Warnings to the Churches

By J.C. Ryle
Edinburgh : Banner of Truth (1992). 171 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Richard Mayhue
3.2 (Fall 1992) : 234-235

Anyone who has profited from J. C. Ryle's Holiness may look forward to his Warnings to the Churches. According to a note by the publisher, the eight papers that make up this edition have never been published as a unit. The five closing chapters, however, were a part of his best known work, Knots Untied, first published in 1877.

John Charles Ryle (1816-1900) was the son of a wealthy banker, a fine athlete, educated at Oxford, and destined for a career in politics. He came to know Christ in 1838 and was ordained to ministry in 1842.

Ryle was a prolific writer, bringing benefit to many through the years. In addition to the two volumes previously mentioned, Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospels have helped numerous people.

According to Ryle, God's Word is in season at all times. It is amazing, but not surprising, how relevant God's Word was in Ryle's day and how it remains just as relevant today. Each of his eight articles first appeared as an address or a sermon, and then was put in written form. The eight papers are

(1) "The True Church" (Matt 16:18)

(2) "Not Corrupting the Word" (2 Cor 2:17)

(3) "Give Thyself Wholly to Them" (1 Tim 4:15)

(4) "Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matt 16:6)

(5) "Diverse and Strange Doctrines" (Heb 13:9)

(6) "The Fallibility of Ministers" (Gal 2:11-16)

(7) "Apostolic Fears (2 Cor 11:3)

(8) "Idolatry" (1 Cor 10:14).

The two messages that this reviewer sees as having the greatest and most immediate application for the present are "The Fallibility of Ministers" and "Apostolic Fears." With pastors falling faster than they can be counted and with Satan deceiving a very undiscerning Christian community, these two alone are worth the price of the book and deserve careful reading, application, and dissemination.

These articles should not be plagiarized in the pulpit, but they are full of rich ideas and historical imagery which will enhance any pastor's preaching. If someone's soul needs encouraging or exhorting, if he is a bit weary or possibly complacent, Warnings to the Churches by J. C. Ryle is the kind of spiritual catalyst that should confront and/or revive his energy for ministry.