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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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Consider The Dangers Ahead!

I once heard a man, who when asked “Don’t you want to grow as a Christian and in your faith?” he replied “No! I am satisfied where I am right now!” I am not sure what the satisfaction was like that he was enjoying, but I know that I never want to stop growing in holiness and the knowledge of my God. I have faltered many times and sinned many times along the way, but through Christ my God has held on to me and does not let me slip too far. What a glorious God! I want to grow in my knowledge of Him and enjoy Him forever. Samuel Davies writes below on the indifference of those who do not see the danger ahead:

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16)

Ye modern Laodiceans, are you not yet struck with horror at the thought of that insipid, formal, spiritless religion you have hitherto been contented with? And do you not see the necessity of following the advice of Christ to the Laodicean church, be zealous, be fervent for the future, and repent, bitterly repent of what is past. . . . Consider the difficulties and dangers in your way. Oh, sirs, if you know the difficulty of the work of your salvation, and the great danger of miscarrying in it, you could not be so indifferent about it, nor could you flatter yourselves such languid endeavors will never succeed. It is a labor, a striving, a race, warfare; so it is called in the sacred writings: but `would there be any propriety in these expressions, if it were a course of sloth and inactivity? Consider, you have strong lusts to be subdued, a hard heart to be broken, a variety of graces, which you are entirely destitute of, to be implanted and cherished, and that in an unnatural soil, where they will not grow without careful cultivation, and that you have many temptations to be encountered and resisted. In short, you must be made new men, quite other creatures than you now are. And oh! Can this work be successfully performed while you make such faint and feeble efforts? Indeed God is the Agent, and all your best endeavors can never affect the blessed revolution without him. But his assistance is not to be expected in the neglect, or careless use of means, nor is it intended to encourage idleness, but activity and labor: and when he comes to work, he will soon inflame your hearts, and put an end to your lukewarmness. Again, your dangers are also great and numerous; you are in danger from presumption and from despondency; from coldness, from lukewarmness, and from false fires and enthusiastic heats; in danger from self-righteousness, and from open wickedness, from your own corrupt hearts, from this ensnaring world, and from the temptations of the devil: you are in great danger of sleeping on in security, without ever being thoroughly awakened; or, if you should be awakened, you are in danger of resting short of vital religion; and in either of these cases you are undone for ever. In a word, dangers crowd thick around you on every hand, from every quarter; dangers, into which thousands, millions of your fellow-men have fallen and never recovered. . . . Oh that you knew the true state of the case! Such knowledge would soon fire you with the greatest ardor, and make you all life and vigor in this important work. (“The Danger of Lukewarmness In Religion”)

What Is Jesus To You?

Octavius Winslow

Quoting Octavius Winslow:

What are you to yourself? Worthless? Vile? Empty? What is Jesus to you? Precious? Lovely? All your salvation? All your desire? What is sin to you? The most hateful thing in the world? What is holiness to you? Most lovely? Most longed for? What is the throne of grace to you? The most attractive spot? What is the cross to you? The sweetest resting place in the universe? What is God to you? Your God? Your Father? The spring of all your joys? The fountainhead of all your bliss? The center where your affections meet? Is it so? Then you are a child of God! Those low views of yourself…that brokenness, that inward mourning, that secret confession, that longing for…more spirituality, more grace, more devotedness, more love, does but prove the existence, reality, and growth of God’s work within you. Cheer up, precious soul! That soul never perished, that felt itself to be vile, and Jesus to be precious!

The Preacher And The Pulpit

 

J. Wilbur Chapman

J. Wilbur Chapman (1859-1917) delivered a message to preachers at the beginning of the 20th century. He was concerned by the critics of preaching as well as the lack of authority and power that was flowing from pulpit messages. The following excerpt from Chapman’s message is as relevant today as it was then:

[W]e must have a message to preach, not for the sake of preaching, but for the sake of convincing men of their sins, as the Spirit of God may lead us. When asked one day his opinion regarding sermons of ministers, Hon. William J. Bryan said:

“I desire my minister to preach every Sabbath the simple gospel. The old, old story never wearies the average congregation, if it comes from a devout mind with preparation in the message. My ideal sermon is one which has an appeal to the unconverted and a spiritual uplift for the Christian. I want my minister to be abreast of the times on all new theological questions and research, but I do not want him to bring them into the pulpit. I have formed certain fixed views of Christ, His gospel, and the inspiration of the Bible from a careful reading of that Book of books and of the Shorter Catechism, and it will not make me a better Christian or profit my spiritual life to unsettle these views by a discussion in the pulpit of new theories of Christ and the Holy Scriptures. Finally, I want my minister to act on the belief that Christ’s gospel is the surest cure of all social and political evils, and that his best method of promoting temperance, social morality, and good citizenship, is to bring men into the Church. In a word, I want my minister to emphasize in the lifework the declaration of the most successful preacher, Paul: “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

[W]e must have an unwavering conviction that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. If we give any evidence of uncertainty at this point, the message we deliver will scarcely be received with enthusiasm, and it is inconceivable that it could be delivered with very much power. . . .

When one is filled with the Word of God, when he loves it, when it profoundly moves him, every one with whom he comes in contact will take knowledge of him that he has been with Jesus, and whether he is in the pulpit or out of it, he will have power. . . .

It is a sad thing that it should ever be said of the minister that in his preaching, Christ is not presented. I am persuaded that those in the pulpit who forget Him are few in number as compared with the great army of preachers who sincerely love Jesus Christ with all their hearts. Then it should not be forgotten that the way must not be made too easy. General Booth says the chief dangers in the twentieth century are: “Religion without the Holy Spirit; Christianity without Christ; Forgiveness without Repentance; Salvation without Regeneration; Politics without God, and Heaven without Hell.” (“The Waning Pulpit”)

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