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    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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We are to Grow in Grace

Sinclair B. FergusonSinclair B. Ferguson:

We must never forget – if we are to grow in grace, and therefore grow like Christ – that the One we trust, love, and serve is a crucified Savior. To follow Him means taking up the cross, as well as denying ourselves. It means a crucified life. (Grow in Grace)

Grace is not a ‘thing’. It is not a substance that can be measured or a commodity to be distributed. It is the ‘grace of the Lord Jesus Christ’. In essence, it is Jesus Himself.

The Tower of Babel

Tower of BabelThen they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth. (Genesis 11:4-9 ESV)

Ziggurats are high brick towers with shrines on the top. Many of these have been found near Babylon. However, one clay tablet in the area has an inscription that speaks of a temple that so offended the Gods that it was destroyed in one night, and the people scattered with Sir Austen Henry Layardtheir speech made strange… Fragments of an Assyrian tablet were discovered at Nineveh by Austen Henry Layard during the middle of the 18th century that closely parallel the Biblical account. The artifacts now reside in the British Museum (registration number K.3657) and reads as follows:

“His heart was evil against the father of all the gods . . . Babylon was brought into subjection, small and great alike. He confounded their speech … their strong palace (tower) all the days they built – to their strong place in the night He completely made an end … In His anger, His word was poured out … to scatter abroad. He set His face, He gave this command, and their counsel was confused. He saw them and the earth. . . of stopping not . . . Bitterly they wept at Babi(l) very much they grieved . . at their misfortune. . . .”

5 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF SAMUEL AT GILGAL!

Samuel at GilgalToday is the five year anniversary of Samuel at Gilgal‘s association with WordPress.com. During this time we have published over 5,000 posts. Samuel at Gilgal is viewed in 67 countries around the world, including Vatican City.

The purpose of Samuel at Gilgal is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and encourage Christian discipleship by introducing you to many of the sermons and writings of outstanding preachers and Christian authors. Occasionally, I will contribute my own thoughts on various topics. Like Abraham Kuyper, I desire that “God’s holy ordinances” guide our worldview in the home, in educational institutions, and the governing of our country. I hope you will continue to follow Samuel at Gilgal and invite your friends to do so as well.

Election Must be Taken into Account!

Augustus M. TopladyElection must be taken into account, or else we believe that God saves no one, or that those he saves are randomly selected like a lottery winner without design or purpose. God’s goodness and mercy forbids the first; while His wisdom and providential care excludes the latter. According to Augustus Montague Toplady:

Our modern inverters of Christianity, the Arminians, by endeavoring to found election upon human qualifications, resemble an insane architect who, in attempting to raise an edifice, should make tiles and laths the foundation, and reserve his bricks and stones for the roof. … [I]f sanctification be God’s gift, men’s goodness could not possibly be a motive to their election: unless we can digest this enormous absurdity, viz. that God’s gifts may be conditional and meritorious one of another. Do you imagine that God could foresee any holiness in men which himself did not decree to give them? You cannot suppose it, without believing at the same time that God is not the author of all good; and that there are, or may be, some good and perfect gifts which do not descend from the Father of lights; and that the apostle was widely mistaken when he laid down this axiom, that it is God who, of his own good pleasure, worketh in us both to will and to do.

According to our Church, God’s election leads the van; sanctification forms the centre; and glory brings up the rear:

“Wherefore, they that be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called, according to God’s purpose, by his Spirit working in due season: they, through grace, obey the calling; they be justified freely; they be made the sons of God by adoption.” (Article xvii)

Hitherto good works are not so much as mentioned. Why so? Because our reformers were Antinomians, and exploded or despised moral performances? – by no means. Those holy persons were, themselves, living confutations of so vile a suggestion. The tenor of their Augustus Topladylives was as blameless as their doctrine. But they had learned to distinguish ideas, and were too judicious, both as logicians and divines, to represent effects as prior to the causes that produce them. They were not ashamed to betake themselves to the Scriptures for information, and to deliver out the living water of sound doctrine, pure and unmingled, as they had drawn it from the fountains of truth. Hence, election, calling, justification, and adoption, are set forth, not as caused by, but as the real and leading causes of, that moral change which, sooner or later, takes place in the children of God. (“A Caveat against Unsound Doctrines”)

