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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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A CHRISTIAN’S LIFE

Charles Hodge:

Charles HodgeTo be in Christ is the source of the Christian’s life; to be like Christ is the sum of His excellence; to be with Christ is the fullness of His joy.

A Christian is one who recognizes Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, as God manifested in the flesh, loving us and dying for our redemption; and who is so affected by a sense of the love of this incarnate God as to be constrained to make the will of Christ the rule of his obedience, and the glory of Christ the great end for which He lives.

LOVE THAT PASSES KNOWLEDGE

Charles Hodge:

Charles Hodge“It is the love of Christ, i. e. his love to us which passes knowledge. It is infinite; not only because it inheres in an infinite subject, but because the condescension and sufferings to which it led, and the blessings which it secures for its objects, are beyond our comprehension. This love of Christ, though it surpasses the power of our understanding to comprehend, is still a subject of experimental knowledge. We may know how excellent, how wonderful, how free, how disinterested, how long-suffering, how manifold and constant, it is, and that it is infinite. And this is the highest and most sanctifying of all knowledge. Those who thus know the love of Christ towards them, purify themselves even as he is pure.” (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians)

THE INFINITE POWER

“… having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:18-21 ESV)

Charles Hodge:

Charles HodgeThe infinite power of God from which so much may be expected, is the same of which we are now the subjects. It is that power which wrought in Christ when it raised him from the dead, and set him at the right hand of God, [Ephesians 1:18-21 ESV]; and which has wrought an analogous change in the believer in raising him from the death of sin, and making him to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; and which still sustains and carries on the work of salvation in the soul. The past is a foretaste and pledge of the future. Those who have been raised from the dead, who have been transformed by the renewing of their minds, translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, and in whom God himself dwells by his Spirit, having already experienced a change which nothing but omnipotence could effect, may well join in the doxology to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think. (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians)

REDEMPTION – COMPLETE AND FREE

Charles HodgeCharles Hodge:

“Though the redemption purchased by Christ, as described in this epistle, is so complete and so free, yet between the beginning and the consummation of the work there is a protracted conflict. This is not a figure of speech. It is something real and arduous. Salvation, however gratuitous, is not to be obtained without great effort. The Christian conflict is not only real, it is difficult and dangerous. It is one in which true believers are often grievously wounded; and multitudes of reputed believers entirely succumb. It is one also in which great mistakes are often committed and serious loss incurred from ignorance of its nature, and of the appropriate means for carrying it on. Men are apt to regard it as a mere moral conflict between reason and conscience on the one side, and evil passions on the other. They therefore rely on their own strength, and upon the resources of nature for success. Against these mistakes the apostle warns his readers. He teaches that everything pertaining to it is supernatural. The source of strength is not in nature. The conflict is not between the good and bad principles of our nature. He shows that we belong to a spiritual, as well as to a natural world, and are engaged in a combat in which the higher powers of the universe are involved; and that this conflict, on the issue of which our salvation depends, is not to be carried on with straws picked up by the wayside. As we have superhuman enemies to contend with, we need not only superhuman strength, but divine armor and arms.” (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians)

THE CHURCH AND THE WORD OF GOD

Charles HodgeCharles Hodge:

All her triumphs over sin and error have been effected by the word of God. So long as she uses this and relies on it alone, she goes on conquering; but when any thing else, be it reason, science, tradition, or the commandments of men, is allowed to take its place or to share its office, then the church, or the Christian, is at the mercy of the adversary. Hoc signo vinces—the apostle may be understood to say to every believer and to the whole church. (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians)

HE IS JUST AND JUSTIFIES

Charles HodgeCharles Hodge:

“[God] shows that He can be just and yet justify, love, sanctify, and glorify the chief of sinners. For which all sinners should render Him everlasting thanksgiving and praise.”

BELIEVE!

Charles HodgeCharles Hodge:

Our duty, privilege, and security are in believing, not in knowing; in trusting God, and not our own understanding. They are to be pitied who have no more trustworthy teacher than themselves.

He did not die for Himself, so neither did He obey for Himself. In both forms of His obedience He acted for us, as our representative and substitute, that through His righteousness many might be made righteous.

Faith is not a blind, irrational conviction. In order to believe, we must know what we believe, and the grounds on which our faith rests.

