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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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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

TRUTH IN THE WILDERNESS

J.C. Ryle:

Bishop J. C. RyleDo not put implicit confidence in any man’s opinion, merely because he is a minister.

What are the best of ministers but men; dust, ashes and clay, men with a nature like our own, men exposed to temptations, men liable to weaknesses and failings.

They have often driven the truth into the wilderness, and decreed that to be true, which was false. The greatest errors have been begun by ministers.

Peace without truth is a false peace; it is the very peace of the devil. Unity without the gospel is a worthless unity; it is the very unity of hell. Continue reading

A LITTLE OF CHRIST, PLEASE!

D. A. Carson:

D. A. CarsonSome Christians want enough of Christ to be identified with him but not enough to be seriously inconvenienced; they genuinely cling to basic Christian orthodoxy but do not want to engage in serious Bible study; they value moral probity, especially of the public sort, but do not engage in war against inner corruptions; they fret over the quality of the preacher’s sermon but do not worry much over the quality of their own prayer life. Such Christians are content with mediocrity. (A Call To Spiritual Reformation,121)

PREACH CHRIST TO SINNERS

Charles H. Spurgeon:

Charles H. Spurgeon“My message to every man or woman who desires salvation, ‘Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption.’ Do not begin by hoping in mercy and redemption, for these are not to be found apart from the Lord—but go at once to that Divine Person with whom there is mercy and plenteous redemption—then both of those will be granted to you. I wish I knew how to put this so plainly that every bewildered and cast-down spirit would catch my meaning and accept its counsel. I would also have preachers learn a lesson from the point I have been driving at. Let them not so much preach sinners to Christ as preach Christ to sinners. I am persuaded that a full and clear declaration of what Jesus is, as to His Person, offices, Character, work and authority would do more to produce faith than all our exhortations. ‘Whoever believes in Him has everlasting life’—but how shall they believe unless they hear of Him?” (1891, Sermon #2199)

TELL THEM THEY ARE SINNERS!

Paul Washer:

paulwasherAs stewards of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we do no service to men by making light of sin, skirting around the issue, or avoiding it altogether. Men have only one problem: they are under the wrath of God because of their sin. To deny this is to deny one of the most foundational doctrines of Christianity. It is not unloving to tell men that they are sinners, but it is the grossest form of immorality not to tell them! In fact, God declares that their blood will be on our hands if we do not warn them of their sin and the coming judgment. To seek to preach the gospel without making sin an issue is like trying to heal the brokenness of people superficially, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace.”

THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT AND THE WORD OF GOD

Samuel A CainIn all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, (Ephesians 6:16 – 17 ESV)

In Christianity, the sword often symbolizes, righteousness, justice, truth and purity. The Apostle Paul’s famous list of the pieces of the armor of God is found in Ephesians 6. The sixth piece of armor Paul mentions is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God! It is God’s statement, the Bible. As long as we speak and preach in harmony with the Bible, we have the sword of the Spirit. If we stray apart from His Word, we lose the power of this spiritual sword. As long as we stay connected to God’s Word, the sword or word of God will be “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV) Continue reading

SEEING CLEARLY

PreachingJohn Hendryx:

In the flesh we can go listen to a preacher, we can read the Bible, yet unless God reveals Himself directly to us, we are dead to spiritual truth (Eph 2:1). While reading the text we will actually fail to recognize Him, just as the disciples on the road to Emmaus, until Jesus opened their eyes. And that is why we need God to intervene, to take away our spiritual blindness, so that we can see clearly what otherwise is beyond our natural resources to comprehend.

CONCERNING THE WORD PREACHED

Thomas WatsonThomas Watson:

“Do we prize it (the Word preached) in our judgments? Do we receive it into our hearts? Do we fear the loss of the Word preached more than the loss of peace and trade? Is it the removal of the ark that troubles us? Again, do we attend to the Word with reverential devotion? When the judge is giving the charge on the bench, all attend. When the Word is preached, the great God is giving us His charge. Do we listen to it as to a matter of life and death? This is a good sign that we love the Word.”

A POOR SERMON

george-whitefield-pictureGeorge Whitefield:

It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.

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

CHURCH GROWTH

Samuel A CainAnd let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)

And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47 ESV)

Often, Christian leaders seek to encourage church growth by preaching messages that will be popular in our post-modern culture. Yet, the Apostle John writes:

“They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:5-6 ESV) Continue reading

PREACHING AND EQUIPPING

drkennedyDr. D. James Kennedy:

It is a great thing to be able to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to tell people the wonder of His love that took Him to Calvary, to describe the agony of His sufferings as He died in our place as our substitute and purchased for us eternal life. These are marvelous truths. But I want to tell you this: Just preaching it will not change the world. We must not only preach the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we must equip Christians to follow the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

STRONG OLD DOCTRINES

Charles SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

It is no novelty, then, that I am-preaching; no new doctrine. I love to proclaim these strong old doctrines, which are called by nickname Calvinism, but which are surely and verily the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus. By this truth I make a pilgrimage into the past, and as I go, I see father after father, confessor after confessor, martyr after martyr, standing up to shake hands with me. Were I a Pelagian, or a believer in the doctrine of free-will, I should have to walk for centuries all alone. Here and there a heretic of no very honorable character might rise up and call me brother. But taking these things to be the standard of my faith, I see the land of the ancients peopled with my brethren. I behold multitudes who confess the same as I do, and acknowledge that this is the religion of God’s own church. (From a sermon entitled, “Election”)

PREACHING MATTERS

Steve LawsonSteven J. Lawson:

“It matters to God what is preached. And it matters to Him how it is preached. No man is free to preach whatever and however he so chooses.”

 

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