Suffering in the Path of Christian Obedience

Tested by FireJohn Piper:

“Suffering in the path of Christian obedience, with joy – because the steadfast love of the Lord is better than life (Psalm 63:3) – is the clearest display of the worth of God in our lives. Therefore, faith-filled suffering is essential in this world for the most intense, authentic worship. When we are most satisfied with God in suffering, he will be most glorified in us in worship. Our problem is not styles of music. Our problem is styles of life. When we embrace more affliction for the worth of Christ, there will be more fruit in the worship of Christ.” (Tested by Fire)

 

The Bible

Codex VaticanusThe Bible was originally written in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek.

The oldest almost-complete manuscript of the Bible still existing is the Codex Vaticanus, dating from the first half of the 4th century, now held in the Vatican library.

 

A Christian Prayer

humble-prayerAlmighty God,

I pray today that You would incline my attention to Your Word and not to money or fame or power (Psalm 119:36). Please open my eyes to see wonderful things when I read Your Word (Psalm 119:18).

I also pray Lord that my heart would be united in the fear of God and not fragmented over a dozen concerns (Psalm 86:11) and that You will help me to be satisfied in Your steadfast love (Psalm 90:14).

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen

Conviction

The Pursuit of HolinessJerry Bridges:

This is the way we develop conviction – by bringing God’s Word to bear on specific situations that arise in our lives and determining God’s will in that situation from the Word.

We must have conviction that it is God’s will that we seek holiness – regardless of how arduous and painful the seeking may be. And we must be confident that the pursuit of holiness results in God’s approval and blessing, even when circumstances make it appear otherwise. (The Pursuit of Holiness, pp. 87 and 142)

Joshua’s Conquests

Amarna Tablet

The Kings of Palestine and Syria wrote the Amarna Tablets to the kings of Egypt. The letters discussed the conquering and military success of Joshua.

Samuel Adams: Christian and Political Visionary

Samuel AdamsSamuel Adams was born on September 27, 1722 in Boston, Massachusetts. Adams’ parents were both Puritans, but Adams himself became a strict Congregationalist. He was the son of a deacon and married the daughter of a minister.

Samuel Adams believed, when discussing the rights of the colonists, that freedom and liberty cannot be given or taken away by government – it is the gift of God. Adams often used many biblical arguments to justify American independence. He never lost sight of the revolution’s political and religious goals.

His understanding of the Bible and his strong faith in God encouraged Adams to work for three goals: achieving American independence, protecting the constitutional liberties of the American people, and – most importantly – building a society of upright people.

Samuel Adams believed that:

“A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.” (Samuel Adams in a letter to James Warren dated February 12, 1779)

Adams envisioned a country where the clergy, philosophers, political leaders, and patriots worked together to impress upon the minds of youth the fear and love of God. He desired that the people would be led “in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system.” (Samuel Adams October 4, 1790)

Adams wrote:

“Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of [exceptional] character. The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.” (The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, ed., volume III, pp. 236-37, written to James Warren on Nov. 4, 1775)

Concerning his private life, there is no reasonable doubt that Samuel Adams was a Christian. The piety of his personal life confirmed his love for Jesus Christ. He regularly attended church and he led his family in morning and evening devotions. Not long before his death, he wrote a letter to Thomas Paine disapproving Paine’s attempts to discredit Christianity. He died on October 2, 1803 believing in Jesus Christ as his savior.

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The Truth of the Resurrection

John MacArthurJohn MacArthur:

The truth of the resurrection gives life to every other area of gospel truth. The resurrection is the pivot on which all of Christianity turns and without which none of the other truths would much matter. Without the resurrection, Christianity would be so much wishful thinking, taking its place alongside all other human philosophy and religious speculation.

