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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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Reformation Day Is A Time For Christians To Celebrate!

Samuel at Gilgal

If you are not familiar with Reformation Day, it celebrates the day that the Reformation began in Europe with Martin Lutherposting his 95 theses on the Wittenburg church door to protest the selling of indulgences on October 31, 1517. Little did he realize how his 95 theses would be used by God to change the world. His desire was to see the Catholic Church reform in terms of God’s Word. His intention was to begin a

discussion with other teachers in the Catholic Church. Instead, Luther was used by God to begin a reformation of the church by returning to the foundation of Scripture alone. Scripture alone taught that salvation was not earned or sold by indulgences and grace was God’s alone to give.

Martin Luther is widely considered the father of the Protestant Reformation. As a monk, Luther struggled to find peace with God. He dedicated…

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God is not Surprised!

John StottJohn Stott:

We can never take God by surprise. We can never anticipate him. He always makes the first move. He is always there ‘in the beginning’. Before we existed, God took action. Before we decided to look for God, God had already been looking for us. The Bible isn’t about people trying to discover God, but about God reaching out to find us.

Many people imagine God sitting comfortably on a distant throne, remote, aloof, uninterested, a God who doesn’t really care for our needs and has to be badgered into taking action on our behalf. Such a view is completely wrong. The Bible reveals a God who, long before it even occurs to men and women to turn to him, while they are still lost in darkness and sunk in sin, takes the initiative, rises from his throne, lays aside his glory, and stoops to seek until he finds them. (Basic Christianity)

Providence is Creation Continued

NPG D29700; Joseph Caryl by Robert WhiteJoseph Caryl:

The Spirit of God creates every day: what is it that continueth things in their created being, but providence? That is a true axiom in divinity, Providence is creation continued. Now the Spirit of God who created at first, creates to this day: “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created.” The work of creation was finished in the first six days of the world, but the work of creation is renewed every day, and so continued to the end of the world. Successive providential creation as well as original creation is ascribed to the Spirit. “And thou renewest the face of the earth.” Thou makest a new world; and thus God makes a new world every year, sending forth his Spirit, or quickening power, in the rain and sun to renew the face of the earth. And as the Lord sends forth his power in providential mercies, so in providential judgments. (Mystery of Providence)

Even When Life Hurts

Jerry BridgesJerry Bridges:

Thousands of Christians have experienced…injustices at the hands of teachers, coaches, fellow workers, and supervisors at work. Perhaps you have, too. When these events occur, they always hurt. We cannot dismiss them with the glib expression, “God is in control.” God is in control, but in His control He allows us to experience pain. The pain is very real. We hurt, we suffer. But in the midst of our suffering we must believe that God is in control, that He is sovereign. (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

Facing Suffering in a New Way

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

We must think of suffering in a new way, we must face everything in a new way. And the way in which we face it all is by reminding ourselves that the Holy Spirit is in us. There is the future, there is the high calling, there is the persecution, there is the opposition, there is the enemy. I see it all. I must admit also that I am weak, that I lack the necessary powers and propensities. But instead of stopping there . . . I say, ‘But the Spirit of God is in me. God has given me his Holy Spirit.’ . . . What matters . . . is not what is true of us but what is true of Him. (I highly recommend – Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure)

Christ’s Mercy

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles Spurgeon:

Christ’s mercy is to be had for nothing, bribe or purchase is out of the question. I have heard of a woman whose child was in a fever and needed grapes; and there was a prince who lived near, in whose hothouse there were some of the rarest grapes that had ever been grown. She scraped together the little money she could earn, and went to the gardener and offered to buy a bunch of the royal fruit. Of course, he repulsed her, and said they were not to be sold. Did she imagine that the prince grew grapes to sell like a market gardener? And he sent her on her way, much grieved. She came again; she came several times, for a mother’s importunity is great; but no offer of hers would be accepted.

At last the princess heard of it and wished to see the woman; and when she came the princess said, “The prince does not sell the fruit of his garden:” but, snipping off a bunch of grapes and dropping them into a little bag, she said, “He is always ready to give it away to the poor.” Now, here is the rich cluster of gospel salvation from the true vine. My Lord will not sell it, but he is always ready to give it away to all who humbly ask for it and if you want it come and take it, and take it now by believing in Jesus. (recommended by Spurgeon – Christ’s Glorious Achievements: What Jesus Has Done for You)

That God May Grant Repentance

Chosen for LifeSam Storms:

If a person is to repent, he or she must be enabled by God to do so. He must be ‘granted’ repentance as a gift. Whether or not a person repents, says Paul, is ultimately up to God. It rests with him and his sovereign good pleasure to give or to withhold that which leads to ‘a knowledge of the truth.’ That God does not bestow this gift universally is self-evident. Were repentance something that God gives to all, Paul would hardly have said that ‘perhaps’ God may grant repentance. Clearly he envisions the real possibility that God may not so grant. (ref. 2 Timothy 2:24-26) (Chosen for Life, A Case for Divine Election)

To Enter Glory!

Works of Jonathan EdwardsJonathan Edwards:

It was come to this: either we must die eternally, or the Son of God must spill his blood; either we, or God’s own Son must suffer God’s wrath, one of the two; either miserable worms of the dust that had deserved it, or the glorious, amiable, beautiful, and innocent Son of God.

The fall of man brought it to this; it must be determined one way or t’other and it was determined, by the strangely free and boundless grace of God, that this his own Son should die that the offending worms might be freed, and set at liberty from their punishment, and that justice might make them happy. Here is grace indeed; well may we shout, “Grace, grace!” at this.

