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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 Cure For Spiritual Blindness

Think about comparing your heart to a dirty room that’s been shut up for years. Inside this room, there has been no light. Now inside the room there is dirt, dust, and cobwebs everywhere. Suddenly, someone comes in and turns a light on. The spiders and roaches run to hide. The cobwebs, dirt, and dust are now visible and it is evident that the room must be cleaned out. The human heart is in a similar condition. Our own dirty, rotten, fallen natures cannot be seen until the light of the Gospel shines in. Maurice Roberts explains:

“And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16)

[G]od says: “I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not.” Now there are two kinds of blindness. One is blindness of the body and the other is blindness of the soul, spiritual blindness we call it. Now if you have blindness of the body you may not be to blame for that. I mean if you’re born blind you’re not to blame for that – it’s not your fault if you’re born blind, that’s just God’s sovereign will and nobody’s to be blamed for being born blind. But if you’re spiritually blind you are to blame for it, and sadly that’s the condition in which we’re all born. We’re all born spiritually blind. We’re all ignorant of God by nature, all ignorant of how to get to heaven by nature. Let me prove it.

Three great questions people never want to ask. Where do they come from? They don’t know – maybe ape men or some big explosion or great bang or… they don’t know, they don’t know how they came and they don’t want to enquire really. That’s the first question. The second question is: what’s life all about? Is it just getting dead drunk on a Friday night? Is that what life’s all about? They don’t know. You ask them. You ask people round about you in the street, “Why are we living in this world? What’s the point of it all?” They don’t know but they just found themselves here, like a spider that dropped from the ceiling, they don’t know why they’re here. The Bible says we’re here to glorify God. We’re here to prepare for death and eternity. Because the third great question is: where are we going? And if we don’t know the way of eternal life and the way of the gospel then we’re going to outer darkness forever.

So that’s what God means when he says, “I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not.” People don’t know how to get to heaven, so, because they’re spiritually blind, God tells them, “I’m going to show them.” And the way he shows them is with this book, the Bible, the gospel, the truth concerning Christ. He’s showing us here in this inspired and infallible and blessed book how we can be saved. . . .

Years and years ago there was a very clever man called Hone, that’s his surname, Mr. Hone – a very clever man – and not a Christian, and no interest in the Bible, no interest in Christ, no interest in heaven or anything like that. He was an unbeliever, a very hard man. And this is what happened to him. One day he was walking along down a street – I think it was somewhere in the south of England, or the Midlands – and he saw a cottage, a little house, and outside the cottage was sitting a little girl. What was she doing? She was reading the Bible. And his lips curled up in scorn. So he decided he would have a little conversation with this girl reading her Bible. So he said to her, “What are you doing?” “Please sir, she said, I’m reading the Bible.” “And what would you be doing that for?” he said with scorn. And she said something like this: “Sir, because my dear mother is a believer and she gets a lot of help from this book, sir, and I love reading it too, with the sunshine, coming down and sitting in the sun, I love reading this book. It’s God’s book, sir,” she said. And this man Hone was taken aback. He’d never heard anyone talk about loving the Bible, and he thought about it. And he came out of his darkness to become a believer – very famous story that – through a little girl. And you see, that’s what God does. He brings the blind, the spiritually blind, by a way that they never knew. They come to understand the secret of God, the secret of the gospel. We don’t know it by nature. Oh you can go to university and get first degrees, second degrees, third degrees, you can get a hundred degrees, but that won’t necessarily save you. Oh yes, education’s a good thing up to a point, but more important than education is to be saved, to know God, to be sure that you have God. So it’s in the Bible we get this light. This book is God’s light in man’s darkness. But it has to be more than just reading the Bible. It has to be God giving us light on it. You see, “I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not.” And this light has to shine in our hearts, and that’s the light of the Holy Spirit.

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Charles Spurgeon: People Have Not Changed All That Much!

