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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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Dark Providences

Healthy Christian GrowthSinclair B. Ferguson:

Do I learn through dark providences, or simply seem relieved when they are over? (Healthy Christian Growth)

Criticizing Neo-Darwinism

THOMAS NAGELAtheist philosopher, Thomas Nagel, has dared to criticize neo-Darwinism in his new book Mind and Cosmos. Of course, the Darwinists have not taken his opinions very kindly. According to tothesource:

Fact one: Thomas Nagel is an atheist. As he’s made clear on many occasions, he wants to be an atheist. As he said, famously, in The Last Word, “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”

HOWEVER:

Fact two: Thomas Nagel is brave enough to have a clear and critical look at one of the great intellectual supports of modern atheism, the neo-Darwinian account of nature. He has found it “prima facie highly implausible that life as we know it is the result of a sequence of physical accidents together with the mechanism of natural selection.”

Continue reading this interesting article by Dr. Benjamin Wiker. . . .

Enoch walked with God

George WhitefieldWalking with God implies that a man is actually reconciled to God the Father. This is possible through the all-sufficient righteousness and atonement of Jesus Christ. Jesus is our peace as well as our peacemaker. George Whitefield writes:

“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24)

Various are the pleas and arguments which men of corrupt minds frequently urge against yielding obedience to the just and holy commands of God. But, perhaps, one of the most common objections that they make is this, that our Lord’s commands are not practicable, because contrary to flesh and blood; and consequently, that he is ‘a hard master, reaping where he has not sown, and gathering where he has not strewed’. These we find were the sentiments entertained by that wicked and slothful servant mentioned in the 25th of St. Matthew; and are undoubtedly the same with many which are maintained in the present wicked and adulterous generation. The Holy Ghost foreseeing this, hath taken care to inspire holy men of old, to record the examples of many holy men and women; who, even under the Old Testament dispensation, were enabled cheerfully to take Christ’s yoke upon them, and counted his service perfect freedom. The large catalog of saints, confessors, and martyrs, drawn up in the 11th chapter to the Hebrews, abundantly evidences the truth of this observation. What a great cloud of witnesses have we there presented to our view? All eminent for their faith, but some shining with a greater degree of luster than do others. The proto-martyr Abel leads the van. And next to him, we find Enoch mentioned, not only because he was next in order of time, but also on account of his exalted piety; he is spoken of in the words of the text in a very extraordinary manner. We have here a short but very full and glorious account, both of his behavior in this world, and the triumphant manner of his entry into the next. The former is contained in these words, ‘And Enoch walked with God’. The latter in these, ‘and he was not: for God took him’. He was not; that is, he was not found, he was not taken away in the common manner, he did not see death; for God had translated him. (Heb. 11:5.) Who this Enoch was, does not appear so plainly. To me, he seems to have been a person of public character; I suppose, like Noah, a preacher of righteousness. … But whether a public or private person, he has a noble testimony given him in the lively oracles. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews saith, that before his translation he had this testimony, ‘that he pleased God’; and his being translated, was a proof of it beyond all doubt. … ‘And Enoch walked with God.’ If so much as this can be truly said of you and me after our decease, we shall not have any reason to complain that we have lived in vain. (“Walking with God”)

The Process of Developing Godly Character

Godly CharacterBetter is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways. (Proverbs 28:6 ESV)

According to James L. Christensen, “The purpose of Christianity is not to avoid difficulty, but to produce a character adequate to meet it when it comes. It does not make life easy; rather it tries to make us great enough for life.” In addition to the work of the Holy Spirit, I think the development of godly character is closely tied to reading God’s Word in order to know God’s Will. The righteous man knows that, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness …” (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV)

Proverbs 11:3 tells us that, “The integrity of the upright guides them …” Character is the result of a mature moral compass that guides how we think and act. Concern for the integrity of that compass is an important attribute of character. The psalmist expresses this when he prays, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (139:23-24)

Our God is not impressed by our going through the motions of righteousness. He has unlimited insight into the real quality of our character. Who has not been disappointed with someone when it is discovered that he has real issues with integrity? Think how disappointed God must be when we fail to live with Christ-like character. Most of us fail to understand that God does not rush in to change our conditions when there is a much more serious problem – our character. We may struggle with the problems of this world, but God is preparing us for the world to come.

God will bring us through difficult circumstances, but it is often by walking through the fire of troublesome situations that we develop godly character. Character lessons are often best learned through experience. Our trust and confidence that God will bring us through hard times will deepen our relationship with Him. Paul writes, “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope …” (Romans 5:3-4 ESV)

In summary, a Christian character is living with Christ-like behavior. Our Christian character is to be the catalyst from which all our actions come. In facing life’s problems, a Biblical character is the proof that we have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Consider this: Are you a window through which other people can see Christ? You must pray for this to be a consistent quality in your life.

