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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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DO YOU CALL YOURSELF A CHRISTIAN?

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-JonesMartyn Lloyd-Jones:

There is something essentially wrong with a man who calls himself a Christian and who can listen to a truly evangelistic sermon without coming under conviction again, without feeling something of his own unworthiness, and rejoicing when he hears the Gospel remedy being presented. (Preachers and Preaching, Zondervan, 1971, p. 150)

PREACHERS NEED REVIVAL

Robert Murray M'CheyneRobert Murray M’Cheyne:

Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? (Psalm 85:6 ESV)

Ministers are naturally hard-hearted and unbelieving as other men (Mark 6:14), so that Christ has often to unbraid them. Their faith is all from above. They must receive from God all that they give. In order to speak the truth with power, they need a personal grasp of it. It is impossible to speak with power from mere head knowledge, or even from past experience. If we would speak with energy, it must be from present feeling of the truth as it is in Jesus. We cannot speak of the hidden manna unless we have the taste of it on our mouth. We cannot speak of the living water unless it be springing up within us. Like John the Baptist, we must see Jesus coming, and say; “Behold the Lamb of God.” We must speak with Christ in our eye, as Stephen did. “I see Jesus standing on the right hand of God.” We must speak from a present sense of pardon and access to God, or our words will be cold and lifeless. But how can we do this if we are not quickened from above. Ministers are far more exposed to be cast down than other men; they are standard bearers, and Satan loves when a standard-bearer faints. Oh, what need of full supplies out of Christ’s fullness! Pray, beloved, that it may be so. “Wilt thou not revive us again?” (“The Cry for Revival”)

THE GOSPEL AND OBEDIENCE

Charles H. Spurgeon by Ron AdairCharles H. Spurgeon:

“If you get condemnation out of the Gospel, you put the condemnation into it yourselves! It is not the Gospel, but your rejection of it, that will condemn you.” (1893, Sermon #2300)

“I say, again, that detailed obedience is the surest evidence that the Lord has forgiven your sin. For instance, ‘He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.’ Do not omit any part of that precept. And if Christ bids you come to His Table and thus remember Him, do not live in neglect of that command. At the same time, remember to live soberly, righteously, honestly, godly in this present evil age, for if you do not, if there is not a detailed obedience, there may be a fear that, after all, the Lord has never said to you, ‘Your sins are forgiven you.’”” (1893, Sermon #2337)

“Think not of the sinner, or of the greatness of his sin, but think of the greatness of the Savior!” (1895, Sermon #2434)

SAVED BY HIS LIFE

J.C.-RyleJ. C. Ryle:

Reader, you would do well to study the words of the Apostle in the 5th chapter of Romans: “Much more then,” he says, “being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Mark the connection: “Being already justified by His death, we shall be saved,”–and saved by what? “By his life:” by His ever living to make intercession for us. Wise and beautiful is the comparison made by that master of allegory, John Bunyan, in the “Pilgrim’s Progress.” He tells us how Christian was taken into the Interpreter’s house, and how the Interpreter showed him many things wonderful and instructive. In one place he took him into a room where there was a fire burning, and showed him one ever pouring water upon that fire, and yet the water did not quench the fire. However much water he poured on, still the fire went on burning steadily. Then said the Interpreter, “Knowest thou what this means?” When Christian did not know, he took him behind the fire, and showed him one pouring on oil out of a vessel. This oil fed the fire, and made it burn more fiercely, notwithstanding all the water that was poured upon it. Then the Interpreter told him that this was a picture of Jesus Christ’s intercession. That fire was the fire of grace in the believer’s heart. He that poured on the water was the enemy of souls, the devil. But He that poured on the oil, standing behind the fire, was the Lord Jesus Christ, who by continual intercession and the supply of His Spirit, secretly and unseen by man, kept alive His own work in the believer’s heart, and did not allow Satan and all his agents to get a victory over Him. (“Able to Save”)

THE SPIRIT OF THE WORLD

Christian FictionBeloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. … They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. (1 John 4:1 & 5 ESV)

“Don’t believe everything you hear.” (Aesop) You should carefully examine what you are taught by teachers and preachers who claim you can have everything you want now. Not everyone who teaches and preaches about God comes from God.

When we test something, we are trying to decide what is true. Only very gullible people believe every claim they hear or find in books or on the internet. We should be more like the Bereans who Luke praises in Acts: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11 ESV) The Bereans were not as lazy as are many Christians today; they actually studied the Scriptures. Continue reading

MANUFACTURING A GOD OF YOUR OWN

sermon_IdolFactoryJ.C. Ryle:

“Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who as a heaven for everybody, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and broad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all.”

BY THEIR FRUITS SHALL THEY BE KNOWN

tree-good-fruitYou will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:16-20 ESV)

If the qualities of the Christian faith were all equally apparent in the lives of the saints, it would be very easy to tell who is a Christian and who is not. The truth is, however, that love, faith, obedience, and piety will often vary during different stages of the Christian’s life. The process of Christian sanctification is by degrees. A Christian may be a baby in grace and knowledge and his faith and love may be weak. He has, nevertheless, passed from death unto life. His spiritual growth may not be consistent. There are successes and failures as he navigates the path. Continue reading

THE ESSENCE OF SALVATION

John Stott

John Stott:

“For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God [Gen. 3:1-7], while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man [2 Cor. 5:21]. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be.” (The Cross of Christ)

HE DID NOT DIE IN VAIN

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed” (Isaiah 53:10)

Our Lord Jesus has not died in vain. His death was sacrificial: He died as our substitute, because death was the penalty of our sins; and because His substitution was accepted of God, He has saved those for whom He made His soul a sacrifice. By death He became like the corn of wheat which bringeth forth much fruit. There must be a succession of children unto Jesus; He is “the Father of the everlasting age.” He shall say, “Behold, I and the children whom thou hast given me.”

