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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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The Logos

R. C. SproulR. C. Sproul:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2)

“John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, `He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'” (John 1:15)

In Greek philosophy, the logos remains an impersonal force, a lifeless and abstract philosophical concept that is a necessary postulate for the cause of order and purpose in the universe. In Hebrew thought, the Logos is personal. He indeed has the power of unity, coherence, and purpose, but the distinctive point is that the biblical Logos is a He, not an it. All attempts to translate the word Logos have suffered from some degree of inadequacy. No English word is able to capture the fullness of John’s Logos when he declared that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Attempts have been made by philosophers to translate Logos as logic, act, or deed—all of which are inadequate definitions.

God’s Logos does include action. The Logos is the eternal Word in action. But it is no irrational action or sheer expression of feeling. It is the divine Actor, acting in creation and redemption in a coherent way, who is announced in John’s Gospel. That the Word became flesh and dwelt among us is the startling conclusion of John 1. The cosmic Christ enters our humanity. It is the supreme moment of visitation of the eternal with the temporal, the infinite with the finite, and the unconditioned with the conditioned. God became flesh to accomplish your redemption. 

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 http://www.ligonier.org or call them at 800-435-4343. © R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved.

 

Blind to the Scriptures

“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)Blind to gods word

A man without Christ is blind to the Scriptures and the things of God. When he becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit begins to show him the Scriptures and the world in a new light. He sees truth clearly for the first time. He sees who he truly is and why he is the way he is. He sees that sin has cut him off from communion with God and that the world is fallen in nature and unredeemed man suppresses the knowledge of God.

Human beings are born self-centered. They seek to please themselves and ignore the precepts of God. God, however, has made a way for men to come to Him through His Son – Jesus Christ. The Christian knows salvation from his sins and has escaped the wrath of God through Jesus Christ. He begins to know himself and understand why people are the way they are. A Christian has a more complete view of life because he is guided by God’s Word.

There is more; the Christian is determined to know God – not just things about Him. This knowledge of God results in a sense of purpose. The Christian is awakened to a new system of living and a resolve to live like Christ. He surrenders his life to this new way of living. When challenges arise, the Christian trusts in Christ. He walks the talk. His confidence is in Jesus Christ. His Anchor of Hope is not in this world, which is passing, but in the God of the Scriptures Who is eternal.

Samuel at Gilgal

The Carnal Christian

Wolf in Sheep's ClothingPaul Washer:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15 ESV)

There is a doctrine that was created in America tailor-made for America. It is the doctrine of the carnal Christian that a person can believe in Jesus Christ and live in carnality all the days of their life and be worldly and never grow and yet they are a Christian. That is a lie straight out of the pit of hell. It has nothing to do with history and nothing to do with the gospel in other countries. But it is convenient for America because it is a great way to explain how we can have all these churches filled with such carnal people and still call them Christian.

Now Jesus says here in verse 15:

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

An old man once told me, “Son, your best friend is the one who tells you the most truth and tells you as directly and clearly as possible.”

What advantage do I have here today by making you angry? What advantage do I have here today speaking hard words? Men who seek money and fame and well-being and security do not speak hard words to other men. No, they tell them about their best life now and how they can have all the self-esteem and prosperity and everything their carnal heart wants in this life.

They flatter men because they do not love men. They care about themselves. They dress up like sheep, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. All they want to do is feed off people and the best way to feed off people the Bible tells us is to tickle their ears. (“We have forgotten that the Way is Narrow”)

The Christian shall breathe the Perfect Gospel

John CalvinJohn Calvin:

I insist not that the life of the Christian shall breathe nothing but the perfect Gospel, though this is to be desired, and ought to be attempted. I insist not so strictly on evangelical perfection, as to refuse to acknowledge as a Christian any man who has not attained it. In this way all would be excluded from the Church, since there is no man who is not far removed from this perfection, while many, who have made but little progress, would be undeservedly rejected. What then? Let us set this before our eye as the end at which we ought constantly to aim. Let it be regarded as the goal towards which we are to run. For you cannot divide the matter with God, undertaking part of what his word enjoins, and omitting part at pleasure. For, in the first place, God uniformly recommends integrity as the principal part of his worship, meaning by integrity real singleness of mind, devoid of gloss and fiction, and to this is opposed a double mind; as if it had been said, that the spiritual commencement of a good life is when the internal affections are sincerely devoted to God, in the cultivation of holiness and justice. But seeing that, in this earthly prison of the body, no man is supplied with strength sufficient to hasten in his course with due alacrity, while the greater number are so oppressed with weakness, that hesitating, and halting, and even crawling on the ground, they make little progress, let every one of us go as far as his humble ability enables him, and prosecute the journey once begun. No one will travel so badly as not daily to make some degree of progress.

