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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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WHAT’S WRONG HERE?

According to a study by LifeWay Research:

  • Three-quarters of Americans (77 percent) agreed that people must contribute to their own effort for personal salvation.

  • Almost two-thirds of evangelicals (64 percent), and nearly as many Americans (60 percent) described heaven as a place where “all people will ultimately be reunited with their loved ones.”

  • Almost two-thirds (65 percent) said that most people are good by nature, even though everyone sins a little.

  • Sixty-four percent of Americans said God accepts the worship of all religions.

  • More than half (52 percent) said that Jesus is the “first and greatest being created by God.”

(See article by Tyler O’Neil, 12 Lies American Evangelicals Believe)

 

 

 

ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP

The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and does good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture. (The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 21)

THE CHURCH ENGULFED BY THE WORLD

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2 ESV)

PreacherThere are some who would accuse people like me of trying to make the church irrelevant in this culture because we advocate the preaching of the pure Gospel message. It is not that I think we should ignore the culture or times in which we live, I am simply concerned with the mindset that says “We must make the Gospel relevant to our times.” This is dangerous thinking. Forgetting that the absolute truth of Scripture is relevant to all times and places, people hurry forward to remodel it in the likeness of the society around them. Where this is practiced, we find the church becoming more like the culture rather than the culture conformed to the Christian model. This school of thought has become much too influential to the injury of Christian preaching.

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

GO DOGS AND EAT

Charles Spurgeon:

That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (Philippians 2:15 ESV)

Charles H. SpurgeonI believe that one reason why the church at this present moment has so little influence over the world, is because the world has so much influence over the church! Nowadays, we hear professors pleading that they may do this, and do that—that they may live like worldlings. My sad answer to them, when they crave this liberty is, “Do it if you dare. It may not cost you much hurt, for you are so bad already. Your cravings show how rotten your hearts are. If you are hungering after such dogs food—go dogs, and eat the garbage!

Worldly amusements are fit food for pretenders and hypocrites. If you were God’s children, you would loathe the thought of the world’s evil joys. Your question would not be, “How far may we be like the world?” but your cry would be, “How can we get away from the world? How can we come out of it?” (“The Soul Winner”)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 ESV)

COMMANDMENTS, COMMUNION, AND FEELINGS

. . . do not inquire about their [other nation’s] gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. (Deuteronomy 12:30-32 ESV)

Samuel A CainThere is a particular mindset in this age which makes “truth” the product of a popularity contest. If a celebrity, voices an opinion – then it must be true. Right? If someone from your political party says something negative about the opposition party, it must be true. Right? If you read it on Twitter or Facebook, it’s the absolute truth. Right? Many people today think that if they believe something to be true because many other people believe it, it must be true. This attitude has also crept into the church.

Suppose you attend church one Sunday and the pastor announces that the church leadership team has voted to change future communion services. After a lot of thought, discussion, and a sample polling of the congregation – the leadership decided that chocolate cake and Pepsi Cola will be substituted for the bread and wine (or grape juice) during communion. This announcement is welcomed with a warm round of applause from most of the congregation. How would this announcement concern you? Does this manner of communion honor God according to the Bible? Continue reading

IDOLATRY

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)

Samuel A CainHuman nature frequently leads people to try to change God and His worship into something that is more pleasing to them. Man’s chief end – “to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever” (The Westminster Shorter Catechism) – is often neglected simply for the pursuit of personal joy.

Idolatry is very appealing. Our culture actually encourages self-worship. There are “cultural Christians” who believe they can use their faith to manipulate God for their own worldly prosperity. They worship the gift not the Giver. Many in our congregations can barely sit still for 30 minutes unless they are hearing a sermon titled “Five Steps to Success” or “Seven Steps to What You Really Want”. Others run to the church that entertains them the most. They say they are there because of the worship. However, they do not include hearing God’s Word preached in their definition of “worship”. They attend because they are entertained – thus, diminishing worship to idolatry. Continue reading

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)

ADDING THE WORLD TO THE CHURCH

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“If we add to our Churches by becoming worldly, by taking in persons who have never been born again. If we add to our Churches by accommodating the life of the Christian to the life of the worldling, our increase is worth nothing at all—it is a loss rather than a gain! If we add to our Churches by excitement, by making appeals to the passions rather than by explaining the Truth of God to the understanding. If we add to our Churches otherwise than by the power of the Spirit of God making men new creatures in Christ Jesus, the increase is of no worth whatever! ” (1892, Sermon #2265)

THE HEAVIEST OBLIGATION OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH

A. W. TozerA. W. Tozer:

“The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him.”(The Knowledge of the Holy, 6)

AN “ALMOST GOSPEL”

PreacherRussell Moore:

“An ‘almost gospel’ doesn’t raise a corpse.”

A TEMPTATION OF THE CHURCH

The Preacher without HolinessRussell Moore:

“There is always the temptation for the church to reach people without addressing the issue of sin.” 

THE HEALTHY CHURCH

Samuel A CainSo then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22 ESV)

What makes a healthy church? Many people have ideas about this, but are they Biblical? Luke writes this about the early church:

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42 ESV)

These are healthy examples, but isn’t there more? The members of the church should be growing in holiness. (Hebrews 12:14 ESV) Evangelism must be a priority. (Mark 16:15 ESV) The emphasis of the church must be on Christ – not on the building or numbers. (Philippians 3:8-10 ESV) Continue reading

FINE BUILDINGS, MUSIC, AND CARRIAGES

Charles Haddon SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“If the professed followers of Christ happen to meet in some fine building and worship God with grand music and gorgeous rituals, then the people of the world put up with them! They may go even so far as to patronize them, though, even then, their respect is chiefly called forth, not on behalf of the people, but because of the building, the fine music and the carriages. The carriages are especially important, for without a certain number of them at the door, it is deemed impossible to have a proper display of cultured Christianity!” (1891, Sermon #2219)

THE WORLDLY MAN IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH

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. (1 John 2:16 ESV)

The contemporary church no longer looks for signs of gospel progress and thus allows anyone to claim he or she is a Christian. Every Sunday people attend church, perform their religious duties, believe they are saved, and are not. This is the state of the worldly man in the Christian Church. He is a double-minded man (James 1:6-8 ESV), yet he simply believes he is being open-minded and thus succumbs to unstable ideas which are not supported by truth.

In most modern churches, there is no obligation to become like Jesus Christ and set an example by following His teachings. The worldly man in the Christian Church believes that Christianity is true as long as it does not conflict with his own ideas.  He is religious, but guarded about how his secular friends outside the church see him. His life is one of inconsistency. Continue reading

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