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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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The Reality Of Evil

SatanDo you believe in Satan? Many in today’s world believe he is a myth, a boogeyman, a fable, or the product of an ignorant superstitious mind. The Bible has a lot to say about the demonic, but it is largely ignored in our enlightened culture and even in our churches. We have developed a more therapeutic strategy for dealing with the dark side of human nature and sin. We now refer to evil as a sickness rather than acknowledge the power of its autonomous influence.

Satan is a brilliant strategist. He is utterly satisfied when you are unwilling to acknowledge his existence. He is quite capable of setting before you a vision and plan for your ultimate happiness. His goal, however, is to use every means at his disposal to keep men separated from God. His unrelenting malevolence towards mankind is satisfied only by our destruction. “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” (John 8:44)

We are in the middle of a cosmic spiritual battle and mankind is an unwitting bondservant to the master of evil. “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.” (John 8:44) Paul wrote, “the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

How is it possible to resist such a formidable foe? We can’t in and of ourselves. We are too weak and flawed by the fall of Adam. How then may we overcome the evil designs of this master puppeteer? James, the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ, writes – “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” (James 4:7) In order to overcome Satan, the first thing you need is a new master. Without the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit of God, you will never defeat the devil’s influence over your life. James then says in the same verse, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Once you have submitted to Christ as your Lord, you are then enabled to resist. But Peter reminds us to be “sober-minded” and “watchful” and “firm in your faith.” (1 Peter 5:8-9) The devil will continue to seek to devour you.

I do not subscribe to the theory that there is a demon under every bush. Nor can we excuse our sins by claiming that, “The devil made me do it!” Even without Satan there is quite enough evil residing in our corrupted natures to commit unspeakable acts. However, if we are to truly understand the nature of the universe in which we live, we must take seriously the Bible’s portrayal of Satan and his demons as personal spiritual entities who are actively involved in the lives of people on this planet in the worse possible ways. Therefore, God the Father sent Jesus Christ “to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8)

Top 10 R. C. Sproul Quotes

RCSproul10. Every sin is an act of cosmic treason, a futile attempt to dethrone God in His sovereign authority.

9. Most Christians solute the sovereignty of God but believe in the sovereignty of man.

Continue reading. . . .

Deliver Me: A Prayer Of Repentance

Repentance

“Holy Lord, I have sinned times without number, and been guilty of pride and unbelief, of failure to find Thy mind in Thy Word, of neglect to seek Thee in my daily life. My transgressions and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I bless Thee that they will not stand against me, for all have been laid on Christ. Go on to subdue my corruptions, and grant me grace to live above them. Let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings of the mind bring my spirit into subjection, but do Thou rule over me in liberty and power.

“I thank Thee that many of my prayers have been refused. I have asked amiss and do not have, I have prayed from lusts and been rejected, I have longed for Egypt and been given a wilderness. Go on with Thy patient work, answering ‘no’ to my wrongful prayers, and fitting me to accept it. Purge me from every false desire, every base aspiration, everything contrary to Thy rule. I thank Thee for Thy wisdom and Thy love, for all the acts of discipline to which I am subject, for sometimes putting me into the furnace to refine my gold and remove my dross.

“No trial is so hard to bear as a sense of sin. If Thou shouldst give me choice to live in pleasure and keep my sins, or to have them burnt away with trial, give me sanctified affliction. Deliver me from every evil habit, every accretion of former sins, everything that dims the brightness of Thy grace in me, everything that prevents me taking delight in Thee. Then I shall bless Thee, God of Jeshurun, for helping me to be upright.” (The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett)

What Is An “Antinomian”?

Click on the picture and go to Pyromaniacs to find out. . . .

 

Mmm.  Could be an antinomian. . . .