God promises to pardon, to receive into his favor, and finally to save all who believe the record which He has given of his Son. To believe, is therefore to believe this promise; and to appropriate this promise to ourselves is to believe that God is reconciled to us. (Systematic Theology)

KILLING SIN

John OwenJohn Owen:

“Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lusts.  He who doth not kill sin in his way takes no steps towards his journey’s end.  He who finds not opposition from it, and who sets not himself in every particular to its mortification, is at peace with it, not dying to it.” (Mortification of Sin in Believers)

NOT A FAR OFF GOD

Charles HodgeCharles Hodge:

“He is not to us a God afar off, with whom we have no immediate concern; but a God who is not far from any one of us, in whom we live, move, and have our being, who numbers the hairs of your head, and without whose notice a sparrow does not fall to the ground.”

DEATH REIGNED

Charles HodgeCharles Hodge:

“If the race fell in Adam, much more shall it be restored in Christ. If death reigned by one, much more shall grace reign by one.”

The Promises of the Covenant

Charles HodgeThink of having every hindrance to your fellowship with God disappear. How would you respond? According to Charles Hodge:

The promises of this covenant are all included in the comprehensive formula, so often occurring in the Scriptures, ‘I will be your God, and ye shall be my people.’ This involves the complete restoration of our normal relation to God. All ground of alienation, every bar to fellowship is removed. He communicates Himself in his fullness to his people; and they become his by entire conformity to his will and devotion to his service, and are the special objects of his favor. God is said to be our God, not only because He is the God whom we acknowledge and profess to worship and obey, as He was the God of the Hebrews in distinction from the Gentiles who did not acknowledge his existence or profess to be his worshipers; but He is our God, our infinite portion; the source to us of all that God is to those who are the objects of his love. His perfections are revealed to us as the highest knowledge; they are all pledged for our protection, blessedness, and glory. His being our God implies also that He assures us of his love, and admits us to communion with Himself. As his favor is life, and his loving kindness better than life; as the vision of God, the enjoyment of his love and fellowship with Him secure the highest possible exaltation and beatification of his creatures, it is plain that the promise to be our God, in the Scriptural sense of the term, includes all conceivable and all possible good.

When it is said that we are to be his people it means, that we are his peculiar possession. His delights are with the children of men. From the various orders of rational creatures He has chosen man to be the special object of his favor, and the special medium through which and by which to manifest his glory. And from the mass of fallen men He has, of his own good pleasure, chosen an innumerable multitude to be his portion, as He condescends to call them; on whom He lavishes the plenitude of his grace, and in whom He reveals his glory to the admiration of all holy intelligences. That being thus selected for the special love of God and for the highest manifestation of his glory, they are in all things fitted for this high destiny. They are justified, sanctified, and glorified. They are rendered perfectly conformed to his image, devoted to his service, and obedient to his will. (“The Covenant)

The Preacher’s Call

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles Spurgeon preaches here on the preacher’s call:

If a man be truly called of God to the ministry, I will defy him to withhold himself from it. A man who has really within him the inspiration of the Holy Ghost calling him to preach, cannot help it, – he must preach. As fire within the bones, so will that influence be until it blazes forth. Friends may check him, foes criticize him, despisers sneer at him, the man is indomitable; he must preach if he has the call of Heaven. All earth might forsake him; but he would preach to the barren mountain-tops. If he has the call of Heaven, if he had no congregation, he would preach to the rippling waterfalls, and let the brooks hear his voice. He could not be silent. He would become a voice crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” I no more believe it possible to stop ministers than to stop the stars of heaven. I think it no more possible to make a man cease from preaching, if he is really called, than to stay some mighty cataract, by seeking, in an infant’s cup, to catch the rushing torrent. The man has been moved of Heaven, who shall stop him? He has been touched of God, who shall impede him? With an eagle’s wing, he must fly; who shall chain him to the earth? With a seraph’s voice, he must speak; who shall seal his lips? And when a man does speak as the Spirit gives him utterance, he will feel a holy joy akin to that of Heaven; and when it is over, he wishes to be at his work again, he longs to be once more preaching. Is not the Lord’s Word like a fire within me? Must I not speak if God has placed it there? (A sermon on 1 Corinthians 9:16, August 5, 1855 – New Park Street Pulpit Volume 1, Sermon 34)

