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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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Dependence On Spiritual Truth

There is more to enjoying the presence of the Holy Spirit than feeling tingles run up and down your spine. The Spirit teaches those who desire to learn the very thoughts of God in the Scriptures. The Word of God guides and changes us. Dr. John Kennedy explains:

“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.” (Psalm 25:14)

Let all beware of an unlawful employment of the Word of God, as well as of entire ignorance of its sweetness and its power. There are those who find it easy to appropriate for themselves without misgiving the precious promises of the Word, not caring to ascertain their right to them in Christ, to be rightly informed of the mind of God as expressed in them, or to be strengthened to take hold of the truth and power and grace of Him who gave them at His footstool. There are others who lay themselves open to the suggestion of “a word” as they crave encouragement or direction; and who, if a Scripture saying which seems seasonable comes abruptly into their mind, conclude, because of its suitableness and suddenness, that it is a message to them from heaven. These care not whether their application of it accords with the scope of the passage in which it occurs; they realize not His authority who’s Word it is; and they demonstrate no experience of its sanctifying power. It is convenient for them to get it, and it seems to them safe to take it, and this is all about which they care.

There are others still who have settled down in the conviction that a speculative acquaintance with what is written is all that it is wise to seek. Utter strangers to the seasonable suggestion of the truth by the Lord, blind to the wonders of grace which the world unfolds, without any exercise of appropriating faith in Christ whom it reveals, and destitute of all experience of its power to kill or to quicken, to wound or to heal, to cast down or to raise up, to burn as a fire or to break as a hammer – these go on at their ease, without joy in the communion, or profit from the Word of the Lord.

But let it be ours to be dependent on the gracious and effectual teaching of the Spirit of truth, under whose guidance even fools can be kept from wandering, and who can make it impossible that even they can be deceived. Let us not think that, amidst the multiform delusion which prevaileth, there is no genuineness and no security. . . . Let us not be content with what is barely necessary to salvation in our intercourse with God. From unholy aspirations after being like the Christian in some of his attainments, without being like him in his character, may the Lord deliver us. May we be kept athirst for communion with the Lord, and seeking grace to prepare us to enjoy it. Let His Word be precious to us, and may we be wise to use it for the ends for which it is given. Let us aspire after clearer views of its wonders, a simpler faith in its truth, a more ravishing sense of its sweetness, and a deeper experience of its power. And thus may we be guided by its light, molded by its form, fed by its manna, and cheered by its comforts, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in our hearts; till perfect likeness to Christ is attained; till the land of promise and of plenty is reached, and the fullness of pleasures enjoyed, at the right hand of God. (“The Secret of the Lord”)

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J. C. Ryle On The Corruption Of Truth

Quoting J. C. Ryle

“Let us never forget that truth, distorted and exaggerated, can become the mother of the most dangerous heresies.”

Christianity And Freedom

Quoting the Pennsylvania Supreme Court:

No free government now exists in the world, unless where Christianity is acknowledged, and is the religion of the country. (Source: Pennsylvania Supreme Court, 1824. Updegraph v. Commonwealth; 11 Serg. & R. 393, 406 (Sup.Ct. Penn. 1824).)

An Introduction To Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards was an American puritan theologian and philosopher. He was born in East Windsor, Connecticut, to Timothy Edwards, pastor of East Windsor. Jonathan was the only son in a family of eleven children. He entered Yale in September, 1716 before his 13th birthday and graduated four years later as valedictorian. He received his Masters three years later.

In 1727 he was ordained minister at Northampton and assistant to his maternal grandfather, Solomon Stoddard. He was a student minister, not a visiting pastor, his rule being thirteen hours of study a day. In the same year, he married Sarah Pierpont, then age seventeen, daughter of James Pierpont, a founder of Yale. In total, Jonathan and Sarah had eleven children.

Solomon Stoddard died on February 11th, 1729, leaving his grandson in charge of one of the largest and wealthiest congregations in the colony. Throughout his time in Northampton his preaching brought remarkable religious revivals. Jonathan Edwards was a key figure in what has come to be called the First Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s.

When Jonathan Edwards preached, his expressionless face, and sober clothing were quickly forgotten. His was a devoted heart intent on rightly dividing the word of truth. His method was scholarship on fire for God. Edwards’ tongue must have been like a sharp two-edged sword to his attentive hearers. His words must have been as painful to their hearts and consciences. Nevertheless, men gave heed, repented, and were saved. Before Edwards’ spiritual hurricane, the crowd collapsed. Some fell to the earth as if pole-axed. Others, with heads bowed, clung onto the posts of the temple as if afraid of falling into the nethermost depths of hell.

Edwards, however, would not continue his grandfather’s practice of open communion. Stoddard, his grandfather, believed that communion was a “converting ordinance.” Edwards became convinced that this practice was harmful and his public disagreement with the idea caused his dismissal in 1750.

Edwards then moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, a frontier settlement, where he ministered to a small congregation and served as missionary to the Housatonic Indians. There, having more time for study and writing, he completed his celebrated work, The Freedom of the Will (1754).

Edwards was elected president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in early 1758. He was a popular choice, for he had been a friend of the College since its inception and was the most eminent American philosopher-theologian of his time. On March 22, 1758, he died of fever at the age of fifty-four following an experimental inoculation for smallpox and was buried in the President’s Lot in the Princeton cemetery beside his son-in-law, Aaron Burr.

