“There is hope in the Gospel…”

September 9, 2010

While searching for J.C. Ryle commentary on Psalm 131 this morning, I found his article, The Power of the Holy Spirit.  I can think of almost nothing else that brings more encouragement in times of trough-walking than a strong, warm appeal to remember the gospel …

There is hope in the Gospel for any man, so long as he lives. There is infinite willingness in Christ to pardon sin. There is infinite power in the Holy Spirit to change hearts.

There are many diseases of the body which are incurable. The cleverest doctors cannot heal them. But, thank God! there are no incurable diseases of soul. All manner and quantity of sins can be washed away by Christ. The hardest and most wicked of hearts can be changed.

Reader, I say again, while there is life there is hope. The oldest, the vilest, the worst of sinners may be saved. Only let him come to Christ, confess his sin, and cry to Him for pardon,—only let him cast his soul on Christ, and he shall be cured. The Holy Spirit shall be sent down on his heart, according to Christ’s promise, and he shall be changed by His Almighty power into a new creature.

I never despair of any one becoming a decided Christian, whatever he may have been in days gone by. I know how great the change is from death to life; I know the mountains of division that seem to stand between some men and heaven; I know the hardness, the prejudices, the desperate sinfulness of the natural heart; but I remember that God the Father made the glorious world out of nothing. I remember the voice of the Lord Jesus could reach Lazarus when four days dead, and recall him even from the grave; I remember the amazing victories the Spirit of God has won in every nation under heaven; I remember all this, and feel that I never need despair. Yes! those very persons who now seem most utterly dead in sins, may yet be raised to a new being, and walk before God in newness of life.

Why should it not be so? the Holy Spirit is a mighty, merciful, and loving Spirit. He turns away from no man because of his vileness. He passes by no one because his sins are black and scarlet …

Never, never will the Spirit turn away from a soul because of its corruption. He never has done so;—He never will. It is His glory that He has purified the minds of the most impure, and made them temples for His own abode. He may yet take the worst of those who read this tract and make him a vessel of grace.

Why indeed should it not be so? The Spirit is an Almighty Spirit. He can change the stony heart into a heart of flesh; He can break the strongest bad habits like tow before the fire; He can make the most difficult things seem easy, and the mightiest objections melt away like snow in spring; He can cut the bars of brass, and throw the gates of prejudice wide open; He can fill up every valley, and make every rough place smooth. He has done it often, and He can do it again …

The arm of the Spirit is not shortened: His power is not decayed. He is like the Lord Jesus,—the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is still doing wonders, and will do to the very end.

I shall not be surprised to hear, even in this life, that the hardest man I know has become softened, and the proudest has taken his place at the feet of Jesus as a weaned child.

I shall not be surprised to meet many on the right hand in the day of judgment, whom I shall leave, when I die, travelling in the broad way.

I never despair, because I believe the power of the Holy Ghost. We ministers might well despair, when we look at our own performances. We are often sick of ourselves. We might well despair when we look at some who belong to our congregations; they seem as hard and insensible as the nether mill-stone: but we remember the Holy Ghost, and what He has done. We remember the Holy Ghost, and consider that He has not changed. He can come down like fire and melt the hardest hearts; He can convert the worst man or woman among our hearers, and mould their whole character into a new shape. And so we preach on. We hope because of the Holy Ghost. Oh, that our hearts would understand that the progress of true religion depends not on might or on power, but on the Lord’s Spirit! Oh, that many of them would learn to lean less on ministers, and to pray more for the Holy Spirit! Oh, that all would learn to expect less from schools, and tracts, and ecclesiastical machinery; and, while using all means diligently, would seek more earnestly for the outpouring of the Spirit…

Find by experience that He is “mighty to save.”


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