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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 First Sin

Jonathan Edwards

Quoting Jonathan Edwards:

Pride is the worst viper that is in the heart; it is the first sin that ever entered into the universe, and it lies lowest of all in the foundation of the whole building of sin, and is the most secret, deceitful and unsearchable in its ways of working, of any lusts whatsoever; it is ready to mix with everything; and nothing is so hateful to God, and contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, or of so dangerous consequence; and there is no one sin that does so much let in the Devil into the hearts of the saints, and exposes them to his delusions. (Distinguishing Mark)

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The Free Market

American political satirist and author P. J. O...

P. J. O'Rourke

Quoting P.J. O’Rourke:

The free market is simply a measurement. The free market tells us what people are willing to pay for a given thing at a given moment. That’s all the free market does. The free market is a bathroom scale. We may not like what we see when we step on the bathroom scale, but we can’t pass a law making ourselves weigh 165. Liberals and leftists think we can.

Why Christmas?

15 He 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)

Using the Scripture above, John MacArthur explains who the child born in Bethlehem is and how Christians should respond to the celebration of Christmas:

Paul is saying, in relation to God He is the exact representation of God and of all who have been created He is the heir, He is the supreme one, He is the ranking one, He is the ultimate one. Paul declares then that Jesus is God, the exact replica of God, the supreme being of all who have ever existed.

Some people may be confused about whether Jesus claimed this. Certainly the Jewish people of His time weren’t. They wanted to stone Him for blasphemy, John 10:33 says, because they said, “You…being a man…make Yourself God.” Indeed He was God. . . .

Look at the second relationship in verses 16 and 17. Not only do we see Jesus in His relationship to God, but in His relationship to the world or to creation. Verse 16 says, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible.” Then at the end of the verse, “All things have been created by Him and for Him and He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.”

We’re dealing here not with a man, not just with a great man, we’re dealing here with the creator and the sustainer of the whole universe. Whatever is in heaven and on earth, whatever is visible or invisible, it’s all created by Him. . . .

Look at verse 16 at the end, “All things have been created by Him and for Him, for His own good and His own pleasure and His own purposes. He is before all things,” He had to be before all things or He couldn’t have created them, that is to say Jesus is preexistent. He was alive before the incarnation, “And in Him all things together.” He was before the creation because He was the creator, He is the one who holds it all together. . . .

Look thirdly at His relationship to the unseen world. In the middle of verse 16, “All things were created by Him whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.” Now those terms are familiar to any student of the New Testament because they are indicative of ranks of angels. You will see those terms a number of times in Paul’s writings, several times in his letter to the church at Ephesus. And what it tells us is that He is the creator and the King over all the angels. Thrones, dominions, rulers, authorities just talk about the strata or the ranks of angels. He is over them all. The highest angelic princes are subject to Jesus Christ, whether they be seraphim or cherubim or whether they be demons or Satan himself. . . .

There’s a fourth relationship here that I would point out to you. Look at verse 18. We’ve seen Jesus in His relation to God, to the created universe, and to the unseen world of angels. Now Jesus in His relationship to the church. He is also head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. . . .

Secondly, he says He is the beginning. He is the beginning of the church. He is the source of the church. Matthew 16, Jesus said, “I will build My church,” that is the idea here. The church is the creation of Christ. He is the source of its existence and truthfully, its most prominent member by virtue of resurrection which we shall see immediately in a moment. He is the arche, He is the pioneer, He is the forerunner, He is the leader, He is the source of the church…not just its head but its creator, its source.

And then follow along in verse 18, He is also the firstborn from the dead…there’s that prototokos again. It’s not that He’s the first person ever resurrected, there were people in the Old Testament resurrected. There were people that Jesus raised from the dead before He Himself was resurrected. We’re not talking about first in time but of all who have ever been raised or ever will be raised, He is the prototokos, He is the supreme one. . . .

You can’t dismiss Jesus as some dead historical figure. He is alive. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the source, the initiator of the body, the church. And He has given birth from death to the whole church by His own resurrection. As a result of all of these things, as a result of being the very reproduction and replica of the invisible God, the most ranking individual of all those created, as a result of being the creator Himself who made everything in the universe visible and invisible. . . . How inconceivable it is then to have a holiday in which we celebrate and try at the same time to ignore the one who is the reason we celebrate. And when you’re ignoring someone, it’s not just some historical personality, but rather the living God.

Now the closing question is why, and the answer comes in verse 20, listen. “And through Him, to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross, through Him I say whether things on earth or things in heaven, and although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.”

Why did Christ come into the world? To save sinners. To go to a cross, to shed His blood through death, pay the price for sin in order that He might present you to God holy and blameless and beyond reproach. He came to gather a redeemed humanity to take back to God. . . .

This is the meaning of Christmas. Nothing less and certainly nothing more. It’s a sad thing in our culture that Christmas on the one hand is trivialized and on the other hand it is assaulted in an effort to remove the only thing about it that is important…eternally important.

And I think in closing it behooves us at a time like this to take every opportunity we can to make sure that people do understand what Christmas is really all about . . . I am saying if the world is going to give us an opportunity to focus on the birth of Jesus Christ, let’s take advantage of it. Let’s take advantage of it in order to worship and praise Him because that’s right and in order to speak of Him to those who so much need to hear. (“The Child Who Was God”)

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