Charles H. Spurgeon

There is not much difference in our times to the times of Haggai. God’s message to His people often has to be repeated over the years. The Lord always provides a timely word in a present crisis. So, like the people of Haggai’s time, we put ourselves first as Charles H. Spurgeon points out in the following excerpt:

“Yet now be strong, O Zerubabbel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts: according to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remains among you: fear ye not.” (Haggai 2:4-5)

Satan is always doing his utmost to stay the work of God. He hindered these Jews from building the temple; and to-day he endeavors to hinder the people of God from spreading the gospel. A spiritual temple is to be built for the Most High, and if by any means the evil one can delay its uprising he will stick at nothing: if he can take us off from working with faith and courage for the glory of God he will be sure to do it. He is very cunning, and knows how to change his argument and yet keep to his design: little cares he how he works, so long as he can hurt the cause of God. In the case of the Jewish people on their return from captivity he sought to prevent the building of the temple by making them selfish and worldly, so that every many was eager to build his own house, and cared nothing for the house of the Lord. Each family pleaded its own urgent needs. In returning to a long-deserted and neglected land, much had to be done to make up for lost time; and to provide suitably for itself every family needed all its exertions. They carried this thrift and self-providing to a great extreme, and secured for themselves luxuries, while the foundations of the temple which had been laid years before remained as they were, or became still more thickly covered up with rubbish. The people could not be made to bestir themselves to build a house of God, for they answered to every exhortation, “The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.” A more convenient season was always looming in the future, but it never came. Just now it was too hot, further it was too cold; at one time the wet season was just setting in, and it was of no use to begin, and soon the fair weather required that they should be in their own fields. Like some in our day, they saw to themselves first, and God’s turn was very long in coming; hence the prophet cried, “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?”

By the mouth of His servant Haggai stern rebukes were uttered, and the whole people were aroused. We read in verse twelve of the first chapter, “Then Zerubabbel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the Lord.” All hands were put to the work; course after course of stone began to rise. . . . (“The Abiding of the Spirit the Glory of the Church”)

Arthur Pink On Adversities

Arthur W. Pink

Quoting Arthur W. Pink:

For a Christian to defy adversities is to “despise” chastisement. Instead of hardening himself to endure stoically, there should be a melting of the heart.

How Shall We Be Cured Of The Love Of Sin?

Robert Murray McCheyne

Robert Murray McCheyne was born in Edinburgh, 21 May 1813. At the age of four he knew the characters of the Greek alphabet, and was able to sing and recite fluently. He was licensed as a preacher by the Annan presbytery on 1 July 1835. His health, which had never been robust, broke down under the strain of his new office; but his fame as a preacher spread through Scotland, and on 24 November 1836 he was ordained to the pastorate of St. Peter’s Church, Dundee. The congregation numbered eleven hundred hearers, and McCheyne addressed himself to the work of the ministry with so much ardor that his health again gave way, and in December 1838 he was compelled to desist from all public duty. By the end of 1839 McCheyne resumed his ministerial duties in Dundee with renewed energy. In the autumn of 1842 he visited the north of England on an evangelical mission, and made similar journeys to London and Aberdeenshire. On his return from the latter place he was seized with sudden illness, and died on Saturday, 25 March 1843. In the article below, McCheyne helps us to understand how we might cast sin aside:

The love of Christ to man constrains the believer to live a holy life, because that truth takes away all his dread and hatred of God. Now I am quite sure that many of you may hear this charge against the natural man with incredulous indifference, if not with indignation. You do not feel that you hate God, or dread his presence; and therefore you say it cannot be true. But when God says of your heart that it is “desperately wicked”; when god claims for Himself the privilege of knowing and trying the heart, is it not presumptuous in such ignorant beings as we are to say that that is not true with respect to our hearts, which God affirms to be true, merely because we are not conscious of it? God says that “the carnal mind is enmity against God”, that the very grain and substance of an unconverted mind is hatred against god, absolute, implacable hatred against Him in whom we live, and move, and have our being. It is quite true that we do not feel this hatred within us; but that is only an aggravation of our sin and of our danger. We have so choked up the avenues of self-examination, there are so many turnings and windings before we can arrive at the true motives of our actions, that our dread and hatred of God, which first moved man to sin, and which are still the grand impelling forces whereby Satan goads on the children of disobedience; these are wholly concealed from our eyes, and you cannot persuade a natural man that they are really there. But the Bible testifies that out of these two deadly roots – dread of God and hatred of God – grows up the thick forest of sins with which the earth is blackened and overspread. . . .

