In my efforts to encourage men to grow facial hair I have decided to highlight those godly men who have gone before us heralding the gospel through sweet beards. Yes, I want you to be a gospel man, but the beard won't hurt. So, for the first of many Bearded Gospel Men, I give you Bishop J.C. Ryle. John Charles Ryle (1816-1900) was a masculine, godly minister of the gospel. Growing up he was an strong athlete, rowing and playing Cricket for Oxford. The son of a wealthy banker, it was assumed he would head into politics, but was converted in 1834 and ordained to the ministry 8 years later. He retired in 1900 when he was 83 years old and died later that year. He was a contemporary of Charles Spurgeon (yeah, you know he's coming up in this BGM series), and like Spurgeon he was an earnest gospel preacher and teacher. He was a controversial leader taking a strong stand for the truth and against error. His writing, like his the rest of his ministry, was both robustly doctrinal and devotional. He labored to help people know the Truth, and live by it.
His classic, Holiness, had a major impact on me early in my Christian life. It's one of those rare books I have read several times, and consider it a must-read for all Christians.
In all of his ministry as he labored to see reformation and revival he was always pointing others to Jesus.
Would you be holy? Would you become a new creature? Then begin with Christ! You will do nothing, until you feel your sin and weakness—and flee to Him! He is the beginning of all holiness. He is not only wisdom and righteousness to His people—but sanctification also. People sometimes try to make themselves holy first—and sad work they make of it! They toil, labor, and turn over many new leaves, and make many changes—and yet they feel nothing bettered, but rather worse. They run in vain and labor in vain! Little wonder, for they are beginning at the wrong end! They are building up a wall of sand; their work runs down as fast as they throw it up. They are baling water out of a leaky vessel. The leak gains on them, not they on the leak. Other foundation of holiness, can no person lay, than that which Paul laid, even Christ Jesus. Without Christ, we can do nothing. - We Must Be Holy (via)
Ryle is a man you need to become familiar with. Read his work. Check out J.I. Packer's biography on Ryle, Faithfulness and Holiness: The Witness of J.C. Ryle. And while you're reading, stop shaving.
Below are some free Ryle Resources. I hope you find great encouragement in them.