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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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  • Recommended Reading

Playing The “Hate Card”

There are people in this country who advocate silencing traditional and conservative views in the public square. In doing this they are attacking a key right the First Amendment was designed to protect. The free debate of controversial ideas is a right, as well as a tradition, in the US. The strategy being used to shut down free speech may be described as “Playing the Hate Card”. Rebecca Hagelin provides us with an interesting example:

[Recently], the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a long-standing civil rights group, added more than a dozen new organizations to their list of hate-mongering groups. Neo-Nazis? KKK-spin-offs? Muslim or Jew-haters? No. The new “haters,” in this era of sexual license, are those who maintain that marriage has an intrinsic meaning–the union of man and woman–that simply cannot be extended to homosexual couplings. Crying “hate speech,” the SPLC denounced “anti-gay” groups for spreading “falsehoods” that say children do best when raised by a mom and a dad, as opposed to two dads or two moms. “Falsehoods” that support traditional marriage are now “hate speech,” thrown into the same filthy bucket as KKK and Neo-Nazi ideology.

The view that marriage means one man and one woman and that children flourish when raised by a married mother and father is rooted not only in biblical teachings but also in common sense; it’s a truth proven by science as well as centuries of lived experience. But children know that “hate” is a bad thing, and no one wants to be labeled a “hater.” It’s not hard to imagine the pressure tactics that our children soon will face: keep silent or risk being slapped with the label–“hater”–that will define them socially for years.

The label of “Hater” quickly shuts down reasonable discussion or open disagreement. And that’s the real point: to intimidate proponents of traditional morality into keeping silent. Put differently, it’s to lock traditional morality in the closet so social engineers can be free to redefine marriage as they wish.

Maggie Gallagher, an articulate defender of marriage, warns that by playing the “hate” card, the homosexual lobby wants to “’shut down the scientific debate’ on statements of fact” about homosexuality and to “control what ordinary people can say and think” about marriage, sex, and morality.

Read more here. . . .

The Knowledge Of His Will

G. Campbell Morgan

Quoting G. Campbell Morgan:

“To the individual believer indwelt by the Holy Spirit there is granted the direct impression of the Spirit of God on the spirit of man, imparting the knowledge of His will in matters of the smallest and greatest importance. This has to be sought and waited for.”

The Blessing Of A New Year

Quoting Debbie Carroccio:

We should take advantage of His faithfulness and make every day a fresh start. Resolve to make each day the beginning of a new year, a new morning, a new adventure. He wipes the slate clean and goes back to zero so we can be filled up again with His spirit and give it out all day long. Enjoy the blessings of a new year, in Christ, one day at a time!

Freedom To Choose Your Destiny

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

President Ronald Reagan

Quoting Ronald Reagan:

Sir Winston [Churchill] led his people to great victory in war and then lost an election just as the fruits of victory were about to be enjoyed. But he left office honorably, and as it turned out, temporarily, knowing that the liberty of his people was more important than that of any single leader. History recalls his greatness in ways no dictator will ever know. And he left us a message of hope for the future, as timely now as when he first uttered it, as opposition leader in the Commons … when he said, ‘When we look back on all the perils through which we have passed and at the mighty foes that we have laid low and all the dark and deadly designs that we have frustrated, why should we fear for our futures? We have,’ he said, ‘come safely through the worst.’ Well, the task I’ve set forth will long outlive our own generation. But together, we too have come through the worst. Let us now begin a major effort to secure the best — a crusade for freedom that will engage the faith and fortitude of the next generation. For the sake of peace and justice, let us move toward a world in which all people are at last free to determine their own destiny.”

 

Opinions Matter

 

B. B. Warfield

Have you ever heard someone say, “Don’t give me doctrines, just give me Jesus”? Perhaps they said they were tired of hearing the opinions of preachers. Perhaps they just wanted the preacher to “motivate” them to feel good about Jesus. There are lots of ways of saying we don’t want to get too deep in this thing called Christianity. Some are simply interested in getting the generalities that work in their favor. Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921) explains why this approach to Christianity does not work:

It is easy to say: “We refuse to believe that a man’s opinions on the minute details of history or metaphysics are sufficient either to admit or to exclude him from the Kingdom of grace and glory.” But when we have said that, we have already expressed a portentous opinion. . . . It is a matter of historical opinion whether such a person as Jesus Christ ever existed, and surely whether any given man ever existed or not is a very small historical detail. And if we are of the opinion that he existed, it is still a matter of historical opinion whether he was the Son of God who came into the world on a mission of mercy to lost men, and died for our sins and rose again for our justification; or was merely a man who suggested to us as his opinion, which it was his opinion it would be well that we also should adopt, that God is a good fellow, and it is all right with the world. We cannot get along without metaphysical delimitations and historical judgments. We cannot go one step without them. And what we call Christianity is bound up with a very definite set of both.

