The Three Great R's

James Smith, 1858

The excellent but eccentric John Ryland, whenever he was called upon by any young minister of the Gospel, always urged upon him one thing, to make the three great Rs prominent in his preaching. On one occasion when a young minister called, he said, "And so you are going to preach at ___. Now, if I were in your place, when I got into the pulpit, I would look at them very earnestly, and tell them that they were all lost and Ruined. Then I would inform them that there was no Redemption but by our Lord Jesus Christ. Then I would insist upon it, that they must be Regenerated by the Holy Spirit or be lost forever. And then, if I saw they did not like it, I would preach Hell and damnation to them and solemnly tell them there was no other way to escape it."

Here are his three great R's:
by sin,
by Christ, and
by the Holy Spirit.

Let us glance at them for a minute or two, for they are important. Man is

RUINED by Sin, by his own sin. He has broken God's pure and perfect law; he has deprived himself of all power to obey it in future; and he has brought himself under its tremendous curse. He is, as a willful transgressor of God's loving law, doomed to be banished from the presence of the Lord, to be associated with all the impious rebels against God's authority, both human and angelic, and to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire! He has no power to break his chains, escape from the grasp of justice, or satisfy the demands of the violated law. Unless someone interferes for him, and someone who is both able and willing to meet all the demands of the great Lawgiver, and as his substitute meet and satisfy all those demands he can never escape from the desert of his sins. All is in a hopeless state. His condition is most perilous; his prospects are dreadfully alarming. Hell is the place where he must endure punishments. Eternity represents the duration of those punishments. Devils and the most degraded of mankind will be his companions in agony and woe. Oh, fearful state! Oh, dismal condition! Oh, dreadful doom! Yet this is the state, doom, and condition of every sinful child of Adam by nature. He is ruined totally ruined and, left to himself, eternally ruined. But there is

REDEMPTION By Christ. O wondrous love! Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, undertook our cause, and in order to qualify himself to become our Redeemer he took our nature, and thus became one with us! As one with us, he stood forth for us, and engaged to fulfill the law that we had broken, pay the penalty we had incurred, and give full satisfaction to the justice and government of God for all our sins. What he undertook he accomplished; and by his holy life and bitter death he redeemed our souls from Hell. His precious blood he paid as the price of our ransom, and now "we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of our sins." For everyone who believes in his name, he has done all that the law can demand, and suffered all that the law can inflict. To everyone that trusts in his blood, he has become a perfect Savior, and will save them for evermore.

Oh, astonishing manifestation of grace on the part of the Son to be made flesh, to come under the law, to undertake our cause, and engage to save, freely and forever, all, and every one, who will come to God by him! What a price to pay! What condescension to display! What a theme to put into our mouths, for we "know that we were not redeemed by corruptible things, as silver and gold, from our vain conversation received by tradition from our fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."

Nor is redemption enough, for though that removes all legal impediments out of the way, so that justice has nothing to object, nor can the law present any hindrance to our liberation and salvation yet a change of nature is necessary before we can be qualified to serve God acceptably on earth, or enjoy God perfectly in Heaven. Therefore, being ruined by our own sin, and redeemed by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must yet receive something more, and that something is

REGENERATION by the Holy Spirit. Yes, we must be born again. As dead in trespasses and sins he must quicken us. As corrupt, depraved, and polluted he must new create us. As blind, dark, and afar off from God he must give sight, enlighten, and bring us near. We did not more need the mercy of the Father, in providing a Savior, nor the grace of the Savior in coming into the world to save us than we need the power of the Holy Spirit to make us new creatures in Christ! For though the work of the Holy Spirit totally differs from the work of the Son it is none the less necessary for us. In vain had Jesus died for us, in vain had He paid the price of our redemption if the Holy Spirit did not come to emancipate us by His power. It is His work . . .
to open the prison doors,
to knock off the iron fetters,
to pour light on the blind eyes,
to impart vigor to the paralyzed faculties,
and to infuse life into the dead soul!

The Holy Spirit . . .
teaches us our need of Christ,
unveils before us the beauty, glory, and adaptation of Christ,
applies to us His precious blood, and
introduces us into liberty, peace, and joy.

Blessed Spirit, author of our regeneration, giver of spiritual life and light but for you, we would have never sighed for salvation, sought the Savior, or enjoyed the blessing of redemption!

These, then, are the three great R's. Reader, are you acquainted with them? Do you know what it is to be totally ruined by sin, and unable to do anything toward your own deliverance? Have you found redemption in the blood of Jesus, even a deliverance from the law in its condemnation, from sin in its guilt and power, and from the present evil world in its terrors and fascinations? Have you experienced the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit? Are you a new creature? Are you born of the Spirit, taught of the Spirit, and led by the Spirit? If so, blessed are you. To know the three great R's experimentally is to be truly wise, really holy, and eternally safe.

But they must all be known. To know our ruin and not our redemption, will only make us wretched and miserable; and to know that there is redemption in Christ Jesus, and not enjoy it, will leave us exposed to all the terrors of the law of God; and this redemption can only be enjoyed as the result of the regenerating power and work of the Holy Spirit. The Father's love in providing a Redeemer for us when ruined; the Son's love in becoming the Redeemer of lost and ruined sinners; and the Spirit's love in revealing the Redeemer and applying the blessings of his redemption constitute our salvation!