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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 New Born Soul

Quoting George Swinnocke (1660):

“How wonderfully does the new born soul differ from his former self. He lives a new life, he walks in a new way, he steers his course by a new compass, and towards a new coast. His principle is new, his pattern is new, his practices are new, his projects are new, all is new. He ravels out all he had wove before, and employs himself wholly about another work.”

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Martyn Lloyd-Jones On Praise, Worship, And The Trinity

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Understanding the nature of salvation leads to praise. God has blessed us and we praise Him. If there is no praise in a Christian’s life it is because he is ignorant of the Scriptures. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains our relationship of praise for God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

Praise distinguishes the Christian particularly in his prayer and in his worship. The Manuals on the devotional life which have been written throughout the centuries, and irrespective of particular Communions, agree that the highest point of all worship and prayer is adoration and praise and thanksgiving. Are we not all guilty at this point? Are we not aware of a serious deficiency and lack as we consider this? When we pray in private or in public what part does adoration play? Do we delight simply to be in the presence of God ‘in worship, in adoration’? Do we know what it is to be moved constantly to cry out, ‘Blessed be our God and Father’, and to ascribe unto God all praise and blessedness and glory? This is the highest point of our growth in grace, the measure of all true Christianity. It is when you and I become ‘lost in wonder, love and praise’ that we really are functioning as God means us to function in Christ.

Praise is really the chief object of all public acts of worship. We all need to examine ourselves at this point. We must remember that the primary purpose of worship is to give praise and thanksgiving to God. Worship should be of the mind and of the heart. It does not merely mean repeating certain phrases mechanically; it means the heart going out in fervent praise to God. We should not come to God’s house simply to seek blessings and to desire various things for ourselves. . . .

But let us note that the praise and the adoration and the worship are to be ascribed to the blessed Holy Trinity. ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings.’ The blessings come through the Holy Spirit. The praise and worship and adoration, indeed all worship, must be offered and ascribed to the Three blessed Persons. The Apostle Paul never fails to do this. He delights in mentioning the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Christian position is always and inevitably Trinitarian. Christian worship must be Trinitarian if it is true worship; there is no question, no choice about this. If we have the correct biblical view of salvation, then the Three Persons of the blessed Holy Trinity must always and invariably be present. (God’s Ultimate Purpose: an Exposition of Ephesians One published by Baker Book House, 1978)

Jerry Bridges: The Antidote To Worry

Quoting Jerry Bridges:

The great antidote to anxiety is to come to God in prayer. We are to pray about everything. Nothing is too big for Him to handle, and nothing is too small to escape His attention. (The Practice of Godliness, NavPress, 1996, p. 159)

John Jay On The Bible

John Jay

Quoting the first Chief Justice of the United States John Jay:

The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts. (Letter to Peter Augustus Jay, April 9, 1784)

The Blessing Of God Found In Our Dependence Upon Him

God’s power preserves us in a state of grace. Saving grace is first given from God and is maintained by Him. We are dependent on the power of God for every part of grace; for the continual work of grace in our hearts; for the overcoming of sin; for growth in holiness; for enabling us to produce good fruit; and at the end for glorification. Jonathan Edwards gives us a look into the thoroughness of our dependence:

God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:28-31)

Man hath now a greater dependence on the grace of God than he had before the fall. He depends on the free goodness of God for much more than he did then: then he depended on God’s goodness for conferring the reward of perfect obedience: for God was not obliged to promise and bestow that reward: but now we are dependent on the grace of God for much more: we stand in need of grace, not only to bestow glory upon us, but to deliver us from bell and eternal wrath. Under the first covenant we depended on God’s goodness to give us the reward of righteousness; and so we do now. And not only so, but we stand in need of God’s free and sovereign grace to give us that righteousness; and yet not only so, but we stand in need of his grace to pardon our sin, and release us from the guilt and infinite demerit of it.

And as we are dependent on the goodness of God for more now than under the first covenant, so we are dependent on a much greater, more free and wonderful goodness. We are now more dependent on God’s arbitrary and sovereign good pleasure. We were in our first estate dependent on God for holiness: we had our original righteousness from him; but then holiness was not bestowed in such a way of sovereign good pleasure as it is now. Man was created holy, and it became God to create holy all the reasonable creatures he created: it would have been a disparagement to the holiness of God’s nature, if he had made an intelligent creature unholy. But now when a man is made holy, it is from mere and arbitrary grace; God may forever deny holiness to the fallen creature if he pleases, without any disparagement to any of his perfections.