If, then, dread of God, and hatred of God, be the cause of all our sins, how shall we be cured of the love of sin, but by taking away the cause? How do you most effectually kill the noxious weed? Is it not by striking at the root? In the love of Christ to man then – in that strange, unspeakable gift of God, when He laid down His life for His enemies, when He died the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God – do you not see an object which, if really believed by the sinner, takes away all his dread and all his hatred of God? The root of sin is severed from the stock. In His bearing double for all our sins, we see the curse carried away, we see God reconciled. Why should we fear any more? Not fearing, why should we hate God any more? Not hating God, what desirableness can we see in sin any more? Putting on the righteousness of Christ, we are again placed as Adam was, with God as our friend. We have no object in sinning; and, therefore, we do not care to sin. . . .

[I]t is indeed too true that believers do sin; but it is just as true that unbelief is the cause of their sinning. If you and I were to live with our eye so closely on Christ bearing double for all our sins, freely offering to all a double righteousness for all our sins; and if this constant view of the love of Christ maintained within us, as assuredly it would if we looked with a straightforward eye, the peace of God which passes all understanding – the peace that rests on nothing in us, but upon the completeness that is in Christ – then I do say that, frail and helpless as we are, we should never sin; we should not have the slightest object in sinning. But this is not the way with us. How often in the day is the love of Christ quite out of view! How often is it obscured to us! Sometimes hid from us by God Himself, to teach us what we are. How often are we left without the realizing sense of the completeness of His offering, the perfectness of His righteousness, and without the will or confidence to claim an interest in Him . . . .?

The matter is very plain, if only we had spiritual eyes to see it. If we live a life of faith on the Son of God, then we shall assuredly live a life of holiness. I do not say we ought to do so; but I say, we shall, as a matter of necessary consequence. But in as far as we do not live a life of faith, in so far we shall live a life of unholiness. It is through faith that God purifies the heart; and there is no other way.

Relativism And Moral Truth

36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?”

Ideas Have Consequences!

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:36-38)

Ideas have consequences. If you accept relativism as a moral code, then you really can have no system of morality. The philosophy of relativism demands that every man has the right to do what he defines as right for himself. This world view believes everything is permissible and nothing is impermissible. The Old Testament tells us there were times like this in ancient Israel: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21, 25). This text defines moral relativism: right and wrong is what you choose it to be; morality comes from within you.

If there is no absolute standard of right or wrong then there is no concept of guilt. This is why relativism is so popular today. If there is guilt, then there is responsibility. Guilt implies an absolute standard of right and wrong. This is what the culture today is seeking to avoid.

The very people in our culture who hold to this position, however, still try to hold on to morality for self-protection. They even want other people to be accountable for their actions. If nothing is absolutely true or right, if nothing is absolutely wrong, how can anything be condemned? Therefore, if relativism prevails, morality dies. If there is nothing true beyond what you will to be, there is no objective right or wrong to provide a moral compass for your life. Some people look at this belief as something that frees them from the law of the Bible. In reality, however, it locks them in a dark prison of opposing truths which lead to insanity. Without God’s absolute objective truth to hang on to, all is lost.

Relativism kills meaning and with it, motivation. Why? It is because there can be no real meaning in anything you do. This, in turn, leads to the addiction of escapism in order to avoid reality. We find escapism in things like alcoholism and drugs.

People do not have anything to live for. Their lives are filled with emptiness, anguish and despair. There is no point to this life, so why live? The philosophy of relativism is destroying our culture and, as Christians, we need to understand it and oppose it.

Triumph Over Temptation

George Whitefield

Quoting George Whitefield:

The riches of His free grace cause me daily to triumph over all the temptations of the wicked one, who is very vigilant, and seeks all occasions to disturb me.

Let Us Not Labor In Vain!

Benjamin Franklin

Quoting Benjamin Franklin (Signer of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence):

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that “except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing governments by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service. (Source: James Madison, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, Max Farrand, editor (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911), Vol. I, pp. 450-452, June 28, 1787.)

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