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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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Assured of Joy

Thomas WatsonThomas Watson:

To know that nothing hurts the godly, is a matter of comfort; but to be assured that all things which fall out shall co-operate for their good, that their crosses shall be turned into blessings, that showers of affliction water the withering root of their grace and make it flourish more; this may fill their hearts with joy till they run over.

The Infancy Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew

False GospelThis text attempts to fill in details of Jesus’ childhood. In ancient times this document was known as “The Book About the Origin of the Blessed Mary and the Childhood of the Savior”. It appears to be a collection of fragments or excerpts. It begins with what purports to be a letter from Jerome which attempts to validate the earlier apocryphal Infancy Gospels by claiming that this text was recently discovered and written by the Apostle Matthew in Hebrew. Scholars reject the authenticity of these opening letters.

Scholars have determined that the excerpts for this text were collected and assembled between the 8th and 9th centuries. It is based on two known pieces of fiction (the Infancy Gospel of James and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas) and is also very similar to the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy, another known fraudulent apocryphal document. Like other documents of this type, the Infancy Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew venerates Mary to an extraordinary level, borrowing from the Infancy Gospel of James to describe her childhood and dedication.

Pardon, Reconciliation and Salvation

Charles H. SpurgeonIf you think God owes you anything, it is time to rethink what you are calling Christianity. Pardon, reconciliation, and salvation are not part of a divine paycheck for benefits earned. Charles H. Spurgeon explains:

When we ask for pardon, reconciliation and salvation we must remember to whom we speak, and who we are who ask the favor. Some appear to deal with God as if he were bound to give them salvation; as if salvation indeed were the inevitable result of a round of performances, or the deserved reward of a certain amount of virtue. They refuse to see that salvation is a pure gift of God, not of works, not the result of merit, but of free favor only; not of man, neither by man, but of the Lord alone. Though the Lord has placed it on record in his Word, in the plainest language, that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Rom 9:16). Yet most men in their hearts imagine that everlasting life is tied to duties and earned by service. You must abandon such vainglorious notions; you must come before God as a humble petitioner, pleading the promises of mercy, abhorring all idea of merit, confessing that if the Lord condemns you he has a right to do it, and if he saves you, it will be an act of pure gratuitous mercy, a deed of sovereign grace. Oh, too many of you seekers hold your heads too high; to enter the lowly gate of light you must stoop. On the bended knee is the penitent’s true place – “God be merciful to me, a sinner,” is the penitent’s true prayer. If God should condemn you, you could never complain of injustice, for you have deserved it a thousand times; and if those prayers of yours were never answered, if no mercy ever came, you could not accuse the Lord, for you have no right to be heard. He could righteously withhold an answer of peace if he so willed.

Confess that you are an undeserving, ill-deserving, hell-deserving sinner and begin to pray as you have never prayed before. Cry out of the depths of self-abasement if you want to be heard. Come as a beggar, not as a creditor. Come to crave, not to demand. Use only this argument, “Lord, hear me, for you are gracious, and Jesus died; I cry to you as a condemned criminal who seeks pardon. Deliver me from going down into the pit, that I may praise your name.” (Advice for Seekers)

 

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