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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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Father Of Flight 93 Hero Believes Pennsylvania Memorial Is A Giant Outdoor Mosque!

While the debate on the “Ground Zero” continues to heat up, another 9/11 issue is entering the spotlight of public opinion as well. Many believe the National Park Service is building an outdoor mosque in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on the site of the Flight 93 Memorial. The video below provides the details:

There are several informative videos on the Flight 93 Mosque you must see at Creeping Sharia.

Keeping The Faith In College

A crowd of college students at the 2007 Pittsb...

As a Christian and an educator, I have always been very concerned about church-going teenagers who after high school graduation leave home for a college or university education which is quite often hostile to Christianity and the principles this country was founded on.  Recently, I have been happy to hear that a new resource has been developed to help high school graduates stay grounded in their Christian faith as they endure college

There are, unfortunately, many students who make shipwreck of their faith during their college years.  Often, this is related to the poverty of sound Christian teaching in our churches for this age group.  Our students are simply unprepared to defend their faith in an often critical classroom environment.  Enter college ministry veteran John Bryson, who is currently teaching pastor at Fellowship Memphis and who has helped develop a six-week video study called “College Ready”. The purpose of the video is to create a strategic tool for parents and youth ministries to equip students to do well in college.

Teaming up with Men’s Fraternity founder Robert Lewis to develop the series, Bryson points out that church history reveals that many revivals began with students on a college campus.  The prepared Christian college student may find his campus experiences an opportunity for great influence on others or if he possesses no sound foundation of the knowledge of Christ, he will certainly be subject to a potential crisis of faith.

Find out more about College Ready here. . . .

Paganizing Christianity

Christian Socialism

How can a Christian reconcile his obedience to God with living in a thoroughly pagan culture and political reality? Modern Europe is a prime example of a political culture that maintains some resemblance of tolerance toward Christian worship while it is legislating against Christian practices. Bojidar Marinov explains:

The history of Christianity in the last two decades in Europe reveals a new pattern in persecutions of faithful Christians by pagan authorities. In the past, Christians were persecuted on the basis of laws or whims of rulers that specifically forbade Christian worship or gatherings. Such was the case in the Roman Empire. Such was the case in Eastern Europe under the power of Communist governments; such is the case today in China or the Muslim world. . . .

In the last two decades the socialist governments in Europe are trying a different approach: While Christian worship on Sunday morning is kept legal, any practices for the rest of the week that are based on the convictions of Bible-believing Christians and the Biblical worldview are declared against the law. . . .

In many places in Europe it is against the law to act as a Christian in your everyday life, and that includes also the economic and political life of the nation. . . .

In this new reality, the question facing every conscientious Christian in countries like Germany, Sweden, France, and others, will be: “How do I resolve the fundamental contradiction between my life as a citizen under the laws of my country and my faith as a Christian under the laws of the almighty God Creator and His Son, Jesus Christ?” This is the same question so many Christian martyrs over the centuries had to answer. The difference today is that European Christians are not asked to reject their faith in Jesus Christ or die; they are asked to reject any consistent practical life based on that faith and accept the standards of the pagan State as normative for their life and action. “Your religion is OK,” say the European legislators, “as long as you act as pagans in practice.”

Continue reading. . . .

“Strange Fire” And Modern Novelties In Worship

Quoting Richard Owen Roberts:

In Leviticus ten the disturbing story is told of Nadab and Abihu who introduced ‘strange fire’ into the midst of the work of God. This incident occurred at the time of the inauguration of the Aaronic priesthood and at a time when fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering. Prompted by pride and lack of self-control, these brothers grievously offended the Lord with their ‘strange fire’ and were themselves consumed by fire from the same source that burned up the sacrifice.

‘Strange fire’ represents all those acts and activities of men in ministry that emanate from their own proud hearts and undisciplined spirits. The worship and service of God is under the control and authority of God Himself. The Scriptures guide and govern the entire life and ministry of the church. God has spoken and men are not at liberty to introduce their ideas and ways into His work. True men of God spend their primary time and energy finding and following God’s desires as He has revealed them in the Bible. Proud and undisciplined men think they do God service by introducing new ways and means into the life of the church. In recent years an almost unbelievable host of novelties have appeared. Many of them are now accepted as if they were a part of divine revelation.

