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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 Politics Of Moral Relativism

From: The Pen of David Goetsch

The political codification of moral relativism in America has devastated our culture, a culture that is increasingly characterized by drug use, divorce, fatherless children, teenage suicide, abortion, child abuse, broken families, promiscuity, child pornography, gang violence, homosexuality, crime, sexually-transmitted diseases, road rage, indoctrination instead of education, and a national self-centeredness that borders on narcissism. This bleak picture of American culture is the result of man exalting man above God and practicing the religion of secular humanism.

Politics is the venue in which the principles of moral relativism and the law of God clash most visibly and in the most practical ways. The First Commandment requires that we know God and acknowledge Him to be the only true God, and our God. We are forbidden to worship or glorify anyone or anything else. We can serve God or we can serve man, and politics is one of the most critical venues in which this crucial choice must be made. Choose to serve man as the left has and the result is a debased culture characterized by such things as divorce, abortion, drug use, pornography, crime, violence, homosexuality, suicide, child abuse, and fatherless families. Choose to serve God, and the result is a culture in which these self-inflicted societal wounds are healed as we love our neighbor as our self.

Read more. . . .

The Old Truth That Calvin Preached

charles-haddon-spurgeon123Quoting Charles Spurgeon:

“The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox’s gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again.”

The Constitution And Limited Government

atlas_shrugged1Quoting author Ayn Rand:

“Today, when a concerted effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals — that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government — that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizen’s protection against the government.”

Without Confession There Is No Inward Peace

J. C. Ryle

J. C. Ryle

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)

From: The Pen of J. C. Ryle (1816-1900)

Without confession there is no inward peace. Conscience will never be at rest so long as it feels the burden of unacknowledged transgression. It is a load of which man must get rid if he means to be really happy. It is a worm at the root of all comfort. It is a blìght on joy and mirth. . . .

Who are they that ought to confess sins?

I answer this question in one plain sentence. All men and women in the world. All are born in sin and children of wrath. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Before God all are guilty. “There is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not.” There is not a child of Adam that ought not to confess sin (Ephes. ii. 3; Rom. iii. 23; Eccles. vii. 20).

There is no exception to this rule. It does not apply only to murderers, and felons, and the inmates of prisons. It applies to all ranks, and classes, and orders of mankind.

Some people are too proud to acknowledge themselves sinners. Like the Pharisee of old, they flatter themselves they are “not as other men.” They do not get drunk, like some; or swear, like others; or live profligate lives like others. They are moral and respectable! They perform the duties of their station! They attend church regularly! They are kind to the poor! What more would you have? If they are not good people and going to heaven, who can be saved? But as to habitual confession of sin, they do not see that they need it. It is all very well for wicked people, but not for them. Of course when sin is not really felt, sin will never be confessed. . . .

Reader, shall I tell you my first and foremost wish for your soul, if you are yet unconverted? I can wish you nothing better than thorough self-knowledge. I should like the veil to be taken from your heart. I should like you to see yourself as you really are in the sight of God. Ignorance of self and sin is the root of all mischief to the soul. There is hardly a religious error or a false doctrine that may not be traced up to it. For want of seeing sin, men do not value salvation. Once let a man get a sight of his own heart, and be will begin to cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner …!”

To whom ought confession of sin to be made …?

Sin, to speak generally, ought to be confessed to God. He it is whom we have chiefly offended. His are the laws which we have broken. To him all men and women will one day give account. His displeasure is that which sinners have principally to fear. This is what David felt: “Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight” (Psalm li. 4). . . .

Can vile sinners like us ever dare to confess our sins to a holy God? Will not the thought of his infinite purity shut our mouths and make us afraid? Must not the remembrance of His holiness make us afraid? Is it not written of God, that He is ” of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity?” (Hab. i. 13) Is it not said, that He “hates all workers of iniquity?” (Psalm v. 5) Did He not say to Moses, “There shalt no man see My face and live …?” (Exodus xxxiii. 20)

I say then that sin ought to be confessed to God in Christ. I say that sin ought specially to be confessed to God manifest in the flesh,-to Christ Jesus the Lord,-to that Jesus who came into the world to save sinners,-to that Jesus who died for our sins, and rose again for our justification, and now lives at the right hand of God to intercede for all who come to God by Him. He that desires to confess sin, should apply direct to Christ.

