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 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
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
In 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.
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)