At our last Synod, our Canon Theologian Henry Jansma recommended this book and so thinking of my son, I began to read the book. J.C. Ryle initially paints a dismal picture of the state of young men. This might make reading a little hard at first, but the reward in the end is worth it. I would encourage even older men, even women to read it, because it contains insights that I think might be new to you.
It is a short book, only 75 pages long and it follows a simple outline:
1. Reasons why young men need to be exhorted; 2. Dangers young men face; 3. Counsels (more general principles); 4. Special rules for young men. The Forward has a more detailed outline (pages ix-x). In Part 1, he asks, “Are you thinking you will have a convenient season to mind these by and by? So thought Felix and the Athenians to whom Paul preached; but it never came…” Let’s look at this particular passage that Ryle is referring to. Acts 17:22-23 (ESV) 22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. Paul is preaching to them and trying to tell them that though they have many gods, they also hold onto an insurance policy of this unknown god just in case they are not aware of him or her. Paul tries to explain that this unknown God is in fact, Jesus. Acts 17:32-34 (ESV) 32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. Some people heard the Word and believed, but others did not. What would you do if you were in this boat? Maybe you will get a second chance? Maybe some other preacher who is really good will come along and convince you? Or maybe not. Acts 18:1 (ESV) 18:1 After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. So they had no second chance after that. If you have not heard Billy Graham speak, your only option now is to listen to a recording. Don’t wait, the Holy Spirit maybe tugging on your heart right now. Don’t resist or you may never get another chance. Not only did Paul talk to regular people, but also to people in positions of power. It is sad really that it maybe harder for a more affluent person or someone in a position of power to come to a saving faith. Acts 24:22 (ESV) But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” Felix knew about Christianity, which at the time was called the Way, but he was not convinced. Acts 24:22 (ESV) 24 After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” 26 At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. 27 When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison. Not only was Felix not convinced, but he tried to extort money out of the Christians. Don’t wait till the last minute to come to saving faith. Now is the time, if you have read the bible and still have reservations, then this book will help you see your need of Jesus. Another option you also have is that every Sunday, EVERY Sunday, you can come to St. Georges to hear the Word of God preached. That is all for now, but I will explore other parts of the book in my next blog.