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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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OF FLAGS, STATUES, AND FOOLISHNESS

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (George Santayana)

Ignore history at your own peril. Banning flags and tearing down statues will not hide sin; make us more righteous; or prevent hate. All this is simply the outside of the cup. Americans must change within. This is the true change that Christ promised. Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ is a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) There is salvation in no other name. It is the gift of God confirming the love of God and those who are loved by God love one another.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13)

GOD IS THE HIGHEST GOOD

God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean. (Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 17: Sermons and Discourses, 1730-1733)

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

 

SAMUEL AT GILGAL: CHANGE IN FORMAT

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.

LOOKING FOR A PREACHER?

And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. (Jeremiah 3:15 ESV)

Are you looking for a Preacher? Perhaps you are part of a Pastor Search Committee and you are looking for a godly man to fill that role. Maybe you are considering joining a new church because you have recently moved or you are making a commitment to attend church for the first time. If so, it is of utmost importance to have some knowledge of the preacher/pastor because he is the spiritual leader under Christ and the gospel to the congregation. (Hebrews 13:17 ESV) It is his responsibility, among many others, to preach and teach the uncompromised gospel of Jesus Christ. (Romans 10:14 ESV) Alistair Begg warns us:

There’s a way to preach the Bible unbiblically…You can use the Bible as the springboard for all kinds of ideas, can’t you? Look around in here and find something that fits your fancy and then launch a rocket off it. People say, ‘That was amazing, wasn’t it? Remarkable what he got out of that.’ Well of course it is because he put it in before he got it out. (Alistair Begg)

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IMMEASURABLE BLESSINGS

3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV)

blessings

I believe it is impossible for Christians to find themselves in such appalling circumstances – where the promises of God hold no encouragement to those who love God and obey Him. According to the verses above, God’s power gives everything needed for life and godliness. Christians are the beneficiaries of immeasurable blessings when they grow in the knowledge of and obedience to God. Through Jesus Christ, these precious and very great promises are given in order that the elect may participate in the divine nature and obtain holiness.

However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts. (John Calvin)

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TAMING THE TONGUE

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, (James 3:6 ESV)

taming the tongueIn this verse, James is essentially telling us to watch our big mouths. If we don’t watch over our tongues, we are in for big trouble. (Proverbs 21:23 ESV)

Have you ever met someone who did not seem to have a filter between the mouth and brain? This type of person does not put his brain in gear before putting his mouth in motion. It is reported that once a woman approached John Wesley and told him that God had given her the talent to speak her mind. Wesley replied that God would not mind if she buried that talent.

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FAITH ACCOMPANIED BY WORKS

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? (James 2:14 ESV)

Is James contradicting Paul? Paul writes:

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, (Romans 4:5 ESV)

Both James and Paul are addressing the topic of true saving faith. What is real faith? What is the relationship of works to faith and salvation?

In Romans, Paul is addressing a faith problem. Apparently, some thought that salvation was earned by good deeds. They acknowledged God and Jesus Christ, but they were still in bondage to the Law. The overriding motive for their good deeds was to earn a place in Heaven rather than to glorify God and live righteously. Paul is pointing out that righteousness before God is obtained by faith alone.

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IMMEASURABLE RICHES

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)

The Scriptures teach that Christians are created in Jesus Christ for good works. At one time, we were all in rebellion against God because we each wanted our own way and to pursue our sinful passions with unrestrained lust. We were all spiritually dead. Yet, because of God’s great love, He has made us alive through Jesus Christ.

We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. In the above verses we are taught (as previously stated) that we are created for good works. Man cannot do, perfectly, enough good works to earn his salvation. Salvation is a work of grace through faith. Therefore, good works are a sign of the grace we have been given and our gratitude for the gift of salvation. Good works are done to glorify God, not to gain anything from Him. Since only God knows the spirit of a man, good works are a witness to others confirming our faith in Him.

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UNDERSTANDING THE END FOR WHICH WE WERE MADE

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16 ESV)

There are many people, including Christians, who do not  godhave a clear understanding of the purpose for which God made them.The Westminster Shorter Catechism states this doctrine by way of a question and answer:

Q: “What is the chief end of man?”

A: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

The ultimate end or chief purpose of man is to glorify and enjoy God. Too few people have any concern for the glory of God and therefore, certainly cannot enjoy Him.

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CELEBRATING THE LIGHT

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV)

lightI love light because it makes vision possible and generally makes me feel better. Have you ever heard of seasonal affective disorder? It may be caused by the reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter. This decrease in sunlight disrupts the body’s internal clock and leads to feelings of depression. December, January, and February are my usual months for dealing with this problem. When the sun does come out during these months, you can bet I surely want to get outside to soak it up if possible.

The apostle John describes Jesus in terms of light:

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5 ESV)

In this context, Jesus is described as light. Light and darkness symbolize good and evil; godly wisdom and worldly wisdom; the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man (devil). We were all once enslaved to the darkness, but Christians are now able to walk in the light. On the road to Damascus, Jesus told Paul that He was sending him to the gentiles to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God; to receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Him. (Acts 26:18 ESV)

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A NEW YEAR’S CALL TO ENTER BY THE NARROW WAY

Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. (Luke 13:24 ESV)

… Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)

goals-for-new-year-2016-year-resolutionsThe year 2015 has now given way to the arrival of January 1st, 2016. What will become of us in this New Year? What is God’s will for us? This is the time of year when many people make resolutions they believe will improve their lives.

Jesus Christ has said, “… One thing is necessary”. (Luke 10:42 ESV) Yet, this “one thing” is of cosmic and eternal significance. Like Mary, the sister of Martha, we need to choose the good thing which will not be taken away. (Luke 10:42 ESV) We must struggle to enter through the narrow way. The narrow way represents living a holy life before God and man. Paul describes his personal struggle in these words:

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THE VOICE OF CHRISTMAS

christmas angelOn this Christmas morning, I pray that your thoughts are overwhelmed with the love of Jesus Christ. I am sharing with you this morning the following hymn by Charles Wesley in which the Gospel and evangelical theology are put to lyrics and music. Wesley took advantage of poetic license when he wrote about the angels singing. Actually, Luke 2:13 says: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,” (Luke 2:13 ESV) However, the fact that the angels were “saying” and not “singing” does not diminish the beauty or truth found in this Christmas favorite. By the way, George Whitefield helped Wesley rewrite his original lyrics into the final version we have today.

Hark the herald angels sing [say]
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing [say]
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christian+Christmas(“Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” by Charles Wesley, music by Felix Mendelssohn)

HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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THE GLORY OF GOD

Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. (Shorter Catechism)

God is not glorified unless we make it our aim to glorify Him. Through our joy in God, we are able to glorify Him in everything we do.

gloryYet, this is not achieved when men carelessly begin to worship Him without the respectful fear and reverence due Him. If we are truly to glorify God with our lives and enjoy the unspeakable magnificence of His character and graciousness, we must be God fearers as well. (Psalm 111:10 ESV)

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36 ESV)

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