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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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Who Is Rich?

DrGaryNorth

Dr. Gary North

In The Words of Gary North:

Most Westerners are rich in the opinion of Asian farmers. Yet most Westerners do not think of themselves as rich. They do think of Asian farmers as poor.

Then who is rich? We think: “The guy three rungs up the financial ladder.” So does he.

The richest people on earth are residents of Western semi-capitalist nations. They enjoy a standard of living that kings in 1900 would not have dreamed of.

Think of medical care. Kings lost children to killer diseases that are no longer a statistical threat in the West. Kings did not have high fidelity stereo music at their disposal. They did not have movies. They did not have cell phones. They did not have air conditioning. They did have anesthetics (1844). They were somewhat better off than kings in 1840.

What did they have that you don’t have? They had servants. They had summer palaces. They had yachts. They had mistresses. Would you trade places with any of them?

Yet most Westerners dream of getting rich. By the standards of history, they are indescribably rich. By the standards of rural Asia, they are indescribably rich. The rich do not perceive this.

Rich is a matter of perception. The rural Indian does not dream of becoming American middle-class rich. He dreams of becoming Mumbai middle-class rich.

“I want to go to America,” said a childhood friend of Dinesh D’Sousa in Mumbai. “Why?” D’Sousa asked. “Because in America, poor people are fat.”

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The Conversion Of Congressman John Randolf

John Randolph

John Randolph

John Randolph of Roanoke was a Congressman under Presidents Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Jackson. He also served the nation as a US Senator and diplomat. He speaks here of his conversion to Christianity:

“I have thrown myself, reeking with sin, on the mercy of God, through Jesus Christ His blessed Son and our (yes, my friend, our) precious Redeemer; and I have assurances as strong as that I now owe nothing to your rank that the debt is paid and now I love God – and with reason. I once hated him – and with reason, too, for I knew not Christ. The only cause why I should love God is His goodness and mercy to me through Christ.”

“I am at last reconciled to my God and have assurance of His pardon through faith in Christ, against which the very gates of hell cannot prevail. Fear hath been driven out by perfect love.”

“[I] still cling to the cross of my Redeemer, and with God’s aid firmly resolve to lead a life less unworthy of one who calls himself the humble follower of Jesus Christ.”

Mind Your Own Business

adam smith

Adam Smith

Quoting economist Adam Smith (1723-1790):

“The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most necessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.”

Whitefield On Ingratitude

george-whitefield-picture

George Whitefield

In the words of George Whitefield:

That which has the greatest tendency to excite the generality of fallen men to praise and thanksgiving, is a sense of God’s private mercies, and particular benefits bestowed upon ourselves. For as these come nearer our own hearts, so they must be more affecting: and as they are peculiar proofs, whereby we may know, that God does in a more especial manner favor us above others, so they cannot but sensibly touch us; and if our hearts are not quite frozen, like coals of a refiner’s fire, they must melt us down into thankfulness and love. It was a consideration of the distinguishing favor God had shown to his chosen people Israel, and the frequent and remarkable deliverance wrought by him in behalf of “those who go down to the Sea in ships, and occupy their business in great matters,” that made the holy Psalmist break out so frequently as he does in this psalm, into this moving, pathetical exclamation, “that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness, and declare the wonders that he doeth for the children of men!”

His expressing himself in so fervent a manner, implies both the importance and neglect of the duty. As when Moses in another occasion cried out, “O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would practically consider their latter end!” Deut. 32:29.

I say, importance and neglect of the duty; for out of those man thousands that receive blessings from the Lord, how few give thanks in remembrance of his holiness? The account given us of the ungrateful lepers, is but too lively a representation of the ingratitude of mankind in general; who like them, when under any humbling providence, can cry, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Luke 17:13. But when healed of their sickness, or delivered from their distress, scarce one in ten can be found “returning to give thanks to God.”

And yet as common as this sin of ingratitude is, there is nothing we ought more earnestly to pray against. For what is more absolutely condemned in holy scripture than ingratitude? Or what more peremptorily (absolutely, emphatically) required than the contrary temper? Thus says the Apostle, “Rejoice evermore; in every thing give thanks,” 1 Thes. 5:16,18. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God,” Phil. 4:6.