He who adopts this definite set of metaphysical and historical opinions is so far on his way to being a Christian. He who rejects them, or treats them as indifferent, is not even on his way to being a Christian. This is not to say that Christianity is just a body of metaphysical and historical opinions. But it is to say that Christianity is, among other things, a body of metaphysical and historical opinions. It is absurd to say that a man can be a Christian who is of the opinion that there is no God; or that no such person as Jesus ever lived: or who does not believe very many very definite things about the really existing God and the actually living Jesus. . . .

No less a man than John Wesley is appealed to, however, to support this minimizing of the value of truth. And certainly John Wesley did say—he surely was speaking unadvisedly with his lips-something which lends itself too readily to this bad use. “I am sick of opinions,” he writes; “I am weary to bear them; my soul loathes the frothy food. Give me solid substantial religion; give me a humble gentle lover of God and man, a man full of mercy and good fruits, a man laying himself out in the work of faith, the patience of hope, the labor of love. Let my soul be with those Christians wheresoever they be and whatsoever opinions they are of.” John Wesley’s righteous soul had evidently been vexed by men who had nothing but “opinions” to show for their Christianity. But did he ever see such a man as he here paints for us: “a humble gentle lover of God and man, a man full of mercy and good fruits, a man laying himself out in the work of faith, the patience of hope, the labor of love,” who was without the opinion that there is a God to love. . . ? ” Did “solid substantial religion” ever exist apart from the “opinions” which lie at its basis? A man who is of the opinion that there is no God will not manifest “solid substantial religion” in his life. . . . No man can live a Christian life who is not first of “the Christian persuasion.”

That is the reason why Christianity is propagated by preaching. There may be other ways in which other religions are spread. The propagation of Christianity has been very definitely committed to “the foolishness of preaching”-not to foolish preaching, however, which is something very different. It is fundamentally “faith”; and faith implies something to be believed and therefore comes of hearing; while hearing implies something presented to the apprehension of the intelligence- the “Word of God.” Whatever we may say of a so-called Christianity which is nothing but “opinions,” there is no Christianity which does not begin with opinions, which is not formed by opinions, and which is not the outworking of these opinions in life. Only we would better call them “convictions.” Convictions are the root on which the tree of vital Christianity grows. No convictions, no Christianity. Scanty convictions, hunger-bitten Christianity. Profound convictions, solid and substantial religion. Let no man fancy it can be otherwise. Ignorance is not the mother of religion, but of irreligion. The knowledge of God is eternal life, and to know God means that we know him aright..

Jim Elliot On The New Year

Quoting Jim Elliot:

I pray that the Lord might crown this year with His goodness and in the coming one give you a hallowed dare-devil spirit in lifting the biting sword of Truth, consuming you with a passion that is called by the cultured citizen of Christendom ‘fanaticism’, but known to God as that saintly madness that led His Son through bloody sweat and hot tears to agony on a rude Cross—and Glory!

A New Year’s Blessing

Author Unknown:

May God make your year a happy one!

Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain,

But by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes;

Not by making your path easy,

But by making you sturdy to travel any path;

Not by taking hardships from you,

But by taking fear from your heart;

Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,

But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows;

Not by making your life always pleasant,

But by showing you when people and their causes need you most,

and by making you anxious to be there to help.

God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead.

Treading Into The Unknown

Quoting M. L. Harkins:

I said to a man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown”; and he replied, “Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than a light and safer than a known way!”

A Poor Sermon

George Whitefield

Quoting George Whitefield:

“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher”

The Restoration Is Coming

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

15 He [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1)

We note in the verses above that everything that was created was made in Him, by Him, through and for Him. This includes the world and animals, angels, thrones, principalities and powers. All things were in perfect harmony. The Lord Jesus Christ was over all. This harmony did not continue, however, and the presence of sin in our world is due to that fact. First, there was a rebellion in heaven itself. The devil rebelled and fell with a large number of the angels. Satan then came and tempted man and man fell. The result was discord and sin amongst men. Also, we must be aware that even the creation itself suffered as the result of sin. So, we may ask ourselves, “What is God’s purpose in all of this?” We have a world that was perfectly created only to fall with man through the consequences of sin. “What now?” D. M. Lloyd-Jones helps us to understand what the above Scriptures teach us:

Now we are in a position to see the doctrine of this verse which we are studying. The mystic secret which we as Christians are allowed to share is that God will ultimately restore the original harmony, and re-unite again all things in Christ. Christ is over all and the old harmony will be restored. And we are told how it is going to happen. In regard to men we have already noted that it happens as the result of the redemption through the blood of Christ. Reconciliation to God and reconciliation with one another is by His blood, by His grace. . . .

