woman’s sexual vulnerability in that she is prone to pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood. A chivalrous man is self-controlled (Titus 2:6) and does not take sexual advantage – and does not place a woman in a compromising position. He is careful to do nothing that will tarnish her reputation.

This virtue provides the moral framework in which worthy men relate to women; it teaches a man to become a gentleman, committed to honour and principle. It reveals itself in a man’s courteous behaviour towards women. He stands up when a woman enters the room and he holds the door for her. Like modesty, it comes from the inner self and is a reflection of God’s moral law. Men are created in such a way that it is natural for them to protect and defend women. God has ordained man as the head of the family; charged him with the protection of his family and instructed him to treat his wife deferentially as the weaker partner. A chivalrous man will never raise his hand to a woman. It is because men are called to lead that they must be the first to sacrifice their lives. Two weeks after the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, a naval officer told a United States Senate panel that ‘women and children first’ was more than just the law of the sea—‘It is the law of human nature.’

Chivalrous behaviour inspires genuine, honest relationships between the sexes, such as courtship, love, and marriage. It is the essential masculine virtues that capture a woman’s heart. 

The Virtue of Fidelity

The virtue of fidelity comes from the faithfulness of God. ‘Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations’ (Deuteronomy 7:9). As God is faithful in all His promises to His people, so His people are to be faithful in their promises to each other. This is particularly the case between husband and wife who have promised to live together as man and wife for life. 

Conclusion

The Divine plan for sexual conduct is based in the wisdom and kindness of God. The Church must teach young people these great Biblical truths, which have been largely forgotten in our day. It is a teaching that our sin-sick world desperately needs. In the early Church, the sexual conduct of Christian believers had a massive influence on the pagan world, for they saw the great benefits of stable marriage and family life. God’s people should not be influenced by the flawed research of sociology. We must not turn to the man-made wisdom of psychology or the facile messages of the marriage education movement.  Today the Christian church needs to follow and teach the Biblical understanding of marriage and proclaim the Biblical virtues from the rooftops. We must understand that everything we need to know about marriage, relationships and the family is contained in Scripture. Scripture is sufficient. We are complete in Christ. ‘According as His Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness’ (2 Peter 1:3).

Marriage and the Biblical Virtues

Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones Interview

Written by Ian on 22/12/2013. Posted in Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones

J C Ryle-Christmas Tract ‘What Think Ye of Christ?’

Written by Ian on 22/12/2013. Posted in Articles

Christmas is a season which almost all Christians observe in one way or another. Some keep it as a religious season. Some keep it as a holiday. But all over the world, wherever there are Christians, in one way or another Christmas is kept.

Perhaps there is no country in which Christmas is so much observed as it is in England. Christmas holidays, Christmas parties, Christmas family-gatherings, Christmas services in churches, Christmas hymns and carols, Christmas holly and mistletoe,—who has not heard of these things? They are as familiar to English people as anything in their lives. They are among the first things we remember when we were children. Our grandfathers and grandmothers were used to them long before we were born. They have been going on in England for many hundred years. They seem likely to go on as long as the world stands.

But, reader, how many of those who keep Christmas ever consider why Christmas is kept? How many, in their Christmas plans and arrangements, give a thought to Him, without whom there would have been no Christmas at all? How many ever remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is the cause of Christmas ? How many ever reflect that the first intention of Christmas was to remind Christians of Christ’s birth and coming into the world? Reader, how is it with you? What do you think of at Christmas?

Bear with me a few minutes, while I try to press upon you the question which heads this tract. I do not want to make your Christmas merriment less. I do not wish to spoil your Christmas cheer. I only wish to put things in their right places. I want Christ Himself to be remembered at Christmas! Give me your attention while I unfold the question—”What think ye of Christ?”

