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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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Temptation and the Christian

John A. BroadusEven true Christians may grow presumptuous, and indulge in a false confidence in themselves. When we first became Christians, our conscience may have been very tender. However, it is sadly true that even a Christian may grow callous by degrees and develop an arrogant spirit. John A. Broadus pens these words:

Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13 ESV)

Here is a text, which speaks to our need. Though temptation comes, we do not understand it and are often not prepared for it. Through Paul, God is giving us guidance to help us. . . .

We recognize here that God suffers us to be tempted, “God is faithful; he will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able.” Then God suffers us to be tempted. This is a distinction which does not amount to a great deal, I confess, and yet which is useful and helps us somewhat in relieving the dark mystery of evil in this world, that God permits evils of which he is not the author. … He suffers us to be tempted. The apostle James says that God tempts no man. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” The word “tempt,” as you all know – and the same thing is true of the words in the original language – signifies “to test,” “to put to the test” – as when you test a gun. This testing may be done with a good or an evil design. A man may put a great charge of powder into a gun for the purpose of ascertaining whether it is strong and can stand the test! or he may do it for the purpose of ascertaining whether it is weak, for the purpose of destroying it. So human character may be tested with friendly feelings, to try its strength, or with hostile feelings, in order to show its weakness and to destroy it. In the bad sense of the term, God tempts no-body, but he suffers us to be tempted.

Shall we inquire why he does this? We might say that temptation is one of the conditions of existence in this world. We cannot see how it would be possible to live here without being tempted. Jesus Christ himself, who was sinless, who came into this world to live but a little while and to die, endured temptation, not once merely, but many times-tempted to do what was wrong in the desert, tempted in the garden to shrink from what he had undertaken to do. Temptation is a condition of our existence.

Moreover, temptation is a discipline. That is one of the reasons why we may say God permits us to be tempted. Here again we have the example of Jesus. We are told in the Epistle to the Hebrews that Jesus learned from what he suffered. His human nature needed discipline like ours, and it found discipline in temptation as we do. He learned from what he suffered, and thus being made perfect he became the author of eternal salvation. … God suffers us to be tempted. (“Lessons for the Tempted”)

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The Very Center of History

H.G. WellsH.G. Wells once said:

I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.

The Son of God

J. Gresham MachenJesus represents Himself as seated on the judgment-seat over the entire world, separating whom He will from the heaven of being present with Him. Could anything be further from the humble teacher of righteousness appealed to by modern liberalism? J. Gresham Machen writes:

The teaching of Jesus was rooted in doctrine. It was rooted in doctrine because it depended upon a stupendous presentation of Jesus’ own Person. The assertion is often made, indeed, that Jesus kept His own Person out of His gospel, and came forward merely as the supreme prophet of God. That assertion lies at the very root of the modern liberal conception of the life of Christ. But common as it is, it is radically false. And it is interesting to observe how the liberal historians themselves, so soon as they begin to deal seriously with the sources, are obliged to admit that the real Jesus was not all that they could have liked Jesus to be. … Trained historians, despite their own desires, are obliged to admit that there was an element in the real Jesus which refuses to be pressed into any such mold. There is to the liberal historians, as Heitmuller has significantly said, ‘something almost uncanny’ about Jesus.

This ‘uncanny’ element in Jesus is found in His Messianic consciousness. The strange fact is that this pure teacher of righteousness appealed to by modern liberalism, this classical exponent of the non-doctrinal religion which is supposed to underlie all the historical religions as the irreducible truth remaining after the doctrinal accretions have been removed—the strange fact is that this supreme revealer of eternal truth supposed that He was to be the chief actor in a world catastrophe and was to sit in judgment upon the whole earth. Such is the stupendous form in which Jesus applied to Himself the category of Messiahship.

It is interesting to observe how modern men have dealt with the Messianic consciousness of Jesus. Some, like Mr. H. G. Wells, have practically ignored it. Without discussing the question whether it be historical or not they have practically treated it as though it did not exist, and have not allowed it to disturb them at all in their construction of the sage of Nazareth. The Jesus thus reconstructed may be useful as investing modern programs with the sanctity of His hallowed name; Mr. Wells may find it edifying to associate Jesus with Confucius in a brotherhood of beneficent vagueness. But what ought to be clearly understood is that such a Jesus Jesus the Messiahhas nothing to do with history. He is a purely imaginary figure, a symbol and not a fact.

