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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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His Unspeakable Love

Quoting John Owen:

“Christ’s offering Himself was the greatest expression of His inexpressible love! To imagine that there is any cleansing from sin except by the blood of Christ is to overthrow the gospel. We are never nearer to Christ than when we find ourselves lost in a holy amazement at his unspeakable love!”

Increasing Faith

On whose authority are you commanded to believe in Christ? You are commanded to believe upon the authority of God Himself. He bids you believe in Jesus Christ, and you must not refuse to obey your Creator. You have an absolute authority for coming to Christ – the Lord Himself bids you trust Him. Charles H. Spurgeon writes:

HOW CAN WE OBTAIN an increase of faith? This is a very earnest question to many. They say they want to believe, but cannot. A great deal of nonsense is talked upon this subject. Let us be strictly practical in our dealing with it. Common sense is as much needed in religion as anywhere else. “What am I to do in order to believe?” One who was asked the best way to do a certain simple act, replied that the best way to do it was to do it at once. We waste time in discussing methods when the action is simple. The shortest way to believe is to believe. If the Holy Spirit has made you candid, you will believe as soon as truth is set before you. You will believe it because it is true. The gospel command is clear; “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” It is idle to evade this by questions and quibbles. The order is plain; let it be obeyed.

But still, if you have difficulty, take it before God in prayer. Tell the great Father exactly what it is that puzzles you, and beg Him by His Holy Spirit to solve the question. If I cannot believe a statement in a book, I am glad to inquire of the author what he means by it; and if he is a true man his explanation will satisfy me; much more will the divine explanation of the hard points of Scripture satisfy the heart of the true seeker. The Lord is willing to make himself known; go to Him and see if it is not so. Repair at once to your closet, and cry, “O Holy Spirit, lead me into the truth! What I know not, teach Thou me.” Furthermore, if faith seems difficult, it is possible that God the Holy Spirit will enable you to believe if you hear very frequently and earnestly that which you are commanded to believe. We believe many things because we have heard them so often. Do you not find it so in common life, that if you hear a thing fifty times a day, at last you come to believe it? Some men have come to believe very unlikely statements by this process, and therefore I do not wonder that the good Spirit often blesses the method of often hearing the truth, and uses it to work faith concerning that which is to be believed. It is written, “Faith cometh by hearing”; therefore hear often. If I earnestly and attentively hear the gospel, one of these days I shall find myself believing that which I hear, through the blessed operation of the Spirit of God upon my mind. Only mind you hear the gospel, and do not distract your mind with either hearing or reading that which is designed to stagger you. (All of Faith)

Faith in Christ

From the works of Charles H. Spurgeon

“Faith in Christ is not the reception of a dry, dead orthodoxy—to believe in Jesus is not simply to be a sixteen-ounces-to-the-pound Calvinist.

“Saving faith is not the mere reception of a creed or form of any kind. To believe is to trust and no man truly believes—in the New Testament meaning of the word—until he is brought to trust in Christ, alone, and takes his whole religion upon trust, relying not on what he sees, nor on what he is, but on what is revealed in God’s Word—not on what he is, or can be, or shall be, nor on what he does or can do, nor on what he feels or does not feel—but relying solely on what Christ has done, is doing and shall yet do.” (Sermon #2737)

Overcoming Our Present Difficulty

Quoting :

“Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.”

Either Believe or Call Him a Liar

Even if you have no strength to overcome your sin, the verse below is still true. Will you believe it? Even though there are things that seem to contradict it, will you believe it? If God has said it, it is so! You must hold on to it as your only hope. If you believe and trust in Jesus, you will find the strength to overcome your sin. Charles H. Spurgeon writes:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6 ESV)

Many remain in the dark for years because they have no power, as they say, to do that which is the giving up of all power and reposing in the power of another, even the Lord Jesus. Indeed, it is a very curious thing, this whole matter of believing; for people do not get much help by trying to believe. Believing does not come by trying. If a person were to make a statement of something that happened this day, I should not tell him that I would try to believe him. If I believed in the truthfulness of the man who told the incident to me and said that he saw it, I should accept the statement at once. If I did not think him a true man, I should, of course, disbelieve him; but there would be no trying in the matter. Now, when God declares that there is salvation in Christ Jesus, I must either believe Him at once, or make Him a liar. Surely you will not hesitate as to which is the right path in this case. The witness of God must be true, and we are bound at once to believe in Jesus.