I. Let us consider, firstly, why all men ought to think of Christ.

II. Let us examine, secondly, the common thoughts of many about Christ.

III. Let us count up, lastly, the thoughts of true Christians about Christ.

Reader, I dare say the demands upon your time this Christmas are many. Your holidays are short. You have friends to see. You have much to talk about. But still, in the midst of all your hurry and excitement, give a little time to your soul. There will be a Christmas some year, when your place will be empty. Before that time comes, suffer me as a friend to press home on your conscience the inquiry,—”What think ye of Christ?”

I. First, then, let us consider why all men ought to think of Christ.

This is a question which needs to be answered, at the very outset of this tract. I know the minds of some people when they are asked about such things as I am handling today. I know that many are ready to say, “Why should we think about Christ at all ? We want meat, and drink, and money, and clothes, and amusements. We have no time to think about these high subjects. We do not understand them. Let parsons, and old women, and Sunday-school children mind such things if they like. We have no time in a world like this to be thinking of Christ.”

Such is the talk of thousands in this country. They never go either to church or chapel. They never read their Bibles. The world is their god. They think themselves very wise and clever. They despise those whom they call “religious people.” But whether they like it or not, they will all have to die one day. They have all souls to be lost or saved in a world to come. They will all have to rise again from their graves, and to have a reckoning with God. And shall their scoffing and contempt stop our mouths, and make us ashamed? No, indeed! not for a moment! Listen to me and I will tell you why.

All men ought to think of Christ, because of the office Christ fills between God and man. He is the eternal Son of God, through whom alone the Father can be known, approached, and served. He is the appointed Mediator between God and man, through whom alone we can be reconciled with God, pardoned, justified, and saved. He is the Divine Person whom God the Father has sealed to be the giver of everything that man requires for his soul. To Him are committed the keys of death and hell. In His favour is life. In Him alone there is hope of salvation for mankind. Without Him no child of Adam can be saved. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” “He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (I Cor. iii. 11; 1 John v.12.) And ought not man to think of Christ? Shall God the Father honour Him, and shall not man? I tell every reader of this tract that there is no person, living or dead, of such immense importance to all men as Christ. There is no person that men ought to think about so much as Christ.

All men ought to think of Christ, because of what Christ has done for all men. He thought upon man, when man was lost, bankrupt, and helpless by the fall, and undertook to come into the world to save sinners. In the fullness of time He was born of the Virgin Mary, and lived for man thirty-three years in this evil world. At the end of that time He suffered for sin on the cross, as man’s substitute. He bore man’s sins in His own body, and shed His own lifeblood to pay man’s debt to God. He was made a curse for man, that man might be blessed. He died for man that man might live. He was counted a sinner for man that man might be counted righteous. And ought not man to think of Christ? I tell every reader of this tract that if Christ had not died for us, we might all of us, for anything we know, be lying at this moment in hell.

All men ought to think of Christ, because of what Christ will yet do to all men. He shall come again one day to this earth with power and glory, and raise the dead from their graves. All shall come forth at His bidding. Those who would not move when they heard the church-going bell, shall obey the voice of the Archangel and the trump of God. He shall set up His judgment-seat, and summon all mankind to stand before it. To Him every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord. Not one shall be able to escape that solemn assize. Not one but shall receive at the mouth of Christ an eternal sentence. Every one shall receive according to what he has done in the body, whether it be good or bad. And ought not men to think of Christ? I tell every reader of this tract, that whatever he may choose to think now, a day is soon coming when his eternal condition will hinge entirely on his relations to Christ.

But why should I say more on this subject? The time would fail me if I were to set down all the reasons why all men ought to think of Christ. Christ is the grand subject of the Bible. The Scriptures testify of Him.—Christ is the great object to whom all the Churches in Christendom profess to give honour. Even the worst and most corrupt branches of it will tell you that they are built on Christ.—Christ is the end and substance of all sacraments and ordinances.—Christ is the grand subject which every faithful minister exalts in the pulpit.—Christ is the object that every true pastor sets before dying people on their deathbeds.—Christ is the great source of light and peace and hope. There is not a spark of spiritual comfort that has ever illumined a sinner’s heart, that has not come from Christ. Surely it never can be a small matter whether we have any thoughts about Christ.

