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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 Loss Of Heaven

Richard Baxter

Quoting English Puritan preacher, minister and author Richard Baxter (1615-1691):

“A hard heart now makes heaven and hell seem but trifles. We have showed them everlasting glory and misery, and they are as men asleep; our words are as stones cast against a wall, which fly back in our faces. We talk of terrible things, but it is to dead men; we search the wounds, but they never feel it; we speak to rocks rather than to men; the earth will as soon tremble as they. But when these dead souls are revived, what passionate sensibility, what working affections, what pangs of horror, what depths of sorrow will there then be! How violently will they denounce and reproach themselves! How will they rage against their former madness! The lamentations of the most affectionate wife for the loss of her husband, or of the tenderest mother for the loss of her children, will be nothing to theirs for the loss of heaven.” (From: “Lamentations of the Lost,” excerpt from The Saint’s Everlasting Rest)

The Angelic World

Dr. Sam Storms

Quoting Sam Storms:

Jesus believed in and experienced the ministry of angels:

1. His conception was announced by an angel (Gabriel).

2. His birth was announced by angels.

3. He was tempted by a fallen angel.

4. He was ministered to by angels subsequent to the temptation.

5. His teaching is filled with references to angelic beings.

6. He experienced the ministry of angels in Gethsemane.

7. He could have appealed to twelve legions of angels (Mt. 26:53).

8. [Angels] were present at His tomb following the resurrection.

9. [Angels] were present at His ascension.

The point is that angels were an integral part of Christ’s birth, life, ministry, teaching, death, resurrection, ascension, and will accompany Him at his second advent. To deny the reality of the angelic world is to undermine the integrity of Jesus himself. (Angels, November 8, 2006, www.enjoyinggodministries.com)

Living Life To The Glory Of God

Samuel Clarke

Reverend Samuel Clarke came from a long line of Puritan ministers. He was a distinguished Bible scholar and a caring pastor. His ordination in the Dagnall Lane Chapel in 1712 was attended by several notable ‘dissenting’ ministers of the day. The closing exhortation at the service was delivered by Matthew Henry, the famous Bible commentator. Pastor Clarke ran a weekly Bible class for young people, teaching scripture and practical Christian living. In the following sermon excerpt, he helps us to understand the nature of true Christian character:

For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him. (Genesis 18:19)

These words are part of the character, which God himself, in different places of the Old Testament, has given of that great and good man, the Patriarch Abraham. And they are spoken in this place, as a ground or reason of the great and lasting blessings which God declared he intended to confer upon him. . . . Upon account of this character, and the blessings consequent upon it, he is elsewhere styled in scripture, “the friend of God,” and the “father of all them that believe”. . . .

The virtues, upon the account whereof these great blessings were promised to Abraham, were personal: but the blessings themselves, it is evident, were, with regard to him, figurative only; being fulfilled not till some hundreds of years after, upon his posterity; whereas, he himself did but sojourn in the land of promise, as in a strange country, and confessed that he was a stranger and pilgrim on the earth. . . .

The particular virtue which procured to Abraham the character given him in my text, was his keeping the way of the Lord, that is, his adhering to the belief and worship of the one true God of the universe, in opposition to the general corruption of the idolatrous nations among whom he lived; and his commanding his children and his household after him, to do the like. . . .

The great and principal design of every man’s life, ought to be the promoting of the glory of God; the encouraging of virtue, and discouraging every kind of vice. Not that any man is obliged to be perpetually employed in actions that are immediately of a religious nature; or that all his thoughts and discourses are to be wholly confined to things sacred: but that his principal and final aim, his general and constant view, the settled temper and disposition of his mind, and the habitual tendency of all his actions, be the establishing of truth and right in the world. And when once a man has habitually fixed to himself this great end, and it is become, as it were, his natural temper; when he is “transformed,” as St. Paul expresses it, “by the renewing of his mind,” and his “meat and drink,” as our Savior speaks concerning himself, is to “do the will of his Father which is in Heaven:” this love of goodness, will naturally, like all other habits, influence even the most common actions of his life: even when he is not actually thinking of it, but employed perhaps in the most vulgar affairs, or even in diversions themselves; yet still everything he does, will habitually have somewhat in it, tending to promote a general sense of truth and equity, a general regard to God and virtue. And whatever his particular state, relation, or circumstances of life be; he will particularly apply the proper advantages and opportunities, wherewith that state or those circumstances more peculiarly furnish him to promote the same ends of virtue and goodness. (“The Character of a Good Man”)