Others, more seriously, have recognized the existence of the problem, but have sought to avoid it by denying that Jesus ever thought that He was the Messiah, and by supporting their denial, not by mere assertions, but by a critical examination of the sources. . . .

And when the Gospel account of Jesus is considered closely, it is found to involve the Messianic consciousness throughout. Even those parts of the Gospels which have been regarded as most purely ethical are found to be based altogether upon Jesus’ lofty claims. The Sermon on the Mount is a striking example. It is the fashion now to place the Sermon on the Mount in contrast with the rest of the New Testament. ‘We will have nothing to do with theology,’ men say in effect, ‘we will have nothing to do with miracles, with atonement, or with heaven or with hell. For us the Golden Rule is a sufficient guide of life; in the simple principles of the Sermon on the Mount we discover a solution of all the problems of society.’ It is indeed rather strange that men can speak in this way. Certainly it is rather derogatory to Jesus to assert that never except in one brief part of His recorded words did He say anything that is worth while. But even in the Sermon on the Mount there is far more than some men suppose. Men say that it contains no theology) in reality it contains theology of the most stupendous kind. In particular, it contains the loftiest possible presentation of Jesus’ own Person. That presentation appears in the strange note of authority which pervades the whole discourse; it appears in the recurrent words, ‘But I say unto you.’ Jesus plainly puts His own words on equality with what He certainly regarded as the divine words of Scripture; He claimed the right to legislate for the Kingdom of God. Let it not be objected that this note of authority involves merely a prophetic consciousness in Jesus, a mere right to speak in God’s name as God’s Spirit might lead. For what prophet ever spoke in this way? The prophets said, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ but Jesus said, ‘I say.’ We have no mere prophet here, no mere humble exponent of the will of God; but a stupendous Person speaking in a manner which for any other person would be abominable and absurd. (Christianity and Liberalism)

Let Him who is Athirst Come

If you are a great sinner, know that Jesus is a great Savior. John A. Broadus once preached the excerpt below:

Come with the same confidence in his [Christ’s] power that they felt who asked him to heal their disease. There are many to testify that they have come and been heard, and none been sent empty away – do you come, and you too shall hear him say, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” Come with the same humility the Syrophoenician woman felt, when she pled that the dogs, though they should not eat the children’s food, might yet have the crumbs that fell under the table-and that she, though a Gentile, might yet have some humble share in that salvation which was of the Jews. Come with all the earnestness the poor blind man felt. He heard that Jesus was passing, and none could hinder him with all their charges, from crying, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.” And when the compassionate Savior stopped, and commanded him to be called, they said to him, “Be of good comfort, rise! he calleth thee.” Even so, my hearer, Jesus commands you to be called, as you sit in your spiritual blindness. Just as Bartimaeus threw away his cloak that nothing might hinder him, and went eagerly to Jesus, so you come at once unto him, and ask that you may receive your sight. You too shall hear him say, “Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.”

All must come from him. Let him be your Lord, your life, your sacrifice, your Savior and your all. You are a sinner, and Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.

It is said (many here have doubtless read the account) that a brother of the famous Whitefield was once conversing, in great distress, with Lady Huntingdon. She told him of the infinite love and mercy of Jesus, but he replied, “I know all that; but there is no mercy for me – I am lost, I am lost.” “I am glad to hear it, Mr. Whitefield, very glad to hear it.” “How, my dear Madam, glad to hear that I am lost?” “Yes, Jesus came to save the lost.” That word moved him; he believed on Jesus, and lived and died a Christian. And so may you, if you believe on him who is the Savior of the lost and ruined. Then come to Jesus, come earnestly, come just as you are.

Just as I am, without one plea

Save that thy blood was shed for me,

And that thou bidst me come to thee,

O Lamb of God, I come.