This, therefore, let us never cease to do, that we may daily advance in the way of the Lord; and let us not despair because of the slender measure of success. How little so ever the success may correspond with our wish, our labor is not lost when to-day is better than yesterday, provided with true singleness of mind we keep our aim, and aspire to the goal, not speaking flattering things to ourselves, nor indulging our vices, but making it our constant endeavor to become better, until we attain to goodness itself. If during the whole course of our life we seek and follow, we shall at length attain it, when relieved from the infirmity of flesh we are admitted to full fellowship with God. (On the Christian Life)

Preaching is an Awesome Responsibility

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“Often, when I come in at the door and my eyes fall on this vast congregation, I feel a tremor go through me to think that I should have to speak to you all and be, in some measure, accountable for your future state. Unless I preach the Gospel faithfully and with all my heart, your blood will be required at my hands. Do not wonder, therefore, that when I am weak and sick, I feel my head swim when I stand up to speak to you, and my heart is often faint within me. But I do have this joy at the back of it all—God does set many sinners free in this place! Some people reported that I was mourning that there were no conversions. Brothers and Sisters, if you were all to be converted tonight, I should mourn for the myriads outside! That is true, but I praise the Lord for the many who are converted here. When I came last Tuesday to see converts, I had 21 whom I was able to propose to the Church—and it will be the same next Tuesday, I do not doubt. God is saving souls! I am not preaching in vain. I am not despondent about that matter—liberty is given to the captives and there will be liberty for some of them, tonight! I wonder who it will be? Some of you young women over yonder, I trust. Some who have dropped in here, tonight, for the first time. Oh, may this first opportunity of your hearing the Word in this place be the time of beginning a new life which shall never end—a life of holiness, a life of peace with God!” (1894, Sermon #2371)

Good Works

John GillJohn Gill, D.D.:

If you do well, will you not be accepted? (Genesis 4:7 ESV)

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. Unregenerate men are capable of performing works, which are in a natural and civil, though not in a spiritual sense, good. They may do those things, which externally, in appearance, and as to the matter and substance of them, may be good; such as hearing, reading, praying, giving alms to the poor, etc., when the circumstances requisite to good works are wanting; for whatsoever is done as a good work, must be done in obedience to the will of God; from a principle of love to him; must be performed in faith; in the name of Christ, and to the glory of God by him. (The Cause of God and Truth)

The Greatest Joy

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

“The greatest joy is joy in God. This is plain from Psalm 16:11: “You [God] will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Fullness of joy and eternal joy cannot be improved. Nothing is fuller than full, and nothing is longer than eternal. And this joy is owing to the presence of God, not the accomplishments of man. Therefore, if God wants to love us infinitely and delight us fully and eternally, he must preserve for us the one thing that will satisfy us totally and eternally; namely, the presence and worth of his own glory. He alone is the source of full and lasting pleasure. Therefore, his commitment to uphold and display his glory is not vain, but virtuous. God is the one being for whom self-exaltation is an infinitely loving act. If he revealed himself to the proud and self-sufficient and not to the humble and dependent, he would belittle the very glory whose worth is the foundation of our joy. Therefore, God’s pleasure in hiding this from “the wise and intelligent” and revealing it to “infants” is the pleasure of God in both his glory and our joy.” (The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God)

Always Growing

Charles H. Spurgeon by Ron AdairCharles H. Spurgeon:

“Thou shalt see greater things than these” (John 1:50)

This is spoken to a childlike believer, who was ready to accept Jesus as the Son of God, the King of Israel, upon one convincing piece of argument those who are willing to see shall see: it is because we shut our eyes that we become so sadly blind. 

