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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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Unforeseen Consequences

Quoting John Newton:

” I can hardly recollect a single plan of mine, of which I have not since seen reason to be satisfied, that had it taken place in season and circumstance just as I proposed, it would, humanly speaking, have proved my ruin; or at least it would have deprived me of the greater good the Lord had designed for me. We judge of things by their present appearances, but the Lord sees them in their consequences, if we could do so likewise we should be perfectly of His mind; but as we cannot, it is an unspeakable mercy that He will manage for us, whether we are pleased with His management or not; and it is spoken of as one of his heaviest judgments, when He gives any person or people up to the way of their own hearts, and to walk after their own counsels.”

By Grace Through Faith

There are many in this world who, no doubt, understand the doctrine of faith, but will one day be in hell because they did not believe. Yet, not any who have trusted in our Lord Jesus Christ will ever be cast out, even if his faith is as a grain of Mustard seed. Read here the words of Charles Spurgeon and receive Christ into your soul:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. (Ephesians 2:8 ESV)

Commit yourself to the merciful God; rest your hope on the gracious gospel; trust your soul on the dying and living Savior; wash away your sins in the atoning blood; accept His perfect righteousness, and all is well. Trust is the lifeblood of faith; there is no saving faith without it. The Puritans were accustomed to explain faith by the word “recumbency.” It meant leaning upon a thing. Lean with all your weight upon Christ. It would be a better illustration still if I said, fall at full length, and lie on the Rock of Ages. Cast yourself upon Jesus; rest in Him; commit yourself to Him. That done, you have exercised saving faith. Faith is not a blind thing; for faith begins with knowledge. It is not a speculative thing; for faith believes facts of which it is sure. It is not an unpractical, dreamy thing; for faith trusts, and stakes its destiny upon the truth of revelation. That is one way of describing what faith is.

Let me try again. Faith is believing that Christ is what He is said to be, and that He will do what He has promised to do, and then to expect this of Him. The Scriptures speak of Jesus Christ as being God; God is human flesh; as being perfect in His character; as being made of a sin-offering on our behalf; as bearing our sins in His own body on the tree. The Scripture speaks of Him as having finished transgression, made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness. The sacred records further tell us that He “rose again from the dead,” that He “ever liveth to make intercession for us,” that He has gone up into the glory, and has taken possession of Heaven on the behalf of His people, and that He will shortly come again “to judge the world in righteousness, and his people with equity.” We are most firmly to believe that it is even so; for this is the testimony of God the Father when He said, “This is my beloved Son; hear ye him.” This also is testified by God the Holy Spirit; for the Spirit has borne witness to Christ, both in the inspired Word and by diverse miracles, and by His working in the hearts of men. We are to believe this testimony to be true.

Faith also believes that Christ will do what He has promised; that since He has promised to cast out none that come to Him, it is certain that He will not cast us out if we come to Him. Faith believes that since Jesus said, “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life, it must be true; and if we get this living Water from Christ it will abide in us, and will well up within us in streams of holy life. Whatever Christ has promised to do He will do, and we must believe this, so as to look for pardon, justification, preservation, and eternal glory from His hands, according as He has promised them to believers in Him.

Jesus is what He is said to be, Jesus will do what He says He will do; therefore we must each one trust Him, saying, “He will be to me what He says He is, and He will do to me what He has promised to do; I leave myself in the hands of Him who is appointed to save, that He may save me. I rest upon His promise that He will do even as He has said.” This is a saving faith, and he that hath it hath everlasting life. Whatever his dangers and difficulties, whatever his darkness and depression, whatever his infirmities and sins, he that believeth thus on Christ Jesus is not condemned, and shall never come into condemnation. (All of Grace)

Sin

From the pen of Joseph Alleine:

“Oh, better were it for you to die in a jail, in a ditch, in a dungeon, than to die in your sins. If death, as it will take away all your comforts, would take away all your sins too, it were some mitigation; but your sins will follow you when your friends leave you, and all your worldly enjoyments shake hands with you. Your sins will not die with you as a prisoner’s other debts will; but they will go to judgment with you there to be your accusers; and they will go to hell with you there to be your tormentors.”

Patriotism

Quoting George Washington’s Farewell Address:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity. Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness—these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens. (October 19, 1796)

Sacrifice Or Sin?

I would like to ask you something: What is “sacrifice”? People think of the word “sacrifice” in many ways. There are many who will tell you that sacrifice is giving up something of greater value for something of lesser value. However, when it comes to the spiritual discipline of sacrifice in the Christian life – we must be on the same page as God. If you wish to live a life of righteousness, there must be sacrifice.

