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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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In the Matter of Worship

Jeremiah BurroughsJeremiah Burroughs:

“In the matter of worship, God stands upon little things. Some things may seem to be very small and little to us, yet God stands much upon them in the matter of worship; for there is nothing wherein the prerogative of God more appears than in worship. Princes stand much upon their prerogatives. Now God has written the law of natural worship in our hearts. But there are other things in the worship of God that are not written in our hearts, that only depend upon the will of God revealed in His Word, which would not be duties except that are revealed in His Word. And these are of such a nature that we can see no reason for them except God would have them so. For example, there are many kinds of ceremonies to manifest the honor to princes that have no reason at all merely because it is a civil institution so appointed. So God would have some ways of honoring Himself that the creature may not see a reason for but merely that it is the will of God to have them so.” (Gospel Worship, p.13)

The Absent Father

Absent FathersAs Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation has shown, the best anti-poverty program is marriage:

When a child’s father is married to his mother, the probability of the child’s living in poverty drops by 82 percent.

Absent fathers don’t just harm their children economically. A father’s influence on children is documented and widely accepted. Adolescents without dads in their lives tend to exhibit more anti-social behavior. To be blunt, they get into trouble. Social science indicates that fathers play a different and complementary role to mothers in raising children, particularly sons. . . .

If American culture doesn’t honor the role of fathers, young people won’t understand the importance of young men growing up in responsibility – and young women won’t understand what to look for in a mate. Rather than honoring fatherhood, though, too often our society minimizes the importance of fathers in the home. So much so that a live-in dad is seen, at best, as optional.

Continue reading this article by Derrick Morgan. . . .

The Necessity and Nature of Repentance

PreachingAn area in which Reformed churches are weak is the failure to explain the necessity and nature of repentance. The duty, nature, and fruits of repentance must be clearly preached to our congregations. According to Al Martin:

[M]uch contemporary preaching is defective in that it lacks solid doctrinal substance. We have suffered from a mentality that has regarded doctrine and theology as some form of a medieval hobgoblin! The fact of the matter is that truth is beautiful in its unity and symmetry. Doctrinal preaching is that preaching which is always disciplined by the framework of the whole counsel of God. It refuses imbalance and lopsidedness, and seeks to set every individual facet of truth into the context of the whole spectrum of divine truth. These first two factors must be fused together in an ever-increasing measure in the life of the true servant of Christ. Doctrinal preaching which is not exegetically founded and textually oriented, will lead to a philosophical orthodoxy. On the other hand, dealing with texts and the exegesis of those texts without showing the inter-relationship of truth, will lead to a disjointed and fragmented concept of divine truth.

[Another] area, in which the substance of contemporary preaching is marked by glaring weakness, is in the matter of practical application. In many ministries, there may be solid biblical content, a great measure of doctrinal substance, but very little practical application in which men are made to see the implications of the content and doctrine, so that they may know how to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. In regard to this general principle, I would like to suggest … areas in which Reformed circles are weak. What I now say applies to those of us who hold, without embarrassment, to that system of doctrine set forth in the great creeds that came out of the Reformation.

[O]ur preaching is weak because of its failure to spell out the necessity and nature of evangelical repentance. In Repentanceour overreaction against a form of ‘works-salvation’ and in our reaction against Arminian activism, I think that some of us have fallen into the philosophical habit of thinking, ‘How can I preach man’s responsibility to repent when I know he has no ability to do this?’ Apparently, this problem did not bother the Apostle Paul. No one spoke more dearly than he of man’s utter inability to do anything spiritually good apart from the direct sovereign work of God. Yet he spoke most dearly of man’s responsibility to repent. … I have had the very unhappy experience of preaching in churches that include the doctrine of repentance in their official creed, in their confessions and in their catechisms, but where it was obviously not a doctrine preached and believed in by the rank and file of the members of those churches. Often, at the conclusion of a series of sermons on the subject of repentance, I have had people come to me expressing great amazement, and saying that they had never heard such things, even though they had spent a number of years within the framework of a good, solid Reformed church. Now, it is not that they did not hear the word ‘repentance’. They had heard it, but because the duty, the nature, and fruits of that repentance were not clearly spelled out, they were not sufficiently convinced of its nature and necessity. All who listen to us preach for any measure of time should come to the conclusion after sitting under our ministries, that unless they repent and bring forth the fruits of repentance, they will perish even though their heads may be packed full of objective and correct orthodoxy. One of the dear marks of the ministries of the men whom God has used in past days is that they all, without exception, spelled out the necessity, the nature, and the fruits of evangelical repentance. (“What is Wrong with Preaching Today?”)

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