We have seen much already. Great things and unsearchable has the Lord showed unto us, for which we praise His name; but there are greater truths in His Word, greater depths of experience, greater heights of fellowship, greater works of usefulness, greater discoveries of power, and love, and wisdom. These we are yet to see if we are willing to believe our Lord. The faculty of inventing false doctrine is ruinous, but power to see the truth is a blessing. Heaven shall be opened to us, the way thither shall be made clear to us in the Son of man, and the angelic commerce which goes on between the upper and the lower kingdoms shall be made more manifest to us. Let us keep our eyes open toward spiritual objects, and expect to see more and more. Let us believe that our lives will not drivel down into nothing, but that we shall be always on the growing hand, seeing greater and still greater things, till we behold the Great God himself, and never again lose the sight of Him. (Faith’s Checkbook)

Prayer

Humble PrayerArthur W. Pink:

The prevailing idea seems to be, that I come to God and ask Him for something that I want, and that I expect Him to give me that which I have asked.  But this is a most dishonoring and degrading conception.  The popular belief reduces God to a servant, our servant: doing our bidding, performing our pleasure, granting our desires.  No, prayer is a coming to God, telling Him my need, committing my way unto the Lord, and leaving Him to deal with it as [He sees] best.

 

 

The Sinlessness of Jesus

Making Sense of Christ and the SpiritWayne Grudem:

The sinlessness of Jesus is taught frequently in the New Testament. We see suggestions of this early in his life when he was “filled with wisdom” and “the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). Then we see that Satan was unable to tempt Jesus successfully, but failed, after forty days, to persuade him to sin: “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13). We also see in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) no evidence of wrong doing on Jesus’ part. To the Jews who opposed him, Jesus asked, “Which of you convicts me of sin?” (John 8:46), and received no answer.

The statements about Jesus’ sinlessness are more explicit in John’s gospel. Jesus made the amazing proclamation, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). If we understand light to represent both truthfulness and moral purity, then Jesus is here claiming to be the source of truth and the source of moral purity and holiness in the world — an astounding claim, and one that could only be made by someone who was free from sin. Moreover, with regard to obedience to his Father in heaven, he said, “I always do what is pleasing to him” (John 8:29; the present tense gives the sense of continual activity, “I am always doing what is pleasing to him”). At the end of his life, Jesus could say, “I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:10). It is significant that when Jesus was put on trial before Pilate, in spite of the accusations of the Jews, Pilate could only conclude, “I find no crime in him” (John 18:38). (Making Sense of Christ and the Spirit)

The Resurrection

Bishop J. C. Ryle

J. C. Ryle:

The fact of our Lord’s resurrection rests on evidence which no infidel can ever explain away. It is confirmed by testimony of every kind, sort, and description. The plain unvarnished story which the Gospel writers tell about it, is one that cannot be overthrown. The more the account they give is examined, the more inexplicable will the event appear, unless we accept it as true. If we choose to deny the truth of their account we may deny everything in the world. It is not so certain that Julius Caesar once lived, as it is that Christ rose again.

Let us cling firmly to the resurrection of Christ, as one of the pillars of the Gospel. It ought to produce in our minds a settled conviction of the truth of Christianity. Our faith does not depend merely on a set of texts and doctrines. It is founded on a mighty historical fact which the skeptic has never been able to overturn. It ought to assure us of the certainty of the resurrection of our own bodies after death. If our Master has risen from the grave, we need not doubt that His disciples shall rise again at the last day. Continue reading

Christ Died and Rose Again

Charles H. Spurgeon by Ron AdairCharles H. Spurgeon:

“The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is one of the best attested facts on record. There were so many witnesses to behold it, that if we do in the least degree receive the credibility of men’s testimonies, we cannot and we dare not doubt that Jesus rose from the dead. It is all very easy for infidels to say that these persons were deceived, but it is equally foolish, for these persons could not every one of them have been so positively deceived as to say that they had seen this man, whom they knew to have been dead, afterwards alive; they could not all, surely, have agreed together to help on this imposture: if they did, it is the most marvelous thing we have on record, that not one of them ever broke faith with the others, but that the whole mass of them remained firm. We believe it to be quite impossible that so many rogues should have agreed forever. They were men who had nothing to gain by it; they subjected themselves to persecution by affirming the very fact; they were ready to die for it, and did die for it. Five hundred or a thousand persons who had seen him at different times, declared that they did see him, and that he rose from the dead; the fact of his death having been attested beforehand. How, then, dare any man say that the Christian religion is not true, when we know for a certainty that Christ died and rose again from the dead? And knowing that, who shall deny the divinity of the Savior? Who shall say that he is not mighty to save? Our faith hath a solid basis, for it hath all these witnesses on which to rest, and the more sure witness of the Holy Spirit witnessing in our hearts.” (Spurgeon’s Sermons: Volume 2)