Come, and you will be heard – you shall find rest. He will not send you away. He came into the world to save sinners – he suffered and died to save sinners – he invited burdened sinners to him. Then take this blessed, this precious invitation to yourself, come to Jesus, and your soul shall live. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (“Come Unto Me”)

Come to Jesus

 

John A. Broadus (1827-1895) encourages us to come to the Great Savior in the article below:

There are many to testify that they have come [to Jesus] and been heard, and none been sent empty away – do you come, and you too shall hear him say, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” Come with the same humility the Syrophoenician woman felt, when she pled that the dogs, though they should not eat the children’s food, might yet have the crumbs that fell under the table – and that she, though a Gentile, might yet have some humble share in that salvation which was of the Jews. Come with all the earnestness the poor blind man felt. He heard that Jesus was passing, and none could hinder him with all their charges, from crying, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.” And when the compassionate Savior stopped, and commanded him to be called, they said to him, “Be of good comfort, rise! he calleth thee.” Even so, my hearer, Jesus commands you to be called, as you sit in your spiritual blindness. Just as Bartimaeus threw away his cloak that nothing might hinder him, and went eagerly to Jesus, so you come at once unto him, and ask that you may receive your sight. You too shall hear him say, “Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.”

Let him be your Lord, your life, your sacrifice, your Savior and your all. You are a sinner, and Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.

It is said that a brother of the famous Whitefield was once conversing, in great distress, with Lady Huntingdon. She told him of the infinite love and mercy of Jesus, but he replied, “I know all that; but there is no mercy for me – I am lost, I am lost.” “I am glad to hear it, Mr. Whitefield, very glad to hear it.” “How, my dear Madam, glad to hear that I am lost?” “Yes, Jesus came to save the lost.” That word moved him; he believed on Jesus, and lived and died a Christian. And so may you, if you believe on him who is the Savior of the lost and ruined. Then come to Jesus, come earnestly, come just as you are.

Just as I am, without one plea

Save that thy blood was shed for me,

And that thou bidst me come to thee,

O Lamb of God, I come.

Come, and you will be heard – you shall find rest. He will not send you away. He came into the world to save sinners – he suffered and died to save sinners – he invited burdened sinners to him. Then take this blessed, this precious invitation to yourself, come to Jesus, and your soul shall live. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (“Come unto Me”)

 

He Will Hear You

Dear reader, come to Jesus just as you are. Don’t wait until you believe you are ready. All this will be His gift. Are you not a sinner? Jesus invites you to come to him. You say you are not as sorry for your sins as you ought to be? No one is. Come to Jesus, and ask that He help you to repent. If you are without faith, ask Jesus to give you faith. John A. Broadus (1827-1895) writes:

God is angry with the wicked every day; and the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord. You may not mock the offended majesty of God Most High; you may not dare to mock him by coming unto him in your own name, and trusting in your own righteousness. You ought to fear before him, and to tremble at the thought of coming to him thus. But you may come to Jesus – you are invited to come to him. He is the appointed mediator between God and man. Come and ask him to intercede for you. And then through him draw near to the throne of grace. Make mention of his merits, plead his atoning sacrifice, rely wholly on what he has done, and God’s anger is turned away – he will hear, he will pardon, and your soul shall live. If then you are burdened with a sense of your unworthiness, come to Jesus, and you shall not come in vain.

All that labor, with whatever toil, all that are heavy laden, with whatever burden, may take this invitation as addressed to them. “Thou callest burdened souls to Thee, And such, O Lord, am I.” Whatever it is that bears you down, the consciousness of sin, the terror of judgment, distressing doubts or manifold temptations, whatever else may torment your soul and weigh down your spirit, this invitation is for you. If you are burdened with affliction or sorrow or fearful apprehension, in short (to repeat it again and again) if you bear any burden, you are invited to Jesus. “Come unto me, all ye,” etc.

It would be natural and reasonable enough for one thus frequently and earnestly invited to come to Jesus, especially for one who is “an alien from God, and a stranger to grace,” who knows not the blessed Savior in the pardon of his sins, who has never “come boldly unto the throne of grace,” and obtained mercy and found grace to help in time of need, it would be natural enough for him to inquire now, “What is meant by coming to Jesus? Suppose I feel myself to be burdened, and want to seek relief, how shall I come to Jesus for rest?” This is the remaining subject of which I propose to speak. I shall not try to explain, for I can add nothing to that which is, in itself, plain already, but only to illustrate.

