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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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HALF-HEARTED CREATURES

C. S. LewisC. S. Lewis:

“If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith.  Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” (The Weight of Glory, 1-2)

CHILDREN OF GOD

Christ ChildrenCharles H. Spurgeon:

“Children need to learn the doctrine of the Cross that they may find immediate salvation. I thank God that in our Sunday school we believe in the salvation of children as children! How very many has it been my joy to see of boys and girls who have come forward to confess their faith in Christ! And I again wish to say that the best converts, the clearest converts, the most intelligent converts we have ever had have been the young ones! And, instead of there being any deficiency in their Charles H. Spurgeonknowledge of the Word of God and the Doctrines of Grace, we have usually found them to have a very delightful acquaintance with the great cardinal Truths of Christ.

Many of these dear children have been able to speak of the things of God with great pleasure of heart and force of understanding. Go on, dear teachers, and believe that God will save your children! Be not content to sow principles in their minds which may possibly develop in later years, but be working for immediate conversion! Expect fruit in your children while they are children! Pray for them that they may not run into the world and fall into the evils of outward sin—and then come back with broken bones to the Good Shepherd. But that they may, by God’s rich Grace, be kept from the paths of the Wicked One and grow up in the fold of Christ—first as lambs of His flock—and then as sheep of His hand.” (1887, Sermon #1988)

THE NEW BIRTH AND THE HOLY SPIRIT

George WhitefieldGeorge Whitefield:

We might as soon attempt to stop the ebbing and flowing of the tide, and calm the most tempestuous sea, as to imagine that we can subdue, or bring under proper regulations, our own unruly wills and affections by any strength inherent in ourselves. And therefore, that I may keep you no longer in suspense, I inform you, that this heavenly potter, this blessed agent, is the Almighty Spirit of God, the Holy Ghost, the third person in the most adorable Trinity, coessential with the Father and the Son. This is that Spirit, which at the beginning of time moved on the face of the waters, when nature lay in one universal chaos. This was the Spirit that overshadowed the Holy Virgin, before that holy thing was born of her: and this same Spirit must come, and move upon the chaos of our souls, before we can properly be called the sons of God. This is what John the Baptist calls “being baptized with the Holy Ghost,” without which, his and all other baptisms, whether infant or adult, avail nothing. Continue reading

CHOOSING WHAT I BELIEVE ABOUT MAN

Adam-and-EveWhoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. (Proverbs 28:13 ESV)

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

The natural man does not want to accept the universal view of mankind as taught in the Scriptures. He hears the Word of God and thinks it is foolishness. (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV) The world’s viewpoint has blinded him to the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV) The natural man refuses to love the truth and be saved. He is deluded to believe what is false and to take pleasure in wickedness. (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 ESV)

In our day, there are attitudes and fads that demand the modern Christian Church lighten up concerning the wickedness of man and adopt modern strategies to attract unbelievers. After all, we do not want to so obviously offend them by presenting them with the truth of their natural condition. The truth, some would say, is simply not a good marketing strategy. “Beloved, 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.” (1 John 4:1 ESV)

John Murray was a Scottish-born Calvinist theologian and professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Professor Murray wrote about this topic: Continue reading

COMFORT IN LOOKING FORWARD TO HEAVEN

J. C. RyleJ. C. Ryle:

Would you know the secret of comfort in looking forward to that heaven whereunto every believer desires to go? I believe there are few children of God who do not sometimes feel anxious, troubled, and cast down, when they think quietly about the eternal habitation towards which they are travelling. The nature of it, the manner of it, the employments of it, their own apparent unfitness and uniqueness for it, will sometimes perplex their minds. These thoughts will sometimes come across the believer’s mind, especially in times of sickness, filling him with heaviness, and making his heart sink. Now I know no remedy against these thoughts to be compared to the recollection of the continual intercession of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Christ is gone into heaven to be the forerunner of a people who are to follow after Him. He is gone to prepare a place for them, and the place where to He goes is the place where to His people are to go by and by. When they go there they will find all things made ready,–a place for everyone, and a fitting and proper place too, through the intercession of their Lord and Savior. There never will be a time when their company will not be liked in heaven There never will be a time when their old sins,–the sins of their youth and their backslidings, their wickedness before conversion, their profligacy, it may be, before the grace of God came into their hearts,–there never will be a day when all these sins shall come up against them, and make them feel abashed and ashamed in heaven. Christ will be in the midst. Christ will ever stand interceding. Where Christ is, there His people will be. Where He lives, His perfect merit, His spotless righteousness, His intercession, will make them perfect in the sight of God the Father. They will stand in heaven, seen in Christ, clothed in Christ, members of Christ, part of Christ; and so will possess a firm and solid and eternal title to the eternal joys which shall be hereafter. (“Able to Save”)

THE SEAL OF PROMISE

holy spiritIn him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV)

The seal of promise is the life-giving Holy Spirit who gives new life to the redeemed. The Holy Spirit sanctifies us to make us more holy as we live out our lives. He guides us into all truth. (John 16:12-15 ESV) He is the assurance of our birth right in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is our promised Helper. (John 14:15 ESV) It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to do various kinds of ministries. (Acts 1:8) He empowers our prayers. (Romans 8:26) The Holy Spirit empowers us to overcome spiritual opposition as we carry out our callings and God’s work in our lives. (Ephesians 6:10-18 ESV) He is our instructor and helps us to remember the teachings of Jesus. (John 14:26 ESV) Continue reading