Reader, I leave this part of my subject here. There are many things which swallow up men’s thoughts while they live, which they will think little of when they are dying. Hundreds are wholly absorbed in political schemes, and seem to care for nothing but the advancement of their own party.—Myriads are buried in business and money matters, and seem to neglect everything else but this world.—Thousands are always wrangling about the forms and ceremonies of religion, and are ready to cry down everybody who does not use their shibboleths, and worship in their way. But an hour is fast coming when only one subject will be minded, and that subject will be Christ! We shall all find—and many perhaps too late—that it mattered little what we thought about other things, so long as we did not think about Christ.

Reader, I tell you this Christmas, that all men ought to think about Christ. There is no one in whom all the world has such a deep interest. There is no one to whom all the world owes so much. High and low, rich and poor, old and young, gentle and simple,—all ought to think about Christ.

II. Let us examine, secondly, the common thoughts of many about Christ.

To set down the whole list of thoughts about Christ, would indeed be thankless labour. It must content us to range them under a few general heads. This will save us both time and trouble. There were many strange thoughts about Christ when He was on earth. There are many strange and wrong thoughts about Christ now, when He is in heaven.

The thoughts of some people about Christ are simply blasphemous. They are not ashamed to deny His Divinity. They refuse to believe the miracles recorded of Him. They pretend to find fault with not a few of His sayings and doings. They even question the perfect honesty and sincerity of some things that He did. They tell us that He ought to be ranked with great Reformers and Philosophers, like Socrates, Seneca, and Confucius, but no higher.—Thoughts like these are purely ridiculous and absurd. They utterly fail to explain the enormous influence which Christ and Christianity have had for eighteen hundred years in this world. There is not the slightest comparison to be made between Christ and any other teacher of mankind that ever lived. The difference between Him and others is a gulf that cannot be spanned, and a height that cannot be measured. It is the difference between gold and clay,—between the sun and a candle. Nothing can account for Christ and Christianity, but the old belief that Christ is very God. Reader, are the thoughts I have just described your own? If they are, take care!

The thoughts of some people about Christ are vague, dim, misty, and indistinct. That there was such a Person they do not for a moment deny. That He was the Founder of Christianity, and the object of Christian worship, they are quite aware. That they hear of Him every time they go to public worship, and ought to have some opinion or belief about Him, they will fully admit. But they could not tell you what it is they believe. They could not accurately describe and define it. They have not thoroughly considered the subject They have not made up their minds! —Thoughts such as these are foolish, silly, and unreasonable. To be a dying sinner with an immortal soul, and to go on living without making up one’s mind about the only Person who can save us, the Person who will at last judge us, is the conduct of a lunatic or an idiot, and not of a rational man. Reader, are the thoughts I have just described your own? If any are, take care!

The thoughts of some men about Christ are mean and low. They have, no doubt, a distinct opinion about His position in their system of Christianity. They consider that if they do their best, and live moral lives, and go to church pretty regularly, and use the ordinances of religion, Christ will deal mercifully with them at last, and make up any deficiencies.—Thoughts such as these utterly fail to explain why Christ died on the cross. They take the crown off Christ’s head, and degrade Him into a kind of make-weight to man’s soul. They overthrow the whole system of the Gospel, and pull up all its leading doctrines by the roots. They exalt man to an absurdly high position; as if he could pay some part of the price of his soul!—They rob man of all the comfort of the Gospel; as if he must needs do something and perform some work to justify his own soul!—They make Christ a sort of Judge far more than a Saviour, and place the cross and the atonement in a degraded and inferior position! Reader, are the thoughts I have just described your own? If they are, take care !

The thoughts of some men about Christ are dishonouring and libellous. They seem to think that we need a mediator between ourselves and our Saviour! They appear to suppose that Christ is so high, and awful, and exalted a Person, that poor, sinful man may not approach Him! They say that we must employ an Episcopacy ordained minister as a kind of go-between, to stand between us and Jesus, and manage for our souls! They send us to saints, or angels, or the Virgin Mary, as if they were more kind and accessible than Christ!—Thoughts such as these are a practical denial of Christ’s priestly office. They overthrow the whole doctrine of His peculiar business, as man’s Intercessor. They hide and bury out of sight His especial love to sinners and His boundless willingness to receive them. Instead of a gracious Saviour, they make Him out an austere and hard King. Reader, are the thoughts I have just described your own? If they are, take care!

