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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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Back Door Christians

From the sermons of Charles H. Spurgeon:

Many come to God’s house disguised in manner and appearance. How good you all look!

When we sing and you take your books, how heavenly-minded! And when we pray, how reverent you are! How your heads are all bowed – your eyes covered with your hands! I do not know how much praying there is when you sit in a devout posture; though you assume the attitude and compose your countenance as those who draw near to supplicate the Lord. I am afraid there are many of you who do not pray a word or present a petition, though you assume the posture of suppliants. When the singing is going on there are many who never sing a word with the spirit and the understanding.

In the house of God I am afraid there are many who wear a mask, stand as God’s people stand, sit as they sit, pray as they pray, and sing as they sing- and all the while what are you doing? Some of you have been attending to your children while we have been singing tonight. Some of you have been casting up your ledger, attending to your farms, scheming about your carpentering and bricklaying; yet all the while if we had looked into your faces we might have thought you were reverently worshiping God.

Oh! Those solemn faces, and those reverent looks, they do not deceive the Most High God! He knows who and what you are! He sees you as clearly as men see through glass. As for hiding from the Almighty, how can you hide yourself from him? As well attempt to hide in a glass case, for all the world is a glass case before God. . . The eyes of God are on you continually; no veil of hypocrisy can screen you from him.

It is a melancholy and a most solemn reflection that there are many who profess to be Christians who are not Christians. . . .

I have tried, the Lord knows, to preach as plainly and as much home to the mark as I could, to sift and try you; but for all that the hypocrite will come in. After the most searching ministry, there are still some who will wrap themselves about with a ‘mantle of deception’. Though we cry aloud and spare not, and bid you lay hold on eternal life, yet, alas! How many are content with a mere name to live and are dead.

Many come here and even hold office in the Church, yes, the minister himself may even preach the Word, and after all be hollow and empty. How many who dress and look fair outside, are only fit to be tinder for the devil’s tinder box, for they are all dry and empty within! God save as from a profession if it is not real!

I pray that we may know the worst of our case. If I must be damned, I would sooner go to hell unholy, than as a hypocrite – that back-door to the pit is the thing I dread most of all. Oh! To sit at the Lord’s Table, and to drink of the cup of devils! To be recognized among God’s own here, and then to find one’s own name left out when God reads the muster-roll of his servants!

Oh! What a portion for eternity! I bid you tear off this mask, and if the grace of God is not in you, I beg you to go into the world which is your fit place, and abstain from joining the Church, if you are not really a member of the body of Christ.

“You, God, see me!” Write that on the palm of your hand, and look at it; wake up in the morning with it; sleep with it before you on your curtains. “You, God, see me!” (“A Hearer in Disguise” No. 584)

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Who did Christ Redeem?

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

We hold that Christ did not redeem every man, but only redeemed those men who will ultimately attain unto eternal life.

We do not believe that he redeemed the damned. We do not believe that he poured out his life blood for souls already in hell.

We never can imagine that Christ suffered in the room and stead of all men, and that then afterwards these same men have to suffer for themselves.

We do not believe that Christ pays their debts, and then God makes them pay their debts again a second time.

We hold to this – that Christ laid down his life for his sheep, and that his laying down his life for the sheep involved and secured the salvation of every one of them. (No. 572, Romans 11:36)

Controversy

Many Christians will avoid controversy concerning the truth or truths of essential Christian doctrines for fear of alienating their companions. Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921) writes on this subject below:

It is certain that there are many in our midsts who fear controversy more than error. These assuredly do not stay to remember that Christianity’s sole weapon is reasoning, its supreme effort to reason itself into the acceptance of the world. What then will happen if it renounces the duty of reasoning? To be sure constant reasoning is weariness to the flesh, and the temptation lies very close to purchase longed-for and needed peace by calling a halt for a time and resting on what is already attained. This is much like seeking rest from the labors of life by ceasing to breathe for a season. Let us learn here from a remark of Coleridge’s. “For a nation to make peace only because it is tired of war,” he says, “in order just to take breath is in direct subversion to the end and object of the war, which was its sole justification.’Tis like a poor way sore foot-traveler getting up behind a coach that is going the contrary way to his.” Christianity is in its very nature an aggressive religion; it is in the world just in order to convince men; when it ceases to reason, it ceases to exist. It is no doubt the truth; but the truth no longer proclaimed and defended rots quickly down. The lawyers have a very instructive maxim which it will do us all no harm to heed: “A lie well stuck to,” they say, “is better than the truth abandoned.” “I have often asked my Radical friends,” Mr. Froude writes in one of his latest books, “what is to be done if out of every hundred enlightened voters two-thirds will give their votes one way but are afraid to fight, and the remaining third will not only vote but will fight too if the poll goes against them. Which has the right to rule? I can tell them,” he adds, “which will rule. … The brave and resolute minority will rule. The majority must be prepared to assert their Divine Right with their hands, or it will go the way that other Divine Rights have gone before.” Mr. Froude is dealing with political matters, and speaks of that strife with the sword which the Christian religion has renounced. But strife it has not renounced: and whenever it shall have renounced strife against its perennial foe with its own appropriate weapon—the Word—it will have renounced hope of ruling over the hearts and thoughts of men. Controversy is in this sense and to this degree is the vital breath of a really living Christianity.

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