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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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Christ did not Die to make Good Works Possible

Passion of Jesus ChristJohn Piper:

“Christ did not die to make good works merely possible or to produce a half-hearted pursuit. He died to produce in us a passion for good deeds. Christian purity is not the mere avoidance of evil, but the pursuit of good.” (Passion of Jesus Christ)

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Spend Time Each Day Reading the Bible

BibleIt is a good thing to take part in a Bible study, but don’t forget to spend some time each day simply reading the Bible. Consider the time you spend driving to and from work or other activities. You could listen to a CD of someone reading the Bible. Every Christian should feel at home in the Bible. By reading and listening to the Bible regularly, you will become familiar with the Bible’s vocabulary, its characters, its promises, valuable lessons, and doctrinal truths. The more familiar you become with God’s Word, the more you are enabled to apply it to your life and the easier it becomes to discern false teaching.

To War against Sin is Hard Work

William GurnallThere are many who quickly profess Christianity, and just as quickly are persuaded to lay it down. To war against sin is hard work. There are few willing to take up the cross daily and cease indulging in their favorite sins. William Gurnall explains this problem:

The Christian is to proclaim and prosecute an irreconcilable war against his bosom sins; those sins, which have lain nearest his heart, must now be trampled under his feet. … Now what courage and resolution does this require? You think Abraham was tried to purpose, when called to take his ‘son, his son Isaac, his only son whom he loved,’ Gen. 22:2, and offer him up with his own hands, and no other; yet what was that to this? Soul, take thy lust, thy only lust, which is the child of thy dearest love, thy Isaac [most loved sin], the sin which has caused the most joy and laughter, from which thou hast promised thyself the greatest return of pleasure or profit; as ever thou lookest to see my face with comfort, lay hands on it and offer it up: pour out the blood of it before me; run the sacrificing knife of mortification into the very heart of it; and this freely, joyfully, for it is no pleasing sacrifice that is offered with a countenance cast down —and all this now, before thou hast one embrace more from it. Truly this is a hard chapter, flesh and blood cannot bear this saying; our lust will not lie so patiently on the altar, as Isaac, or as a ‘Lamb that is brought to the slaughter which was dumb,’ but will roar and shriek; yea, even shake and rend the heart with its hideous outcries.

Who is able to express the conflicts, the wrestlings, the convulsions of spirit the Christian feels, before he can bring his heart to this work? Or who can fully set forth the art, the rhetorical insinuations, with which such a lust will plead for itself? One while Satan will extenuate and mince the matter: It is but a little one, O spare it and thy soul shall live for all that. Another while he flatters the soul with the secrecy of it: Thou mayest keep me and thy credit also; I will not be seen abroad in thy company to shame thee among thy neighbors; shut me up in the most retired room thou hast in thy heart, from the hearing of others, if thou wilt only let me now and then have the wanton embraces of thy thoughts and affections in secret. If that cannot be granted, then Satan will seem only to desire execution may be stayed awhile, as Jephthah’s daughter of her father: ‘let me alone a month or two, and then do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth,’ Judges 11:36, 37, well knowing few such reprieved lusts but at last obtain their full pardon; yea, recover their favor with the soul. Now what resolution doth it require to break through such violence and importunity, and notwithstanding all this to do present execution? Here the valiant swordsmen of the world have showed themselves mere cowards, who have come out of the field with victorious banners, and then lived, yea, died slaves to a base lust at home. As one could say of a great Roman captain who, as he rode in his triumphant chariot through Rome, had his eye never off a courtesan that walked along the street: Behold, how this goodly captain, that had conquered such potent armies, is himself conquered by one silly woman. (The Whole Armour of God)

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