Alexander Hamilton On National And State Governments

Alexander Hamilton

Quoting Alexander Hamilton:

This balance between the National and State governments ought to be dwelt on with peculiar attention, as it is of the utmost importance. It forms a double security to the people. If one encroaches on their rights they will find a powerful protection in the other. Indeed, they will both be prevented from overpassing their constitutional limits by a certain rivalship, which will ever subsist between them. (June 17, 1788: Alexander Hamilton speech to the New York Ratifying Convention)

Westminster Confession Of Faith: CHAPTER 12 – OF ADOPTION

Westminster Confession of Faith

I am currently posting, every few days, one chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith. It is woefully neglected by the average Christian in this age; yet, it should be studied regularly by all who classify themselves as Protestants. In 1643, an Assembly of Divines convened at Westminster Abbey in London. Their task was to bring the Church of England into greater conformity with the Church of Scotland and the Continental Reformed churches. The Westminster Assembly produced documents on doctrine, church government, and worship:

CHAPTER 12

1. All those that are justified, God vouchsafed, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have his name put upon them, receive the Spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry, Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by him, as by a father: yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption; and inherit the promises, as heirs of everlasting salvation.

Charles Spurgeon On The Quickened Church

Charles H. Spurgeon

The blessings of the Holy Spirit are needed in every church in every age. This need has become magnified in our day as church leaders tend to turn to packaged programs for drawing to and keeping people in the membership of the church. We have pushed aside the notion that the Holy Spirit builds the church. Charles Spurgeon comments on the work of the Holy Spirit:

Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. (Haggai 2:4-5)

The Holy Spirit being with us, He can move the whole church to exercise its varied ministries. This is one of the things we want very much—that every member of the church should recognize that he is ordained to service. Everyone in Christ, man or woman, hath some testimony to bear, some warning to give, some deed to do in the name of the holy child Jesus; and if the Spirit of God be poured out upon our young men and our maidens, each one will be aroused to energetic service. Both small and great will be in earnest, and the result upon the slumbering masses of our population will surprise us all. Sometimes we lament that the churches are so dull. There is an old proverb which says of So-and-so, that he was “as sound asleep as a church.” I suppose there is nothing that can sleep so soundly as a church. But yet the Spirit of God still remaineth, and therefore churches go to be awakened. I mean that not only in part but as a whole, a church may be quickened. The dullest professor, the most slovenly believer, the most captious and useless member of a church, may yet be turned to good account. I see them like a stack of faggots, piled up, dead and dry. Oh for the fire! We will have a blaze out of them yet.

Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove, brood over the dark, disordered church as once thou didst over chaos, and order shall come out of confusion, and the darkness shall fly before the light. Only let the Spirit be with us, and we have all that is wanted for victory. Give us His presence, and everything else will come in its due season for the profitable service of the entire church. (“The Abiding of the Spirit, the Glory of the Church”)

Our Strength Is In Christ

John Calvin

Quoting Protestant Reformer John Calvin (1509-1564):

“Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5):

“‘I am the vine,’ says He, ‘ye are the branches. My Father is the husbandman. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me. For without me ye can do nothing.’ (John 15:1-5) If we cannot bear fruit of ourselves, anymore than a branch can bud after it is torn up from the ground, and deprived of moisture, we must no longer seek for any aptitude in our nature to that which is good. There is no ambiguity in this conclusion, ‘Without me ye can do nothing.’ He does not say that we are too weak to be sufficient for ourselves, but reducing us to nothing, excludes every idea of ability, however diminutive.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin)

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