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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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Christian Books and the Old Paths

Old PathsSinclair B. Ferguson:

It is far more important, and will do you far more good, to read a smaller number of Christian books which have been well-tried and have proved their value than to develop the Athenian spirit which is attracted to anything so long as it is new.

From Samuel: This quote seems particularly applicable since Americans seem to run after any new teaching which justifies them in their own eyes. This is why I have tried to list books to read on this blog which I believe are good for all of us and are faithful to the teachings of Christ. I make no money on the books listed here.

Voting and Marriage

Voting and MarriageAmericans have developed the bad habit of voting according to narrow issues without considering the wider repercussions. Voting on the nature of marriage seems somewhat silly in light of the role marriage has played in the history of mankind. Yet, we are reduced to voting on the biological and social nature of marriage (ignoring nature’s law) for the purpose of redefining it according to whatever seems politically correct at the moment. Ryan T. Anderson and Andrew Walker wrote the following article, “How Did Marriage Fare in the 2012 Election?”, explaining the results of the voting which took place on this issue:

Until Tuesday [November 6, 2012], no state had redefined marriage by popular vote. Indeed, 32 out of 32 states that put the issue to a vote defined marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

But in this week’s election, citizens in Maine, Maryland, and Washington State all passed ballot initiatives redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships. Meanwhile, citizens in Minnesota failed to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a man and woman (It remains so defined, however, by statutory law.). . . .

The exit polls also revealed that young Americans are more likely to support gay marriage. This should motivate conservatives to redouble their efforts to explain the nature and public purpose of marriage—what marriage is and why it is such a significant factor in maintaining civil society and limiting government.

Our marriage law should reflect the truth about what marriage is: a pre-political institution springing from human nature itself. Government should not redefine or recreate marriage, nor should it obscure the truth about what marriage is. Recognizing same-sex relationships as marriages would weaken marriage as a social institution. It would redefine marriage as essentially an emotional bond, thus rendering marital norms arbitrary and less intelligible. It would further delink childbearing from marriage and deny, as a matter of law, the importance of a mother or a father in a child’s life. The outcomes associated with such absence are far from promising.

Continue reading this post here. . . .

Knowing the Character of God

James M. BoiceIf we know God, we know His character. If we truly know His character, we will desire His character in ourselves. James Montgomery Boice writes:

[K]nowledge of God is important, for only through the knowledge of God can an individual enter into what the Bible terms eternal life. Jesus indicated this when he prayed, “And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (Jn. 17:3). At first glance even this does not seem important enough to the “natural man” to make him want to know God at all costs. But this is because, lacking eternal life, he cannot begin to understand what he is missing. He is like a person who says that he does not appreciate good music. His dislike does not make the music worthless; it simply indicates an inadequate ground of appreciation in him. So also those who do not appreciate God’s offer of life indicate that they do not have the capability of understanding or valuing what they are lacking. The Bible says, “The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).

It might help such a person to be told that the promise of eternal life is also the promise of being able to live life fully as an authentic human being. This is true, but it is also true that eternal life means more than this. It means coming alive, not only in a new but also in an eternal sense. It is what Jesus meant when he said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (In. 11:25-26).

[K]nowledge of God is important because … it also involves knowledge of ourselves. Our day is the day of the psychiatrist and psychologist. Men and women spend billions of dollars annually in an attempt to know themselves, to sort out their psyches. Certainly there is need for psychiatry, particularly Christian psychiatry. James Montgomery BoiceBut this alone is inadequate in the ultimate sense if it does not bring individuals into a knowledge of God against which their own worth and failures may be estimated.

On the one hand, knowledge of ourselves through the knowledge of God is humbling. We are not God nor are we like him. He is holy; we are unholy. He is good; we are not good. He is wise; we are foolish. He is strong; we are weak. He is loving and gracious; we are filled with hate and with selfish affectations. Therefore, to know God is to see ourselves as Isaiah did: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Is. 6:5). Or as Peter did: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk. 5:8). On the other hand, such knowledge of ourselves through the knowledge of God is also reassuring and satisfying. For in spite of what we have become we are still God’s creation and are loved by him. No higher dignity has been given to women and men than the dignity the Bible gives them. (“On Knowing God”)

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