Saturday, March 25, 2006
Weekender -- J.C. Ryle, "Forgiveness" (Part 2)

I have found the blogosphere to be somewhat slow around the weekend, so I have decided to post some kind of edifying work from the past on Saturdays.

This post continues a series from J.C. Ryle (1816-1900, Bishop of the Anglican Church): "Forgiveness." It is a wonderful, gospel-centered work. Here is the first part.

II. Let me point out, in the second place, the way of forgiveness.

I ask particular attention to this point, for none can be more important. Granting for a moment that you want pardon and forgiveness, what ought you to do? Whither will you go? Which way will you turn? Every thing hinges on the answer you give to this question.

Will you turn to ministers and put your trust in them? They cannot give you pardon: they can only tell you where it is to be found. They can set before you the bread of life; but you yourself must eat it. They can show you the path of peace; but you yourself must walk in it. The Jewish priest had no power to cleanse the leper, but only to declare him cleansed. The Christian minister has no power to forgive sins; — he can only declare and pronounce who they are that are forgiven.

Will you turn to sacraments and ordinances, and trust in them? They cannot supply you with forgiveness, however diligently you may use them. By sacraments “faith is confirmed and grace increased,” in all who rightly use them (See Article 27). But they cannot justify the sinner. They cannot put away transgression. You may go to the Lord's Table every Sunday in your life: but unless you look far beyond the sign to the thing signified, you will after all die in your sins. You may attend a daily service regularly, but if you think to establish a righteousness of your own by it, in the slightest degree, you are only getting further away from God every day.

Will you trust in your own works and endeavours, your virtues and your good deeds, your prayers and your alms? They will never buy for you an entrance into heaven. They will never pay your debt to God. They are all imperfect in themselves, and only increase your guilt. There is no merit or worthiness in them at the very best. The Lord Jesus Christ says expressly, “When you have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants” (Luk 17:10).

Will you trust in your own repentance and amendment? You are very sorry for the past. You hope to do better for time to come. You hope God will be merciful. Alas, if you lean on this, you have nothing beneath you but a broken reed! The judge does not pardon the thief because he is sorry for what he did. Today's sorrow will not wipe off the score of yesterday's sins. It is not an ocean of tears that would ever cleanse an uneasy conscience and give it peace.

Where then must a man go for pardon? Where is forgiveness to be found? There is a way both sure and plain, and into that way I desire to guide every inquirer's feet.

That way is simply to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour. It is to cast your soul, with all its sins, unreservedly on Christ, — to cease completely from any dependence on your own works or doings, either in whole or in part, — and to rest on no other work but Christ's work, no other righteousness but Christ's righteousness, no other merit but Christ's merit, as your ground of hope. Take this course and you are a pardoned soul. “To Christ,” says Peter, “give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). “Through this Man,” says Paul at Antioch, “is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by Him all that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:38). “In Him,” writes Paul to the Colossians, “we have redemption thro u g h His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:14).

The Lord Jesus Christ, in great love and compassion, has made a full and complete satisfaction for sin, by suffering death in our place upon the cross. There He offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, and allowed the wrath of God, which we deserved, to fall on His own head. For our sins, as our Substitute, He gave Himself, suffered, and died, the just for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty, — that He might deliver us from the curse of a broken law, and provide a complete pardon for all who are willing to receive it. And by so doing, as Isaiah says, — He has borne our sins; as John the Baptist says, — He has taken away sin; as Paul says, — He has purged our sins, and put away sin; and as Daniel says, — He has made an end of sin, and finished transgression (Isa 53:11; Joh 1:29; Heb 1:3; Heb 9:26; Dan 9: 24)

 
posted at 12:45 PM  





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John

I am a former Mormon who has been saved by Jesus Christ. Now I am a missionary involved with the Africa Center for Apologetics Research (ACFAR). I seek to live in light of Paul's words: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21 ESV)

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