Christ represents us and we are in Him, and so we are going to be elevated to the position of ‘lords of creation’ again, and everything will be placed under us. The old original harmony will be restored. Isaiah speaks of it prophetically. He saw that a day was coming when ‘the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fattened calf together, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed, their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea’ [Isa 11.6-9].

The perfect harmony that will be restored will be harmony in man, and between men. Harmony on the earth and in the brute creation! Harmony in heaven and all under this blessed Lord Jesus Christ, who will be the Head of all! Everything will again be united in Him. And wonder of wonders, marvelous beyond compare, when all this happens it will never be undone again. All will be re-united in Him to all eternity. That is the message; that is God’s plan. That is the mystery which has been revealed unto us.

Once more I must ask some questions. Do you know these things? Are you prepared to give time to these things — to listen to them or to read about them? Do you know that these things are so marvelous that you will never hear anything greater, either in this world or the world to come? Do you realize that you have a part in these things . . . ?

God forbid that we should abuse the Scriptures by reducing them to the level of our ideas or contemporary events! Look at the ultimate, look at God’s grand and glorious purpose. Do not be over-particular in your interpretation of contemporary history, do not waste your time in attempts to fix ‘times and seasons’. What matters is God’s plan, which is being worked out since the beginning of ‘the fullness of times’. Think of, and live for the ultimate restoration of that glorious harmony which is coming, when we with our whole being shall praise ‘the Lamb that was slain’. (“God’s Ultimate Purpose”)

Grace For The New Year

Author Unknown:

The New Year is a time to learn to rely more heavily on the grace of God. Now I’ve met a few self-made men and women and so have you, but so often these people seem proud, self-centred and driven. There is another way: beginning to trust in God’s help. One secret from the Apostle Paul: “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength,” he said. (Phil 4:13, NIV) And God’s strength saw him through pain, joy, and accomplishment.

The Object Of The New Year

Quoting Gilbert Keith G. K. Chesterton:

The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. Unless a man starts on the strange assumption that he has never existed before, it is quite certain that he will never exist afterwards. Unless a man be born again, he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Seeking A Year Of Usefulness

Quoting Matthew Simpson:

If this is to be a Happy New Year, a year of usefulness, a year in which we shall live to make this earth better, it is because God will direct our pathway. How important then, to feel our dependence upon Him!

Congress And Our Money

The Black Hole of Government Theft Through Taxes

The Declaration of Independence, particularly the second sentence, provides us with a sweeping statement of individual human rights:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The implication here is that God is the source of the rights of men and thus it is wrong to violate a human being’s self-ownership. This would include forcibly taking the fruits of one man’s labor to be used by another (which makes the first man a slave to the latter). Walter E. Williams explains further:

Do farmers and businessmen have a right to congressional handouts? Does a person have a right to congressional handouts for housing, food and medical care?

First, let’s ask: Where does Congress get handout money? One thing for sure, it’s not from the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus nor is it congressmen reaching into their own pockets. The only way for Congress to give one American one dollar is to first, through the tax code, take that dollar from some other American. It must forcibly use one American to serve another American. Forcibly using one person to serve another is one way to describe slavery. As such, it violates self-ownership. . . .

Some might argue that Congress forcing us to help one another and forcing us to take care of ourselves are good ideas. But my question to you is: When congressmen and presidents take their oaths of office, is that oath to uphold and defend good ideas or the U.S. Constitution?

When the principles of self-ownership are taken into account, two-thirds to three-quarters of what Congress does violate those principles to one degree or another as well as the Constitution to which they’ve sworn to uphold and defend. In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 to assist some French refugees, James Madison, the father of our Constitution, stood on the floor of the House to object, saying, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” Did James Madison miss something in the Constitution?

You might answer, “He forgot the general welfare clause.” No, he had that covered, saying, “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one.”

Continue reading. . . .

Man Is The Same

Donald Grey Barnhouse

Quoting Donald Grey Barnhouse:

“Man is the same today that he has always been. He is a rebel against God. He may, in some generations, hide his rebellion a little more carefully than at other times, but there is no change in his heart. The men who builded the city against God back in the days of Babylon had the same hatred as that which possessed the men who nailed the Lord Jesus Christ to the cross.”

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