Christ is a great High Priest. Let that truth sink down into our hearts, and never be forgotten. He is sealed and appointed by God the Father for that very purpose. It is His peculiar office to receive and hear, and pardon and absolve sinners. It is His place to receive confessions and to grant plenary absolutions. . . .

Christ is a High Priest of Almighty power. There is no sin that He cannot pardon, and no sinner that He cannot absolve. He is very God of very God. He is “over all, God blessed for ever.” He says Himself, “I and My Father are one.” He has “all power in heaven and in earth.” He has “power on earth to forgive sins. . . .”

Christ is a High Priest of infinite willingness to receive confession of sin. He invites all who feel their guilt to come to Him for relief. “Come unto Me,” He says, “all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” When the penitent thief cried to Him on the cross, He at once absolved him fully, and gave him an answer of peace (Matt. xi. 28; John vii. 37).

Christ is a High Priest of perfect knowledge. He knows exactly the whole history of all who confess to Him. From Him no secrets are hid. He never errs in judgment. He makes no mistakes. . . .

Go this very day to the throne of grace, and speak to the great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, about your soul. Pour out your heart before Him. Keep nothing back from Him. Acknowledge your iniquities to Him, and entreat Him to cleanse them away. (“Do You Confess?”, Drummond’s Track Depot)

Do You Know The Truth Behind Our Economic Mess?

Jesus And The Poor

FoodBankIn The Words of Gary DeMar:

Alan Colmes, who co-hosted with Sean Hannity on FOX’s “Hannity and Colmes,” claims that Jesus “believed the rich should give to the poor.” Obama and most of Congress seem to agree. Let’s assume that Colmes’ analysis of Jesus is correct on this point. This is a far cry from saying that productive people should be taxed and that the government should redistribute their income to the less fortunate (Prov. 6:6–11; 13:4, 18; 19:15; 20:13; 21:25–26; 24:30–34; 28:19). A person who refuses to work is not to be assisted: “If anyone will not work, neither let him eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). For any government agency to violate this principle is in violation of the eighth commandment: “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15). Civil government is not exempt from God’s law. To believe otherwise means there can be no objection to socialism, communism, or any other ism.

The Gospel narratives do not call on the Roman Empire or Israel to help the poor except by limiting the State’s power (Luke 3:13–14; Matt. 22:21). Jesus makes it clear that it’s the individual and the collective responsibility of the believing community to help the poor within their circle of influence. The goal should be to get people out of a temporary condition of poverty; the goal is never to subsidize poverty.

Continue reading. . . .

Pursuing Vain Religious Beliefs

A. W. Tozer

A. W. Tozer

Quoting A. W. Tozer:

“A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions, and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar.

“The tragic results of this spirit are all about us. Shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious externalities, quasi-religious fellowships, salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit; these and such as these are the symptoms of an evil disease, a deep and serious malady of the soul.” (The Pursuit of God, pp. 69-70)

University Lite

Quoting Marshall McLuhan:

“The reason universities are so full of knowledge is students come with so much and they leave with so little.”

The Five Point Covenant Model

covenantFrom: The Desk of Eric Rauch

If you spend any amount of time in the Church, you will certainly hear the word “covenant” thrown around quite a bit. Covenant is central to a proper understanding of the biblical text. God makes covenants all throughout the Old Testament and in the New Testament, the book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the “mediator of a new covenant” (Heb. 9:15). Jesus himself tells his disciples at the Last Supper, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:20b). . . .

In 1987, Ray Sutton . . . wrote That You May Prosper, a jaw-dropping book that finally defines the covenant as no book has, before or since. Sutton’s book is brilliant in its simplicity, yet remarkable for its depth. A seasoned pastor, Sutton knows how to present his material in such a way that everyone can understand it. He then builds upon this basic knowledge brick-by-brick so that by the time the reader completes the book, he has taken an intermediate course in biblical theology without even realizing it. Understanding Sutton’s five-point covenantal model will revolutionize your Bible study and comprehension, and the perplexing and downright confusing parts of the Bible will finally begin to make sense.