But possibly you have been trying to believe too much. Now do not aim at great things. Be satisfied to have a faith that can hold in its hand this one truth, “While we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” He laid down His life for men while as yet they did not believe in Him, nor were able to believe in Him. He died for men, not as believers, but as sinners. He came to make these sinners into believers and saints; but when He died for them He viewed them as utterly without strength. If you hold to the truth that Christ died for the ungodly, and believe it, your faith will save you, and you may go in peace. If you will trust your soul with Jesus, who died for the ungodly, even though you cannot believe all things, nor move mountains, nor do any other wonderful works, yet you are saved. It is not great faith, but true faith, that saves; and the salvation lies not in the faith, but in the Christ in whom faith trusts. Faith as a grain of mustard seed will bring salvation. It is not the measure of faith, but the sincerity of faith, which is the point to be considered. Surely a man can believe what he knows to be true; and as you know Jesus to be true, you, my friend, can believe in Him.

The cross which is the object of faith is also, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the cause of it. Sit down and watch the dying Savior till faith springs up spontaneously in your heart. There is no place like Calvary for creating confidence. The air of that sacred hill brings health to trembling faith. Many a watcher there has said:

While I view Thee, wounded, grieving,

Breathless on the cursed tree,

Lord, I feel my heart believing

That Thou suffer’dst thus for me. (All of Grace)

The Golden Link of Christ’s Love

The following is by Thomas Brooks:

It was the golden link of love that fastened Christ to the cross!

Certainly the more Christ has suffered for us; the more dear Christ should be unto us. The more bitter his sufferings have been for us, the more sweet his love should be to us, and the more eminent should be our love to him. Oh, let a suffering Christ lie nearest your hearts; let him be your manna, your tree of life, your morning star. It is better to part with all than with this pearl of price.

Christ is that golden pipe through which the golden oil of salvation runs.

The Christian Religion

In the words of Alexander Hamilton:

“I have carefully examined the evidences of the Christian religion, and if I was sitting as a juror upon its authenticity I would unhesitatingly give my verdict in its favor. I can prove its truth as clearly as any proposition ever submitted to the mind of man.”

Do Not Turn Aside from Pure Doctrine

There are many cultural Christians who eagerly seek to have ego boosting trash taught to them; they want the Word of God to be pleasant to listen to. Therefore, they seek ineffective and unbeneficial false teaching. According to John Calvin:

But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

[A particular] doctrine may not seem bad to us at the first view, yet notwithstanding, if it has not a tendency to lead us to God, and strengthen us in His service, to confirm us in the faith and hope that is given us of everlasting life, it will deceive us in the end; and prove to be but a mixture which serveth no purpose, except to take away the good which we had received before.

To be short, those that have not this in view, to draw the world to God, and build up the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He may rule among us, mar all. All the labor and pains they take but increases their wickedness; and if they be suffered to go on in this way, a gate is set open to Satan, whereby he may bring to naught whatsoever is of God. Although this is not done at the first blow, yet we see the end is such. To express this better, St. Paul adds, “Their word will eat as doth a canker.”

The word “eat,” mentioned here, is not commonly understood; it is what the surgeons call, an eating sore, and what is also called, St. Anthony’s fire: that is to say, when there is such an inflammation in any part of the body, that the sore eateth not only the flesh and sinews, but the bones also. In short, it is a fire that devoureth all: the hand will cause the arm to be lost, and the foot the leg, unless at the beginning, the part that is affected be cut off; thus the man is in danger of losing his members, unless there be fit remedies provided for it; in this case we should spare no pains, but cut off the part affected, that the rest be not utterly destroyed.

Thus we view it here spiritually: for St. Paul showeth us that although we may have been well instructed in wholesome doctrine, all will be marred, if we give place to these unprofitable questions, and only endeavor to please the hearers, and feed their desires. Seeing we understand what St. Paul’s meaning is, let us endeavor to put this exhortation into practice. When we see men go about, endeavoring to turn us aside from the true doctrine, let us shun them, and shut the gate against them. Unless we take it in hand at the first start, and entirely cut it off, it may be as difficult to control as the disease of which we have spoken.

Therefore, let us not be sleeping; for this is a matter of importance; it will prove a deadly disease, unless it be seen to in time. If this exhortation had been observed, things would be in a better condition at the present day in Christendom. (“Pure Preaching of the Word”)

The Virtue of Glorifying Christ

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

“Self-denial and consecration are among the highest of the Christian virtues. Oh! When I see the Savior in all his agonies doing so much for us, I cannot but think that we as a Christian people do next to nothing for him.”

God is Just

Quoting Thomas Jefferson, 1871:

“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

Grace Reigns

It is here we find peace for the guilty and rest for the weary. Behold what His blood has done for the generations of man in order that unworthy sinners may find paradise. According to Andrew Bonar:

“It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17: 11).

“There I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat” (Exod. 25: 22).