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17 ESV)

In all that exists, God is of supreme value. So in one sense the Christian is always called on to sacrifice something of lesser value to honor God who is the greatest value. The problem is that the nature of sin in our souls very often blinds us to the reality of God’s glory and we begin to glory in the lesser things which are self-destructive. Therefore, our darkened minds refuse to sacrifice sin and so lose the benefits of the “pearl of great price”.

If we are to live rightly, we must sacrifice our lust for the things of the kingdom of Satan. How foolish we must seem to that demon’s eyes. It looks upon us and enjoys a jolly good laugh as we frantically chase after worldliness. So, is our idea of a “sacrifice” the same as what the Bible calls a “sacrifice”? Another important question to ask yourself would be; “Is your sacrifice completed with an unwilling heart?” If so, God will not accept it.

“All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD.” (Exodus 35:29 ESV)

Partial sacrifices will not do. Do I remind you that sacrificial animals had to die? They did not suffer for just a little while. Yet this is the way that people are today. Christians will not mind suffering a bit. On the other hand, they are not willing to die for the cause of Christ. We try to bargain with God and seek a more beneficial compromise. We forget that God does not compromise.

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44 ESV)

These verses tell us that many rich people gave generous amounts of money. Later, a poor widow came to the offering box and put in two small copper coins. The Lord then called His disciples to Him and said, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

The rich gave, but they had given out of their abundance. Because the rich had given out of their abundance, they made no sacrifice in their giving. The widow, however, put only two copper coins of the smallest value into the offering box. Yet, this offering was more than all the rich together. She had cast in all she had and all she had to live on. Her gift was a true sacrifice because it was completely given.

A true sacrifice costs something. It cost our Lord Jesus Christ as He made the greatest sacrifice ever given. “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15 ESV) Because of His love for us, He freely lay down His life.

Christ gave His all. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8 ESV) The Lord wants us to offer up our bodies as a living sacrifice unto Him. He is asking nothing less than for you to give up your secret sins! Are you willing to make such a sacrifice to honor Jesus Christ or do you give up God’s glory for petty lusts?

The Size Of A Minister

 

 

From the desk of John Newton:

“I measure ministers by square measure. I have no idea of the size of a table, if you only tell me how long it is: but if you also say how wide, I can tell its dimensions. So, when you tell me what a man is in the pulpit, you must also tell me what he is out of it, or I shall not know his size.”

One Step Follows Another

Quoting columnist Arnold Ahlert:

“We have become a nation where far too many people believe we can set the parameters of good and evil as we go along, and that we must all worship at the altar of non-judgmentalism. Yet the concept of non-judgmentalism is yet another progressive manipulation of the language: those who refuse to ascribe value to anything are not non-judgmental. They are amoral. Furthermore, a society with substantial numbers of amoral people is easily manipulable. But don’t take my word for it. There are more than a few people still alive with tattooed numbers on their arms who can attest to the depths that easily manipulated, ‘reasonable’ people can sink. Fanaticism rarely occurs in a vacuum. It proceeds from that which is initially perceived to be reasonable to utter depravity. From abortion to infanticide. From a classless society to the ninety-nine percent versus the one percent. From the so-called one percent to the ovens of Auschwitz and Dachau. One incrementally amoral step after another.”

The Spirit Of The Tax Collector

What is the spirit that Jesus loves? Are you an indifferent cultural Christian? Bishop J. C. Ryle describes the spirit that Jesus loves:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14 ESV)

Let us . . . consider the different BEHAVIOR of these two worshipers. Behold the Pharisee. “He stood and prayed thus with himself.” Observe this: he went to some conspicuous part of the temple, where he could stand alone near the altar, separate from the rest of men, that all might see what a devout man he was, and not lose sight of him in the crowd. He stood “with himself,” not among the congregation, lest he should be defiled by touching them; he was too good for them. We do not read of anything like humility here; we do not learn that he even bowed his head, as a mark of respect to his Creator—but there he stood erect, like one who felt that he had done all that God required of him, that he had no sin to repent of, that he had a right to expect a blessing as a profitable servant.