And we are not only indeed more dependent on the grace of God, but our dependence is much more conspicuous, because our own insufficiency and helplessness in ourselves is much more apparent in our fallen and undone state, than it was before we were either sinful or miserable. We are more apparently dependent on God for holiness, because we are first sinful, and utterly polluted, and afterwards holy: so the production of the effect is sensible, and its derivation from God more obvious. If man was ever holy and always was so, it would not be so apparent, that he had not holiness necessarily, as an inseparable qualification of human nature. So we are more apparently dependent on free grace for the favor of God, for we are first justly the objects of his displeasure and afterwards are received into favor. We are more apparently dependent on God for happiness, being first miserable, and afterwards happy. It is more apparently free and without merit in us, because we are actually without any kind of excellency to merit, if there could be any such thing as merit in creature excellency. And we are not only without any true excellency, but are full of, and wholly defiled with, that which is infinitely odious. All our good is more apparently from God, because we are first naked and wholly without any good, and afterwards enriched with all good. (“God Glorified In Man’s Dependence”)

Worried?

Quoting John Stott:

All worry is about tomorrow, whether about food or clothing or anything else; but all worry is experienced today. Whenever we are anxious, we are upset in the present time about some event which may happen in the future. However, these fears of ours about tomorrow, which we feel so acutely today, may not be fulfilled. The popular advice, “Don’t worry, it may never happen,” is doubtless unsympathetic, but perfectly true. People worry that they may not pass an exam, or find a job, or get married, or retain their health, or succeed in some enterprise. But it is all fantasy. “Fears may be liars;” they often are. Most worries…never materialize. (The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, IVP, 1978, p. 168-169)

The Holy Spirit Is Doing Great Wonders

Bishop J. C. Ryle

The Holy Spirit is the agent who brings life to the spiritually dead. As Christians, we should all be praying for a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who gives an edge to sermons and power to the rebukes of the minister of God. The iron gates of a sinful heart cannot prevail against the Spirit of God. We do not need man-contrived schemes to motivate an audience. We need more of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Bishop J. C. Ryle tells us more about the Spirit’s power:

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

Never, never will the Spirit turn away from a soul because of its corruption. He never has done so—He never will. It is His glory that He has purified the minds of the most impure, and made them temples for His own abode. He may yet take the worst of us, and make him a vessel of grace.

Why indeed should it not be so? The Spirit is an Almighty Spirit. He can change the stony heart into a heart of flesh. He can break up and destroy the strongest bad habits, like string in the fire. He can make the most difficult things seem easy, and the mightiest objections melt away like snow in spring. He can cut the bars of brass, and throw the gates of prejudice wide open. He can fill up every valley, and make every rough place smooth. He has done it often, and He can do it again.

Such is the power of the Holy Spirit to regenerate people, and as it were to bring them forth anew, so that they shall be nothing like the people they were before.

The Spirit can take . . . the bitterest enemy of Christianity, the fiercest persecutor of true believers—the strongest stickler for Pharisaical notions, the most prejudiced opposer of Gospel doctrine—and turn that man into an earnest preacher of the very faith he once destroyed. He has done it already. He did it with the Apostle Paul.

The Spirit can take a . . . monk, brought up in the midst of Romish superstition—trained from his infancy to believe false doctrine, and obey the Pope—steeped to the eyes in error, and make that man the clearest upholder of justification by faith the world ever saw. He has done so already. He did it with Martin Luther.

The Spirit can take an English tinker, without learning, patronage, or money—a man at one time notorious for nothing so much as blasphemy and swearing—and make that man write a pious book, which shall stand unrivaled and unequaled, in its way, by any book since the time of the Apostles. He has done so already. He did it with John Bunyan, the author of “Pilgrim’s Progress.”

The Spirit can take a sailor drenched in worldliness and sin—a profligate captain of a slave ship, and make that man a most successful minister of the Gospel—a writer of godly letters, which are a storehouse of experimental religion—and of hymns which are known and sung wherever English is spoken. He has done it already. He did it with John Newton.

All this the Spirit has done, and much more, of which I cannot speak particularly. And the arm of the Spirit is not shortened. His power is not decayed. He is like the Lord Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb. 13:8.) He is still doing wonders, and will do to the very end. (“Alive or Dead?”)

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