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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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  • August 2020
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  • Recommended Reading

CHEAP GRACE

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Cheap grace allows the church to flirt with the world’s value system. It is the evidence of untransformed hearts and minds. This love of the world is not from God and blinds them to the love of God. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV) This is why Paul writes:

Continue reading

NO MORE GRUMBLING!

And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. (Numbers 14:26-27 ESV)

Do you grumble when things are not going your way? I have met people who seem to always make grumbling the major topic of their conversation. Once I have had an earful of their complaints about any and everything, I tend to try to avoid too many future conversations with them. After all, grumbling is like a communicable disease. Perhaps, when this occurs, I am not responding as a Christian should. I have a long way to grow in Christ, however, God promised Israel that those who were grumbling (age 20 and older) would die in the wilderness and never enter the promised land. (Numbers 14:28-30)

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CONSIDERING SIN

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 ESV)

Consider sin. It twists and disfigures the soul. The image man once reflected of God is now shattered by sin. It disfigures man and destroys the image of God as though it were despised. Every sin flies in the face of God’s wisdom. All sin is a declaration of war against God.

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A LIFESTYLE OF FORGIVENESS

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)

unforgivenessUnforgiveness can affect every facet of your personal life. It impacts the mind and spirit, and creates tension and anxiety. Most importantly, unforgiveness is the disobedience of God’s Word. (Matthew 6:15 ESV)

Unforgiveness may lock the mind in an ongoing stressful state. (“The Negative Effects of Unforgiveness on Mental Health”, Theravive April 28, 2014) Researchers report that people who tend to be unforgiving reported higher rates of heart disease, elevated blood pressure, stomach ulcers, arthritis, back problems, headaches, and chronic pain than those who reported they do not have this characteristic. (Feldman and Kravetz, “Grudge Match: Can Unforgiveness Be Bad For Our Health?Psychology Today 2013)

Unforgiveness is not a desirable characteristic for either the physical or spiritually healthy life. Jesus said:

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SECRET SINS

Thomas Brooks:

You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. (Psalm 90:8 ESV)

Thomas BrooksGod is privy to your most secret sins! His eye is as much upon secret sins, as it is upon open sins. God has an eye upon our inmost evils. He sees all that is done in the dark. As we are never out of the reach of God’s hand, so we are never from under the view of God’s eye.

Oh! what dreadful atheism is bound up in that man’s heart, who is more afraid of the eye of his father, his neighbor, his child — than he is of the eye and presence of the eternal God! Those who wallow in secret sins, act as if there were:

  • no God to behold them,
  • nor conscience to accuse them,
  • nor judgment-day to arraign them,
  • nor justice to condemn them,
  • nor Hell to torment them!

All men’s secret sins are printed in Heaven, and God will at last read them aloud in the ears of all the world! Though they may escape the eyes of men — yet they shall never escape the judgment of God!

For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:14 ESV)

MADNESS IN THE LIGHT OF GOD

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:21-23 ESV)

Samuel A CainThe natural man is mad. This madness is always within him. His emotions and his thoughts are inclined by his hatred of God. The Bible tells us that men’s hearts are completely wicked and full of self-deception. (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV) His thoughts are continuously sinful. Yet, life is fleeting and time moves all too hastily. We are here for a moment and then like a vapor of mist disappear awaiting the Great Day of Judgement.

It is madness to rebel against God. It is madness to trade God’s blessings for the temporary pleasures of this world. Nevertheless, the world calls Christians mad. There are many who say that it is the Cross of Christ that is madness; the atonement through His blood is madness; grace is madness; heaven and hell are madness; and even that belief in God is madness. They are futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts are darkened. Claiming to be wise, they have become the greatest fools. (Romans 1:21-23 ESV) Continue reading

COSMIC TREASON

R. C. SproulR.C. Sproul:

“Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself. Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo? What are we saying to our Creator when we disobey Him at the slightest point? We are saying no to the righteousness of God. We are saying, “God, Your law is not good. My judgement is better than Yours. Your authority does not apply to me. I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction. I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do.” (The Holiness of God)

CHARLES SPURGEON ON SANCTIFICATION

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

Sanctification, in its operation upon our character, consists of three things. First, we die to sin. A wondrous death! By this Jesus strikes at the heart of evil. The death of Christ makes us die to sin. After this comes burial. We are buried with Christ and of this burial, Baptism is the type and token. Covered up to be forgotten, we are to sin as a dead shepherd to his flock.