Turn now to the tax collector. “Standing afar off, he would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven—but smote upon his bosom.” He stood afar off probably in the outward court, as one who did not feel himself worthy to come beyond the threshold of Him whose name is Holy. “He would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven.” He felt the remembrance of his sins so grievous and the burden of them so intolerable, that, like a child who has offended its father, he dare not look his Almighty Maker in the face. “He smote upon his bosom.” He could not control the feelings that arose in his mind: he recollected the mercies he had received and his own neglect of them, the life he had led and the God he had despised; and, like those who saw Jesus hanging on the cross, “he smote his bosom,” in sorrow, self-abasement and godly fear. Beloved, the posture of the body and the expression of the face are certainly not always sure signs of the state of a man’s heart—but you may rest assured that a truly humble and devout worshiper will generally be distinguished by his conduct in the house of God.

He who is duly sensible of his own guilt, and is ever coming to Jesus as his Advocate; he who is acquainted with the sinfulness of sin and the devices of Satan, and the value of the means of grace and the necessity of using them if he would save his soul—such a one will never show any lack of reverence, any levity or carelessness of manner, when he has entered any place where prayer is accustomed to be made and the gospel preached, and Christ Himself is standing in the midst. But if a person comes to church with an air of indifference, as if he did the minister a favor by coming and cared not if he never came again, and does not join in the prayers, and looks as if he would be ashamed if any one thought he did, and does not listen to the word of God, and does not pay attention to the sermon; if he employs himself with looking at other people’s dress—or deliberately goes to sleep—or talks to his neighbors—or makes plans for the next week—he may have his own reasons for coming here—but it is pretty clear to me that he does not come in the way that Jesus loves, as a miserable sinner who sees nothing but evil in himself, nor in the spirit that Jesus loves, that is in the spirit of the tax collector. (“Self-Righteousness”)

God’s Perseverance

In the words of John Arrowsmith:

“Election having once pitched upon a man, it will find him out and call him home, wherever he be. It called Zaccheus out of accursed Jericho; Abraham out of idolatrous Ur of the Chaldees; Nicodemus and Paul, from the College of the Pharisees, Christ’s sworn enemies; Dionysius and Damaris, out of superstitious Athens. In whatsoever dunghills God’s elect are hid, election will find them out and bring them home.”

Abide In Me

Jesus is the source of all real strength and grace to his disciples. He is their leader and teacher, and imparts to them, as they need, grace and strength to bear the fruits of holiness. Charles H. Spurgeon encourages us to abide in Christ:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5 ESV)

Communion with Christ is a certain cure for every ill. Whether it be the wormwood of woe, or the cloying surfeit of earthly delight, close fellowship with the Lord Jesus will take bitterness from the one, and satiety from the other. Live near to Jesus, Christian, and it is matter of secondary importance whether thou livest on the mountain of honor or in the valley of humiliation. Living near to Jesus, thou art covered with the wings of God, and underneath thee are the everlasting arms. Let nothing keep thee from that hallowed intercourse, which is the choice privilege of a soul wedded to THE WELL-BELOVED. Be not content with an interview now and then, but seek always to retain His company, for only in His presence hast thou either comfort or safety. Jesus should not be unto us a friend who calls upon us now and then, but one with whom we walk evermore. Thou hast a difficult road before thee: see, O traveler to heaven, that thou go not without thy guide. Thou hast to pass through the fiery furnace; enter it not unless, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, thou hast the Son of God to be thy companion. Thou hast to storm the Jericho of thine own corruptions: attempt not the warfare until, like Joshua; thou hast seen the Captain of the Lord’s host, with His sword drawn in His hand. Thou art to meet the Esau of thy many temptations: meet him not until at Jabbok’s brook thou hast laid hold upon the angel, and prevailed. In every case, in every condition, thou wilt need Jesus; but most of all, when the iron gates of death shall open to thee. Keep thou close to thy soul’s Husband, lean thy head upon His bosom, ask to be refreshed with the spiced wine of His pomegranate, and thou shalt be found of Him at the last, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Seeing thou hast lived with Him, and lived in Him here, thou shalt abide with Him for ever.

God’s Immutable Decree

Quoting Thomas Watson:

“When God calls a man, He does not repent of it. God does not, as many friends do, love one day, and hate another; or a s princes, who make their subjects favorites, and afterwards throw them into prison. This is the blessedness of a saint; his condition admits of no alteration. God’s call is founded on His decree, and His decree is immutable. Acts of grace cannot be reversed. God blots out his people’s sins, but not their names.”