The thoughts of some men about Christ are wicked and unholy. They seem to think that they may live as they please, because Christ died for sinners! They will indulge every kind of wickedness, and yet flatter themselves that they are not blameworthy for it, because Christ is a merciful Saviour! They will talk complacently of God’s election, and the necessity of grace, and the impossibility of being justified by works and the fullness of Christ, and then make these glorious doctrines an excuse for lying, cheating, drunkenness, fornication, and every kind of immorality.—Thoughts such as these are as blasphemous and profane as downright infidelity. They actually make Christ the patron of sin. Reader, are these thoughts I have described your own? If they are, take care!

Reader, two general remarks apply to all these thoughts about Christ of which I have just been speaking. They all show a deplorable ignorance of Scripture. I defy any one to read the Bible honestly and find any warrant for them in that blessed Book. Men cannot know their Bibles when they hold such opinions.—They all help to prove the corruption and darkness of human nature. Man is ready to believe anything about Christ except the simple truth. He loves to set up an idol of his own, and bow down to it, rather than accept the Saviour whom God puts before him.

I leave this part of my subject here. It is a sorrowful and painful one, but not without its use. It is necessary to study morbid anatomy, if we would understand health. The ground must be cleared of rubbish before we build.

III. Let us now count up, lastly, the thoughts of true Christians about Christ.

The thoughts I am going to describe are not the thoughts of many. I admit this most fully. It would be vain to deny it. The number of right thinkers about Christ in every age has been small. The true Christians among professing Christians have always been few. If it were not so, the Bible would have told an untruth. “Strait is the gate,” says the Lord Jesus, “and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.—Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.” “Many walk,” says Paul, “of whom I tell you, even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction.” (Matt vii. 13, 14. Phil. iii. 18, 19.)

True Christians have high thoughts of Christ. They see in Him a wondrous Person, far above all other beings in His nature,—a Person who is at one and the same time perfect God, mighty to save, and perfect Man, able to feel.—They see in Him an All-powerful Redeemer, who has paid their countless debts to God, and delivered their souls from guilt and hell.—They see in Him an Almighty Friend, who left heaven for them, lived for them, died for them, rose again for them,—that He might save them for evermore.—They see in Him an Almighty Physician, who washed away their sins in His own blood, put His own Spirit in their hearts, delivered them from the power of sin, and gave them power to become God’s children.—Happy are they who have such thoughts! Reader, have you?

True Christians have trustful thoughts of Christ. They daily lean the weight of their souls upon Him by faith, for pardon and peace. They daily commit the care of their souls to Him, as a man commits a treasure to a safe keeper. They daily cling to Him by faith, as a child in a crowd clings to its mother’s hand. They look to Him daily for mercy, grace, comfort, help, and strength, as Israel looked to the pillar of cloud and fire in the wilderness for guidance. Christ is the Rock under their feet, and the staff in their hands, their ark and their city of refuge, their sun and their shield, their bread and their medicine, their health and their light, their fountain and their shelter, their portion and their home, their door and their ladder, their root and their head, their advocate and their physician, their captain and their elder brother, their life, their hope, and their all. Happy are they who have such thoughts! Reader, have you?

True Christians have experimental thoughts of Christ. The things that they think of Him, they do not merely think with their heads. They have not learned them from schools, or picked them up from others. They think them because they have found them true by their own heart’s experience. They have proved them, and tasted them, and tried them. They think out for themselves what they have felt . There is all the difference in the world between knowing that a man is a doctor or a lawyer, while we never have occasion to employ him, and knowing him as “our own,” because we have gone to him for medicine or law. Just in the same way there is a wide difference between head knowledge and experimental thoughts of Christ. Happy are they who have such thoughts? Reader, have you?