Christ and the Covenant

Charles HodgeGod is our God of the Covenant. Through Jesus Christ, God reveals He is our infinite portion and we are the objects of His love. According to Charles Hodge:

As Christ is a party to the covenant of redemption, so He is constantly represented as the mediator of the covenant of grace; … By fulfilling the conditions on which the promises of the covenant of redemption were suspended, the veracity and justice of God are pledged to secure the salvation of his people; and this secures the fidelity of his people. So that Christ answers both for God and man. His work renders certain the gifts of God’s grace, and the perseverance of his people in faith and obedience. He is therefore, in every sense, our salvation.

The condition of the covenant of grace, as far as adults are concerned, is faith in Christ. That is, in order to partake of the benefits of this covenant we must receive the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God in whom and for whose sake its blessings are vouchsafe to the children of men. Until we thus believe, we are aliens and strangers from the covenant of promise, without God and without Christ. We must acquiesce in this covenant, renouncing all other methods of salvation, and consenting to be saved on the terms, which it proposes, before we are made partakers of its benefits.

The word condition, however, is used in two senses. Sometimes it means the meritorious consideration on the ground of which certain benefits are bestowed. In this sense, perfect obedience was the condition of the covenant originally made with Adam. Had he retained his integrity he would have merited the promised blessing. For to him that works the reward is not of grace but of debt. In the same sense, the work of Christ is the condition of the covenant of redemption. It was the meritorious ground, laying a foundation in justice for the fulfillment of the promises made to Him by the Father. But in other cases, by condition we merely mean a sine qua non. A blessing may be promised on condition that it is asked for; or that there is a willingness to receive it. … In either case, the necessity is equally absolute. Without the work of Christ, there would be no salvation; and without faith, there is no salvation. He that believes on the Son hath everlasting life. He that believes not shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (“The Covenant of Grace”)

Salvation and the Covenant

Charles HodgeSalvation is offered to all men on the condition of faith in Christ. Therefore, in this sense, the covenant of grace is made with all men. The supreme sin of those who hear the gospel is that they refuse to accept this covenant, and therefore place themselves outside it. Charles Hodge writes:

In virtue of what the Son of God covenanted to perform and what in the fullness of time He actually accomplished, agreeably to the stipulations of the compact with the Father, two things follow. First, salvation is offered to all men on the condition of faith in Christ. Our Lord commanded his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. The gospel, however, is the offer of salvation upon the conditions of the covenant of grace. In this sense, the covenant of grace is formed with all mankind. And, therefore, the Westminster Confession says, ‘Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant [namely, by the covenant of works], the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace: wherein He freely offereth unto sinners [and all sinners] life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life, his Holy Spirit, to make them able and willing to believe.’ If this, therefore, were all that is meant by those who make the parties to the covenant of grace, God and mankind in general and all mankind equally, there would be no objection to the doctrine. For it is undoubtedly true that God offers to all and every man eternal life on condition of faith in Jesus Christ. But as it is no less true that the whole scheme of redemption has special reference to those given by the Father to the Son, and of whom our Lord says, ‘All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out’ (John 6.37), … To them God has promised to give his Spirit in order that they may believe; and to them alone all the promises made to believers belong. (“The Covenant”)

Evolution or Design?

Science and Evolution:

Let us examine the evidence to see which universe really exists. Is it the random, accidental universe of evolution, or the complex, specific, intelligent universe of design? Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882) really influenced our world in 1859 when he wrote his famous book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life”. Darwin believed that variations occur randomly within a species, and the ability to survive depends on the species ability to adapt to its surroundings. In essence, he thought that this process of natural selection (small changes to the pressures of the environment over long periods of time) accounted for the slow evolution of everything in our world. He alleged that all life progressed from simple cells to the life forms we see today. His ideas were based on an unproven assumption. Darwin assumed that there was such a thing as a simple cell. He looked through the primitive microscope of his day and observed what appeared to be a little blob of protoplasm. Looking at this, it wasn’t hard to imagine that this little blob could evolve from a small assemblage of amino acids! However, there was much more to see than Darwin guessed! (continued tomorrow. . . .)

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