But what exactly is the five point covenant model, you ask? It is nothing more than a biblical framework that provides a hermeneutical method for understanding the Bible on its own terms. Huh? Not a good enough answer for you? Try this one instead:

Pick up your Bible and ask, “How do I get hold of the message of this Book? How do I apply it to life — not just my life, but to all life in this complex world in which we live . . . ?”

In simple terms, every relationship is a form of covenant. God makes covenant with his people, just as his people make covenants with each other. Covenants make living in God’s world reasonable and predictable. Covenants are similar to contracts, but what makes them unique is that they include a self-maledictory oath before God. Without covenants, any man could do what was right in his own eyes, and be justified in doing so. Because of this, covenants will be found in each of the four realms of human government: self, family, church, and civil. Every form of government makes a covenant with God — either for or against Him — and stakes its own life on its decision (the self-maledictory part). . . .

It is not my intention in this short review to provide an in-depth example of how the five points work, but I can give a bit more meaning to each of the five points by restating them as questions. Remembering that the five points apply to all dealings between God and man, as well as man and man, think of a relationship and ask these simple questions: 1) Who’s in charge? (transcendence); 2) To whom do I report (or answer to)? (hierarchy); 3) What are the rules? (ethics); 4) What happens if I obey (or disobey) the rules? (sanctions); and 5) Does this relationship have a future? (continuity). Every covenant will have an answer for each of these five questions and the answers should be carefully considered before entering into a covenant. . . .

Sutton’s simple key, extracted from the pages of Scripture itself, will open the Bible to generation after generation, aiding the Church in its mission of being always reformed, yet always reforming.

Read more. . . .

Holy Desires

spurgeon4“He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.” (Psalm 145:19)

In The Words of Charles H. Spurgeon:

His own Spirit has wrought this desire in us, and therefore He will answer it. It is His own life within which prompts the cry, and therefore He will hear it. Those who fear Him are men under the holiest influence, and, therefore, their desire is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Like Daniel, they are men of desires, and the Lord will cause them to realize their aspirations.

Holy desires are grace in the blade, and the heavenly Husbandman will cultivate them till they come to the full corn in the ear. God-fearing men desire to be holy, to be useful, to be a blessing to others, and so to honor their Lord. They desire supplies for their need, help under burdens, guidance in perplexity, deliverance in distress; and sometimes this desire is so strong and their case so pressing that they cry out in agony like little children in pain, and then the Lord works most comprehensively and does all that is needful according to this Word — “and will save them.”

Yes, if we fear God, we have nothing else to fear; if we cry to the Lord, our salvation is certain.

Let the reader lay this text on his tongue and keep it in his mouth all the day, and it will be to him as “a wafer made with honey.”

Why We Need Protection From Government

Walter Williams

Walter Williams

From: The Pen of George Mason University economics professor Walter E. Williams:

“Why did the founders of our nation give us the Bill of Rights? The answer is easy. They knew Congress could not be trusted with our God-given rights. Think about it. Why in the world would they have written the First Amendment prohibiting Congress from enacting any law that abridges freedom of speech and the press? The answer is that in the absence of such a limitation Congress would abridge free speech and free press. That same distrust of Congress explains the other amendments found in our Bill of Rights protecting rights such as our rights to property, fair trial and to bear arms. The Bill of Rights should serve as a constant reminder of the deep distrust that our founders had of government. They knew that some government was necessary but they rightfully saw government as the enemy of the people and they sought to limit government and provide us with protections.”

Read more. . . .

Modern Problems Require Ancient Solutions

ReformationGiantsColorWebQuoting Eric Rauch:

The men and women of the 16th century had determined a course of action, founded upon the Scriptures, that forever changed Europe and England and led to the formation of the very country where we now live. Although we are grateful for that heritage, we should also be looking to the future. The decisions that we make today will determine, 500 years from now, whether our descendants will be celebrating the thousand-year anniversary of the Reformation, or whether it will be forgotten.