Face this fact! Every arrogant act in the church and every undisciplined addition to its ways is a hindrance to revival. God may yet send His fire to consume these men, but how much better would it be for them to repent and return to the Lord now. (“Preaching That Hinders Revival”)

Opposing The Smallest Of Evils

Quoting James Madison:

“The people of the U.S. owe their Independence & their liberty, to the wisdom of descrying in the minute tax of 3 pence on tea, the magnitude of the evil comprised in the precedent. Let them exert the same wisdom, in watching against every evil lurking under plausible disguises, and growing up from small beginnings.”

Is A Biblical Tithe Really 25%?

John MacArthur

Tithing is only mentioned a couple of times in the New Testament as a historical reference. There is no place in the New Testament where Christians are given explicit directions concerning tithing.

Pastor, Bible teacher, and author, John MacArthur points out that in the Old Testament Jews were to give a “Levite’s Tithe each year of 10% of all they produced. Israel was a theocracy, that is, it was ruled by God through priests. There were thousands upon thousands of priests who served as government officials.

Levi was the priestly tribe and they owned nothing. They were supported by all the other tribes. When you gave your 10% each year, you gave it to the priestly government for the care of the nation. In addition, you gave another 10% every year to support the religious convocations of the nation that were held in Jerusalem. Then you paid another 10% every third year, which went to the poor and the widows. If you break it down, you are at about 23.3% per year. According to MacArthur:

[W]hen people today say, “We want to tithe now like they did in the Old Testament,” they can’t stop at 10%, they have got 23.3% to start with. In addition to that, you paid a half shekel temple tax every year, in addition to that, if you had a field, you had to harvest the field in a circle and leave the corners open for the poor. It was a profit-sharing plan. If you dropped a bail of hay off your wagon, on the way to the barn, you had to leave that for the poor. So you start adding that up and you are looking at about 25% of their income went to fund the national entity of the government. Now when you get into the New Testament, the Jews were still doing that, because they still had a nation, even though they were an occupied nation, they were still a nation. They were occupied by the Romans, but they weren’t run by the Romans. They had their own religious hierarchy, they had their own school systems, they had their own festivals, and all that stuff, and so they had to take care of that. They had their own priesthood; it all had to go on, that is why Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” in other words, pay the Romans what they asked, and render to God the things that are God’s. So just to clarify that at the very beginning, when you are talking about a tithe, you are talking about  “taxation. . . .”

Now you come to 2 Corinthians, chapter eight, and you learn how the church gave. The church knew there was a need so the church gave. How did they give? Well, it wasn’t 10%, it says, “The churches in Macedonia, 2Cor 8:1, gave abundantly out of deep poverty. It says that their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality.” Here was a very poor church in Macedonia, very poor, but they gave generously, out of their hearts liberally. In fact, verse three says, they gave beyond their ability. They gave more than they should have given–more then they could of given, and the reason they did that was in verse five, because they first gave themselves. I mean when you give yourself then everything you have belongs to the Lord. So, Paul is saying to the Corinthians, “If you want a lesson in giving, look at these people–out of deep poverty they gave everything they had.” In fact, they gave more than they should have, but they did that because they had already given themselves to the Lord. Now you have the key motive in giving; what is the right motive in giving? It is not to get anything. It is in that whole hearted abandonment, “they gave everything. . . .”

Continue reading. . . .

The excerpt above is taken from a sermon John MacArthur preached at Grace Community Church, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412. The sermon is available on cassette tape #GC 70-1, and is titled, “Bible Questions and Answers.”

The Basis Of This Nation’s Laws

Harry Truman

Quoting President Harry S. Truman:

“The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in the rights for anybody except the State.”

The Arguments Against Atheism

Thomas Aquinas

There are a number of arguments against atheism which are worthy of consideration if you are witnessing to an atheist. The first is the teleological argument that says, “The universe exhibits overwhelming evidence of deliberate, intelligent, purposeful design, which implies an intelligent designer.” The fulfillment of Bible prophecy in history is another.

Then there is the cosmological argument. The premise of this argument is that every event in our universe necessarily has a cause. However, it is impossible that there should be an unending chain of causes going back. Therefore, there necessarily must be a cause distinct from the universe as we know it which is capable of causing all things and is itself uncaused.

