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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 Christian And The Constitution

 

Joseph Story

Joseph Story

 

A little over 100 years ago, Justice Josiah Brewer wrote concerning The Supreme Court, “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian” [Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457-458, 465-471, 36 L ed 226. (1892)]. Therefore, Christian people should seek to influence legislation that is in keeping with the moral principles of Christianity. Bob Vincent, pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Louisiana, writes:

Until well into my life-time, the overwhelming majority of Americans believed that the United States was a Christian nation. In believing that, they did not desire the persecution of other religions, nor did they want to see people forced to become Christians, nor did they believe that one Christian denomination should be favored at the expense of others. . . .

But Americans overwhelmingly believed that Christian ideas and principles should receive favorable treatment and that its understanding of Moral Law should undergird the laws of the United States and the individual states. When other people’s religious practices came into conflict with Moral Law, Moral Law, not the practices of other religions, was always supreme. People were free to believe as they saw fit, but they could not practice their beliefs when those practices ran contrary to morality; they had to live by the Christian based laws of the United States. This can readily be seen through the decisions of the United States Supreme Court. As one example of how this has been worked out, one may note Davis v. Beason, where Mormons were forbidden to practice polygamy, an early tenet of their faith, because it was contrary to Moral Law as understood by historic Christianity. . . .

“Probably at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the First Amendment to it . . . the general if not the universal sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state so far as was not incompatible with the private religious rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship. An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation . . . .The real object of the amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance, Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity; but exclude all rivalry among Christian sects, and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which should give to a hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government” [Justice Joseph Story (who served on the Supreme Court from 1811-1845) Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 2 Vol. 2:593-95, 2nd Ed. Boston: Little Brown (1905)].

Justice Story‘s understanding reflects the thinking of the framers of the Constitution, who expressed unbridled faith in God in the Declaration of Independence. . . .

Read more here. . . .

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Christ’s Sheep

J. C. Ryle

Quoting J. C. Ryle:

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10)

God’s children, His real believing people, are compared to sheep, because they are gentle, quiet, harmless and inoffensive; because they are useful and do good to all around them; because they love to be together, and dislike separation; and lastly because they are very helpless and wandering and liable to stray.

Jesus calls them “My sheep,” as if they were His peculiar property. “Mine,” He would have us know, by election, “Mine” by purchase, and “Mine” by adoption.

Christ’s sheep hear His voice, they listen humbly to His teaching, they take His word for their rule and guide.

Christ’s sheep follow Him, they walk in the narrow path He has marked out, they do not refuse because it is sometimes steep and narrow–but wherever the line of duty lies they go forward without doubting.

The Singular George Washington

 

George Washington

 

Thomas Jefferson discussed George Washington in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones in 1814:

“[H]is was the singular destiny and merit, of leading the armies of his country successfully through an arduous war, for the establishment of its independence; of conducting its councils through the birth of a government, new in its forms and principles, until it had settled down into a quite and orderly train; and of scrupulously obeying the laws through the whole of his career, civil and military, of which the history of the world furnishes no other example.”

Eternal Life Bestowed Freely

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give eternal life to them. They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29)

Jesus Christ does not deal with us who are sinners as we deal with one another.  He gives eternal life freely, without money and without price. We are not worthy or deserving, but His salvation is a free gift, because He loves us and has set His affection upon us. Consider the wonder of this doctrine. Pardon and forgiveness are unconditionally bestowed. J. C. Ryle says of this:

The Lord Jesus says of His sheep, “I give unto them eternal life!” What is the portion which Jesus gives His people? “eternal life”—a perfect, never-ending happiness for that which is the most important part of a man—his immortal soul. They shall not be hurt by the second death, which alone is to be really feared. What greater things could our Lord bestow upon His people? Health and riches and honor and pleasures, houses and lands, and wives and children—what are they? how long do they last?—it is but threescore years and ten, and we must leave them all—and six feet of vile earth is room enough for us. Naked came we into the world, and naked must we return unto the dust, and carry nothing with us. What is the difference between the rich and the poor in death? They both go unto one and the same place; the worm feeds sweetly on them both; it is but a short time, and you would not be able to distinguish between their bones.

But if the poor man sleeps in Jesus, while the rich man dies in his sins, oh, what a mighty gulf then is between them! The rich will take up his abode in that fire which is never quenched; the poor will awake to find he has an everlasting treasure in heaven, even eternal life. Eternal life! Compared to which this world’s concerns, weighty and important as they seem, are like a drop of water. Amazing indeed that men should trouble themselves about the things of earth, and sweat and toil after a little more gold and silver, and spend their strength upon these frail, sickly bodies of ours, to get enjoyment for them, and yet remain careless and dead and frozen about the life of that precious talent the soul!

But what about eternal life? “I,” says the Lord Jesus Christ, “do give it to my people.” Who says this? He says it who bought and paid the full price; He who has in His hands the keys of death and hell; He who opens and no man shuts, He who shuts and no man opens; He says it who is the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, who is not a man that He should lie, who never breaks His promise; He says it who has a right to say it, for He came down to do His Father’s will and die in our stead to obtain redemption for us, and when He declares “I give eternal life,” death and hell must be silent, none can gainsay Him.

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