First then I say, come to him as men came when he was on earth. We sometimes hear it said, “Oh that I had lived when Jesus was sojourning among men; how would I have gone to him for peace and prayed that I might follow him whithersoever he went! What a privilege it must have been to the people of Bethany, for instance, when again and again Jesus came among them, when they might, even in their own homes, sit as Mary sat at the feet of the great and good Teacher and learn lessons of heavenly wisdom!” Yes, it was a great privilege; and it is true that the case is somewhat different now. We cannot now go sensibly to Jesus as a man, living somewhere among us. We are not now to go from one part of the country or the world to another, in order to be where the Savior is. There is no sensible coming to him now. But it is only a change from sight to faith – from a moving of the body to a moving of the thoughts and affections. It may be thought a great privation that we cannot go somewhere, as they did then, and find him. But is it not on the other hand a great privilege that we need not now go anywhere; we may always find him here? He is everywhere, and as much in one place as another. Men have often forgotten this great and consoling and gladdening truth. Many a weary pilgrimage has been made in the centuries that are past to the Holy Land, in the hope that forgiveness of sin and peace of conscience, which could not be found at home, might be found there. It is pleasant, and may do the heart good, to stand where Jesus stood, to weep where he wept on Olivet, to pray where he prayed in Gethsemane, but he is here now as well as there. Wherever one seeks him there he may be found “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Wherever there is a tear of penitence, or a sigh of godly sorrow, wherever there is earnest prayer to him or the desire to pray felt in the heart, there is Jesus to see and to hear and to answer. (“Come Unto Me”)

The Yoke of Sin

I pray that all who are burdened with sin and sinfulness, and desire to know how their sins may be forgiven and their souls saved – would hear the gracious words of the following text, and come to Jesus. John A. Broadus (1827-1895) writes:

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

But it is impossible that men should be without subjection to some higher power; by our very nature we look up to some Being that is above us. All who are not subject to God are the subjects of Satan: and they who wish to be delivered from the dominion of the Evil One, must find such deliverance in having God himself for their King, as he intended they should when he made them. Accordingly, when the Savior offers to give rest, he bids them take his yoke upon them, and learn of him, and they shall find rest unto their souls. And then he concludes the invitation by encouraging them to believe that this exchange will be good and pleasant; they labor under the galling yoke of Satan, and are heavy laden with the grievous burdens of sin, but his yoke is easy. This burden is light. . . .

The same bountiful and gracious Being who suits the blessings of his providence to our various wants, does also adapt the invitations of his mercy to the varied characters and conditions of men. Are men enemies to God? – they are invited to be reconciled. Have they hearts harder than the nether millstone? – he offers to take away the stone, and give a heart of flesh. . . Are they sleeping the heavy sleep of sin? – “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead.” Are men hungering with a craving hunger? – he tells them of the bread that came down from heaven. Are they thirsty? – he calls them to the water of life. And are they burdened with sin and sinfulness? – he invites them to come to Jesus for rest. It is those who are “bowed down beneath a load of sin,” that are here especially invited to come to Jesus.

Sin is great and grievous burden: and no man can ever see it as it is and feel it in its weight without wishing to be relieved of it. My hearers, are there not many among you who have often felt this – who have often felt heavy laden with the load of your transgressions, and the burden of your sinfulness? Are there not those among you who feel this now? If you do not all feel so, it is because your perceptions are blunted, you do not see things as they are. You have been servants of sin for a long time – have you not found it a hard master? You have been wearing the yoke of Satan lo! These many years – have you not found that his yoke is indeed galling and grievous? How many things you have done at his bidding that you knew to be wrong? How often you have stifled the voice of your conscience, and listened to the suggestions of the Tempter! How often you have toiled to gratify sinful desires and passions, and found that still the craving, aching void was left unfilled!

What has sin done for the world and for you that you should desire it? It brought death into the world, and all our woe. It has filled the earth with suffering and sorrow. It has made it needful that Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, should suffer and die, to make atonement for it. It has brought upon you much of unhappiness now, and many most fearful apprehensions for the future. By your sins you have incurred the just anger of Him that made you-already they rise mountain high, and yet still you go on in your sinfulness, accumulating more and more, heaping up wrath against the day of wrath. You shudder when you think of death, you tremble when you think of God, for you know well that you are not prepared to die, that you cannot meet your Maker and Judge in peace. And not only has sin brought on you all these sufferings and fears, but you cannot rid yourself of it. . . .

If so, hear the Savior’s own invitation, and come to him. He will take off the heavy load that crushes you, and you shall find rest to your souls. He will intercede in your behalf before God, he will take away your guilt by the sacrifice he has offered, and he will “wash you thoroughly from your iniquity, and cleanse you from your sin.” (“Come Unto Me”)

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