Ontological arguments are arguments, for the conclusion that God exists, from premises which are supposed to derive from some source other than observation of the world — e.g., from reason alone. There are also historical arguments for the existence of God. For example, arguments stemming from historical accounts such as Christian historical apologetics are helpful. Christian legal apologetics and archaeological evidence such as Bible archaeology are also very useful.

We also find that there are experiential arguments for the existence of God. These arguments are based on personal experience and human intuition. Belief in the existence of God is a belief not based on inference from other beliefs but is rationally justified due to one’s circumstances of immediate experience of God. The presuppositional argument, however, does not use evidences in the traditional manner. By the traditional manner, it means using evidences as an appeal to the authority of the unbeliever’s autonomous reasoning. The problem is, of course, that the unbeliever cannot reason autonomously. Without God, there would be no possibility of reason. And so the reality of the matter is that every time the unbeliever attempts to reason, he is borrowing from the Christian worldview. That is, he is being inconsistent with his stated presuppositions. And that is the crucial point. Ultimately the intellectual conflict between believers and unbelievers is a matter of antithetical worldviews. The essence of the presuppositional argument is the attempt to show that the unbeliever’s worldview drives him to subjectivity, irrationalism, and moral anarchy. And so the presuppositional argument calls for the Christian and non-Christian to set side by side their two worldviews and do an internal examination of them both in order to determine whether or not they are consistent even within their own framework. Since God does exist, and since Christianity is true, then any worldview which denies these truths is false and can be demonstrated to be so.

The Second Coming Of Christ

Dr. William Ames was born in 1576 at Ipswich in Suffolk, that region east of Anglia where Puritanism had first “begun”. Ames chose the center of Puritan learning, Cambridge University, over Oxford for his higher education. Ames voice was one of the most influential in the theological development of the Puritan and Reformed churches in England and the Netherlands. According to Daniel Neal, the first furniture at Harvard were the books of Ames. His influence upon the theology of New England was so great that he was quoted more than Luther or Calvin combined. The Marrow of Theology is Ames’ most well known work. Cotton Mather said that if a student of divinity were to have nothing but The Bible and The Marrow, he would be a most able minister. Ames described the Second Coming of Christ as follows:

The second coming of Christ will be like the first in that it shall be real, visible, and apparent. Acts 1:11. But it will be dissimilar in that: First, it will be attended with greatest glory and power. Matt. 24:30; Titus 2:13; second, it will dispense the greatest terror among the ungodly and the greatest joy among the godly, 2 Thess. 1:7-10.

Two events, the resurrection and the last judgment, will finally distinguish between the godly and the ungodly, 2 Cor. 5:10.

Resurrection relates to what has fallen. Because man fell from life by the separation of soul from body, it is necessary for his rising again that the same soul be reunited to the same body and that the same man exists in the restored union of the two. . . .

Therefore, the raising of the dead properly belongs to Christ, (eanthropos), the God-man. The operating principle is Christ’s divine omnipotence by which it may be easily accomplished, even in an instant. . . .

Although all will be raised by Christ, it will not all happen in one and the same way. The resurrection of the faithful is to life and is accomplished by virtue of the union which they have with Christ who is their life (Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 4:14) and by the operation of his quickening Spirit which lives in them. Rom. 8:11, He . . . shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit dwelling in you. But the resurrection of the others is through that power of Christ by which he will execute avenging justice. . . .

The last judgment is exercised by Christ as king, for the power of judging is part of the office of a king. . . .

The place of this judgment will be in the air, 1 Thess. 4:17.

The day and year of it is not revealed in Scripture and, therefore, cannot be fixed by men.

The sentence, to be carried out immediately, will be to eternal life or death. . . .

Christ, (theanthropos), the God-man, is the judge—a deputy, as it were—but because of his divine authority and power, upon which depends the strength of the sentence, he is the principal judge. . . .

Judgment will be rendered not only on wicked men but also on evil angels. . . .

The fire that is destined to purge and renew the world will not precede the judgment but shall follow. . . .

The elements will not be taken away, but changed.

After the day of judgment Christ will remain king and mediator forever.

Did Barney Frank Enable Islamic Terrorists To Attack America?

