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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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Monks and Sin

Martin Luther Nailing His 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Door October 31, 1517Martin Luther:

When I was a monk, I didn’t accomplish anything through fasting and prayer. This is because neither I nor any of the other monks acknowledged our sin and lack of reverence for God. We didn’t understand original sin, and we didn’t realize that unbelief is also sin. We believed and taught that no matter what people do, they can never be certain of God’s kindness and mercy. As a result, the more I ran after and looked for Christ, the more he eluded me.

When I realized that it was only through God’s grace that I would be enlightened and receive eternal life, I worked diligently to understand what Paul said in Romans 1:17—a righteousness from God is revealed in the gospel. I searched for a long time and tried to understand it again and again. But the Latin words for “a righteousness from God” were in my way. God’s righteousness is usually defined as the characteristic by which he is sinless and condemns the sinner. All the teachers except Augustine interpreted God’s righteousness as God’s anger. So every time I read it, I wished that God had never revealed the gospel. Who could love a God who is angry and who judges and condemns us?

Finally, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I took a closer look at what the prophet Habakkuk said: “The righteous will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). From this, I concluded that life must come from faith. I therefore took the abstract to the concrete level, as we say in school. I related the concept of righteousness to a person becoming righteous. In other words, a person becomes righteous by faith. That opened the whole Bible—even heaven itself—to me!

Understanding the Bible

Theodore RooseveltTheodore “Teddy” Roosevelt:

“A thorough understanding of the Bible is better than a college education.”

 

The Counterfeit Christian

Counterfeit ChristianityThere is something wrong with preaching today because the counterfeit Christian is rarely challenged from the pulpit any more. Is there not something seriously wrong when we allow people to sit in our pews week after week without pointing to the matters of faith and holiness upon which they should examine the truth of their Christian walk? According to Al Martin:

Suppose I were to go to my local bank, to deposit two twenty-dollar bills. If the teller were to take them and say to me, ‘Just a minute, Mr. Martin, I think there might be a counterfeit here.’ If those bills are genuine, they stand to lose nothing by the close scrutiny which the bank teller gives them. In fact, they gain something. If he takes them to the back of the bank and places them under a magnifying glass, and examines them as to their genuineness, if they are genuine, I shall never be more confident of their genuineness than when they come back unscathed by close scrutiny. The only one that stands to lose anything is the counterfeit. This principle is true in searching applicatory preaching which sets forth the distinguishing marks of a true believer. The only one who stands to lose anything under a scriptural and balanced preaching of these things is the spurious believer. And he ought to be disturbed now while the day of salvation is still with us. If we err in making unscriptural distinctions, and unnecessarily trouble the godly, may the Lord open our eyes and bring us back from the error of our way! However, this is not the practical danger in our day. Rather, we are lulling people to sleep through our failure to set before them in a dose experimental way the marks of true faith as opposed to the faith of the demons. [See James 2:19].

Brethren, the Bible gives us many explicit statements which we may set before our people. Jesus said ‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.’ Let us not fear to tell our people that if they are not hearing and following Him they have no grounds to claim they are His sheep. Let us dare to tell them that though they may know all about the fact that our Lord has had His sheep upon His great heart from eternity in the covenant of redemption, though they may know all the facts of how He died for His sheep with a particular intent in His death, and how the Holy Spirit effectually calls them, the issue which we must press upon them is this: Are they hearing His voice? Are they following? We must not back off from pressing such issues. We must press the issues as set forth in the First Epistle of John, where the Apostle declares, ‘These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God that ye may know that ye have eternal life.’ [I John 5:13]. What things did John set before them? Did he give them a string of texts upon which to place their fingers for assurance? No. Rather, he gave them a series of tests, by which they were to examine their lives. He said, ‘Hereby we do know that we know Him if we keep His commandments.’ Again, ‘Hereby we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.’ The consciences of our hearers need to be wounded in order that they might ask the question, ‘Am I truly in the faith in the light of the objective standard of the Word of God?’ (“What is Wrong with Preaching Today?”)

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