Monday, August 27, 2007


Recently I was reading an article by J. C. Ryle (1816-1900). It was called "Simplicity in Preaching". I have considered having the entire article reprinted in tract form, because it is one perhaps every preacher should read. It seems that in our day too many have gotten away from preaching the plain, simple gospel of Christ. Instead, preachers are endeavoring to change and reform society. Even if society could be reformed men would still be unregenerate, and there would still be problems. Changing society will only be done as Christ first changes individual hearts. Man was given dominion over the fowl of the air, the fish of the sea and all the earth originally. (See Gen 1:26-28; 9:1-2) Now after the fall, man, and the earth itself, is under the curse, so man’s dominion is limited. The earth can never be restored byman’s dominion, even by Christian man, but only by Christ the last Adam

(I Cor 15:45); the second Man (I Cor 15:47). Christ’s dominion is an everlasting dominion, and is over all, including man (Dan 4:34, 35). In other words man is only a steward under God. Christ will restore all things at His second coming. “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3: 20, 21).

The power of the plain, simple gospel of Jesus Christ is not thought to be enough in these wicked days. There have been new ways invented to fight the enemy. I will grant that we must speak out on issues in our day. Abortion, for instance, must be opposed by all God-fearing Christians, as well as so called “gay marriage”. The persecution of Christians here and throughout the world should be exposed and opposed. But lest we lose our perspective let us remember that the Apostle Paul said, "For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly widsom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation (behavior) in the world and more abundantly toward you "(II Cor. 1:12). We must always remember "we wrestle not against flesh and blood" (Eph. 6:12)—of course, some do not “wrestle” at all, but this is another problem.

Reading Ryle's article struck me with the reality that in our day there is a scarcity of preachers and writers who are simple, and yet profound. We are often criticized for quoting the old writers and yet what modern writers can compare with the Puritans such as Sibbes, Watson and Brooks? What writer has the depth of Matthew Henry, along with his simplicity? The relatively recent preachers Spurgeon and Ryle are other good examples of men with the gift of simplicity. We have many fine books available now, thank God, but men like A. W. Pink and A. W. Tozer, and now even Martyn Lloyd-Jones are gone from our midst. We have few that write in their style and manner today.

That is not to say that there are no good preachers or writers today, for indeed there are. But, the majority of the modern writers and preachers have a one-sided approach. On the intellectual side, much knowledge with no simplicity, so that the average man cannot grasp these great truths. Then on the other side are those who are so simple they have nothing to say! How there needs to be balance today in so many things! Brethren, pray that God will give us knowledge and the wisdom to use that knowledge properly.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).

"For one thing, I ask all my readers to remember that to attain simplicity in preaching is of the utmost importance to every minister who wishes to be useful to souls. Unless you are simple in your sermons you will never be understood, and unless you are understood you cannot do good to those who hear you" (J. C. Ryle, The Upper Room; Banner of Truth, Edinburgh; 1977 edition, p. 36).

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