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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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  • Recommended Reading

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

 

IGNORING SCRIPTURE

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17 ESV)

As a former educator, I have met many adults who do not like to read. There are many college graduates who never read another book after they graduate. I have also met people who have proclaimed their faith in Christ and attend church regularly, however, they say they cannot focus long enough to read the Bible. They are absolutely dependent upon the good will of others to teach them the truth of the Scriptures.

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

THE GOSPEL

J. D. Greear:

j.d. greearFor many evangelicals the gospel has functioned solely as the entry rite into Christianity; it is the prayer we pray to begin our relationship with Jesus; the diving board off of which we jump into the pool of Christianity. After we get into the pool, we get into the real stuff of Christianity: mastering good principles for our marriage; learning rules and regulations of how to behave; and figuring out if Kirk Cameron will be left behind. The gospel, however, is not just the diving board off of which we jump into the pool of Christianity; it is the pool itself. It is not only the way we begin in Christ; it is the way we grow in Christ. As Tim Keller says, the gospel is not just the ABCs of Christianity, it is the A-Z; it is not the first step in a stairway of truths, it is more like the hub of God’s wheel of truth. All other Christian virtues flow out of it.(Gospel, 21)

THE ONLY TRUE STANDARD

John CalvinJohn Calvin:

God’s Word is the only true standard we have a divine mandate to conform to, and it is the ultimate standard by which we will be judged. Success or failure in ministry therefore cannot be evaluated by numerical statistics, financial figures, popularity polls, public opinion, or any of the other factors the world typically associates with success. The only real triumph in ministry is to hear Christ say, “Well done.”

ON REFORMATION DAY

Samuel A CainOn October 31, 1517, a young monk in Wittenberg, Germany posted 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church. His intention was to begin a discussion with other scholars in the Catholic Church over the abuse of Scriptures by the church. Little did Luther know that God had chosen him to hammer out the beginnings of what came to be known as the Reformation. Scripture (Sola Scriptura), not tradition, was to be lifted up once again as the true and only word of salvation provided by God.

As the Reformation spread over Europe, the Protestant reformers summarized their basic theological principles into five Latin phrases. These phrases or slogans are known as the Five Solas. They stand in direct contrast to some of the medieval teachings of the Catholic Church. The Five Solas are: “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture alone); “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone); “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone); “Solus Christus” (Christ Alone); and “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory).

“Sola Scriptura” (Scripture alone) means that all the truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught in Scripture. Continue reading

DO YOU STAND IN JUDGMENT UPON SCRIPTURE?

John StottJohn Stott:

“We need to repent of the haughty way in which we sometimes stand in judgment upon Scripture and must learn to sit humbly under its judgments instead. If we come to Scripture with our minds made up, expecting to hear from it only an echo of our own thoughts and never the thunder-clap of God’s, then indeed he will not speak to us and we shall only be confirmed in our own prejudices. We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior.” (Authentic Christianity)

SCHOOLS

Martin Luther by Ron AdairMartin Luther:

I am much afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the scriptures do not reign paramount.

GOD’S READINESS TO HEAR

Jonathan EdwardsJonathan Edwards:

O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come. (Psalm 65:2 ESV)

[God] often manifests his readiness to hear prayer, by giving an answer so speedily, sometimes while they are yet speaking, and sometimes before they pray, when they only have a design of praying. So ready is God to hear prayer, that he takes notice of the first purpose of praying, and sometimes bestows mercy thereupon. Isa. 65:24, “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” We read, that when Daniel was making humble and earnest supplication, God sent an angel to comfort him and to assure him of an answer, Dan. 9:20-24. When God defers for the present to answer the prayer of faith, it is not from any backwardness to answer, but for the good of his people sometimes, that they may be better prepared for the mercy before they receive it, or because another time would be the best and fittest on some other account. And even then, when God seems to delay an answer, the answer is indeed hastened, as in Luke 18:7, 8, “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you, that he will avenge them speedily.” Sometimes, when the blessing seems to tarry, God is even then at work to bring it about in the best time and the best manner. Hab. 2:3, “Though it tarry, wait for it; it will come, it will not tarry.” (“A Prayer-Hearing God”)

OUR DUTY TO CHRIST

quote-the-soldier-is-summoned-to-a-life-of-active-duty-and-so-is-the-christian-william-gurnall-76899Duty may be defined as “conduct due to parents and superiors” (respect) or “something that you must do because it is morally right or because the law requires it”. It was Theodore Roosevelt who once commented on duty when he said, “The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first and love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.” Jesus, however, pointed out the Christian’s duty in this commandment: “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31 ESV)

The words “Christian duty” are not often used today, but what do they mean for the Christian in practical experience? Christ’s words above certainly mean that Christians are to be “doers” and not merely hearers. A Christian’s duty to Christ is keeping His commandments. It is loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. It is loving your neighbor as yourself. Continue reading

The Logos

R. C. SproulR. C. Sproul:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2)

“John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, `He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'” (John 1:15)

In Greek philosophy, the logos remains an impersonal force, a lifeless and abstract philosophical concept that is a necessary postulate for the cause of order and purpose in the universe. In Hebrew thought, the Logos is personal. He indeed has the power of unity, coherence, and purpose, but the distinctive point is that the biblical Logos is a He, not an it. All attempts to translate the word Logos have suffered from some degree of inadequacy. No English word is able to capture the fullness of John’s Logos when he declared that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Attempts have been made by philosophers to translate Logos as logic, act, or deed—all of which are inadequate definitions.