 

More Than A Good Life

insigniaI have not always been a Christian.  I was an atheist until I was 31 years old.  I had attended church with my family until my teenage years, but then I turned away completely.  On my own, I began to study the philosophy of “Objectivism” and became a disciple of Ayn Rand’s books.  Although I attended a religious denominational university, the professors confirmed what I had suspected all along.  I left college a committed atheist.

It is difficult to believe how far amiss my thinking was in those days.  After almost thirty years of being a Christian, I can look back at that time in my life and only shake my head.  But then, Paul said: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

How would I describe my Christian experience?  I think I would quote Tolstoy who wrote, “A man following Christ’s teaching is like a man carrying a lantern before him at the end of a pole.  The light is ever before him, and ever impels him to follow it, by continually lighting up fresh ground and attracting him onward.”

The attraction (light) is still there and I am compelled to follow it.  This is not just because I see the light, but now I see the real world by its brightness.  It is a daily walk that I have undertaken and its progress is guided by the Holy Spirit until, eventually, I am conformed to Christ.  This is more than a good life.  It is the substance of the Kingdom of God.

A Compromised Faith

 

 

CHSpurgeon“Every deviation from truth is a sin. It is not simply a sin for me to do a wrong act, but it is a sin for me to believe a wrong doctrine. Lately some pastors have absolved us all from obeying God in our judgments; they have told us point blank, many of them, in their drawing-rooms, and some of them in the pulpit, that we shall never be asked in the Day of Judgment what we believed. We have been told that for our acts we shall be responsible, but for our faith we [will not be responsible], or something very much like it; they have told us plainly, that the God who made us, although he has authority over our hands, our feet, our eyes and our lips, hath but little authority over our judgments; they have told us, that if we make ever such blunders in divinity, they are no sins, so long as we can live right lives.

 

“But is that true? No; the whole man is bound to serve God; and if God gives me a judgment, I am bound to employ that judgment in his service; and if that judgment receive an untruth, it has received stolen goods, and I have sinned as much as if I put forth my hand to take my neighbor’s goods. There may be degrees in the sin. If it be a sin of ignorance, it is nevertheless a sin; but it is not so heinous as a sin of negligence, which I fear it is with many.

 

“If a certain doctrine is true, I am committing a sin before Almighty God, if I do not receive it; and if it be not true, then I sin in embracing what is not scriptural. Error in doctrine is as much a sin as error in practice.” (Charles H. Spurgeon, May 11, 1856)

A Conversation Between Ben Stein & R. C. Sproul

In this video, Mr. Ben Stein joins Dr. R.C. Sproul for a conversation about the current state of free scientific inquiry in our educational system.  Mr. Stein is deeply involved in a film project that challenges the neo-Darwinian scientific community and exposes their hostility to intelligent design and all those who believe in it. The movie opens nationwide April 18.

 Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design

 

Available only on Thursday, March 27 and Friday, March 28, 2008.

The Rat Race

BusyIf Jesus was on earth today, I wonder if he would carry a BlackBerry.  Would His commitments be based on His calendar?  Would He have bypassed the blind man because he was late for a meeting?  I wonder what He thinks about our addiction to the clock and schedules?  We are kept on a leash through our cell phones.  Have we locked out our times alone with God?

We are reminded in Proverbs 23:4, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.”  The Scriptures portray Jesus as never being in a hurry.  The clock was certainly not His master.  God must have decided that a twenty-four hour day would be sufficient to meet our needs.  We have made life complex when we need to reduce its complexities.  By eliminating needless wants, we do have the ability to reduce life’s labors.

We need to pray for wisdom to do that which needs to be done and leave undone that which does not.  Otherwise, haste and perfectionism will certainly bring about the death of our prayer life.  Are you calm in your spirit?  If not, you have probably taken on more than you can do.  Satan is clever.  He will use your busyness to separate you from God and from your family.  Try slowing down and enjoy life.  If you do not, you will miss God’s leading and the sense of where you are going and why.

