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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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GRACE AND SIN

sinnerFor all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23 ESV).

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9 ESV)

We are all in need of forgiveness from God. We have all sinned. The just penalty for our sins is death. However, 1 John 1:9 holds forth the comforting promise of forgiveness and cleansing for all of us who have struggled with sin. Blessed is the man whose sins have been forgiven. He has received the foundation of all happiness. This is a gift from God. “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Romans 4:8 ESV)

You may hide your sins from others, but God sees the heart. Your heart condemns you. Have you experienced the condemnation of the heart? “God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” (1 John 3:20 ESV) “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 ESV)

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 ESV) Otherwise, the justice and holiness of God would require an account of our actions. We can only be forgiven by Him against whom we have sinned. It is against God we have sinned. We must go to Him and confess our sins. There is no other remedy. There is everlasting forgiveness for you if you come to Christ by faith. Continue reading

SEEKING THE GOOD OF OUR NEIGHBORS

John CalvinJohn Calvin:

How difficult it is to perform the duty of seeking the good of our neighbor! Unless you leave off all thought of yourself and in a manner cease to be yourself, you will never accomplish it. How can you exhibit those works of charity which Paul describes unless you renounce yourself, and become wholly devoted to others? “Charity (says he, 1 Cor. xiii. 4) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked &c. Were it the only thing required of us to seek not our own, nature would not have the least power to comply: she so inclines us to love ourselves only, that she will not easily allow us carelessly to pass by ourselves and our own interests that we may watch over the interests of others, nay, spontaneously to yield our own rights and resign it to another. But Scripture, to conduct us to this, reminds us, that whatever we obtain from the Lord is granted on the condition of our employing it for the common good of the Church, and that, therefore, the legitimate use of all our gifts is a kind and liberal communication of them with others. (The Christian Life)

SOUND TEACHING

preachingBut as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1 ESV) For 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)

A huge problem in the modern church is the “itching ears” disease. Many of our churches have accumulated pastors who believe that preaching is giving a talk on what you think the congregation wants to hear. These pastors know that the people in the pews want to feel good about themselves. This is why we hear of such sermon titles as “How to Command Angels,” “Secret Sources of Power,” “Dream and You Will Win the World,” and “You Can Have Your Best Life Now.” Most of these sermons contain more pop-psychology than the Gospel.

Too many preachers are basing their sermons on modern psychology and philosophy along with a couple of phrases of Scriptures. These sermons focus on the hearer and not the Glory of God. They fail to teach Christian doctrine and promote a self-conceived (unbiblical) notion of Jesus. After all, the congregation is more interested in emotionalism than sound teaching. Continue reading

THE GOSPEL

Milton VincentMilton Vincent:

“For the gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move; and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purposes in me.” (The Gospel Primer)

THE SECRET OF DAILY COMFORT

Bishop J. C. RyleJ. C. Ryle:

Would you know the secret of daily comfort in all the toil, and business, and distractions we have to go through? We all know that they who have to do work in any secular calling, find the work oftentimes a sore burden to their souls. Oftentimes in the morning they feel, “How can I get through this day without a defiled conscience, without being sorely troubled and tempted to forget my God?” How shall a man get through the day with comfort, fill his office in the world, do his duty in the position to which God has called him? Let him lay hold upon the intercession of Jesus Christ. Let him grasp the great thought, that Christ not merely died for him, but rose again, and still lives for him.

There is a story recorded of one who lived 200 hundred years ago; a man well known in his day and generation–a man who left behind a character as pure and unsullied as anyone who fell in the unhappy Commonwealth wars: I allude to the great Lord Falkland. It is recorded of Lord Falkland during the Commonwealth wars, when he was often engaged in duties from morning to night time that a common prayer of his before leaving his tent was something of this kind,– “Lord, I am going this day to do the duty whereunto I am called. I may sometimes forget Thee. I cannot have my thoughts at all times as fully fixed upon Thee as I wish. But, Lord, if I this day I forget Thee, do not Thou forget me.” This is the thought that every believer should lay hold upon who has much to do in the business of this world. Rising from his bed in the morning, going from his room every morning, leaving his house every morning, let him bear in mind, “There is One living in heaven who intercedes for me, while I am following my lawful calling. Although I may be absorbed in business, and obliged to give up all the powers of my poor weak mind to it, still there lives One who never forgets me.” He may say, as Lord Falkland said, “Lord, if I this day forget Thee, do not Thou forget me.” (“Able to Save”)

GOOD PREACHING

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“Oh, Beloved, if we are called to preach, we must believe what we preach, or else we had better give it up! “I believed, therefore have I spoken,” is a text which should be written over every minister’s study door, and over his pulpit, too.” (1893, Sermon #2297)

“Some sermons which I have heard, though faultlessly orthodox, have contained nothing that could convert anybody—for there has been nothing to touch the conscience or heart. Others, though very clever and profound, have had no possible bearing on the needs of the hearers and so it was little wonder that they were without result.” (1891, Sermon #2222)

“You will find all true theology summed up in these two short sentences—salvation is all of the Grace of God—damnation is all of the will of man.” (1895, Sermon #2411)

REVIVAL IS ALL DIVINE

Robert Murray M'CheyneRobert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-1843):

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

It is God who must revive us again. It is not human work. It is all divine. If you look to men to do it, you will only get that curse in Jeremiah 17. “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.”

