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    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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ON REFORMATION DAY

Samuel A CainOn October 31, 1517, a young monk in Wittenberg, Germany posted 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church. His intention was to begin a discussion with other scholars in the Catholic Church over the abuse of Scriptures by the church. Little did Luther know that God had chosen him to hammer out the beginnings of what came to be known as the Reformation. Scripture (Sola Scriptura), not tradition, was to be lifted up once again as the true and only word of salvation provided by God.

As the Reformation spread over Europe, the Protestant reformers summarized their basic theological principles into five Latin phrases. These phrases or slogans are known as the Five Solas. They stand in direct contrast to some of the medieval teachings of the Catholic Church. The Five Solas are: “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture alone); “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone); “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone); “Solus Christus” (Christ Alone); and “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory).

“Sola Scriptura” (Scripture alone) means that all the truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught in Scripture. Continue reading

RIGHTEOUSNESS

Samuel A CainFor our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:29 ESV)

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. (Proverbs 21:3 ESV)

God is righteous, but absolute righteousness is not possible for human beings. Men are not pronounced righteous based on personal virtue, but are declared righteous by grace through Jesus Christ. These persons produce the fruit of righteousness because God is working in them. Living a righteous life is not easy for anyone. The righteous life requires discipline and humble obedience to God. With determination the heart can be trained in righteousness. In time, the Christian will find that more of his attitudes and actions are guided by righteousness as he becomes more like Jesus.

The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient and infallible rule of saving knowledge, faith, and duty. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein He pardons our sins and receives us as righteous in His sight. Whom God effectually calls, He freely justifies by pardoning sins and by accounting them [Elect] as righteous. This is accomplished by imputing Christ’s active obedience to the law and His passive submission in death to the elect. Through faith in Christ, the righteousness of Christ is given to us. This is known as “imputed” righteousness. When we place our faith in Jesus, God credits the righteousness of Christ to our account so that we become perfect in His sight. “For our sake he made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV) Continue reading

DO YOU STAND IN JUDGMENT UPON SCRIPTURE?

John StottJohn Stott:

“We need to repent of the haughty way in which we sometimes stand in judgment upon Scripture and must learn to sit humbly under its judgments instead. If we come to Scripture with our minds made up, expecting to hear from it only an echo of our own thoughts and never the thunder-clap of God’s, then indeed he will not speak to us and we shall only be confirmed in our own prejudices. We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior.” (Authentic Christianity)

THE FOOL

Samuel A CainA fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. (Proverbs 18:2 ESV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 ESV)

All human beings tend to be self-centered. The more self-centered a man becomes, the more he forgets God and disobeys Him. Living without God, he is guided by his own lust, passion, and self-will. A man may have many advantages and yet his foolishness leads him to failure. A man may hear the call of God to the ministry, or to a professional life in business, but he plays the fool and spoils his life.

Do you want fulfillment in this life? A life of fulfillment requires your surrender to God and a life of obedience to Him. There is no wisdom in life apart from these things. Continue reading

SCHOOLS

Martin Luther by Ron AdairMartin Luther:

I am much afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the scriptures do not reign paramount.

PREACHING SCRIPTURE

John PiperJohn Piper:

“All Christian preaching should be the exposition and application of biblical texts. Our authority as preachers sent by God rises and falls with our manifest allegiance to the text of Scripture.”

 

ELECTION

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

[Q] Why preach upon so profound a doctrine as election?

[A] I answer, because it is in God’s word, and whatever is in the Word of God is to be preached.

[Q] But some truths ought to be kept back from the people, you will say, they should make an ill use thereof.

[A] That is Popish doctrine, it was upon that very theory that the priests kept back the Bible from the people, they did not give it to them lest they should misuse it.

[Q] But are not some doctrines dangerous?

[A] Not if they are true and rightly handled. Truth is never dangerous, it is error and reticence that are fraught with peril.

[Q] But do not men abuse the doctrine of grace?

[A] I grant you that they do; but if we destroyed everything that men misuse, we should have nothing left. Are there to be no ropes because some fools will hang themselves? And, must cutlery be discarded and denounced, because there are some who will use dangerous weapons for the destruction of their adversaries? Decidedly not. Besides all this, remember that men do read the Scriptures and think about these doctrines, and therefore often make mistakes about them; who then shall set them right if we, who preach the Word, hold our tongues about the matter? (“Election: Its Defenses and Evidences”)

POOR IN SPIRIT

Thomas WatsonThomas Watson:

