SEASON FOR A SABBATICAL

Dear Reader:

I am taking a sabbatical from Samuel at Gilgal for the time being. I hope to take up the pen again on Tuesday, January 10th, 2017. In the meantime, I have a couple of family projects to occupy my time and my own personal need to hear the “low whisper” (1 Kings 19:12 ESV) of the LORD.

In closing, I recommend a few of the books that have blessed my walk with Christ:

Bible (read or listen to)
The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
Knowing Scripture by R. C. Sproul
Knowing God by J. I. Packer
Desiring God by John Piper

… and, of course, many more. I hope you will stop back by in January to read new articles (Lord willing). In the intervening time, browse through Samuel at Gilgal’s nearly 6,000 articles on various Christian topics. I hope they may challenge you to walk more closely with Jesus.

Grace to you,

Samuel

UNDER THE SPIRIT’S INFLUENCE

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV)

The Holy Spirit dwells within me. These are wonderful words. All who live by faith in the Son of God may truthfully say this. Anyone who does not have the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ does not belong to Him. (Romans 8:9 ESV)

The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth because He is the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit inspired Scriptures are the true words of God. (John 16:13 ESV) The Holy Spirit persuades us that the Bible is the source of truth about Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit teaches us all things and reminds us of the words of Jesus. (John 14:26) The Spirit guides us in our everyday lives and helps us to avoid those things which displease God. Jesus said:

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MENDACIOUS OR MIGHTY IN TRUTH?

There was a popular preacher who often called out the names of a few people in his audience during the service and described their physical problems. The evangelist claimed that God was speaking to him and giving him information about the individuals he spoke to. According to him, he had never met or spoken to prior to calling out their names. However, it was later discovered that employees of the evangelist would talk to people in the crowd before the service and gather facts about the people attending. They would give this information to the preacher’s wife. She, in turn, would talk to her husband through a tiny receiver in his ear. By this means their ministry became a financial success. (Information from James Randi, The Faith Healers)

We have all run into liars from time to time. Usually, they are harbingers of serious disappointment. It is especially disappointing when we discover we have been lied to by someone we counted on as a friend. We all want to believe that there are certain individuals in society in whom we can put our trust, such as family; friends; our heroes; teachers; doctors; government authorities; and men and women who are spiritual leaders.

Let us consider, specifically, spiritual leadership. Spiritual leadership has traditionally been a highly respected role in American history and culture. The Christian preacher or pastor’s responsibility is to make known the truth of God. However, there are people who claim this position who are liars. This should not be totally surprising since even Satan disguises himself as an “angel of light”. (2 Corinthians 11:14 ESV)

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CHEAP GRACE

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Cheap grace allows the church to flirt with the world’s value system. It is the evidence of untransformed hearts and minds. This love of the world is not from God and blinds them to the love of God. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV) This is why Paul writes:

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FAITH IN AN EVIL WORLD

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (1 John 5:4 ESV)

Maintaining a true Christian faith is not easy in this world. Life offers so many paths of compromise that it is easy to lose your way. John Murray wrote the following on this subject:

If the faith we profess is a faith that allows us to walk in the ways of this present evil world, in the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, in the fellowship and works of darkness, then our faith is mockery and deception. Repentance results in constant contrition. The broken spirit and contrite heart are abiding marks in the believing soul. Not one that we progressively get, but abiding. They are there from the beginning and they’re ongoing. A new attitude. Not just about Jesus and who He is, but about our sin, who we are, what we deserve, and the hating of the things we used to love. Without it, there is no salvation. (John Murray, Professor of Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary)

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WILL I EVER BE RIGHTEOUS?

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. (1 Peter 3:12 ESV)

The God of the Bible is righteous and takes sin so seriously that our own efforts cannot erase the guilt of our iniquity. Yet, through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, God has forgiven our sins that we may participate in His righteousness. In Christ, we see the righteousness of the invisible God lived out in human conduct and character. Righteousness is the fruit of a life in Christ.

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THE CHURCH POLICE

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:2)

Have you ever run afoul of the church police? These are your brothers and sisters in Christ who believe they have obtained the perfection that Paul did not. (Philippians 3:7-16) These are the people who judge quickly by external appearances. They share some similarities with the Pharisees. You can bet they know if you attend church regularly; belong to a Bible study; volunteer for church projects; or dress appropriately. They set Christian standards for others by their own interpretation of the Biblical principles of conduct which they believe they have mastered. They believe they have been called to set others on the straight and narrow path.

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