Barney Frank

Barney Frank’s career has made it much easier for Islamic terrorists to attack America. In 1989, he sponsored a bill that struck the exclusion clause from the Immigration and Nationality Act. He claimed he did it to help left-wing poets enter the country legally to sell books. The law he sponsored made it possible for all visa applicants to enter the country legally unless there was “proof” they had been involved in “terrorist activities.” Many lawyers would tell you that it would be difficult to prove that Osama bin Laden was involved in “terrorist activities.” Chuck Morse writes:

Gerald Posner, in his book Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11, wrote that Frank had “led a successful effort to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act so that membership in a terrorist group was no longer sufficient to deny a visa. Under Frank’s amendment, which seems unthinkable post–Sept. 11, a visa could only be denied if the government could prove that the applicant had committed an act of terrorism.” Former CIA directors James Woolsey and George Tenet have both testified that Congress had opened the floodgates to terrorists. After its passage, terrorists associated with Hamas and al-Qaida began entering the country with legal visas, began recruiting domestic terrorists and sending funds to overseas “charities,” according to the congressional testimony of terrorism expert Steven Emerson.

Continue reading. . . .

Alexandre Dumas And The Want Of A Man

Quoting Alexandre Dumas:

“All the world cries, Where is the man who will save us? We want a man! Don’t look so far for this man. You have him at hand. This man,—it is you, it is I, it is each one of us! . . . How to constitute one’s self a man? Nothing harder, if one knows not how to will it; nothing easier, if one wills it.”

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1)

Liberal Bigotry In The House Of God

From the writings of Charles H. Spurgeon:

Some animals make up for their natural weakness by their activity and audacity; they are typical of a certain order of men. Assumption goes a long way with many, and, when pretensions are vociferously made and incessantly intruded, they always secure a measure of belief. Men who affect to be of dignified rank, and superior family, and who, therefore, hold their heads high above the canaille, manage to secure a measure of homage from those who cannot see beneath the surface. There has by degrees risen up in this country a coterie, more than ordinarily pretentious, whose favorite cant is made up of such terms as these: “liberal views,” “men of high culture,” “persons of enlarged minds and cultivated intellects,” “bonds of dogmatism and the slavery of creeds,” “modern thought,” and so on. That these gentlemen are not so thoroughly educated as they fancy themselves to be, is clear from their incessant boasts of their culture; that they are not free, is shrewdly guessed from their loud brags of liberty; and that they are not liberal, but intolerant to the last degree, is evident, from their superciliousness towards those poor simpletons who abide by the old faith. Jews in old times called Gentiles dogs, and Mahometans cursed unbelievers roundly; but we question whether any men, in any age, have manifested such contempt of others as is constantly evidenced towards the orthodox by the modern school of “cultured intellects.” Let half a word of protest be uttered by a man who believes firmly in something, and holds by a defined doctrine, and the thunders of liberality bellow forth against the bigot. Steeped up to their very throats in that bigotry for liberality, which, of all others, is the most ferocious form of intolerance, they sneer with the contempt of affected learning at the idiots who contend for “a narrow Puritanism,” and express a patronizing hope that the benighted adherents of “a half-enlightened creed” may learn more of “that charity which thinketh no evil.” To contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints is to them an offense against the enlightenment of the nineteenth century; but, to vamp old, worn-out heresies, and pass them off for deep thinking, is to secure a high position among minds “emancipated from the fetters of traditional beliefs.”

Manliness and moral courage are the attributes in which they consider themselves to excel, and they are constantly asserting that hundreds of ministers see with them, but dare not enunciate their views, and so continue to preach one thing and believe another. It may be so here and there, and the more is the cause for sorrow; but we are not sure of the statement, for the accusers themselves may, after all, fancy that they see in others what is really in themselves. The glass in their own houses should forbid their throwing stones. If they were straightforward themselves, they might call others to account; but, in too many cases, their own policy savors of the serpent in a very high degree. The charge could not be fairly brought against all, but it can be proven against many, that they have fought the battles of liberality, not with the broad sword of honest men, but with the cloak and dagger of assassins. They have occupied positions which could not be reconciled with their beliefs, and have clung to them with all the tenacity with which limpets adhere to rocks. Their testimony has, in some cases, been rendered evidently worthless, from the fact that with all their outcry against orthodoxy, they did their best to eat the bread of the orthodox, and would still have continued to profess, and yet to assail, orthodox opinions had they been permitted to do so. Whether this is honest is doubtful: that it is not manly is certain.

