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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 Worth of the Individual Soul

Quoting J. Gresham Machen:

“It is true that historic Christianity is in conflict at many points with the collectivism of the present day; it does emphasize, against the claims of society, the worth of the individual soul. It provides for the individual a refuge from all the fluctuating currents of human opinion, a secret place of meditation where a man can come alone into the presence of God. It does give a man courage to stand, if need be, against the world; it resolutely refuses to make of the individual a mere means to an end, a mere element in the composition of society. It rejects altogether any means of salvation which deals with men in a mass; it brings the individual face to face with his God.” (Christianity and Liberalism)

The Montanist Heresy

Montanism and the Church:

Around 160 A.D. a believer named Montanus came onto the scene. He claimed that he had experienced a visitation of the Holy Spirit and had the ability to deliver prophetic messages from God. The Montanist message consisted of the promise of the immanent return of Jesus and the apocalyptic end of the world. He also preached a new outpouring of the Spirit and encouraged Christians to embrace martyrdom. Montanism had an over-zealous approach to martyrdom. The biggest problem with the Montanists was their view that their new prophecies carried the authority of the gospels. In the end, Montanism was rejected for its fanaticism and excesses of the new prophecy.

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. . . .” (Revelation 22:18 ESV)

Christ’s Love is Unlike the World’s

God has given us a gift equal to Himself. When you receive Jesus Christ, you receive the power to become the sons of God. This should bring sure comfort to all of us. The virtue of His Grace is not abated, though many have benefited from His treasury. According to Thomas Adams:

Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever. (Heb. 13:8)

The world itself is not unlike an artichoke; nine parts of it are unprofitable leaves, scarce the tithe is good about it. There is a little picking meat, nothing so wholesome as dainty: in the midst of it there is a core, which is enough to choke them that devour it. . . .

Behold, the world is turbulent and full of vexation, yet it is loved; how would it be embraced if it were calm and quiet? If it were a beauteous damsel, how would they dote on it, that so kiss it being a deformed stigmatic? How greedily would they gather the flowers, who would not forbear the thorns? They that so admire it being transient and temporal, how would they be enamored of it if it were eternal? But ‘the world passeth,’ 1 John 2:17, and God abideth. ‘They shall perish, but thou remainest: they all shall wax old as doth a garment and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail,’ Heb. 1:11, 12. Therefore, ‘trust not in uncertain riches, but in the living God,’ 1 Tim. 6:17. And then, ‘they that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever,’ Psalm 125:1. ‘Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.’

This persuades us to an imitation of Christ’s constancy. Let the stableness of his mercy to us work a stableness of our love to him. And howsoever, like the lower orbs, we have a natural motion of our own from good to evil, yet let us suffer the higher power to move us supernaturally from evil to good. There is in us indeed a reluctant flesh, ‘a law in our members warring against the law of our mind,’ Rom. 7:23. . . .

Irresolution and unsteadiness is hateful, and unlike to our master Christ, who is ever the same. ‘A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways,’ James 1:8. The inconstant man is a stranger in his own house: all his purposes are but guests, his heart is the inn. If they lodge there for a night, it is all; they are gone in the morning. Many notions come crowding together upon him; and like a great press at a narrow door, while all strive, none enter. . . .

But the God of constancy would have his to be constant. Steadfast in your faith to him. ‘Continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel,’ Col. 1:23. . . .

If God preordained a Savior for man, before he had either made man, or man marred himself, —as Paul to Timothy, ‘He hath saved us according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,’ 2 Tim. 1:9;—then surely he meant that nothing should separate us from his eternal love in that Savior, Rom. 8:39. (“The Immutable Mercy of Jesus Christ”)

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