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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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Building Altars to the Lord

Quoting Dr. Sidney Greidanus, professor of preaching emeritus, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan:

Have you ever been to Europe and seen the many beautiful cathedrals there? People who see them are impressed by their sheer size. Generation after generation worked on these monuments; sometimes for hundreds of years. It is clear what was central for these people: the worship of God. Life revolved around the Christian religion. The cathedral was the highest building in town; it was also located in the center of town. People were baptized there, worshiped there, confessed their sins there, married there, and were buried there. Worship of God in the cathedral was the focus of their lives.

But what are the highest buildings in our cities today? Not churches but the high-rises of banks and multinational corporations. And these towering high rises also reveal what is considered important in our society. You see, a shift has taken place in modern culture. Life is no longer centered on God and his church. The center has shifted to banks and multinational corporations, the sponsors of materialism and consumerism.

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What Advantage Have The Godly?

The experience of dying is not something that most people look forward to. Does the Christian have any advantage over the sinner during this final act of our lives? John Bunyan (1628-1688) writes:

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. . . . (Luke 16:19-31 ESV)

But it may be objected, if the godly do die as well as the wicked, and if the saints must appear before the judgment seat as well as the sinners, then what advantage have the godly more than the ungodly, and how can the saints be in a better condition than the wicked?

Read the 22d verse over again, and you will find a marvelous difference between them, as much as is between heaven and hell, everlasting joy and everlasting torments; for you find, that when the beggar died, which represents the godly, he was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom, or into everlasting joy (Psa 1). But the ungodly are not so, but are hurried by the devils into the bottomless pit, drawn away in their wickedness (Prov 14:32), for he saith, ‘And in hell he lifted up his eyes.’ When the ungodly do die, their misery begins, for then appear the devils, like so many lions, waiting every moment till the soul depart from the body. Sometimes they are very visible to the dying party, but sometimes more invisible; but always this is certain, they never miss of the soul if it do die out of the Lord Jesus Christ; but do hale it away to the prison, as I said before, there to be tormented and reserved until that great and general day of judgment, at which day they must, body and soul, receive a final sentence from the righteous Judge, and from that time be shut out from the presence of God into everlasting woe and distress. But the godly, when the time of their departure is at hand, then also are the angels of the Lord at hand; yea, they are ready waiting upon the soul to conduct it safe into Abraham’s bosom. I do not say but the devils are ofttimes very busy doubtless, and attending the saints in their sickness: ay, and no question but they would willingly deprive the soul of glory. But here is the comfort, as the devils come from hell to devour the soul, if it be possible, at its departure, so the angels of the Lord come from heaven, to watch over and conduct the soul, in spite of the devil, safe into Abraham’s bosom.

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