The Message Of Public Conversion

ISLAMYou may have seen the report over the weekend of the baptism of Magdi Allam, an Italian editor.  The Egyptian-born journalist was baptized by Pope Benedict XVI.  Such a public conversion and participation by the Pope speaks volumes about the courage of the two men.  Allam converted from Islam to Catholicism.  With all the recent rantings from the Middle East about the duty of Muslims to kill those who separate themselves from the faith, this conversion seems meant to send a message.

Allam writes, “Beyond … the phenomenon of extremists and Islamist terrorism at the global level, the root of evil is inherent to a physiologically violent and historically conflictual Islam.”  Needless to say, Allam is already receiving death threats.

We Must Have The Word

ref21_book_flat_web.jpgI once walked into a teacher’s classroom after school to find that she and another teacher were having a lively discussion about whether Christians were the only ones going to heaven. They invited me to join them, since they knew I was a Christian, and so I sat on the edge of a table and listened. In the meantime, another teacher joined us from a nearby classroom as I listened to their questions and opinions. Before I could respond, the third teacher – who had just came in – began to answer their questions by quoting specific verses of the Bible from memory and then explaining the context and meaning of each one. When she had finished, she had said everything that needed to be said and had explained it beautifully. Although I had been ready to answer their questions, I was in awe of how the third teacher had answered their questions so thoroughly. I knew, however, that this lady had been a Christian much longer than I and that she read the Bible consistently and taught the Scriptures to women’s classes at her church.

Have you ever avoided a conversation with an acquaintance or colleague on the subject of Christianity because you felt inadequate to defend the Bible? Charles H. Spurgeon once observed, “Defend the Bible? I would just as soon defend a lion. Just turn the Bible loose. It will defend itself.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Perhaps our reluctance to defend the Scripture in a casual conversation is less timidity than lack of familiarity the Word of God. According to some recent surveys, this is why so many young men and women abandon their faith in college. When impressionable teenagers sit in the university classroom of a well-read, Marxist, atheistic professor, their years of church attendance with their parents are easily overwhelmed by anti-Christian arguments if they have not been well-grounded in the Bible. I believe that the Bible should be taught to children early and thoroughly. This will allow later knowledge acquired to be evaluated by an intellectual foundation based on Biblical truth. Teddy Roosevelt went so far as to say, “A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”

The Bible was certainly written to transform our minds. The depth and breadth of sacred Scripture requires a Holy Spirit disciplined intellectual life-long pursuit. I shudder when I hear people who have attended church for years say that they just can’t find the time to read and study the Bible, or who obviously believe that since they have made a profession of faith – all that they need is a sermon once a week (which they do not even bother to bring a Bible to). The truth is that as Christians, we never outgrow our need to read and study Scripture. The wealth of Biblical treasure only seems to grow more abundant after years and years of study.

We know that the Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation. The problem is that we don’t act like it when it comes to setting aside time to read and study it. The question I would put to you is this: “How do you expect to be a useful servant of God without spending time in the Word?” As D. L. Moody once said, “If a person neglects the Bible there is not much for the Holy Spirit to work with. We must have the Word.”

 

 

The Terminology Of Salvation

MLJ“We are told frequently today that people are no longer interested in such terms as justification and sanctification, and their like. But when has man in his natural state ever been interested in justification and sanctification? When has man ever desired to know the meaning of these terms? These are spiritual matters. The trouble with modern men is not they do not understand the terminology of the Authorized Version of the Bible; it is that they are spiritually dead. Give it to them in other translations and it will still mean nothing to them. They may be interested in it as literature; but it is not mere literature, it is the Word of God. Here is something which is only `spiritually discerned’, and the man who has been convicted by the Spirit and who sees himself as a soul before God, wants to know how a man can be just with God and reconciled to God. And if there is one thing he rejoices in more than anything it is `justification by faith only’. He does not have to go into a monastery and become a monk or a hermit, or take up a great program of fasting and penances. No, he believes, and in a moment he is declared just and reconciled to God. There is nothing so thrilling to the Christian, nothing so marvelous as that! Here the romantic element of the Gospel comes in; `the fool who came to scoff remains to pray’. He glories in the Gospel, he rejoices in it. He does not stumble at it; he thanks God for these great resounding terms, and he wants to go on repeating them. Oh yes! He is interested and fascinated by the terminology of salvation, as well as by the thing itself.” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones)

Who Said Doctrine Isn’t Practical?