Remarkable Words from the Cross

Jesus on the CrossHenry Kranenburg:

Being crucified on a cross was not only a gruesome way to die; it was also marked as the most low and cursed way to die. God himself had said that if you die by hanging on wood, you’re cursed. Well, the Romans, who supervised this method of death, knew all this. And that is why they, as bloody and violent as they were, made a law stating that no Roman citizen would ever be allowed to die that way.

But Jesus was hung on this wooden death instrument. Nails were driven through his hands and through his feet. To hang by your arms like that would tighten your chest and slowly suffocate you. Although for a while your muscles would work hard to let you breathe, your muscles would tire out and breathing would get harder and harder. The person hanging would try to resist that by pushing up with his feet or pulling with his hands to free his chest for breathing; but that would of course make the pain against the nails in his flesh excruciating. Add to it that all this was done under the hot Mid-East sun and you get a sense of the terribleness of death by crucifixion. I don’t know whether this was the worst possible death or not. I do know that together with the curse that God had put on crucifixion, it was a horrible death.

Around this time in the process, the criminals would be screaming with pain. And in their pain they would scream out revenge and curses on those who put them up there. Or, knowing their death was looming, they would scream, confessing their wrong, maybe hoping it might help and someone would have mercy.

But not Jesus. Jesus doesn’t scream.

Instead Jesus says: forgive them. In pain and under the curse of hanging there on that wood, Jesus says of these people that have nailed him to these beams: “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (From a sermon prepared by Rev. Henry Kranenburg, Hamilton, Ont.)

When People Hurt You

HurtLet all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV)

Have you been hurt by someone you thought you could trust? Was it a spouse, a relative, a friend, a group of friends, or people you respected? It is often hard to live in a world where honor, loyalty, and trust exist only in literary fiction. Our response to the pain of a broken trust may be anger for the lack of integrity revealed in the other person. Even if the relationship is mended and you forgive the offender, can the same level of trust that once existed be restored?

Trust is very fragile and can be lost instantly. Playwright Tennessee Williams once said, “We have to distrust each other. It’s our only defense against betrayal.” Is this the answer? People who feel the hurt of betrayal may sometimes seek vengeance (which they consider justice) for the pain they have suffered. Do we really feel better when we hurt others because of the pain we have felt? Paul writes, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” (Romans 12:19 ESV)
Continue reading

The True Knowledge of Christ

John CalvinJohn Calvin:

None have intercourse with Christ but those who have acquired the true knowledge of him from the Gospel. The Apostle denies that any man truly has learned Christ who has not learned to put off “the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and put on Christ,” (Eph. iv. 22.) They are convicted, therefore, of falsely and unjustly pretending a knowledge of Christ, whatever be the volubility and eloquence with which they can talk of the Gospel. Doctrine is not an affair of the tongue, but of the life; is not apprehended by the intellect and memory merely, like other branches of learning; but is received only when it possesses the whole soul, and finds its seat and habitation in the inmost recesses of the heart. Let them, therefore, either cease to insult God, by boasting that they are what they are not, or let them show themselves not unworthy disciples of their divine Master. To doctrine in which our religion is contained we have given the first place, since by it our salvation commences; but it must be transfused into the breast, and pass into the conduct, and so transform us into itself, as not to prove unfruitful. If philosophers are justly offended, and banish from their company with disgrace those who, while professing an art which ought to be the mistress of their conduct, convert it into mere loquacious sophistry, with how much better reason shall we detest those flimsy sophists who are contented to let the Gospel play upon their lips, when, from its efficacy, it ought to penetrate the inmost affections of the heart, fix its seat in the soul, and pervade the whole man a hundred times more than the frigid discourses of philosophers? (On the Christian Life)

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