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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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Do You Really Understand The Bible?

John Piper preaches (excerpt) on a classic issue of our times:

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J. C. Ryle On Affliction

Quoting J.C. Ryle:

Affliction is one of God’s medicines! By it He often teaches lessons which would be learned in no other way. By it He often draws souls away from sin and the world, which would otherwise have perished everlastingly. Health is a great blessing but sanctified disease is a greater. Prosperity and worldly comfort, are what all naturally desire, but losses and crosses are far better for us if they lead us to Christ. Let us beware of murmuring in the time of trouble. Let us settle it firmly in our minds, that there is a meaning, a “needs be”, and a message from God in every sorrow that falls upon us. There are no lessons so useful as those learned in the school of affliction. There is no commentary that opens up the Bible so much as sickness and sorrow. The resurrection morning will prove, that many of the losses of God’s people were in reality, eternal gains. Thousands at the last day will testify with David, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted” (Psalm. 119:71)! (The Gospel of John)

The Influence Of Christianity Upon Our Government

Jedidiah Morse standing with globe

Jedidiah Morse

Quoting Jedediah Morse (Patriot and “Father of American Geography”):

To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. . . . Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all blessings which flow from them, must fall with them. (Source: Jedidiah Morse, A Sermon, Exhibiting the Present Dangers and Consequent Duties of the Citizens of the United States of America (Hartford: Hudson and Goodwin, 1799), p. 9.)

The Dead Made Alive

Bishop J. C. Ryle

Everyone who reads the following article should meditate on it and read it well. If you would be saved, you must be made alive. There is no salvation without a new birth. There is a great gulf between the cultural Christian and the man who is Christian in deed and truth. The difference is between a state of life and a state of death. J. C. Ryle explains:

“And He has made you alive, who were once dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1)

Once [the true Christian] could see no beauty and excellence in the Lord Jesus Christ. He could not understand some ministers speaking so much about Him. Now he would tell you He is the pearl above all price, the chief among ten thousand, his Redeemer, his Advocate, his Priest, his King, his Physician, his Shepherd, his Friend, his All.

Once he thought lightly about sin. He could not see the necessity of being so particular about it. He could not think a man’s words, and thoughts, and actions, were of such importance, and required such watchfulness. Now he would tell you sin is the abominable thing which he hates, the sorrow and burden of his life. He longs to be more holy. He can enter thoroughly into Whitefield’s desire, “I want to go where I shall neither sin myself, nor see others sin any more.”

“I am sick of all I do, and stand astonished that the Redeemer still continues to make use of and bless me. Surely I am more foolish than any man—no one receives so much and does so little.”—Whitefield’s Letters.

Once he found no pleasure in means of grace. The Bible was neglected. His prayers, if he had any, were a mere form. Sunday was a tiresome day. Sermons were weariness, and often sent him to sleep. Now all is altered. These things are the food, the comfort, the delight of his soul.

Once he disliked earnest-minded Christians. He shunned them as melancholy, low-spirited, weak people. Now they are the excellent of the earth, of whom he cannot see too much. He is never as happy as he is in their company. He feels if all men and women were saints, it would be heaven upon earth.

Once he cared only for this world, its pleasures, its business, its occupations, its rewards. Now he looks upon it as an empty, unsatisfying place; an inn—a lodging—a training-school for the life to come. His treasure is in heaven. His home is beyond the grave.

I ask once more, what is all this but new life? Such a change as I have described is no vision and fancy. It is a real actual thing, which not a few in this world have known or felt. It is not a picture of my own imagining. It is a true thing which some of us could find at this moment hard by our own doors. But wherever such a change does take place, there you see the thing of which I am now speaking—you see the dead made alive, a new creature, a soul born again. “So that if any one is in Christ, that one is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) (Sermon: “Alive or Dead?”)

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