True Christians have loving and reverent thoughts of Christ. They love to do the things that please Him. They like, in their poor weak way, to show their affection to Him by keeping His words. They love everything belonging to Him,—His day, His house, His ordinances, His people, His Book. They never find His yoke heavy, or His burden painful to bear, or His Commandments grievous. Love lightens all. They know something of the mind of Mr. Standfast, in “Pilgrim’s Progress,” when he said, as he stood in the river,—”I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of; and whenever I have seen the print of His shoe in the earth, then I have coveted to set my foot over it.” Happy are they who have such thoughts? Reader, have you?

True Christians have hopeful thoughts of Christ. They expect to receive far more from Him one day than they have ever received yet. They hope that they shall be kept to the end, and never perish. But this is not all. They look forward to Christ’s second coming and expect that then they shall see far more than they have seen, and enjoy far more than they have yet enjoyed. They have the earnest of an inheritance now in the Spirit dwelling in their heart. But they hope for a far fuller possession when this world has passed away. They have hopeful thoughts of Christ’s second Advent, of their own resurrection from the grave of their reunion with all the saints who have gone before them, of eternal blessedness in Christ’s kingdom. Happy are they who have such thoughts! They sweeten life, and lift men over many cares. Reader, have you such thoughts ?

Reader, thoughts such as these are the property of all true Christians. Some of them know more of them and some of them know less. But all know something about them. They do not always feel them equally at all time! They do not always find such thoughts equally fresh and green in their minds. They have their winter as well as their summer, and their low tide as well as their high water. But all true Christians are, more or less, acquainted with these thoughts. In this matter churchmen and dissenters, rich and poor, all are agreed, if they are true Christians. In other things they may be unable to agree and see alike. But they all agree in their thoughts about Christ. One word they can all say, which is the same in every tongue. That word is “Hallelujah,” praise to the Lord Christ! One answer they can all make, which in every tongue is equally the same. That word is, “Amen,” so be it!

And now, reader, I shall wind up my Christmas tract, by simply bringing before your conscience the question which forms its title. I ask you this day, —”What think ye of Christ?”

What others think about Him is not the question now. Their mistakes are no excuse for you.—Their correct views will not save your soul. The point you have before you is simply this,—”What do you think yourself?”

Reader, this Christmas may possibly be your last. Who can tell but you may never live to see another December come round? Who can tell but your place may be empty, when the family party next Christmas is gathered together? Do not, I entreat you, put off my question or turn away from it. It can do you no harm to look at it and consider it. What do you think of Christ?

Begin, I beseech you, this day to have right thoughts of Christ, if you never had them before. Let the time past suffice you to have lived without real and heartfelt religion.—Let this present Christmas be a starting point in your soul’s history. Awake to see the value of your soul, and the immense importance of being saved. Break off sharp from sin and the world. Get down your Bible and begin to read it. Call upon the Lord Jesus Christ in prayer, and beseech Him to save your soul. Rest not, rest not till you have trustful, loving, experimental, hopeful thoughts of Christ.

Reader, mark my words! If you will only take the advice I have now given you, you will never repent it. Your life in future will be happier. Your heart will be lighter. Your Christmas gatherings will be more truly joyful. Nothing makes Christmas meetings so happy as to feel that we are all travelling on towards an eternal gathering in heaven.

Reader, I say for the last time, if you would have a happy Christmas, have right thoughts about Christ.

J C Ryle-Christmas Tract ‘What Think Ye of Christ?’