And beside, God did not do this for friends, but for enemies and haters of him. He did not do it for loyal subjects, but for rebels; he did not do it for those that were his children, but for the children of the devil; he did not do it for those that were excellent, but for those that were more hateful than toads or vipers; he did not do it for those that could be any way profitable or advantageous to him, but for those that were so weak, that instead of profiting God, they were not able in the least to help themselves.

God has given even fallen man such a gift, that He has left nothing for man to do that he may be happy, but only to receive what is given him. Though he has sinned, yet God requires no amends to be made by him; He requires of him no restoration; if they will receive His Son of Him, He requires neither money nor price; he is to do no penance in order to be forgiven. God offers to save him for nothing, only if he will receive salvation as it is offered; that is, freely through Christ, by faith in Him. (Works of Jonathan Edwards)

Wanting to be a Christian

The Five Dilemmas of CalvinismCraig R. Brown:

There has never been a person who wanted to be a Christian to whom God said no. The Reformed faith holds that when a person wants to be a Christian, God already has worked in his heart, and Scripture assures us that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion” (Phil 1:6). (The Five Dilemmas of Calvinism)

Communication and Reformed Christians

TOOK THE WORDS RIGHT OUT OF MY MOUTH!!!

Killing CalvinismGreg Dutcher:

Today, many Reformed Christians joyfully communicate the great doctrines of grace to a young, attention-challenged group (did you notice how short this book is?). And though it seems as unlikely as middle-schoolers starting Shakespeare study groups, the generation shaped by graphic novels and unlimited texting has risen up to embrace a high view of God, and this will inevitably shape the doctrinal future of contemporary evangelicalism. While I am a little older than most of my “Young, Restless, and Reformed” peers, I enthusiastically stand with them in this unique moment in church history. In doing so, I hope to offer a small contribution that may help us all not to kill off our Calvinism. (Killing Calvinism)

Controversial Teachings

The Pleasures of God Meditations on God's Delight in Being GodJohn Piper:

Can controversial teachings nurture Christ-likeness? Before you answer this question, ask another one: Are there any significant biblical teachings that have not been controversial? I cannot think of even one, let alone the number we all need for the daily nurture of faith. If this is true, then we have no choice but to seek our food in the markets of controversy. We need not stay there. We can go home and feast if the day has been well spent. But we must buy there. As much as we would like it, we do not have the luxury of living in a world where the most nourishing truths are unopposed. If we think we can suspend judgment on all that is controversial and feed our souls only on what is left, we are living in a dream world. There is nothing left. The reason any of us thinks that we can stand alone on truths that are noncontroversial is because we do not know our history or the diversity of the professing church. Besides that, would we really want to give to the devil the right to determine our spiritual menu by refusing to eat any teaching over which he can cause controversy? (The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God, Revised and Expanded Edition, p. 121-22)

The Preacher’s Garment of Salvation

John LelandJohn Leland (1754-1841), a Baptist preacher in Virginia and New England:

It is of primary importance that the preacher should be clothed with the garment of salvation; that he should be filled with a sense of the immense worth of the truth, the guilt, depravity and danger man is in; the unsearchable love of Christ in the bloody purchase, and his ability and willingness to save redeemed penitents. Without this robe, he will preach a distant Jesus, by an unfeeling gospel, and with an unhallowed tongue. (The Writings of Elder John Leland)

Predestination vs. Human Responsibilty

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles Spurgeon:

That God predestines, and yet that man is responsible, are two facts that few can see clearly. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find, in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other. (A Defense of Calvinism)

Martyn Lloyd Jones: Salt and Light

Martyn Lloyd-JonesMartyn Lloyd-Jones‘ sermon on Matthew 5:14:

The first thing our Lord said of us was, ‘Ye are the salt of the earth’; and it is only after this that He says, ‘Ye are the light of the world’. Why does He put it in that order instead of the reverse? . . . Scripture, in dealing with the Christian, always emphasizes first what he is, before it begins to speak of what he does. . . . Far too often we Christians tend to reverse the order. We have spoken in a very enlightened manner, but we have not always lived as the salt of the earth. Whether we like it or not, our lives should always be the first thing to speak; and if our lips speak more than our lives it will avail very little. So often the tragedy has been that people proclaim the gospel in words, but their whole life and demeanor has been a denial of it. The world does not pay much attention to them. Let us never forget this order deliberately chosen by our Lord: ‘the salt of the earth’ before ‘the light of the world’. We >are< something before we begin to >act< as something. The two things should always go together, but the order and sequence should be the one that He sets down here. (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount Volume 1 [Eerdmans, 1959-60], p. 164-65)

Bishop J.C. Ryle: Reading the Bible

Bishop J. C. Ryle

Bishop J.C. Ryle:

Let us thank God daily for giving us the Scriptures. The poorest Englishman who understands his Bible, knows more about religion than the wisest philosophers of Greece and Rome.

Let us remember our deep responsibility. We shall all be judged at the last day according to our light. To whomsoever much is given, of them much will be required.

Let us read our Bibles reverently and diligently, with an honest determination to believe and practice all we find in them. It is no light matter how we use this book. Eternal life or death depends on the spirit in which it is used.

Above all let us humbly pray for the teaching of the Holy Spirit. He alone can apply truth to our hearts, and make us profit by what we read. (Expository Thoughts on Matthew)

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