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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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God Is Sovereign!

In the following video, R. C. Sproul discusses the sovereignty of God and its application to understanding grace:

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A Sovereign Love

John MacDuff

From the pen of John MacDuff, 1864:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love! Therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you!” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Here we have an everlasting thought of God, “in the beginning, before ever the earth was.” Believer, travel back in imagination to the ages of the past. Before the trance of eternity was broken by any visible manifestation of power — before one temple was erected in space, before one angel waved his wing, or one note was heard of seraph’s song — when God inhabited alone, these sublime solitudes — then there was a thought of you — and that thought was — Love!

Think of the sovereignty of that love. He says not, ‘You have loved Me with your poor earthly love — therefore have I drawn you.’ No, no! It is from nothing in you — no foreseen goodness on your part. Grace is the reason for all He has done, “God who is rich in mercy for His great love with which He loved us.” “I will have mercy,” is His own declaration — on whom I will have mercy!” “Jacob,” (that cunning, scheming, crafty youth) “Jacob I loved — but Esau I hated!”

Manasseh, (that miserable man who has defiled his crown, dishonored his throne, and deluged Jerusalem with blood) “I have loved.” That dying thief — fresh from a life of infamy, breathing out his blasphemies on a felon’s cross, “I have loved.” And why, let each of us ask, am I not a Cain or a Judas? Why am I not a wrecked and stranded vessel, like thousands before me? Here is the reason; “Yes, I have loved you.” Before you had one thought of Me, yes, when your thoughts were those of hatred, rebellion, and enmity — My thoughts towards you were thoughts of love!

And that Sovereign love, as it is from everlasting, so is it to everlasting — endless in duration — enduring as eternity. The love of the creature is but of yesterday — it may be gone tomorrow — dried like a summer-brook when most needed. But the love of God is fed from the glacier summits — the everlasting hills. We may estimate its intensity, when the Savior could utter regarding it such a prayer as this, “That the love with which You have loved Me — may be in them.”

Oh, amid the often misgivings of my own doubting heart, with its frames and feelings as vacillating as the shifting sand, let me delight to ponder this precious thought — the long line of unbroken love — every link love — connecting the eternity that is past with the eternity to come — God thinking of me before the birth of time — even then mapping out all my future happiness and heavenly bliss — and standing now, with the hoarded love of that eternity in His heart, seeking therewith to “draw” me!

It is “the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us through Christ Jesus” — which is the moral gravitation-power of the cross, by which His true people have ever been drawn. “I, if I be lifted up from the earth — will draw all men unto Myself!” Draw me, Lord — and I will run after You. Show me Your loving-kindness thus enshrined and manifested in Your dear Son. Constrain me to love You in Him, because You have first loved, and so loved, me! “How priceless is Your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of Your wings.”

Noah Webster On The Basis Of Our Civil Constitutions

Noah Webster

Quoting Noah Webster (Founding Educator):

The most perfect maxims and examples for regulating your social conduct and domestic economy, as well as the best rules of morality and religion, are to be found in the Bible. . . . The moral principles and precepts found in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. These principles and precepts have truth, immutable truth, for their foundation. . . . All the evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible. . . . For instruction then in social, religious and civil duties resort to the scriptures for the best precepts. (Source: Noah Webster, History of the United States, “Advice to the Young” (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832), pp. 338-340, par. 51, 53, 56.)

If We Are Just Matter, How Should We Then Live?

Gavin Beers

Rev. Gavin Beers encourages us here to think clearly and logically about the philosophy of materialism which is so prevalent among men today. If you accept this philosophy then men are no more than beasts who instinctively react to only their comfort or discomfort. In this excerpt Beers writes:

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7)

I ask you, is matter all there is in the universe? That’s a question. A lot of blank looks! But as you think about the question, ask yourself, what is that thought that you are thinking? Is it more than the random movement of molecules in the brain? I stand up here and look down from time-to-time at these notes and convey thoughts that are in my mind through words. Yes there is the physical projection of the voice; there are vibrations in the air. Your little eardrum is sensitive to those vibrations. You are translating the sound waves. My thoughts are ultimately provoking your thoughts, even if your thoughts are: What on earth has he been talking about for the last ten minutes? We are thinking. Are our thoughts more than matter? If I wanted to convince you of something and matter is all that exists, then I should get some chemical that does the work that I want it to do. Rather than stand up here and try to convince you by provoking your thoughts, I would do it in a materialistic way. So is matter all that exists, and matter all that matters? Think about your own thoughts and try to come to an answer to that question. . . .

So if matter is all that there is, how should we then live? What are the implications for life in such a world, when there is nothing more than matter?

First of all, if matter is all there is, what does it mean for morality, what does it mean for right and wrong? Sometimes we build our case and we come to a conclusion, other times we state the conclusion at the beginning for impact and that’s what I want to do here: if matter is all there is, what does it mean for morality, what does it mean for right and wrong? Very simply, there can be no right and there can be no wrong. If you meet a materialist he’ll want to try and talk in terms of right and wrong and the best thing that you can do is to immediately nail that. Cause him to see that there can be no right or wrong in his world view.

Does a mushroom know the difference between right and wrong? Nobody knows. No! Why does a mushroom not know the difference between right and wrong? Because, we might say, it’s not conscious. Ok. Does a fish know the difference between right and wrong? Everybody is starting to think now about the morality of fish. No! But the fish is conscious isn’t it? Ok. So it’s not to do with consciousness. Is a hurricane that wrecks a city and kills many people, a good thing or a bad thing? What do you think? You think it’s a bad thing? Why? In a materialistic world all we have in that hurricane is the rapid movement of air blowing a force against other bits of matter, those other bits of matter that we have shaped into houses fall upon other bits of matter, which are you and me, and we die. But it’s just the random, rapid movement of matter. Why in a materialistic world view do we conclude that that is a good thing or a bad thing? It’s just a thing.

Well then, is it morally wrong for a lion to kill and eat a wildebeest? Is it? No! Why? Because that’s what it does. It needs to eat. The wildebeest is tasty, so it eats the wildebeest. But, would it be morally wrong for me to kill you, and eat you? Yes! Why? Did we not evolve from mushrooms, through lions or something? Why is it that we at the top of the tree in this evolutionary world view, why is it that we are the only ones that have morality? There is absolutely no basis for it in a materialistic world. We are just like mushrooms, we are a bit more conscious, a bit more sophisticated – granted; but ultimately, we are reduced down to the same kind of dignity and the same kind of morality. If you desire to be consistent with the materialist view of the world, the first thing you need to do is throw out the idea of right and wrong for this reason: chemicals and a random interaction of atoms do not know anything cause right and wrong. In nature, says Darwin, the strongest or the fittest wins; that’s the law. The hurricane destroys the house, the house is heavier than the man, it squashes the man; the lion eats the wildebeest, but if he gets it wrong and jumps into a crowd of twelve wildebeest and they tear into him, then the lion is killed by the wildebeest. That’s the morality of the materialistic world view. (“Materialism: Is Matter all that Matters?”)

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