He that is poor in spirit is lowly in heart. Rich men are commonly proud and scornful, but the poor are submissive. The poor in spirit roll themselves in the dust in the sense of their unworthiness. ‘I abhor myself in dust’ (Job 42:6). He that is poor in spirit looks at another’s excellences and his own infirmities. The more grace he has, the more humble he is, because he now sees himself a greater debtor to God. If he can do any duty, he acknowledges it is Christ’s strength more than his own. As the ship gets to the haven more by the benefit of the wind than the sail, so when a Christian makes swift progress, it is more by wind of God’s Spirit than the sail of his own endeavor. The poor in spirit, when he acts most like a saint, confesses himself to be ‘the chief of sinners’. He blushes more at the defect of his graces than others do at the excess of their sins. He dares not say he has prayed or wept. He lives, yet not he, but Christ lives in him. He labors, yet not he, but the grace of God. (The Beatitudes)

THE MEANING OF THE CROSS

Samuel A CainFor the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 ESV)

When you look at the Cross, what do you see? The Cross is the center of the history of man. The Cross is irrefutable proof of God’s love for us. Sinclair Ferguson writes, “When Paul preached ‘the cross’ he preached a message which explained that this instrument of rejection had been used by God as His instrument of reconciliation. Man’s means of bringing death to Jesus was God’s means to bring life to the world. Man’s symbol of rejecting Christ was God’s symbol of forgiveness for man. This is why Paul boasted about the Cross!”

On the cross, Christ suffered the punitive judgment of God that should have been ours to endure. Jesus Christ made an all-sufficient, redemptive sacrifice for his people’s sins. He appeased God’s wrath by recompensing those sins to remove them from God’s sight. By the cross of Christ, atonement was made for our sin and righteousness was imputed to the sinner. Continue reading

PREACHER

R. C. SproulR.C. Sproul:

“Your task, O preacher, is to make sure that you are faithful to the text, that you are faithful to the proclamation of that gospel, that you are faithful to set forth the whole counsel of God, and then step back and let it happen.”

 

WAITING

Samuel A CainWait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:14 ESV)

But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7 ESV)

Most of us probably tend to grow impatient when we have to wait. The world’s desire for immediate gratification has influenced us deeply. We hate waiting on fast food or on eBay to deliver our purchases. This carries over into our spiritual lives as well.

Waiting seems to be one way that God builds our character. Waiting during challenging times helps us to understand our dependency on God and grow in intimacy with Him. Waiting means confidence in God’s wisdom. It means trusting in God’s promises, providence, and sovereignty.

Waiting on God does not mean sitting down in a comfortable chair and taking a break. It is spending time in God’s Word and praying for wisdom. Waiting on God will result in a prosperous spirit and renewed strength. (Isaiah 40:30-31, ESV) Waiting on God includes keeping His Word in our hearts. We commit ourselves to biblical actions of faith in God’s goodness, provision and timing. Continue reading

THE WHOLE BIBLE

A. W. TozerAW. Tozer:

The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.

IF A MAN WOULD LEAD A HAPPY LIFE …

Thomas_MantonThomas Manton:

If a man would lead a happy life, let him but seek a sure object for his trust [or faith], and he shall be safe: “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.” He hath laid up his confidence in God, therefore his heart is kept in an equal poise.

 

 

PRAY FOR THE SALVATION OF ALL

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“There are some things we must always pray for with submission as to whether it is the will of God to bestow them upon us—but for the salvation of men and women we may ask without fear. God delights to save and to bless and when the faith is given to us to expect an immediate answer to such a prayer, thrice happy we are! Seek such faith even now, I beseech you, ‘even now.’” (1892, Sermon #2249)

THIS PRESENT LIFE

John CalvinJohn Calvin:

In seeking the convenience or tranquility of the present life, Scripture calls us to resign ourselves, and all we have, to the disposal of the Lord, to give him up the affections of our heart, that he may tame and subdue them. We have a frenzied desire, an infinite eagerness, to pursue wealth and honor, intrigue for power, accumulate riches, and collect all those frivolities which seem conducive to luxury and splendor. On the other hand, we have a remarkable dread, a remarkable hatred of poverty, mean birth, and a humble condition, and feel the strongest desire to guard against them. Hence, in regard to those who frame their life after their own counsel, we see how restless they are in mind, how many plans they try, to what fatigues they submit, in order that they may gain what avarice or ambition desires, or, on the other hand, escape poverty and meanness.

To avoid similar entanglements, the course which Christian men must follow is this: first, they must not long for, or hope for, or think of any kind of prosperity apart from the blessing of God; on it they must cast themselves, and there safely and confidently recline. For, however much the carnal mind may seem sufficient for itself when in the pursuit of honor or wealth, it depends on its own industry and zeal, or is aided by the favor of men, it is certain that all this is nothing, and that neither intellect nor labor will be of the least avail, except in so far as the Lord prospers both. Continue reading

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