The Necessity Of Religious Principle

From George Washington’s Farewell Address:

Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. (October 19, 1796)

Christ Is Not Ashamed To Call Us Brothers

Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of those whom the Father gave him. He opened up the way of eternal life for all who are called his brothers. Martin Luther explains:

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews has grasped the words of Ps 22,23 and taken them well to heart, when he says of Christ: “For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the congregation will I sing thy praise.” Heb 2,11-12. If any worldly lord were to condescend so low as to say to a thief, or a murderer or to a low French character, Thou art my brother; that would be a great thing and everyone would be amazed at it; but that this King, who in his glory sits at the right hand of God, his Father, says to a poor sinner: Thou art my brother, that no one takes to heart, no one receives it in earnest, and yet on that hangs our highest comfort and courage against sin, death, Satan, hell, law, and against all misfortune, both of the body and of the soul.

Since we are flesh and blood, and subject to all kinds of affliction, it follows that it must be thus also with our brother; or he would not be like us in all respects. Therefore, in that he becomes like us, he tastes of all that we do, in order to be our true brother and save us, so that we on the other hand may become like him. This the Epistle to the Hebrews paints and brings out very beautifully when it says: “Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily not to angels doth he give help, but he giveth help to the seed of Abraham. Therefore it behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, be is able to succor them that are tempted.” Heb 2, 14- 18.

St. Paul in a very beautiful way condensed the benefit and use both of Christ’s sufferings and his resurrection in one short passage, as in a nutshell, when he says to the Romans: “Who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.” Rom 4, 25. But on this theme enough has been said for the present; whoever desires may with profit meditate on it. . . . (“The Fruit and Power of Christ’s Resurrection”)

Assurance

Quoting John Newton:

“Assurance grows by repeated conflict, by our repeated experimental proof of the Lord’s power and goodness to save; when we have been brought very low and helped, sorely wounded and healed, cast down and raised again, have given up all hope, and been suddenly snatched from danger, and placed in safety; and when these things have been repeated to us and in us a thousand times over, we begin to learn to trust simply to the word and power of God, beyond and against appearances: and this trust, when habitual and strong, bears the name of assurance; for even assurance has degrees.”

They Shall Walk In White

Every church-going man should examine his soul to see if he is on the right path. It would be a tragedy to be in the church and found to be not of it! How many professions of religion are but a cloak for hypocrisy? Charles Spurgeon tells us what this means for the hypocrite and the true child of God:

Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:4 ESV)

“They shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy.” A good old author says there is a reference here to that fact, that the rabbis allowed persons to walk in white who could trace their pedigree without a flaw; but if they found any blot on their escutcheon, and could not trace their birth up to Abraham, they were not allowed to walk in white on certain days. Well, he says he thinks the passage means that those who have not defiled their garments will be able to prove their adoption, and will walk in white garments as being sure they are the sons of God. If we would be certain that we are the people of God, we must take care that we have no blots on our dress, for each one of those spatterings of the mire of this earth will cry out, and say “Perhaps you are not a child of God.” Nothing is such a father of doubts as sin; sin is the very mother of our distress. He who is covered with sin must not expect to enjoy full assurance, but he who lives close to his God, and keeps his garments unspotted from the world—he shall walk in white, knowing that his adoption is sure.

But chiefly we should understand this to refer to justification. “They shall walk in white;” that is, they shall enjoy a constant sense of their own justification by faith; they shall understand that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them that they have:

A matchless robe which far exceeds

What earthly princes wear;”

that they have been washed and make whiter than snow,

and purified and made more cleanly than wool.

Again, it refers to joy and gladness: for white robes were holiday dresses among the Jews. They that have not defiled their garments, shall have their faces always bright; they shall understand what Solomon meant when he said, “Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart. Let thy garments be always white, for God hath accepted thy works.” He who is accepted of God shall wear white garments, being received by the Father—garments of joy and gladness. Whence so many doubts, so much distress, and misery, and mourning? It is because the church has defiled her garments; they do not here below walk in white, because they are not worthy.

And lastly, it refers to walking in white before the throne of God. Those who have not defiled their garments here, shall most certainly walk in white up yonder, where the white-robed hosts sing perpetual hallelujahs to the Most High. If thou hast not defiled thy garments, thou may say, “I know whom I have believed;” not for my works, not by way of merit, but as the reward of grace. If there be joys inconceivable, happiness beyond a dream, bliss which imagination knoweth not, blessedness which even the stretch of desire hath not reached, thou shalt have all these: thou shalt walk in white, since thou art worthy. Christ shall say to thee “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (“A Solemn Warning for All Churches”)

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