The Lord has all the means in His hands. The Son of Man holds the seven stars in His right hand. The stars are His ministers. He lifts them up, or lets them down, at His sovereign will. He gives them all their light, or He takes it away. He holds them up and lets them shine clearly, or He holds them in the hollow of His hand, as it seemeth good in His sight. Sometimes He lets them shine on one district of a country, sometimes another. They only shine to lead to Him. The star that leads away from Him is a wandering star, and Christ will cast it into the blackness forever. We should pray to Christ to make His ministers shine on us. (“The Cry For Revival”)

BLESSINGS IGNORED

spirit of greedDo not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

Christians may often conveniently forget the blessings of God in favor of those promoted by a consumer oriented society. With God’s favor, America has been the most prosperous nation on earth. Unfortunately, we are focusing too much on consumerism and too little on God. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6 ESV)

The modern world has promoted the lust for possessions and ignored the spiritual realm of our lives. Even those who profess to be Christians often look at some luxury their neighbors or friends have acquired and ask themselves, “Why has God denied me this pleasure?” We quickly forget the blessings, both spiritual and material, we have already received at His hands. “… Be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV) Continue reading

UNION WITH CHRIST

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

“Ultimately it comes down to this, that the real cause of our trouble is failure to realize our union with Christ. Many Seem to think that Christianity means that we are delivered in that sense that our sins are forgiven. But that is only the beginning, but one aspect of it. Essentially salvation means union with Christ, being one with Christ. We have been crucified with Christ – ‘I am crucified with Christ’, says Paul. ‘All that has happened to Him has happened to me. I am one with Him.’ Read the fifth and sixth chapters of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. The teaching is that we have died with Christ, have been buried with Christ, have risen with Christ, and are seated in the heavenly places in Christ and with Christ. That is the teaching of the Scriptures. ‘Ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3. 3). The old man has been crucified and all that belonged to Christ, you are risen with Christ. ‘Reckon ye yourselves then to be dead unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Romans 6. 11).” (Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, 74-75)

BE SLOW TO ANGER

Anger“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20 ESV)

“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9 ESV)

Invited by a friend, Joe attends a party where someone accidentally bumps into his arm causing Joe’s drink to spill on his slacks and shoes. The person apologizes and offers to pay for Joe’s pants to be cleaned, but Joe starts shouting and cursing. Joe then tries to pick a fight with the man, but others restrain him. Joe’s uncontrolled and foolish anger will leave behind stressed relationships and the possibility of legal problems. It is his quickness to become angry, when frustrated, that blocks Joe’s reason from resolving his problems in a rational manner.

In the philosophy courses I took as an undergraduate, we were taught that anger prevents a rational argument. Clear thinking is lost in the fog of emotion. Even people who comment on blogs and articles on the internet often cannot express their opposing opinions without descending into ad hominem attacks, verbal abuse and defamation. Continue reading

PREPARING FOR HEAVEN

Bishop J. C. RyleJ. C. Ryle:

“Lastly, we must be holy, because without holiness on earth — we will never be prepared to enjoy Heaven. …I do not know what others may think — but to me it does seem clear that Heaven would be a miserable place to an unholy man. It cannot be otherwise. People may say in a vague way, that they “hope to go to Heaven,” but they do not consider what they say. There must be a certain “fitness for the inheritance of the saints in light.” Our hearts must be somewhat in tune. To reach the holiday of glory — we must pass through the training school of grace. We must be heavenly-minded and have heavenly tastes in the present life — or else we will never find ourselves in Heaven in the life to come! (Holiness)

THE IMPUTATION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

Horatius BonarHoratius Bonar:

“This righteousness [the righteousness of Christ] is ‘reckoned’ or ‘imputed’ to all who believe; so that they are treated by God as if it were actually theirs.  They are entitled to claim all that which such a righteousness can merit from God (as the Judge of righteous claims).  It does not become ours gradually, or in fragments or drops; but is transferred to us all at once.  It is not that so much of it is reckoned to us in proportion to the strength of our faith, or the warmth of our love, or the fervor of our prayers; but the whole of it passes over to us by imputation.  In its whole quality and quantity it is transferred to us.  Its perfection represents us before God; and its preciousness, with all that that preciousness can purchase for us, henceforth belongs to us”. (The Everlasting Righteousness, 82-83)

PREACHING CHRIST

Charles H. SpurgeonC. H. Spurgeon:

“I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified unless we preach what is nowadays called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the Gospel and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the Gospel… unless we preach the sovereignty of God in his dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah. Nor do I think we can preach the Gospel unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of his elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend the Gospel which allows saints to fall away after they are called.” (“Christ Crucified”)

CHRIST: THE ONE REAL SACRIFICE

In Christ AloneSinclair Ferguson:

“When I know that Christ is the one real sacrifice for my sins, that His work on my behalf has been accepted by God, that He is my heavenly Intercessor – then His blood is the antidote to the poison in the voices that echo in my conscience, condemning me for my many failures. Indeed, Christ’s shed blood chokes them into silence!” (In Christ Alone, 151)

DESIRING TRUTH

absolute-truth“The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” (Psalm 119:160 ESV)

Postmodern culture is made up of many who believe that there is no truth to absolutely define reality. People believe that everything is relative to something else, and thus there can be no “one truth”. This leads many to think that moral absolutes do not exist and there is no real moral authority to declare what is good and bad. Their ethics become “situational”, therefore, right and wrong are relative to their circumstances. This inevitably leads to believing anything that feels good or seems right, at the time, is right in those circumstances.

Higher education has bowed its knee to the religion of personal pragmatic relativism. These institutions have encouraged our youth to adopt the attitude that, “Whatever seems to work for me is my truth.” Have they forgotten truth’s very definition: “The property of being in accord with fact or reality”? In other words, truth must correspond exactly to existence. The world has forgotten that truth does not change with the winds of public opinion. According to Winston Churchill:

“The truth is incontrovertible.  Malice may attack it.  Ignorance may deride it.  But in the end, there it is.”

Continue reading

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