The broken law proclaims that the wages of sin is death. The sinner’s hope is not a hope procured upon any other terms. If it were so, where. or when for a moment, would the sinner be safe? It would be but a saying, “Peace, peace,” while the law said there was no peace. No. Salvation is not an unrighteous compromise between the law and the Gospel. The law’s terms to the sinner are, “The wages of sin is death.” And the law’s terms to the sinner’s Surety are, “The wages of sin is death.” God does not take the believer’s five talents for the hundred which he owed, and call them a hundred, in order that his saving love might reach him. But for the hundred talents which he owed, Christ has paid a hundred to the uttermost farthing. The law required perfect obedience, and blood. Christ, as the sinner’s Surety, has rendered perfect obedience, and blood.

“Do we, then, make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Rom. 3. 31). There is nothing in all the universe which so proclaims God’s holy wrath against sin, as that blood of Christ, which is the only meeting-place between an unholy sinner and a holy God. The law proclaims that the wages of sin is death; the Gospel proclaims, through that blood not only that wages of sin is, but has been, death. That blood tells every one that believeth, not only that the wages of his sin is death, but that the wages has been paid, and that now the bitterness of that death is past. Reader! see in that blood that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so now grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 5. 21). (“The Mercy Seat”)

A Life in service to God

In the words of Matthew Henry:

“A life spent in the service of God and in communion with him, is the most pleasant life that any one can live in the world.”

The Secret of My Success

Quoting George Washington Carver:

‘The secret of my success? It is simple. It is found in the Bible’, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”

When I Look at the Cross

Looking at the cross helps us to remember that we no longer live for our own selfish pleasures, but now we live for Christ’s love and we live gladly unto Him. J. C. Ryle writes:

“Far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

Would I know how exceedingly sinful and abominable sin is in the sight of God? Where shall I see that most fully brought out? Shall I turn to the history of the flood, and read how sin drowned the world? Shall I go to the shore of the Dead Sea, and mark what sin brought on Sodom and Gomorrah? Shall I turn to the wandering Jews, and observe how sin has scattered them over the face of the earth? No! I can find a clearer proof still! I look at the cross of Christ. There I see that sin is so black and damnable, that nothing but the blood of God’s own Son can wash it away. There I see that sin has so separated me from my holy Maker, that all the angels in heaven could never have made peace between us. Nothing could reconcile us, short of the death of Christ. If I listened to the wretched talk of proud people, I might sometimes fancy sin was not so very sinful! But I cannot think little of sin, when I look at the cross of Christ.

Would I know the fullness and completeness of the salvation God has provided for sinners? Where shall I see it most distinctly? Shall I go to the general declarations in the Bible about God’s mercy? Shall I rest in the general truth that God is a “God of love”? Oh, no! I will look at the cross of Christ. I find no evidence like that. I find no balm for a sore conscience and a troubled heart, like the sight of Jesus dying for me on the accursed tree. There I see that a full payment has been made for all my enormous debts. The curse of that law which I have broken has come down on One who there suffered in my stead. The demands of that law are all satisfied. Payment has been made for me, even to the uttermost farthing. It will not be required twice over. Ah, I might sometimes imagine I was too bad to be forgiven! My own heart sometimes whispers that I am too wicked to be saved. But I know in my better moments this is all my foolish unbelief. I read an answer to my doubts in the blood shed on Calvary. I feel sure that there is a way to heaven for the very vilest of people, when I look at the cross. (“The Cross of Christ”)

The Attraction to be found in Jesus

The following is by Charles H. Spurgeon:

Christ dying for sinners is the great attraction of Christianity! Since men will not come to him, the crucified Savior becomes himself the attraction to men. He casts out from himself bands of love and cords of gracious constraint, and binding these around human hearts, he draws them to himself by an invincible constraint of grace.

Sinners by nature will not come to Jesus, though his charms might even attract the blind, and arouse the dead. They will not melt, though surely such beauties might dissolve the adamant, and kindle affection in rock of ice. But Jesus has a wondrous power about him to woo and win the sons of men. Out of his heart proceed chains of gold by which he binds thousands of willing captives to himself. Many a heart has been so charmed with his love that it has run to Christ, drawn by the silken bonds of love.

Jesus is the universal attraction, the attraction to which all hearts must yield when he draws effectually by his grace. The attraction of the Crucified One has bound them to the cross forever! The gracious Spirit has moved many tender hearts first to pity, and afterwards to love the bleeding Lamb.

What a melting power there is in Gethsemane! Can you view the bloody sweat drops, as they fall upon the frozen soil, and not feel that, in some degree, invisible but irresistible cords are drawing you to Jesus? Can you see him flagellated in Pilate’s hall, every thong of the scourge tearing the flesh from his shoulders? Can you see him as they spit into his lovely face, and mar his blessed visage, and not feel as if you could fain fall down and kiss his feet, and make yourself forever his servant?

And, lastly, can you behold him hanging upon the hill of Golgotha to die – can you mark him as his soul is there overwhelmed with the wrath of God, with the bitterness of sin, and with a sense of utter desertion – can you sit down and watch him there and not be attracted to him? (“The Great Attraction” No. 775)

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