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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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Respecting God’s Judgment

R.C. SproulR.C. Sproul:

One of the most poignant episodes of the judgment of God occurred in the Old Testament case of Eli. Eli was a judge and priest over Israel. He was, for the most part, a godly man. But his sons were wicked and profaned the house of God. Eli rebuked them but did not fully restrain them. God revealed to Samuel that He would judge the house of Eli:

“Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.” (1 Sam. 3:11-13)

When Eli persisted in asking Samuel what God had said, Samuel finally told him. When Eli heard the words, he said: “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him” (v. 18).

What seemed good to God was to punish the house of Eli. Eli recognized the Word of God when he heard it because he understood the character of Him whose word it was. A God before whom we need to have no fear is not God but an idol made by our own hands.

Eli said: “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him.” Can you make this affirmation from the depths of your heart in difficult times as well as good times?

The mission, passion and purpose of Ligonier Ministries and Dr. R.C. Sproul is to help people grow in their knowledge of God and His holiness. For more information, please visit www.ligonier.org or call them at 800-435-4343.
© R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved.

Study of the Old Testament is Profitable

Old TestamentI am often frustrated with myself for not spending as much time studying the Old Testament as I believe I should. After having read the Old Testament through several times, I still find that most of the time I spend there is in Psalm and Proverbs. When looking at the books of the Old Testament for study, it is good to remember the words of Paul:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV)

The Apostle was speaking of the Old Testament scriptures when he spoke of “profitable for teaching” in the above verses. The Old Testament, Paul said, was “breathed out by God” and would make the man of God “complete, equipped for every good work.” Contrary to some contemporary Christian fads that tend to ignore it – the Old Testament will “make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” The Old Testament (OT) is a very valuable sacred writing authored by God the Holy Spirit to help us know Jesus Christ and live righteously.

The OT provides us with important knowledge of the nature of sin and the fall of man. There we find the ongoing revelation of God’s covenant of redemption and the Messianic prophecies. The OT helps us to understand the New Testament.

“Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11 ESV) Paul discussed in the previous verses the fall of Israel in the wilderness. He notes that although these things happened to Israel, “they were written down for our instruction”. Consider – the OT was written for our instruction. Do you complain when your pastor preaches from the OT? When was the last time you read the OT? “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching. . . .” (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV) The Scriptures are not simply the words or thoughts of mere men, they are from God who guided men by His Spirit. The Scriptures are profitable. You must know the truth to be convinced of error, and to do what is right. It is wise to be concerned about your salvation. Look at these verses and let them inspire you to study the Word of God which is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:15-17 ESV)

The source for the following story escapes me, but I think it brings us to an appropriate conclusion of this article: There was a prophet of God who told his disciples that if they studied the Scriptures, the words would be written on their hearts. One day, a disciple asked, “Why on our hearts, and not in them?” The prophet thoughtfully replied, “Only God can put Scripture inside. But the careful study and reading of God’s Word can put it on your heart, and then when your heart breaks, the Holy Words will fall inside.”

Samuel at Gilgal

Self-Righteousness

The Discipline of GraceJerry Bridges:

The problem with self-righteousness is that it seems almost impossible to recognize in ourselves. We will own up to almost any other sin, but not the sin of self-righteousness. When we have this attitude, though, we deprive ourselves of the joy of living in the grace of God. Because, you see, grace is only for sinners.

After love and humility, there are at least twenty-five more Christian virtues to put on, among which there is surely a lot of room for all of us to grow. Yet to the extent that we miss the mark in those positive Christian character traits, we are sinners in need of God’s grace. . . .

While not surprised by the primacy of love in New Testament teaching, I was surprised by the almost forty references to humility. either in the use of the word itself or in concept, and the obvious importance both Jesus and the apostles put on that virtue. Yet how little attention do most of us give to growing in humility. The opposite trait of humility, of course, is pride, and there is no pride like that of self-righteousness, feeling good about our own religious performance and looking down on others’. (The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness)

The Egocentric Church

Wolf in Sheep's ClothingFor the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

The influence of the modern egocentric church may be found in the popular fad of minimizing preaching to pursue highly sensual worship experiences with God. The egocentric church does not find the study of Scriptures emotionally appealing. Such church-attenders may believe all the Bible says about Jesus is true without reading it for themselves. They ask, “What would Jesus do?” and they answer “Jesus would do what I feel is right.” They think that the Bible says what they believe it should say and act as if it were true. They refuse to be confused by the facts.

A primary principle of the Protestant Reformation was Sola Scriptura; Scripture alone is the final authority. Reformation Christianity maintains that the only infallible guide to the knowledge of God is in the inspired, written Word. The Christian life always begins with the Scriptures. The Bible is the authority and final standard with regard to the knowledge of God and living the Christian life. Reformation doctrine tells us not to trust our hearts but to look into the Word of God.

Justification by the grace of God alone through faith alone in Christ alone is a prerequisite for knowing God and having fellowship with Him. Scripture is clear that communion with God does not come by men’s imaginative attempts to ascend to God, or by a “tingle” running up and down your spine – but by hearing and believing the Word of God. Egocentric theology seeks the good feelings of the moment, not the deep abiding presence of Jesus Christ.

Unlike the Christianity of the Reformers and the Puritans, egocentric theology is the product of a narcissistic, secular culture dominated by consumerism. The self-centered church glorifies man not God. Biblical Christianity requires a paradigm shift in the minds of Christians. It takes men’s eyes off of the mirror and the riches of this world in order that they may see God as the greatest of all treasures. How sad it is to see true worship devolve into “make me feel good about myself” meetings.

Samuel at Gilgal

Worship

A Heart for GodSinclair B. Ferguson:

For worship is, essentially, the reverse of sin. Sin began (and begins) when we succumb to the temptation, “You shall be as gods.” We make ourselves the center of the universe and dethrone God. By contrast, worship is giving God his true worth; it is acknowledging Him to be the Lord of all things, and the Lord of everything in our lives. He is, indeed, the Most High God! (A Heart for God, 1987)

The Chief End of Man

Hugh Binning 1Hugh Binning:

“Of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever.” (Romans 11:36)

“Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

We have read two scriptures, which speak to the ultimate and chief end of man, which is the glorifying of God by all our actions and words and thoughts. In which we have these things of importance: 1. That God’s glory is the end of our being. 2. That God’s glory should be the end of our doing. And, 3. The ground of both these; because both being and doing are from him, therefore they ought to be both for him. He is the first cause of both, and therefore he ought to be the last end of both. ‘Of him, and through him, are all things;’ and therefore all things are also for him, and therefore all things should be done to him. . . .

Dependence is the proper notion of a created being,—dependence upon that infinite independent Being, as the first immediate cause, and the last immediate end. You see then that this principle is engraved in the very nature of man. It is as certain and evident that man is made for God’s glory, and for no other end, as that he is from God’s power, and from no other cause. (“The Common Principles of the Christian Religion”)

Born Arminian

Charles SpurgeonCharles Spurgeon:

Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God. When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me.

Ah! sir, the Lord must have loved me before I was born, or else He would not have seen anything in me to love afterwards.” I am sure it is true in my case; I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen Him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love. (A Defense of Calvinism)

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