THE EFFECTUAL FERVENT PRAYER

Jonathan EdwardsJonathan Edwards:

When God is displeased by sin, he manifests his displeasure, comes out against us in his providence, and seems to oppose and resist us. In such cases, God is, speaking after the manner of men, overcome by humble and fervent prayer. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” Jam. 5:16. It has a great power in it: such a prayer-hearing God is the Most High, that he graciously manifests himself as conquered by it. Thus God appeared to oppose Jacob in what he sought of him. Yet Jacob was resolute and overcame. Therefore God changed his name from Jacob to Israel, for says he, “as a prince thou hast power with God and with men, and hast prevailed,” Gen. 32:28. A mighty prince indeed! Hos 12:4, “Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed; He wept and made supplication unto him.” — When his anger was provoked against Israel, and he appeared to be ready to consume them in his hot displeasure, Moses stood in the gap, and by his humbled and earnest prayer and supplication, averted the stroke of divine vengeance, Exo. 32:9, etc. Num. 14:11, etc.

DO GOOD

JohnCalvinJohn Calvin:

The Lord enjoins us to do good to all without exception, though the greater part, if estimated by their own merit, are most unworthy of it. But Scripture subjoins a most excellent reason, when it tells us that we are not to look to what men in themselves deserve, but to attend to the image of God, which exists in all, and to which we owe all honor and love. But in those who are of the household of faith, the same rule is to be more carefully observed, inasmuch as that image is renewed and restored in them by the Spirit of Christ. Therefore, whoever be the man that is presented to you as needing your assistance, you have no ground for declining to give it to him.

Say he is a stranger. The Lord has given him a mark which ought to be familiar to you: for which reason he forbids you to despise your own flesh, (Gal. vi. 10.) Say he is mean and of no consideration. The Lord points him out as one whom he has distinguished by the luster of his own image, (Isaiah lviii. 7.) Say that you are bound to him by no ties of duty. The Lord has substituted him as it were into his own place, Continue reading

CHRISTIAN DIVISION

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“It is amazing how unanimous bad men can be. It has always struck me as a very startling thing that you have never heard of any division among the devils in Hell. There are no sects among the devils—they seem to work together with an awful unanimity of purpose in their wicked design. In this one thing they seem to excel the family of God. Oh, that we were as hearty and united in the service of God as wicked men are in the service of Satan!” (1892, Sermon #2254)

TEMPTATION

John OwenJohn Owen:

And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. (Matthew 4:9-11 ESV)

Our great Pattern hath showed us what our deportment ought to be in all suggestions and temptations. When the devil showed Him “all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them,” to tempt Him withal, He did not stand and look upon them, viewing their glory, and pondering their empire…. but instantly, without stay, He cries, “Get thee hence, Satan.” Meet thy temptation in its entrance with thoughts of faith concerning Christ on the cross; this will make it sink before thee. Entertain no parley, no dispute with it, if thou wouldst not enter into it.

CHRISTIANS

John FlavelJohn Flavel:

I think it is not very difficult to discern by the duties and conversations of Christians, what frames their spirits are under. Take a Christian in a good frame, and how serious, heavenly, and profitable, will his conversations and duties be! What a lovely companion is he during the continuance of it!

 

 

RIGHTEOUSNESS

John BunyanJohn Bunyan:

“But one day, as I was passing in the field, and that too with some dashes [matters or sins] on my conscience, fearing lest yet all was not right, suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul, Thy righteousness is in heaven; and I thought withal, I saw, with the eyes of my soul, Jesus Christ at God’s right hand; there, I say, as my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me, He lacks my righteousness, for that [my righteousness] was just before him.  I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet was my bad frame that [which] made my righteousness worse; for my righteousness – Jesus Christ himself, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, 35-36)

SANCTIFICATION

SanctificationStrive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14 ESV)

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: (1 Thessalonians 4:3 ESV)

Two words that are not used often in our modern culture are the words “sanctify” and “sanctification”. These words leave a bad taste in the mouths of many. They invoke images of people who act “holier than thou”. The world is quick to label Christians as “hypocrites”.

However, the subject of sanctification should be important to every Christian. For the Christian, sanctification begins with regeneration. Once we have been born again, there will be a definite moral change. We no longer desire to yield to the slavery of sin and we are no longer under the dominion of sin. We are sanctified in Christ, but “progressive sanctification” will continue throughout our lives. We must now yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit to become more like Christ.

Continuing growth in sanctification, however, is no guarantee of moral perfection in this lifetime. Paul writes to the Romans: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” (Romans 6:12-13 ESV) Continue reading

CHRISTIAN CONTENTMENT

Jeremiah Burroughs:

Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.

 

 

A LIFE OF PRAISE

Richard SibbesRichard Sibbes:

The whole life of a Christian should be nothing but praises and thanks to God; we should neither eat nor sleep, but eat to God and sleep to God and work to God and talk to God, do all to His glory and praise.

 

 

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