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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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PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23 ESV)

HolinessThe spiritual life of a Christian is progressive in its character. A continuing growth in the grace of Christ is the best confirmation of its authenticity. Genuine sanctification increases and shows that its foundation is deep by its steady progress towards holiness. Holiness may be slow in appearing. Advancement may not be visible from one day to the next, but in time the increase becomes apparent. In the various seasons of life, the development of sanctification may often seem delayed, diminished, or weak. God, however, will give us help in our time of need. He will lead us by the hand and with His right hand He shall uphold us. (Psalm 139:10 ESV) For the work that God has begun will certainly be brought to completion. (Philippians 1:6 ESV)

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STANDING IN THE FACE OF PERSECUTION

But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. (Acts 5:19-21 ESV)

Apostles in jailThe High Priest envied the popularity of the Apostles and resented them for teaching in the temple. Therefore, he ordered them to be arrested and locked up in the public jail. However, an angel came during the night and set them free. Some of the Apostles may have wanted to run and hide at this point. After all, they were human like us.

The angel spoke to them and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” Despite whatever fears they may have had, they risked the possibility of punishment and even death by deciding to enter the temple at daybreak and teach the words of life. These men were convinced in their hearts that it is better to obey God than men. They trusted in Jesus Christ. Do you?

A REASON FOR GRATITUDE

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)

At one time we were slaves to sin and darkness, but now we wish to serve and obey God to prove our thankfulness for His gift of redemption. Our gratitude follows the astonishing deliverance we received by Christ’s mercy. If we truly understand the depth of our sins, all our gratitude must follow. Justification and sanctification have been graciously imputed to us. The Holy Spirit has made us eternally alive, even though we continue to live in this world filled with corruption. Christ did everything for us – to free us – that we might glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Therefore, it is our pleasure to demonstrate our gratitude by witnessing to His glory in a fallen world that hates God.

Samuel A Cain (2)God’s grace has delivered us without any good works of our own. This is why we desire to please Him with good works that exalt His name and the name of Jesus. We are spiritually prompted by our new sanctified attitudes to give thanks to God for reconciling us to Himself when we were His enemies. We were sinners, but having been renewed by the Holy Spirit we grow daily into the image of Christ. Such a great salvation enlarges the soul with gratefulness.

HOLY LIVING

Without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)

Be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV)

Samuel A Cain (2)We must pursue holiness, because this is the only observable confirmation that we are genuine children of our Father in heaven. Pursuing like-mindedness with Jesus Christ glorifies God. The un-Christ-like Christian causes enormous harm to his neighbors by his inconstant witness. However, a man who pursues holiness and like-mindedness with Christ, brings joy to heaven by his testimony and gives a gift superior to gold to his neighbors.

THE CURSE OF PRIDE

Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:36-37 ESV)

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 5:1-2 ESV)

Samuel A CainI am sure that Barnabas was praised for giving money to the apostles for the poor. Ananias and Sapphira must have envied him very much. Perhaps they made a vow to the apostles promising to give the same. They sold the piece of property and kept some of the money. They agreed, however, to tell the apostles they were giving all the money they had received for the sale.

Keep in mind that Ananias and Sapphira were not required to sell the property or give the money to the apostles for the poor. Yet, their desire for undeserved admiration led them to lie to their friends, the apostles, and – most importantly – they attempted to lie to God. They were seeking to glorify themselves – not God. Therefore, because of pride’s evil curse their motivation was all wrong. Do not touch or defile God’s glory.

DEPRESSION

Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. (Psalm 143:7 ESV)

Samuel A Cain (2)I have learned that depression is like a long, torturous interrogation.  You confess your fears, failures, and flaws over and over again like a broken record. The mountain of pain is too great to bear. Yet, the sadistic interrogator is never satisfied with your answers – because he is you and the truth lies outside yourself. Too much talking to yourself about yourself means you are talking too little to God.

STANDING FIRM IN THE WORD

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)

I recently heard that a pastor in a church I am familiar with was asked to resign by his elders. He did the right thing and Samuel A Cainhumbly resigned. When the elders, in a church meeting, later explained their decision to the congregation, they used language like; “Many thought he was teaching too much about works,” and others said, “He didn’t preach many sermons they found comforting.” It was obvious that some people were uncomfortable with his teachings on God’s sovereignty. Others did not like that he taught revelation is found only in the Bible – not in the phrase, “God told me ….” 

Having heard this pastor preach many times, I can say that his sermons were always full of grace. As to the elders’ comment about works – I think they have confused this with his frequent calls to holy living and gospel progress. He always urged his congregation to become more like Christ that they might glorify Him by the way they lived. Continue reading

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