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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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  • Recommended Reading

God’s Providential Love

D. A. Carson

D.A. Carson:

God’s providential love over the entire universe: Not only did God make the universe and call it “very good” (Gen. 1:31), but even now in its disordered and rebellious state, Jesus teaches us that God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 4:45). That this is an act of love on God’s part is shown by what Jesus says next: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” (Matt. 5:46). In other words, our responsibility to love our enemies is grounded in the fact that God providentially loves the just and the unjust. (Love in Hard Places)

The Promise is Yours

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it.” (Genesis 28:13)

No promise is of private interpretation: it belongs not to one saint, but to all believers. If, my brother, thou canst in faith lie down upon a promise, and take thy rest thereon, it is thine. Where Jacob “lighted,” and tarried, and rested, there he took possession. Stretching his weary length upon the ground, with the stones of that place for his pillows, he little fancied that he was thus entering into ownership of the land; and yet so it was. He saw in his dream that wondrous ladder which for all true believers unites earth and heaven; and surely where the foot of the ladder stood he must have a right to the soil, for otherwise he could not reach the divine stairway. All the promises of God are Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus; and as He is ours, every promise is ours if we will but lie down upon it in restful faith.

Come, weary one, use thy Lord’s words as thy pillows. Lie down in peace. Dream only of Him. Jesus is thy ladder of light. See the angels coming and going upon Him between thy soul and thy God; and be sure that the promise is thine own God-given portion, and that it will not be robbery for thee to take it to thyself, as spoken specially to thee. (Faith’s Checkbook)

The Intercession of Jesus Christ

Bishop J. C. RyleJ.C. Ryle:

Reader, I charge you solemnly, never to lose sight of this mighty truth of the Gospel,–the intercession and priestly office of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I believe that a firm grasp of this truth is one great safeguard against the errors of the Church of Rome. I believe that losing sight of this great truth is one principal reason why so many have fallen away from the faith in some quarters, have forsaken the creed of their Protestant forefathers, and have gone back to the darkness of Rome. Once firmly established upon this holy truth,–that we have a Priest, an altar, and a Confessor; that we have a unfailing, never-dying, ever-living intercession, who has deputed His office to none,–and we shall see that we need turn aside nowhere else. We need not hew for ourselves broken cisterns that can hold no water, when we have in the Lord Jesus Christ a fountain of living water, ever flowing and free to all. We need not seek any human priest upon earth, when we have a Divine Priest living for us in heaven.

The Christian and Apathy

Apathy_PillThere are many excuses used by Christians to explain why their enthusiasm for growing in Christ has diminished since their conversion. One Christian Education Director asked a long time church member why he did not attend Adult Sunday School. “Don’t you want to grow in Christ?” he asked. The man replied, “No thank you – I’m satisfied where I am.” (True Story)

It is sad to see some Christians grow apathetic after years of church attendance. Why does a Christian begin to lose interest in his walk with God? Let’s look beyond the possibility that they never had a true salvation experience to begin with and assume these persons are Christians for the purpose of this article. Consider the following possibilities: Continue reading

Finding God

R. C. SproulR.C. Sproul:

We have all heard evangelists quote from Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). Usually the evangelist applies this text as an appeal to the unconverted, saying: “Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. If you open the door, then He will come in.” In the original saying, however, Jesus directed His remarks to the church. It was not an evangelistic appeal.

So what? The point is that seeking is something that unbelievers do not do on their own. The unbeliever will not seek. The unbeliever will not knock. Seeking is the business of believers. Jonathan Edwards said, “The seeking of the Kingdom of God is the chief business of the Christian life.” Seeking is the result of faith, not the cause of it. Continue reading

The Christian Disciple

jesus-teaching-disciplesA disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40 ESV)

If you are a disciple, you have submitted to the authority of another in order to receive instruction in wisdom, knowledge, proper conduct, and behavior. People today may consider the concept of Christian discipleship to be old-fashioned, legalistic, or “out of style”. However, Christianity promotes a change in our behavior, through discipleship, which can be seen by the world. To do this, we must strive to be more like our teacher – Jesus Christ.

Discipleship and the philosophy of instant gratification do not mix well. Too often, the church focuses on “winning” others to Christ and then fails to teach converts how to live like Christ. Fewer sermons take up the subject of working “out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12, ESV) There is, certainly, a clear lack of concern for Paul’s appeal “to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2, ESV) Continue reading

No Lack of Evidence

Sam StormsQuoting Sam Storms:

God has left the indelible mark of His fingerprints all across the vast face of the universe… This revelation is sufficiently clear and inescapable that it renders all without excuse (see Rom. 1:20). Consequently, there is no such thing as “an innocent native in Africa” any more than there is “an innocent pagan in America”… The problem is not a lack of evidence. The problem is the innate, natural, moral antipathy of mankind to God. The problem is not that the evidence is not open to mankind. The problem is that mankind is not open to the evidence. (“General Revelation”, November 8, 2006, http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com)

“Work Together”

Thomas WatsonThomas Watson:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)