Samuel at Gilgal

Loving the Cross

Jesus on the CrossJohn Piper:

“Do you love the cross because it makes much of you? Or do you love it because it enables you to enjoy an eternity of making much of God?”

Look to the Bible for Moral Guidance and for Wisdom

Dennis PragerRadio talk show host Dennis Prager:

“I first look to the Bible for moral guidance and for wisdom. I say this even though I am not a Christian (I am a Jew, and a non-Orthodox one at that). And I say this even though I attended an Ivy League graduate school (Columbia), where I learned nothing about the Bible there except that it was irrelevant, outdated and frequently immoral. I say this because there is nothing — not any religious or secular body of work — that comes close to the Bible in forming the moral bases of Western Civilization and therefore of nearly all moral progress in the world. … If not from the Bible, from where should people get their values and morals? The university? The New York Times editorial page? … The universities and their media supporters have taught a generation of Americans the idiocy that men and women are basically the same. And they are the institutions that teach that America’s founders were essentially moral reprobates — sexist and racist rich white men.”

Continue reading here. . . .

The Manner of the Message

Dan Jones Preaching in WalesThe manner in which the Word of God is preached will certainly make the hearers aware of its importance to the preacher. Al Martin writes:

I wish to apply myself very briefly to the area of the manner of the message:

URGENCY

Genuine urgency is the mother of true eloquence. A man seeking to arouse people from their sleep because of the imminent danger of fire will find little success in his mission if he simply ambles up and down the hallways of the burning dwelling mouthing with correct English pronunciation some words regarding the imminent danger. However, let a man be convinced that those lives are truly in danger, and that their deliverance hinges on his ability to stir them into immediate action, and such a man will not fail to rouse people from their sleep and cause them to take the necessary action for their safety. The urgency of such a man is not primarily born of adeptness in the arts of elocution, but it breaks forth out of the womb of genuine concern and urgency. Urgency in some, because of personality, temperament, or because of built-in microphones, may express itself in volume. In others, it may be expressed in other ways in which urgency finds her own overtones.

Urgency will cause us to labor in the area of securing and maintaining vital audience contact in the context of preaching. If we have come into the pulpit not simply to deliver an oration but to communicate urgent truth to needy men and women, we shall not rest unless we have their attention. … God alone can get the truth into the heart, but you must give yourself to gaining their ears.

Holy Spirit-wrought urgency will also drive us to work cultivating the art of communicating to men in a popular vocabulary. When we use a given word in the context of preaching and receive that ‘long ago and far away’ look, we should immediately sense that the word we have used has not registered. If we are sensitive to this, we will then use a different word. . . .

Also, this matter of urgency will drive us to work at applicatory preaching. Perhaps the most difficult part of a regular pulpit ministry is the work of application. But just as a competent physician who longs for the health of those committed to his care will not be content unless he knows the specific maladies of his people and is able to apply specific remedies, so the true servant of God … will labor to know the specific expressions of sinful need and then to apply the specific remedies set forth in the fullness of our Lord Jesus Christ. (“What is Wrong with Preaching Today?”)

Christians are Called to be a Holy People

The Pursuit of HolinessStrive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14 ESV)

About three years after I became a Christian, I read a book titled The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. It had a profound impact on my understanding of the Scriptures and the Christian life. Bridges book helps us to understand God’s supply for our personal holiness while emphasizing our responsibility. I believe this understanding is truly needed among Christians today.

Christians are called to be a holy people. Holiness is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Holiness is being transformed into a new creature through faith in Jesus Christ. Holiness is also the fruit of the Spirit being expressed in our lives. Holiness is expressed by us to God when we love Him more than all else. Holiness is expressed by our obedience and delight in God’s Glory.

We demonstrate holiness in our lives by conforming to the example of Christ in the Scriptures. Others must see our good works to know the holiness of our walk in Christ. Holiness is the hatred of sin and endeavoring to eradicate it from our lives. Holiness is self-control. We must consistently think Godly thoughts as we conform our minds to the mind of Christ. We must be heavenly minded if we are to be of any earthly good to our Savior.

We must remind ourselves; however, that holiness is a process and will never be completely attained in this life. Christians do sin. However, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to help us pick ourselves up and continue moving toward the prize of His high calling. We are to repent of our failures and hold on to the strong Anchor of our hope. We must pray for the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us in our pursuit of holiness. We must pray for God to bless us in this endeavor. Let us also pray that our lives would honor God for His great work in our salvation.

BTW. If you have not read The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges, I highly recommend you do so.

Samuel at Gilgal

The Death of the Godly and Ungodly

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles Spurgeon:

There is an essential difference between the decease of the godly and the death of the ungodly. Death comes to the ungodly man as a penal infliction, but to the righteous as a summons to his Father’s palace. To the sinner it is an execution, to the saint an undressing from his sins and infirmities. Death to the wicked is the King of terrors. Death to the saint is the end of terrors, the commencement of glory.

Talk of Faith

Anthony Farindon Sermons(English Preacher) Anthony Farindon:

“Talk what we will of faith, if we do not trust and rely upon Him, we do not believe in Him.”

