Practical Religion, or walking the walk, is a very popular theme in evangelical circles today. What isnt spoken of as frequently is the fact that believers must KNOW what they believe. J. C. Ryle deftly walks the line between Systematic and Practical theologies, constantly forcing the reader to stop and examine his/her own life. Ryles goal was to encourage strong and serious Christian living, and his wise comments are as relevant today as when he first wrote them. An important and interesting aspect of `Practical Religion' is the variety of subjects considered. There is an extremely encouraging chapter on zeal where Ryle masterfully demonstrates how zeal is important for the individual and the church in general. Ryle points out how God seems to honor the grace of zeal. He also gives some historical examples of zealous men that God has used mightily and whose influence exceeded those who were more gifted intellectually and perhaps in other ways as well. Powerful practical applications abound in each chapter of Practical Religion. In `Riches and Poverty' the danger and soul-ruining sin of selfishness is exposed. Christ died for those who should not henceforth live unto themselves and Ryle draws the thoroughly biblical conclusion from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, that if we like the rich man live only for ourselves, we will come to eternal ruin. In the chapter entitled `Charity' which in modern language would be called love, Ryle describes what love is not, briefly explains what Christian love is, and insightfully points out why charity is called the greatest of the graces. Other topics Ryle manages to address fully include self-inquiry, the temptations of the world, eternity, formality, prayer, going to the table (communion), and Bible readingall with the power and spiritual richness that his writings are noted for. Those who take time to read and consider fascinating treatise on Practical Religion will be glad that they did.
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