On the contrary, the Apostle mentions it as one of the highest crimes of the Gentiles, that they were not thankful. “Neither were they thankful,” Rom. 1:21. As also in another place, he numbers the “unthankful,” 2 Tim. 3:2 amongst those unholy, profane person, who are to have their portion in the lake of fire and brimstone. (Sermon, Sunday, May 17, 1738 Psalm 108:30-31)

The Christian Church Needs Real Men

spurgeon4In the words of Charles H. Spurgeon:

Wherever discouragement comes in it is dreadfully weakening. I am sure it is weakening, because the prophet was bidden to say three times to the governor, high priest, and people, “Be strong.” This proves that they had become weak. Being discouraged, their hands hung down, and their knees were feeble. Faith girds us with omnipotence, but unbelief makes everything hang loose and limp about us. Distrust, and thou wilt fail in everything; believe, and according to thy faith so shall it be unto thee. To lead a discouraged people to the Holy War is as difficult as for Xerxes’ commanders to conduct the Persian troops to battle against the Greeks. The vassals of the great king were driven to the conflict by whips and sticks, for they were afraid to fight: do you wonder that they were defeated? A church that needs constant exhorting and compelling accomplishes nothing. The Greeks had no need of blows and threats, for each man was a lion, and courted the encounter, however great the odds against him. Each Spartan fought con amore; he was never more at home than when contending for the altars and the hearths of his country. We want Christian men of this same sort, who have faith in their principles, faith in the doctrines of grace, faith in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; and who therefore contend earnestly for the faith in these days when piety is mocked at from the pulpit, and the gospel is sneered at by professional preachers. We need men who love the truth, to whom it is dear as their lives; men into whose hearts the old doctrine is burned by the hand of God’s Spirit through a deep experience of its necessity and of its power. We need no more of those who will parrot what they are taught, but we want men who will speak what they know. Oh, for a troop of men like John Knox, heroes of the martyr and covenanter stock! Then would Jehovah of hosts have a people to serve Him who would be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. (Sermon 1918)

 

Christianity And Reason

benjamin_franklin

Benjamin Franklin

Written by Gary DeMar:

Almost every modern critic of America’s Christian heritage makes the claim that America was founded solely on Enlightenment principles as they get to define them. For evidence they refer to Benjamin Franklin. . . .

Franklin was influenced by Cotton Mather’s Essays to do Good, “which perhaps gave me a turn of thinking that had an influence on some of the principal future events of my life.”Franklin gives considerable attention to the issue of the moral life in his autobiography (not that he was always moral). . . .

Mather was a Puritan minister who believed and taught “that the power and opportunity to do good, not only gives a right to the doing of it, but makes the doing of it a duty.” Mather saw good works as the reasonable outworking of faith. The Bible says as much: “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20, KJV). Mather’s influence on Franklin can be seen in the actual wording of Franklin’s Autobiography where he acknowledges belief in God and resultant good works: “I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and govern’d it by his Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue reward, either here or hereafter. . . .”

Many historians believe America was founded on the principles of the Enlightenment because of the emphasis on reason by a number of thinkers of that era. While it’s true that most Enlightenment thinkers elevated reason to the position of a secular god, reason, logic, and science were staple disciplines among early Christian thinkers that gave rise to science. “The language of Europe and America had as its common feature an emphasis on calm, rational discourse, but we must not confuse this with rationalism,” the belief that reason alone was the basis for all knowledge. By the time Franklin came along, there had been a long history of scholarship in the colonies that rested on the foundation stones of Special Revelation, reasonable inquiry, and scientific investigation. . . .

Continue reading. . . .

James Manning On An Annual Baptist Meeting

James_Manning

James Manning

Quoting James Manning:

“I rejoice that the religion of Jesus prevails in your parts; I can tell you the same agreeable news from this quarter. Yesterday I returned from Piscataway in East Jersey, where was held a Baptist annual meeting (I think the largest I ever saw) but much more remarkable still for the Divine influences which God was pleased to grant. Fifteen were baptized; a number during the three days professed to experience a change of heart. Christians were remarkably quickened; multitudes appeared.” (Member of the Continental Congress)

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