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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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PRAYING ACCORDING TO HIS WILL

14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15 ESV)

If you have put all of your trust in Jesus, you are a son or daughter of God. In Christ, we have confidence when we come into the presence of God. We know that God will hear our prayers. Notice, however, the qualifying phrase – “if we ask anything according to his will”. In other words, if we pray according to God’s Will, He will hear us and grant our petitions.

This is wonderful news but how do we know God’s Will? We must read the Scriptures and pray for wisdom. Prayer is not just a verbal recital of your wish list. Prayer requires two-way communication. You are not speaking to empty air; the God of the universe is listening to you and He wants you to listen to Him.

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SALVATION AND SOVEREIGNTY

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. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

In this verse is one of the great mysteries that theologians and believers have argued about for centuries. How far do man’s will and God’s sovereignty go in determining the salvation of the Christian?

Salvation is certainly a demonstration of God’s glory. We know that God is absolutely sovereign over everything that exists because He created anything that does exist. (Colossians 1:16 ESV) God’s salvation through Jesus Christ is also evidence of the degree to which that sovereignty stretches. Jesus said:

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THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD

Richard Baxter:

baxter“Remember the perfections of that God whom you worship, that he is a Spirit, and therefore to be worshipped in spirit and truth; and that he is most great and terrible, and therefore to be worshipped with seriousness and reverence, and not to be dallied with, or served with toys or lifeless lip-service; and that he is most holy, pure, and jealous, and therefore to be purely worshipped; and that he is still present with you, and all things are naked and open to him with whom we have to do. The knowledge of God, and the remembrance of his all-seeing presence, are the most powerful means against hypocrisy.”

GOD’S PROVIDENCE

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner D.D.:

Yet as regards God’s providence we are to understand that He is intimately concerned with every detail in the affairs of men and in the course of nature.  “To suppose that anything is too great to be comprehended in His control,” says Dr. Charles Hodge, “or anything so minute as to escape His notice; or that the infinitude of particulars can distract His attention, is to forget that God is infinite . . . . The sun diffuses its light through all space as easily as upon any point.  God is as much present everywhere, and with everything, as though He were only in one place, and had but one object of attention.”  And again, “He is present in every blade of grass, yet guiding Arcturus in his course, marshalling the stars as a host, calling them by their names; present also in every human soul, giving it understanding, endowing it with gifts, working in it both to will and to do.  The human heart is in His hands; and he turneth it even as the rivers of water are turned.” (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

DOCTRINE OF ELECTION

John MacArthurJohn MacArthur:

[Doctrine of Election] It probably ought to be the first thing you teach a young believer. Now that you have come to Christ, this is what I want you to know. You were saved by the sovereign grace of God who stepped into your life in the midst of your death and blindness and gave you life and sight and picked you up and brought you into His Kingdom. Sheer grace has done this for you. That, I think, is the first thing you should say to a new convert. This is, if in fact, you are faithful to the confession you have made, if in fact your love for Christ and desire to honor, to worship and to obey Him continues to grow, this will be an ongoing evidence that God has wrought a miracle in your life. And because of that, you need to know, this is really important, that you should live a life of gratitude for a work has been done in you which you did not deserve and did not earn. (excerpt from interview)

GOD’S PROVIDENTIAL CONTROL

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner:

Throughout the Bible, the laws of nature, the course of history, the varying fortunes of individuals, are ever attrib­uted to God’s providential control.  All things, both in heaven and earth, from the seraphim down to the tiny atom, are ordered by His never-failing providence.  So intimate is His relationship with the whole creation that a careless reader might be led toward pantheistic conclusions.  Yet individual personalities and second causes are fully recog­nized,—not as independent of God, but as having their proper place in His plan.  And alongside of this doctrine of His Immanence, the Scripture writers also present the kindred doctrine of His Transcendence, in which God is distinctly set forth as entirely separate from and above the whole creation. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

OMNIPOTENT RULER

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner:

Heaven and earth and all that is in them are the instruments through which He [God] works His ends.  Nature, nations, and the fortunes of the individual alike present in all their changes the transcript of His purpose.  The winds are His messengers, the flaming fire His servant: every natural occurrence is His act; prosperity is His gift, and if calamity falls upon man it is the Lord that has done it (Amos 3:5, 6; Lam. 3:33-38; Is. 47:7; Eccl. 7:14; Is. 54:16).  It is He that leads the feet of men, [wherever] they whither or not; He that raises up and casts down; opens and hardens the heart; and creates the very thoughts and intents of the soul.” And shall we not believe that God can convert a sinner when He pleases?  Cannot the Almighty, the omnipotent Ruler of the universe, change the characters of the creatures He has made? (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

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