Providentially, we are not left without guides to help us along this difficult path of the church’s response — and duty — to the society and the civil government that it finds itself surrounded by. We tend to think that our modern civilization has unique problems that cannot be informed by history, that we must find our own answers, and this is why the modern church has been mostly ineffectual in its calling to be an agent of change. The settings and the technology may change, but the heart of man is still the same. Man is the same sinner today that he was 500 — and 5000 — years ago. Our modern problems do not require modern solutions; they require ancient ones, the ones taught in the Bible.

Read more. . . .

Reagan On The Constitution And The Supreme Court

reagan-at-durenberger-rallyQuoting President Ronald Reagan:

“The Supreme Court of the United States is the custodian of our Constitution. Justices of the Supreme Court must not only be jurists of the highest competence; they must be attentive to the specific rights guaranteed in our Constitution and proper role of the courts in our democratic system. …[J]udges’ personal preferences and values should not be part of their constitutional interpretations. The guiding principle of judicial restraint recognizes that under the Constitution it is the exclusive province of the legislatures to enact laws and the role of the courts to interpret them.”

Without Knowledge Of Self There Is No Knowledge Of God

John Calvin234Written by John Calvin:

Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other. For, in the first place, no man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves; because it is perfectly obvious, that the endowments which we possess cannot possibly be from ourselves; nay, that our very being is nothing else than subsistence in God alone. In the second place, those blessings which unceasingly distil to us from heaven, are like streams conducting us to the fountain. Here, again, the infinitude of good which resides in God becomes more apparent from our poverty. In particular, the miserable ruin into which the revolt of the first man has plunged us, compels us to turn our eyes upwards; not only that while hungry and famishing we may thence ask what we want, but being aroused by fear may learn humility. For as there exists in man something like a world of misery, and ever since we were stript of the divine attire our naked shame discloses an immense series of disgraceful properties every man, being stung by the consciousness of his own unhappiness, in this way necessarily obtains at least some knowledge of God. Thus, our feeling of ignorance, vanity, want, weakness, in short, depravity and corruption, reminds us, (see Calvin on John 4: 10,) that in the Lord, and none but He, dwell the true light of wisdom, solid virtue, exuberant goodness. We are accordingly urged by our own evil things to consider the good things of God; and, indeed, we cannot aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves. For what man is not disposed to rest in himself? Who, in fact, does not thus rest, so long as he is unknown to himself; that is, so long as he is contented with his own endowments, and unconscious or unmindful of his misery? Every person, therefore, on coming to the knowledge of himself, is not only urged to seek God, but is also led as by the hand to find him. (Institutes of the Christian Religion, A New Translation, by Henry Beveridge, Esq)

Chipping Away At The Work Ethic

work-ethicIn The Words of David Goetsch:

A nation’s culture defines what is normal and acceptable in society; how we view right and wrong, who are heroes are, and what we want our children to believe. Culture is based on the values that are widely accepted by society and that we want to transmit from generation to generation. Many things affect a nation’s culture, but few affect it so directly and profoundly as politics. This is because the transmission of culture from generation to generation depends on a nation’s institutions (i.e. the family, church, schools, government agencies, the media, and so on). Few things affect these institutions more than politics. As things stand today, this is bad news.

Consider just one example of how politics can affect culture. A positive work ethic based on Biblical teaching has long been one of the cornerstones of American culture. In 2 Thessalonians 3:10 we read, “if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” Proverbs 10:4–5 says, “He who deals with a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes one rich.” Proverbs 14:23 states, “In all labor there is profit.” The great reformers, Martin Luther and John Calvin, translated these and other verses into what eventually became known as the Protestant work ethic. America’s founders adopted the Protestant work ethic as their own because it stressed such Scriptural values as thrift, diligence, self-reliance, self-discipline, responsibility, accountability, deferred gratification, and hard work.

The Protestant work ethic served America well for decades until politicians began to chip away at it with an ever-increasing number of laws and public policies that promote an entitlement mentality.

Continue reading. . . .

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