As the sheep pass over the dead shepherd’s grave, or even feed thereon, yet he regards them not—so our old sins and habits come about us, but we, as dead men, know them no more. We are buried to them!

To complete our actual sanctification we receive heavenly quickening. “If we are dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” Yes, we do live in Him and by Him, for, “He that believes in Him has everlasting life.” I trust you know what this means. Have you been thus dead, thus buried with Christ? Are you now thus quickened in the likeness of His Resurrection? This is your joyful privilege if you are, indeed, Believers in Christ and joined unto the Lord in one spirit. (1891, Sermon #2197)

A TEMPTATION OF THE CHURCH

The Preacher without HolinessRussell Moore:

“There is always the temptation for the church to reach people without addressing the issue of sin.” 

TWO STEPS FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK!

pilgrims-progress“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15 ESV)

Living the Christian life is not always easy. There are times when you feel like you take two steps forward and then fall one or two steps back. “Simul iustus et peccator” is the phrase Martin Luther used to explain the relationship of the Christian and sin. It means “at the same time just and sinner.”

A regenerate Christian may still sin. Regeneration causes real change in a person, however, it does not cause immediate perfection. The Christian, with the help of the Holy Spirit, will pursue sanctification for his lifetime. Holy living should become more evident, but praise Jesus Christ for His imputed righteousness because we are made just (now) by it.

We live in an unholy world. A Christian will face opposition from immorality, wickedness, and corruption. In spite of this, a Christian must be faithful, virtuous, and knowledgeable of the Scriptures, self-disciplined, steadfast, and godly with love. We must seek to grow in grace in order to be effective and fruitful servants of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV) Continue reading

KILLING SIN

John OwenJohn Owen:

“Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lusts.  He who doth not kill sin in his way takes no steps towards his journey’s end.  He who finds not opposition from it, and who sets not himself in every particular to its mortification, is at peace with it, not dying to it.” (Mortification of Sin in Believers)

GLORIOUS SINS

Thomas BrooksThomas Brooks:

“Till men have faith in Christ, their best services are but glorious sins.”

 

RESISTING SIN

The Pursuit of HolinessJerry Bridges:

“…God has made provision for our holiness. Through Christ He has delivered us from sin’s reign so that we now can resist sin. But the responsibility for resisting is ours. God does not do that for us. To confuse the potential for resisting (which God provided) with the responsibility for resisting (which is ours) is to court disaster in our pursuit of holiness.” (The Pursuit of Holiness, 57)

THE DAZZLING BEAUTY OF THE GOSPEL

diamond-on-blackJohn Samson:

“Just as a jeweler in a store will always use a black velvet background to display the splendor of an exquisite diamond, so the intricate, dazzling beauty of the gospel is only fully seen when we understand what the Bible says about man’s radical condition outside of Christ. Its a bleak and dark picture to be sure. Yet only when we understand the immensity of the problem can we find the right solution – and see the futility of all other man made remedies. We need far more than a moral pep talk; more than some medical first aid for our gaping wounds; and even more than even an oxygen mask to help us breathe more easily. What we need is a miracle! What we need is a resurrection!”

THE WORLD’S THEOLOGY

James Montgomery BoiceJames Montgomery Boice:

“Claiming to be wise, they became fools,” (Romans 1:22 ESV)

The world’s theology is easy to define. It is the view . . . that human beings are basically good, that no one is really lost, that belief in Jesus Christ is not necessary for salvation.

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