These gentlemen of culture have certainly adopted peculiar tactics. The misbelievers and unbelievers of former ages withdrew themselves from churches as soon as they found out they could not honestly endorse their fundamental articles; but these abide by the stuff, and great is their indignation at the creeds which render their position morally dubious. Churches have no right to believe anything; comprehensiveness is the only virtue of a denomination; precise definitions are a sin, and fundamental doctrines are a myth: this is the notion of “our foremost men.” For earnest people to band themselves together to propagate what they hold to be the very truth of God, is in their eyes the miserable endeavor of bigots to stem the torrent of modern thought; for zealous Christians to contribute of their substance for the erection of a house, in which only the truths most surely believed among them shall be inculcated, is a treason against liberality; while the attempt to secure our pulpits against downright error, is a mischievous piece of persecution to be resented by all “intellectual” men. (November, 1871 Sword and Trowel)

God And Flying Saucers

Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) have long been a popular topic in books, movies, TV programs, and conversations. I have always enjoyed reading science fiction and watching SciFi movies. Many believe that UFOs are “flying saucers” whose occupants are from technologically advanced civilizations on other planets. The purpose of these extraterrestrial visitors is often considered benevolent as they continue to study our planet. Of course, there are also the fears so eloquently expressed in the story line of H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds and movies like “Independence Day” that the aliens’ intentions could be more sinister.

Christian theologians have had little to say on the subject. There is, for instance, no rigid Christian dogma on life beyond Earth even though a representative of the Pope asserted recently that God could have created life on other planets. There is also growing speculation among other Christians that these so-called “extraterrestrial beings” are demonic in origin – leading people to the false hope of achieving salvation from our world’s problems through beings from another planet. Some Christians see “ancient astronaut” theories and current speculations on alien visitors and flying saucers as Satanic deceptions. This has led many notable people, such as Lord Hill-Norton – a former British Chief of Defense Staff who died in 2003 – to write that UFOs are “essentially a religious matter” rather than a threat from outer space.

Interestingly enough, the history of many “alien visitor” enthusiasts indicates that they have also been involved in occult practices (particularly the “contactees”). This is not, however, an observation true of all. Journalist and author John Keel popularized the theory of supernatural entities which coexist with mankind in a parallel universe. These encounters led him to conclude that the intentions of the UFO occupants were sinister and the entities were lying to the contactees to cover their real origin, purpose and motivation.

One interesting story is that of Randall Jones Pugh – a retired veterinary surgeon – who had a Christian background and investigated the West Wales UFO flap of 1977. Initially, he believed in ET visitors but gradually his views changed. Pugh looked into a range of strange happenings: lights and objects hovering in the sky, mysterious silver-suited figures peering into farmhouse windows, cowering animals, and poltergeists plaguing a family of UFO witnesses. By 1980, he concluded that the UFO occupants were evil supernatural entities, and came to believe that UFO enthusiasts were placing themselves in both physical and spiritual danger. Pugh abandoned UFO research and burned his collection of books and slides following a series of personal experiences that, he claimed, “were too frightening to talk about”.

In 1859, Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species tossed aside the need for God to uphold the universe. Many attempted to live in a state of schizophrenia – believing in both Darwin and the Bible. Princeton Seminary professor Charles Hodge, however, pointed out in his publications that Darwinism is atheism.

G. K. Chesterton said that when people cease to believe in God they do not end up believing in nothing, they end up believing in anything, no matter how absurd. Even though the modern Christian West has experienced a crisis in faith, people are still looking to the heavens for answers to questions that science does not provide. Perhaps the obsession with identifying UFOs as flying saucers or space ships from other planets is an expression of man’s deep desire for faith in something. This is a faith, however, that is grounded in the religion of humanism: it is evolutional and self-salvational in its foundation. It is modern man’s attempt to fill his spiritual void on his own terms.

God’s Providential Care

John Piper

Quoting John Piper:

God will not turn away from doing you good. He will keep on doing good. He doesn’t do good to His children sometimes and bad to them other times. He keeps on doing good and He never will stop doing good for ten thousand ages of ages. When things are going bad that does not mean God has stopped doing good. It means He is shifting things around to get them in place for more good, if you will go on loving Him.

Preserve, Protect, And Defend The Constitution

Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story

Quoting Justice Joseph Story:

“No man can well doubt the propriety of placing a president of the United States under the most solemn obligations to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.”

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