JMacCheck out Pulpit Magazine for an article by John MacArthur titled, “Who Said Doctrine Isn’t Practical?”

What – Me Worry?

worryI am a great worrier. Yes, I wrote “worrier” not “warrior.” I don’t worry as much about things as I use to – that’s because I’m retired – but I still worry about things more than I should. Sometimes I think that this characteristic helped me to be successful in my work as an educator. At other times, I think that my profession caused me to become a worrier. I know, however, that is not true. I have always been a worrier.

Now you and I know that a Christian is not supposed to worry. I don’t know how many times I’ve been given that advice. When people tell me that, I often think of that great cultural philosopher, Alfred E. Neuman. You know who I mean; the goofy-grinned gentleman on the cover of MAD magazine. You have probably read his motto: “What – Me Worry?” When that image comes to mind, I think “Yeah, right!”

It seems to me that some people don’t worry enough. But, perhaps, that is another train of thought for another time. Too much worry has harmful effects, both physically and mentally. I can testify to that. That’s why I’m a work in progress. I must often return to the words of the Apostle Paul, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

I have come to see in my own life that worry tends to dry up the work of grace that is going on inside me. It comes when the focus of my life is becoming distorted. It is a warning light that tells me I am not trusting in God’s providential care. After all, the future belongs to God. He is in charge. Trying to second guess God is the destruction of hope.

Pure faith will put an end to worry. Worry has taught me that its presence is a sign that I am trusting in the wrong god. Usually it is the god of my unfulfilled dreams that fills my thought life when I worry. William F. Ullathorne once wrote, “Beware of anxiety. Next to sin, there is nothing that so troubles the mind, strains the heart, distresses the soul, and confuses the judgment.”

Those are good words of advice. My own advice is to turn to the Bible for relief (particularly the Psalms) and apply God’s best medicine, which is prayer, to your battle with anxiety. Cast your cares on Him for whom no burden is too great.

Is there hope for me – “the habitual worrier?” The process may be slow, but yes there is hope for even me. This is what is so amazing about grace.

Do You Feel Like You’ve Done Enough?

IslamRobert Spencer comments at JihadWatch.org on an article from the UK Daily Mail. The article is titled, “Non-Muslims Must Do More to Make Muslims Feel at Home.” Spencer writes that the problem is really “whether or not the Muslims there are willing to set aside Islamic supremacism, renounce all attempts to impose Sharia by violent or peaceful means, and work energetically to root jihadists out of their communities. But there is none of that in this report — the onus is all on the ‘whites’ to make them feel at home. The idea that many of them might not wish to feel at home, but to transform Britain into a place that is very like the place where they left, as many of them have openly avowed, never enters into the equation.”

Discerning The Spirit

JFlavelSeventeenth century Puritan John Flavel provides us with a litmus test for determining if practices in the church are biblical:

“Whatever religion or doctrine condones or makes allowances for sin is not of Christ. The Doctrine of Christ everywhere teaches self-denial and mortification of worldliness and sin. The whole stream of the gospel runs against those things. Scripture emphasizes the ‘holy’ and the ‘heavenly’ (not the sinful and the worldly). The true gospel has not even the slightest tendency to extol corrupt nature, or feed its pride by magnifying its freedom and power. And it rejects everything that undermines or obscures the merit of Christ, or tries to give any credit to man, in any way. And it certainly never makes the death of Christ a cloak to cover sin, but rather it always speaks of it as an instrument that destroys it!”

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