18th November

Written by Ian on 17/11/2013. Posted in Devotionals

“And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.” Psalm 107:7

“He led them forth.” Forth out of the world—forth out of sin—forth out of a profession— forth out of a name to live—forth out of everything hateful to his holy and pure eyes. “To go to a city of habitation.” They had no city to dwell in here below; but they were journeying to a city of habitation above, whose walls and bulwarks are salvation, and whose gates are praise; where there are eternal realities to be enjoyed by the soul; where there is something stable and eternal; something to satisfy all the wants of a capacious and immortal spirit, and give it that rest which it never could find while wandering here below. If we have a city here, we want no city above; and if we have a city above, we want no city here.
This then must be our state and case; either to be pilgrims, journeying onwards, through troubles, to things above, or taking up our abode below; seeking heaven here, or heaven hereafter; resting upon the world, or resting upon the Lord; panting after the things of time, or panting after the things of eternity; satisfied in self, or satisfied only in Christ. One of the two must be our state and case. The Lord decide it clearly in the hearts of his people that they are on his side; and give us to know and feel that our very restlessness and inability to find food and shelter in the things of time and sense, are leading us more earnestly and believingly to seek after the things that have reality in them; that finding no city to dwell in here below, we may press forward to be manifestly enjoying testimonies of being citizens of
that city which is above, “which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God!”

J. C. Philpot 1802-1869

‘All Joy in All Trials’ by C. H. SPURGEON

Written by Ian on 28/05/2013. Posted in Articles

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”—James i. 2-4.

James calls the converted among the twelve tribes his brethren. Christianity has a great uniting power: it both discovers and creates relationships among the sons of men. It reminds us of the ties of nature, and binds us with the bonds of grace. Every one that is born of the Spirit of God is brother to every other that is born of the same Spirit. Well may we be called brethren, for we are redeemed by one blood; we are partakers of the same life; we feed upon the same heavenly food; we are united to the same living head; we seek the same ends; we love the same Father: we are heirs of the same promises; and we shall dwell for ever together in the same heaven. Wherefore, let brotherly love continue; let us love one another with a pure heart fervently, and manifest that love, not in word only, but in deed and in truth. Whatever brotherhood may be a sham, let the brotherhood of believers be the most real thing beneath the stars……..

‘All Joy in All Trials’ by C. H. SPURGEON

“Search the Scriptures.” John v. 39. by Rev. George Whitefield.

Written by Ian on 22/05/2013. Posted in Articles

George Whitefield continued from front page…..

I shall, therefore,
FIRST, Show, that it is every one’s duty to search them.
And SECONDLY, Lay down some directions for you to search them with advantage.
I. I am to show that it is every person’s duty to search the Scriptures.
By the Scriptures, I understand the law and the prophets, and those books which have in all ages been accounted canonical, and which make up that volume commonly called the Bible.
These are emphatically styled the Scriptures, and, in one place, the “Scriptures of Truth,” as though no other books deserved the name of true writings or scripture in comparison of them.
They are not of any private interpretation, authority, or invention, but holy men of old wrote them, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
The fountain of God’s revealing himself thus to mankind, was our fall in Adam, and the necessity of our new birth in Christ Jesus. And if we search the scriptures as we ought, we shall find the sum and substance, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end of them, is to lead us to a knowledge of these two great truths.
All the threats, promises and precepts, all the exhortations and doctrines contained therein, all the rites, ceremonies and sacrifices appointed under the Jewish law; nay, almost all the historical parts of holy scripture, suppose our being fallen in Adam, and either point out to us a Mediator to come, or speak of him as already come in the flesh.
Had man continued in a state of innocence, he would not have needed an outward revelation, because the law of God was so deeply written in the tables of his heart. But having eaten the forbidden fruit, he incurred the displeasure of God, and lost the divine image, and, therefore, without an external revelation, could never tell how God would be reconciled unto him, or how he should be saved from the misery and darkness of his fallen nature.

“Search the Scriptures.” John v. 39. by Rev. George Whitefield.

Intolerant Atheists Viciously Attack Christian School

Written by Ian on 12/05/2013. Posted in Archive

Christian education is under attack in America as never before. Yesterday on this website, we highlighted the plight of the Romeikes, a German Christian family who is seeking asylum in America because the German government forbids their homeschool instruction. The Obama Administration is siding with the German government and its view of homeschooling, and they are seeking to deport this family who wants to educate their children in accord with God’s Word. If the U.S. Attorney General succeeds in denying their asylum, it may have chilling ramifications for religious and educational liberties in the United States.