God’s Logos does include action. The Logos is the eternal Word in action. But it is no irrational action or sheer expression of feeling. It is the divine Actor, acting in creation and redemption in a coherent way, who is announced in John’s Gospel. That the Word became flesh and dwelt among us is the startling conclusion of John 1. The cosmic Christ enters our humanity. It is the supreme moment of visitation of the eternal with the temporal, the infinite with the finite, and the unconditioned with the conditioned. God became flesh to accomplish your redemption. 

The mission, passion and purpose of Ligonier Ministries and Dr. R.C. Sproul is to help people grow in their knowledge of God and His holiness. For more information, please visit http://www.ligonier.org or call them at 800-435-4343. © R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved.

 

Blind to the Scriptures

“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)Blind to gods word

A man without Christ is blind to the Scriptures and the things of God. When he becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit begins to show him the Scriptures and the world in a new light. He sees truth clearly for the first time. He sees who he truly is and why he is the way he is. He sees that sin has cut him off from communion with God and that the world is fallen in nature and unredeemed man suppresses the knowledge of God.

Human beings are born self-centered. They seek to please themselves and ignore the precepts of God. God, however, has made a way for men to come to Him through His Son – Jesus Christ. The Christian knows salvation from his sins and has escaped the wrath of God through Jesus Christ. He begins to know himself and understand why people are the way they are. A Christian has a more complete view of life because he is guided by God’s Word.

There is more; the Christian is determined to know God – not just things about Him. This knowledge of God results in a sense of purpose. The Christian is awakened to a new system of living and a resolve to live like Christ. He surrenders his life to this new way of living. When challenges arise, the Christian trusts in Christ. He walks the talk. His confidence is in Jesus Christ. His Anchor of Hope is not in this world, which is passing, but in the God of the Scriptures Who is eternal.

Samuel at Gilgal

God’s First Promise to Fallen Man

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

This is the first promise to fallen man. It contains the whole gospel, and the essence of the covenant of grace. It has been in great measure fulfilled. The seed of the woman, even our Lord Jesus, was bruised in His heel, and a terrible bruising it was. How terrible will be the final bruising of the serpent’s head! This was virtually done when Jesus took away sin, vanquished death, and broke the power of Satan; but it awaits a still fuller accomplishment at our Lord’s Second Advent, and in the day of Judgment.

To us the promise stands as a prophecy that we shall be afflicted by the powers of evil in our lower nature, and thus bruised in our heel: but we shall triumph in Christ, who sets His foot on the old serpent’s head. Throughout this year we may have to learn the first part of this promise by experience, through the temptations of the devil, and the unkindness of the ungodly who are his seed. They may so bruise us that we may limp with our sore heel; but let us grasp the second part of the text, and we shall not be dismayed. By faith let us rejoice that we shall still reign in Christ Jesus, the woman’s seed. (Faith’s Checkbook)

SIXTH ANNIVERSARY

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SAMUEL AT GILGAL IS SIX YEARS OLD TODAY!

Study of the Old Testament is Profitable

Old TestamentI am often frustrated with myself for not spending as much time studying the Old Testament as I believe I should. After having read the Old Testament through several times, I still find that most of the time I spend there is in Psalm and Proverbs. When looking at the books of the Old Testament for study, it is good to remember the words of Paul:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV)

The Apostle was speaking of the Old Testament scriptures when he spoke of “profitable for teaching” in the above verses. The Old Testament, Paul said, was “breathed out by God” and would make the man of God “complete, equipped for every good work.” Contrary to some contemporary Christian fads that tend to ignore it – the Old Testament will “make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” The Old Testament (OT) is a very valuable sacred writing authored by God the Holy Spirit to help us know Jesus Christ and live righteously.

The OT provides us with important knowledge of the nature of sin and the fall of man. There we find the ongoing revelation of God’s covenant of redemption and the Messianic prophecies. The OT helps us to understand the New Testament.

“Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11 ESV) Paul discussed in the previous verses the fall of Israel in the wilderness. He notes that although these things happened to Israel, “they were written down for our instruction”. Consider – the OT was written for our instruction. Do you complain when your pastor preaches from the OT? When was the last time you read the OT? “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching. . . .” (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV) The Scriptures are not simply the words or thoughts of mere men, they are from God who guided men by His Spirit. The Scriptures are profitable. You must know the truth to be convinced of error, and to do what is right. It is wise to be concerned about your salvation. Look at these verses and let them inspire you to study the Word of God which is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:15-17 ESV)

The source for the following story escapes me, but I think it brings us to an appropriate conclusion of this article: There was a prophet of God who told his disciples that if they studied the Scriptures, the words would be written on their hearts. One day, a disciple asked, “Why on our hearts, and not in them?” The prophet thoughtfully replied, “Only God can put Scripture inside. But the careful study and reading of God’s Word can put it on your heart, and then when your heart breaks, the Holy Words will fall inside.”

Samuel at Gilgal

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