This is as Jacob’s staff in the hand of faith, with which we may walk cheerfully to the mount of God. What will satisfy or make us content, if this will not? All things work together for good. This expression “work together” refers to medicine. Several poisonous ingredients put together, being tempered by the skill of the apothecary, make a sovereign medicine, and work together for the good of the patient. So all God’s providences being divinely tempered and sanctified, do work together for the best to the saints. He who loves God and is called according to His purpose, may rest assured that every thing in the world shall be for his good. This is a Christian’s cordial, which may warm him — make him like Jonathan who, when he had tasted the honey at the end of the rod, “his eyes were enlightened” (I Sam. xiv. 27). Why should a Christian destroy himself? Why should he kill himself with care, when all things shall sweetly concur, yea, conspire for his good? The result of the text is this. All the various dealings of God with His children, do by a special providence turn to their good. “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant” (Psalm xxv. 10). If every path has mercy in it, then it works for good. (A Divine Cordial)

Under our Feet is the Old Dragon to be Bruised

jesus-trampling-satans-headCharles H. Spurgeon:

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20)

 We are evidently to be conformed to our covenant Head, not only in His being bruised in His heel, but in His conquest of the evil one. Even under our feet is the old dragon to be bruised. The Roman believers were grieved with strife in the church; but their God was “the God of peace,” and gave them rest of soul. The arch-enemy tripped up the feet of the unwary, and deceived the hearts of the simple; but he was to get the worst of it, and to be trodden down by those whom he had troubled. This victory would not come to the people of God through their own skill or power; but God Himself would bruise Satan. Though it would be under their feet, yet the bruising would be of the Lord alone.

Let us bravely tread upon the tempter! Not only inferior spirits, but the Prince of darkness himself must go down before us. In unquestioning confidence in God, let us look for speedy victory. “SHORTLY.” Happy word! Shortly we shall set our foot on the old serpent! What a joy to crush evil! What dishonor to Satan to have his head bruised by human feet! Let us by faith in Jesus tread the tempter down. (Faith’s Checkbook)

Trusting God

The Devil's Puppet PreacherPaul Washer:

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)

The great majority of people not only outside of the Church, but inside of the Church say, “Yes, I have passed through that small gate. Yes, I have believed in Jesus Christ.” But when you look at their life they live just like the world. They have the same desires of the world. The only thing they do is they are religious and go to Church on Sunday. But when you look at their life Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday there is no Christ and when you look about their conversation and their desires and their dreams and their passion there is no Christ. It is all about I already [have it], don’t worry about me, preacher. I already got that done. I repented a long time ago. I believed. I am saved. I prayed that prayer. And that is what their religion is. And when asked about the confidence of their salvation they say, “I prayed that prayer.” They are trusting in a prayer. I made my decision. They are trusting in a decision. I believed in that moment. They are trusting in the sincerity of their decision instead of doing as our forefathers did.

How do you know you are saved? I am looking unto Jesus Christ and have great assurance because I can see the changes he has wrought in my life and the way he disciplines me zealously and guards my life. (“Lies Preachers Tell”)

Spirituality in Action

sailing-shipFor this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV)

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labor in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. Continue reading

The Complete System of Divine Truth

John NewtonQuoting Church of England Pastor and former slave trader John Newton (1725-1807):

“The Bible is the grand repository … It is the complete system of divine truth, to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be taken, with impunity. Every attempt to disguise or soften any branch of this truth, in order to accommodate it to the prevailing taste around us, either to avoid the displeasure, or to court the favor of our fellow mortals, must be an affront to the majesty of God, and an act of treachery to men.” (The Works of John Newton)

Spiritual Leadership

 Samuel Brengle

Quoting Samuel Brengle:

Spiritual leadership is not won by promotion, but by prayers and tears.

It is attained by much heart searching and humbling before God; by self-surrender, a courageous sacrifice of every idol, a bold, uncompromising, and uncomplaining embracing of the cross, and by an eternal, unfaltering looking unto Jesus crucified.

This is a great price, but it must be unflinchingly paid by him who would be a real spiritual leader of men, a leader whose power is recognized and felt in heaven, on earth and in hell.

Good Deeds Must be Performed in Faith

John GillJohn Gill:

Adam had a power to do every good work the law required; which men, since the fall, have not. Men indeed, in an unregenerate state, might do many things which they do not; such as reading the Scriptures, attending on public worship, etc.

No doubt but the persons in the parable, who were invited to the dinner, could have gone to it, had they had a will, as well as the one did to his farm, and the other to his merchandise. Men have an equal power, had they an heart, a will, an inclination, to go to a place of divine worship, as to a tavern, or alehouse; but it is easy to observe, that persons oftentimes have it in the power of their hands, when they have it not in the power of their hearts, to do a good work; as a rich man to give alms to the poor. Continue reading

The Love and Justice of God

systematic theologyWayne Grudem:

What was the ultimate cause that led to Christ’s coming to earth and dying for our sins? To find this we must trace the question back to something in the character of God himself. And here Scripture points to two things: the love and justice of God.

The love of God as a cause of the atonement is seen in the most familiar passage in the Bible: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). But the justice of God also required that God find a way that the penalty due to us for our sins would be paid (for he could not accept us into fellowship with himself unless the penalty was paid).

Paul explains that this was why God sent Christ to be a “propitiation” (Rom. 3:25 NASB) (that is, a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath so that God becomes “propitious” or favorably disposed toward us): it was “to show God’s righteousness, Continue reading

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