The Converting Power of the Public Reading of Scripture

ryle bannerAlmost every Lord’s Day, I have the privilege of reading a text of Scripture to the congregation at First Boynton Church. It is a joy beyond measure to give voice to the very Word of the Lord.

In my other teachings and preaching, my words are not infallible. I pray that they be true to the Scriptures and that the Spirit of God would use them to bring life and instruction. But when I simply read the text, these words are mighty and powerful. They are completely trustworthy.

In light of this, I read with interest an article related to the conversion of J.C. Ryle. Ryle, the 19th century bishop of Liverpool, was used mightily by the Lord through his preaching and writing.

In the autumn of 1837, while a student at Oxford, Ryle attended a Sunday morning worship service at a nearby parish church. The second lesson of the morning was taken from Ephesians 2. When the lector reached verse 8, he slowed down and made some unusual and emphatic pauses. He read: “For by grace – are ye saved – through faith – and that, not of yourselves – it is the gift of God.” The Word went home to his heart. Later in life Ryle could remember neither the name of the church nor the name of the reader, nor anything about the sermon preached that morning, but he never forgot that morning’s reading of Ephesians 2:8. It converted him. It became the theme of his ministry. It was so central to his life and work that he had it inscribed on his gravestone. You can see it today in the churchyard of All Saints, Childwall, in Liverpool.

–Ben Rogers, Why every seminary student should read J. C. Ryle

Humanly speaking, the reader of Ephesians 2 that morning applied himself diligently to the reading of the biblical text. Spiritually speaking, the Holy Spirit (the original author of the words) penetrated deeply into the heart of Ryle with these life-giving words.

May those who will read the Scriptures this week be ever so diligent. And may the Holy Spirit use His word to grant faith to those who will hear.