A man is honored in his sons, and Jesus hath His quiver full of these arrows of the mighty. A man is represented in his children, and so is the Christ in Christians. In his seed a man’s life seems to be prolonged and extended; and so is the life of Jesus continued in believers. Jesus lives, for He sees His seed. He fixes His eye on us, He delights in us, He recognizes us as the fruit of His soul travail. Let us be glad that our Lord does not fail to enjoy the result of His dread sacrifice, and that He will never cease to feast His eyes upon the harvest of His death. Those eyes which once wept for us, are now viewing us with pleasure. Yes, He looks upon those who are looking unto Him. Our eyes meet! What a joy is this! (Faith’s Checkbook)

DIMMED BY ERROR

Charles H SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“It is a sad affliction when in our solemn assemblies the brilliance of the Gospel Light is dimmed by error. The clearness of the testimony is spoiled when doubtful voices are scattered among the people and those who ought to preach the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth, are preaching doctrines which are the imaginations of men and the inventions of the age!” (1887, Sermon #1990)

PRAY FIRST

Humble PrayerCharles H. Spurgeon:

It does not say that Nehemiah set a watch and then prayed, but, ‘nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch.’ Prayer must always be the fore horse of the team! Do whatever else is wise, but not until you have prayed! Send for the physician if you are sick, but first pray. Take the medicine if you have a belief that it will do you good, but first pray. Go and talk to the man who has slandered you, if you think you ought to do so, but first pray.

‘Well, I am going to do so and so,’ says one, ‘and I shall pray for a blessing on it afterwards.’ Do not begin it until you have prayed! Begin, continue and end everything with prayer, but especially begin with prayer. Some people would never begin what they are going to do if they prayed about it first, for they could not ask God’s blessing upon it. (Faith’s Checkbook)

JOB DECISIONS LED BY GOD

work ethicsCommit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3 ESV)

The Holy Spirit guides you by the Word of God and His providential care. Between the two, they guide you to the right decision on many issues. After prayer and giving serious thought to a matter, your choice should be in accord with the Word of God and the talents God has given you. If your choice is in accord with the Word of God and allows you to walk in holiness and honor God; a good decision has probably been made.

There are times when providence may make your present job or profession very uncomfortable. It may become unprofitable or impractical for you to continue in your present work. You may lose your job – which is a very common problem now. In such conditions you must seek to alter your circumstances. If your present employment is enjoyable and profitable, you probably wish to keep up your current status. However, what do you do if your employer makes changes in your job which violate the Word of God? Should you be willing to resign if the circumstances cannot be changed?

Suppose you are offered employment in two places and after researching the companies, much prayer, and consideration of biblically related issues, you discover that the company which offered you the most money engages in unethical moral practices; what do you do? Which job should you take? What if you are offered two great jobs with companies whose business practices do not conflict with the God’s Word? Should you not consider first the job where you can honor God most with your ability and talents? Continue reading

THE UNIVERSE

Don't Waste Your LifeJohn Piper:

“The universe, they say, is so vast, it makes man utterly insignificant. Why would God have bothered to create such a microscopic speck called the earth and humanity and then get involved with us? Beneath this question is a fundamental failure to see what the universe is about. It is about the greatness of God, not the significance of man. God made man small and the universe big to say something about himself. And he says it for us to learn and enjoy—namely, that he is infinitely great and powerful and wise and beautiful. The more the Hubble Telescope sends back to us about the unfathomable depths of space, the more we should stand in awe of God. The disproportion between us and the universe is a parable about the disproportion between us and God. And it is an understatement.” (Don’t Waste Your Life, 34)

THE SOUL OF A TRUE CHRISTIAN

Jonathan EdwardsJonathan Edwards:

“The soul of a true Christian, as I then wrote my meditations, appeared like such a little white flower as we see in the spring of the year; low and humble on the ground, opening its bosom to receive the pleasant beams of the sun’s glory; rejoicing as it were in a calm rapture; diffusing around a sweet fragrance; standing peacefully and lovingly, in the midst of other flowers round about; all in like manner opening their bosoms to drink in the light of the sun. There was no part of creature holiness that I had so great a sense of its loveliness, as humility, brokenness of heart and poverty of spirit; and there was nothing that I so earnestly longed for. My heart panted after this – to lie low before God, as in the dust; that I might be nothing, and that God might be all, that I might become as a little child.” (Iain Murray, Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography, 51-52)

MAKE YOUR REQUESTS KNOWN TO GOD

Spiritual DepressionMartyn Lloyd-Jones:

“You pray and make your requests made known unto God, and God will do something.’ It is not your prayer that is going to do it, it is not you who is going to do it, but God. ‘The peace of God that passeth all understanding’—He, through it all, ‘will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus’.” (Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, 270)

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