Click Here to read the Article

Intolerant Atheists Viciously Attack Christian School

The Evangelical Apostasy of the Present Day-Richard Bennett

Written by Ian on 20/04/2013. Posted in Articles

Dear Friend,

At the present time, an appalling Evangelical Ecumenical Apostasy has happened. What is at stake is the very righteousness of Christ Jesus the Lord in His perfect, finished work that is proclaimed in the Gospel. In fact, many well-known Evangelicals in their endeavors to attract people have concealed the Gospel of grace. The video that you are about to see gives the names of those who embrace this horrendous apostasy.

We ask that you make this video known to your church. The hour has come for biblical separation from those who have perverted the very Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In face of all this abounding deception, how do we live and reign daily with Christ Jesus? The Apostle Paul gives us the answer, “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:20-21).

As you profess your faith in Jesus Christ alone, if you can, let us hear from you at: richardmbennett@yahoo.com It is imperative that we do something, so kindly make the video known to others by forwarding its URL to your church, family, and friends.

Thank you,

Richard Bennett



Richard Bennett is a former Roman Catholic priest.
You can read Richard Bennett’s testimony on his website at bereanbeacon.org/.
The video ‘The Evangelical Ecumenical Apostasy of the Present Day’ can be viewed by clicking Here.

The Evangelical Apostasy of the Present Day-Richard Bennett

Needs of the Times

…Full Article

Written by Ian on 23/03/2013. Posted in Articles, Responsibility

True biblical exposition always seems timeless, no less this from 1 Chronicles 12:32 by J C Ryle.

Needs of the Times

“Men that had understanding of the times” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

These words were written about the tribe of Issachar, in the days when David first began to reign over Israel. It seems that after Saul’s unhappy death, some of the tribes of Israel were undecided what to do. “Under which king?” was the question of the day in Palestine. Men doubted whether they should cling to the family of Saul, or accept David as their king. Some hung back, and would not commit themselves; others came forward boldly, and declared for David. Among these last were many of the children of Issachar; and the Holy Spirit gives them a special word of praise. He says, “They were men that had understanding of the times.”

I cannot doubt that this sentence, like every sentence in Scripture, was written for our learning. These men of Issachar are set before us as a pattern to be imitated, and an example to be followed; for it is a most important thing to understand the times in which we live, and to know what those times require. The wise men in the court of Ahasuerus knew the times (Esther 1:13). Our Lord Jesus Christ blames the Jews, because they “knew not the time of their visitation,” and did not “discern the signs of the times” (Luke 19:44; Matt. 16:3). Let us take heed lest we fall into the same sin. The man who is content to sit ignorantly by his own fireside, wrapped up in his own private affairs, and has no public eye for what is going on in the church and the world, is a miserable patriot, and a poor style of Christian. Next to our Bibles and our own hearts, our Lord would have us study our own times.

Needs of the Times

…Full Article

Could God Have Used Evolution?

Written by Ian on 21/03/2013. Posted in Articles, Creation

Could God Have Used Evolution? (Part 1)
by Jay Seegert (Co-Founder & Principal Lecturer, Creation Education Center)

The following excert is from an article that is part one of a series of three articles on the subject at the head of the page.
To view the rest of the article follow the link at the end.

“How could you be so arrogant to say that God could not use evolution? I have a degree in Biology and know that evolution is a fact and that all scientists believe it!”

‘Where does this question come from? I believe it is largely generated by the fact that many Christians find themselves in a bit of an apparent dilemma. They certainly believe in God and view the Bible as being his inspired Word, but they are also under the impression that scientist have virtually proven that evolution is a fact. They may also believe that science just deals with facts and you can’t really argue with that, because it is what it is. On the other hand, they reason that the Bible can be interpreted in many different ways and it doesn’t matter so much what we believe about creation, as long as we at least believe in Jesus.’……

To read the rest of this article please click HERE

Could God Have Used Evolution?