J.C. Ryle: No doctrine of Scripture so deeply important as this


From that time, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up.  Peter took him aside, and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This will never be done to you.” But he turned, and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men.”

J. C. Ryle on Matthew 16:21-23

Let us learn…. from these verses, that there is no doctrine of Scripture so deeply important as the doctrine of Christ’s atoning death.

We cannot have clearer proof of this, than the language used by our Lord in rebuking Peter. He addresses him by the dreadful name of “Satan,” as if he was an adversary, and doing the devil’s work, in trying to prevent His death. He says to him, whom he had so lately called “blessed,” “Get behind me, Satan! You are an offence unto me.” He tells the man whose noble confession he had just commended so highly, “for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of men.” Stronger words than these never fell from our Lord’s lips. The error that drew from so loving a Savior such a stern rebuke to such a true disciple, must have been a mighty error indeed.

The truth is, that our Lord would have us regard the crucifixion as the central truth of Christianity. Right views of His vicarious death, and the benefits resulting from it, lie at the very foundation of Bible-religion. Never let us forget this. On matters of church government, and the form of worship, men may differ from us, and yet reach heaven in safety. On the matter of Christ’s atoning death, as the way of peace, truth is only one. If we are wrong here, we are ruined forever. Error on many other points is only a skin disease. Error about Christ’s death is a disease at the heart. Here let us take our stand. Let nothing move us from this ground. The sum of all our hopes must be, that “Christ has died for us.” (1 Thess. 5:10.) Give up that doctrine, and we have no solid hope at all.

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