We see today a thin crust, a very thin crust of morality, which keeps America from complete collapse. In this perilous hour we need a whole generation of preachers like Edward!

Research source and more information on Jonathan Edwards may be found here. . . .

Dorothy Sayers On Deserting Doctrines

Dorthy Sayers

It is my pleasure, if you are not familiar with her already, to introduce you to Dorothy L. Sayers. Sayers is the author of some of my favorite fictional crime novels. In particular, I recommend for your reading pleasure her “Lord Peter Wimsey” series. Dorothy Sayers also became a Christian and a very articulate Christian thinker and apologist. Below, you will find an excerpt from one of her talks:

And when he is come, he will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. (John 16:8-11)

It is hopeless to offer Christianity as a vaguely idealistic aspiration of a simple and consoling kind; it is, on the contrary, a hard, tough, exacting and complex doctrine, steeped in a drastic and uncompromising realism. And it is fatal to imagine that everybody knows quite well what Christianity is and needs only a little encouragement to practice it. The brutal fact is that in this Christian country not one person in a hundred has the faintest notion what the Church teaches about God or man or society or the person of Jesus Christ. If you think I am exaggerating, ask the Army chaplains. Apart from a possible one per cent of intelligent and instructed Christians, there are three kinds of people we have to deal with.

There are the frank and open heathen, whose notions of Christianity are a dreadful jumble of rags and tags of Bible anecdote and clotted mythological nonsense. There are the ignorant Christians, who combine a mild gentle-Jesus sentimentality with vaguely humanistic ethics—most of these are Arian heretics. Finally, there are the more or less instructed church-goers, who know all the arguments about divorce and auricular confession and communion in two kinds, but are about as well equipped to do battle on fundamentals against a Marxian atheist or a Wellsian agnostic as a boy with a pea-shooter facing a fan-fire of machine guns. Theologically, this country is at present in a state of utter chaos, established in the name of religious toleration, and rapidly degenerating into the flight from reason and the death of hope. We are not happy in this condition and there are signs of a very great eagerness, especially among the younger people, to find a creed to which they can give whole-hearted adherence.

This is the Church’s opportunity, if she chooses to take it. So far as the people’s readiness to listen goes; she has not been in so strong a position for at least two centuries. The rival philosophies of humanism, enlightened self-interest, and mechanical progress have broken down badly; the antagonism of science has proved to be far more apparent than real, and the happy-go-lucky doctrine of “laissez-faire” is completely discredited. But no good whatever will be done by a retreat into personal piety or by mere exhortation to a “recall to prayer.” The thing that is in danger is the whole structure of society, and it is necessary to persuade thinking men and women of the vital and intimate connection between the structure of society and the theological doctrines of Christianity.

The task is not made easier by the obstinate refusal of a great body of nominal Christians, both lay and clerical, to face the theological question. “Take away theology and give us some nice religion” has been a popular slogan for so long that we are apt to accept it, without inquiring whether religion without theology has any meaning. And however unpopular I may make myself I shall and will affirm that the reason why the Churches are discredited to-day is not that they are too bigoted about theology, but that they have run away from theology.

Are Your Material Comforts Leading You Away From God?

Quoting John Flavel:

Whatsoever we have over-loved, idolized, and leaned upon, God has from time to time broken it, and made us to see the vanity of it; so that we find the readiest course to be rid of our comforts is to set our hearts inordinately upon them.

Pray For Your Children’s Salvation

Parents have a significant responsibility to pray for their children. You must never neglect this duty as a parent. You must particularly pray for their early conversion which is pointed out by William Scribner below:

You should pray for your children’s conversion because:

1. Their salvation is so great a prize that it is worth all the pains which your prayer to secure it for them may cost you. . . .

2. Few will pray for them if you do not.

Though we are commanded to intercede for all men (1 Tim. 2:1), few engage in this duty as they should. . . .

3. No one else can pray for them as you do.

The genuine love you have for your children, the tenderness you feel for them and your knowledge of their make-up, needs and problems, qualify you to plead with God on their behalf with an urgency and earnestness which can take no refusal. . . .

4. Your omitting to do so will be perilous to them and to you.

God notes our attempts to fulfill our parental obligations. It is not to unfaithful, prayerless parents that his exceeding great and precious promises are addressed:

“But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.” (Ps. 103:17-18)

5. You will then find it easier to perform other parental duties on the performance of which God has conditioned their salvation.

God commended Abraham for being one who would fulfill his parental duties (Gen. 18:18-19):

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deut. 6:6-7)

6. Prayer alone can call into exercise that divine power in their behalf, which is absolutely necessary in order that the prayers which you may employ for their salvation may not be used in vain. . . .

7. By their salvation, granted in answer to your prayers, your Savior will be glorified. . . .

8. You have a strong encouragement and incentive to do so in the explicit promise of God that, if you are faithful to your trust, He will be their God.

Because God loves his own people with a love which passes knowledge, they cannot earnestly plead for such a thing as the salvation of their children without having power with him. In addition to this, his love for them causes Him to have tenderness for their children. They also are beloved by Him and are dear to Him for their parents’ sake.

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