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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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GOD CALLS HIS PEOPLE TO BE HOLY

The problem of lax and hypocritical Christianity is not a new one, and one of the best treatments of the entire subject is a classic [Holiness] written by J.C. Ryle (1816–1900), who served as the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool for twenty years…

Ryle’s work is convicting because he does not appeal to silly gimmicks and other manmade answers to the problem of sin. He appeals over and over to Scripture, to the Word of the living God, and he drives the Word of God home through careful and direct application. If you are complacent in your sin and do not want to be disturbed in your enjoyment of it, do not read Ryle [Holiness].

(Keith Mathison, A Christian Classic on Sanctification, Ligonier Ministries)

I also recommend The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges and The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. – Samuel

 

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WILL I EVER BE RIGHTEOUS?

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. (1 Peter 3:12 ESV)

The God of the Bible is righteous and takes sin so seriously that our own efforts cannot erase the guilt of our iniquity. Yet, through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, God has forgiven our sins that we may participate in His righteousness. In Christ, we see the righteousness of the invisible God lived out in human conduct and character. Righteousness is the fruit of a life in Christ.

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THE CHURCH POLICE

For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:2)

Have you ever run afoul of the church police? These are your brothers and sisters in Christ who believe they have obtained the perfection that Paul did not. (Philippians 3:7-16) These are the people who judge quickly by external appearances. They share some similarities with the Pharisees. You can bet they know if you attend church regularly; belong to a Bible study; volunteer for church projects; or dress appropriately. They set Christian standards for others by their own interpretation of the Biblical principles of conduct which they believe they have mastered. They believe they have been called to set others on the straight and narrow path.

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INEXHAUSTIBLE POWER

The Old and New Testament clearly demonstrate the power of God working through His saints. Example after example is provided for our moral and spiritual guidance. The Bible exhorts us to be conformed to the pattern of life that God has made possible through the power of His grace. His grace is sufficient for all our needs because His power increases in us when we are too weak to overcome the obstacles before us. (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV) We have been made alive together with Christ and this changes everything.

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PATIENCE

And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. (Hebrews 6:15 ESV)

The Scriptures tell us that patience is a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22 ESV) Paul writes that patience is a quality that we should put on. (Colossians 3:12 ESV) Patience is an important characteristic of the Christian life. It requires submission to God’s Word and Will. We are like clay and He is our Potter. We are the work of His hands. (Isaiah 64:8 ESV) Impatience opposes God’s work in us. Our obsession with getting results quickly – often leads us to take shortcuts that actually inhibit spiritual growth.  On the other hand, godly patience encourages spiritual growth as we wait for the fulfillment of God’s promises.

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SOME THOUGHTS ON CHARACTER

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. (Romans 12:11-16 ESV)

character of founding fathersHave you ever really thought about the many qualities of your own character? The quality of a Christian’s character is extremely important because it should reflect the glory of God. Would people describe you as manifesting the character of Jesus? Romans 12:11-16 describes the character of a mature Christian. I have listed a few of the important characteristics I find in the verses above:

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PRESSING FORWARD

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14 ESV)

Life is often about moving forward. If we stop moving forward, our lives frequently become stagnant and pointless. Even our spiritual lives often suffer from failing to move forward. I’m not talking about embracing every new idea or popular fad that comes along; this article is about God’s calling upon your life and not stopping short of the goal.

In the verse above, we find Paul describing his own efforts to move forward in the Christian life. He is certainly not the man he was but he is not yet the man he should like to be either. Doesn’t he sound very human – just like us? Paul recognizes his shortcomings and yet he presses on striving to become more like Jesus.

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