Prayer and the Work of Faith

William GuthrieThe grace of faith in prayer apprehends things beyond the reach of human reason, and brings them home to the believer. According to William Guthrie:

Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24 ESV)

The work of faith in prayer is to turn over all the suits that the supplicant puts up into the hand of Christ the Mediator, that for His sake, intercession, and mediation they may be accepted of God, and answered in things according to His will; which implies a disclaiming of any works or merit in the person’s self that is praying. Says Daniel: “Cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord s sake.” Not for my sake, nor the people’s sake, nor for anything that we can do, but for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake. He puts all the suits upon Christ’s account, that in His name they may come before the Father and be accepted. . . .

Faith says to the soul, “Carry in subordination unto God; let not your words be rash, nor your thoughts and conceptions of Him unsuitable.” Faith made Abraham say, “I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes.” It is an excellent work of faith, to make us to ascribe to Him that which is due to Him – glory, honor, and dominion forever, and to take shame and confusion of face unto ourselves.

Faith’s work in prayer is to furnish the supplicant with subject matter of prayer, viz., to gather the promises that are here and there in the Bible. And then it not only furnishes matter, but it furnishes a mouth to speak unto God; it opens the mouth to speak unto God that which the soul hath gathered. Nay, it furnishes feet to go unto God with the matter gathered. Nor does faith only furnish matter, and a mouth to speak it, and feet to go to God with it, but it is as wings unto the soul, whereby it flies as it were with wings unto heaven with the petition that it hath to put up to Him for itself, or for His work, or for His Zion. Oh, hut this is an excellent work of faith! It makes them that wait upon the Lord “mount up as on eagles’ wings; and walk, and not be weary; and run, and not be faint.”

There are no Contingencies with God

Trusting GodJerry Bridges:

From our limited vantage point, our lives are marked by an endless series of contingencies. We frequently find ourselves, instead of acting as we planned, reacting to an unexpected turn of events. We make plans but are often forced to change those plans. But there are no contingencies with God. Our unexpected, forced change of plans is a part of His plan. God is never surprised; never caught off guard; never frustrated by unexpected developments. God does as He pleases, and that which pleases Him is always for His glory and our good. (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

The Bible is Alive

Martin LutherMartin Luther:

“The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.”

Zeal According to God’s Mind

Bishop J. C. RyleAre you mindful of personal holiness? J. C. Ryle teaches that that if we are to understand zeal, we must see it according to God’s mind:

“It is always good to be zealous in a good cause.” (Galatians 4:18)

[I]f zeal be true, it will be a zeal about things according to God’s mind, and sanctioned by plain examples in God’s Word. Take, for one instance, that highest and best kind of zeal—I mean zeal for our own growth in personal holiness. Such zeal will make a man feel incessantly that sin is the mightiest of all evils, and conformity to Christ the greatest of all blessings. It will make him feel that there is nothing which ought not to be done, in order to keep up a close walk with God. It will make him willing to cut off the right hand, or pluck out the right eye, or make any sacrifice if only he can attain a closer communion with Jesus. Is not this just what you see in the Apostle Paul? He says, “I keep under my body and bring it into subjection — lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” “I count not myself to have apprehended—but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark.” (1 Cor. 9:27; Phil. 3:13, 14.)

Take, for another instance, zeal for the salvation of souls. Such zeal will make a man burn with desire to enlighten the darkness which covers the souls of multitudes, and to bring every man, woman, and child he sees to the knowledge of the Gospel. Is not this what you see in the Lord Jesus? It is said that He neither gave Himself, nor His disciples, leisure so much as to eat. (Mark 6:31.) Is not this what you see in the Apostle Paul? He says, “I am made all things to all men that I might by all means save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22.)

Take, for another instance, zeal against evil practices. Such zeal will make a man hate everything which God hates, and long to sweep it from the face of the earth. It will make him jealous of God’s honor and glory, and look on everything which robs Him of it as an offence. Is not this what you see in Phineas, the son of Eleazar? or in Hezekiah and Josiah, when they put down idolatry?

Take, for another instance, zeal for maintaining the doctrines of the Gospel. Such zeal will make a man hate unscriptural teaching, just as he hates sin. It will make him regard religious error as a pestilence which must be checked, whatever may be the cost. It will make him scrupulously careful about every jot and tittle of the counsel of God, lest by some omission the whole Gospel should be spoiled. Is not this what you see in Paul at Antioch, when he withstood Peter to the face, and said he was to be blamed? (Gal. 2:11.) These are the kind of things about which true zeal is employed. Such zeal, let us understand, is honorable before God.

Majoring on the Minor

Sinclair B. FergusonSinclair B. Ferguson:

We tend to be a generation of Christians who major on minor matters but do not seem to possess the true measure of the gospel in the knowledge of God. We do not really know God. At best, we know about Him. (Grow in Grace)

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