The Pelagian Heresy

PelagiusPelagianism teaches that man’s free will is unimpaired. There is no influence that shackles or dominates man’s choice between good and evil. Man has all the power he ever had, or needs to have, to will and to do what is spiritually good. This teaching is contrary to the concept of Adam’s fall being the cause of man’s being born a sinner. Pelagianism argues that the consequences of Adam’s sins were restricted to him and were not transmitted to his posterity. Pelagianism argues that man enters the world with as pure a nature as Adam had possessed in innocence. This belief requires turning the Gospels into a remedial scheme rather than a plan to recover man from original sin by grace. This is in direct contrast to Paul and Augustine’s teaching that humanity was completely helpless in Adam’s sin and in desperate need of grace. Augustine did not deny that man had a will and that he could make choices. He simply recognized that man did not have a free will in moral issues related to God. Augustine recognized that the Scriptures taught that the effects of original sin were passed to the children of Adam and Eve and therefore, mankind’s nature was corrupted. Man could choose what he desired, but those desires are influenced by his sinful nature and thus, he sins.

Pelagianism

Pelagius, a British monk, is considered to be the father of this heresy. It was condemned by more church councils than any other heresy in history. Pelagianism may have been condemned, but it was certainly the most popular and widespread tendency among the masses. This is no surprise, since thinking highly of ourselves and the possibilities for personal self-improvement are part of our sinful condition. We are all Pelagians by nature. Pelagianism is a gospel of works.

The Bible teaches:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. . .” (Romans 3:23 ESV)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8 ESV)

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (Romans 6:6 ESV)

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None Perish Who Believe in Christ

John GillNone perish who believe in Christ. He is the living Way and all who are in this Way live. None in His Way die. The Way is straight and narrow, but surely leads to eternal life. John Gill writes:

Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein; and ye shall find rest for your souls. (Jeremiah 6:16)

Christ is the way of salvation, which the gospel, and the ministers of it, point out to men; and he is the only way of salvation, there is salvation in him, and in no other; this is what the whole Bible centers in; this is the sum and substance of it; this is the faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation. That Christ came into the world to save the chief of sinners. He is the way of access to the Father, nor can any come to God but by him; he is the mediator between God and man, and through him there is access with confidence by the faith of him. He is the way of acceptance with God: we have nothing to render us acceptable unto God; we are black in ourselves with original and actual sin, and are only comely in Christ; our acceptance is in the beloved. God is well pleased with him, and with all that are considered in him; their persons and their sacrifices are acceptable to God through him. He is the way of conveyance of all grace, and the blessings of it to us. All was given originally to him, and to us in him; and from him, and through him we receive it, even out of his fullness, grace for grace; all spiritual blessings are with him, and come to us from him; all grace passes through his hands; the first we have, and all the after-supplies of it; yea, the gift of God, eternal life, is through Jesus Christ our Lord And he is the way to heaven and eternal happiness; he has entered into it with his own blood already, and has opened a way by it for his people, into the holiest of all; he is gone beforehand as their forerunner, and has taken possession of heaven for them; he is now preparing a place for them there, and will come again and take them to himself, and introduce them into his kingdom and glory. . . . (“The Scriptures: The Only Guide in Matters of Faith”)

Speak the Truth

R. C. SproulR.C. Sproul:

If you are of the truth, if you have learned the truth, if you see the sanctity of the truth, then speak truth. We are not called to be deceivers or liars. God is a God of truth, and His people are called to have an enormously high standard of truth.

In the Face of Modern Nihilism

Francis SchaefferFrancis Schaeffer:

In the face of this modern nihilism, Christians are often lacking in courage. We tend to give the impression that we will hold on to the outward forms whatever happens, even if god really is not there. But the opposite ought to be true of us, so that people can see that we demand the truth of what is there and that we are not dealing merely with platitudes. In other words, it should be understood that we take the question of truth and personality so seriously that if God were not there we would be among the first of those who had the courage to step out of the queue.

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