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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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  • October 2020
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  • Recommended Reading

HE SUFFERED

Michael HortonMichael Horton:

“He suffered as God because only God had the power to save; He suffered as Man because only man owed the debt.” (In The Face Of God , 123)

HARDSHIP

John CalvinJohn Calvin:

Were there no hardship in poverty, no pain in disease, no sting in ignominy, no fear in death, where would be the fortitude and moderation in enduring them? But while every one of these, by its inherent bitterness, naturally vexes the mind, the believer in this displays his fortitude, that though fully sensible of the bitterness and laboring grievously, he still withstands and struggles boldly; in this displays his patience, that though sharply stung, he is however curbed by the fear of God from breaking forth into any excess; in this displays his alacrity, that though pressed with sorrow and sadness, he rests satisfied with spiritual consolation from God. (On the Christian Life)

THE MEANING OF THE CROSS

Samuel A CainFor the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 ESV)

When you look at the Cross, what do you see? The Cross is the center of the history of man. The Cross is irrefutable proof of God’s love for us. Sinclair Ferguson writes, “When Paul preached ‘the cross’ he preached a message which explained that this instrument of rejection had been used by God as His instrument of reconciliation. Man’s means of bringing death to Jesus was God’s means to bring life to the world. Man’s symbol of rejecting Christ was God’s symbol of forgiveness for man. This is why Paul boasted about the Cross!”

On the cross, Christ suffered the punitive judgment of God that should have been ours to endure. Jesus Christ made an all-sufficient, redemptive sacrifice for his people’s sins. He appeased God’s wrath by recompensing those sins to remove them from God’s sight. By the cross of Christ, atonement was made for our sin and righteousness was imputed to the sinner. Continue reading

AT THE CROSS

BillFarleyBill Farley:

“Those who understand the cross increasingly see their sin as God does, and therefore begin to feel about sin as does God.  We begin to mourn for and hate it.  In other words, at the cross God becomes larger and we become smaller.  This separation is at the heart of the fear of God.  This “fear” opens God’s wisdom to us because only in light of God’s immensity can I see the importance of living for the right end, his glory. And only in the light of my smallness can I feel overawed by the means he used to save me, his cross.” (Outrageous Mercy: Rediscovering the Radical Nature of the Cross, 139-140)

HE DID NOT DIE IN VAIN

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed” (Isaiah 53:10)

Our Lord Jesus has not died in vain. His death was sacrificial: He died as our substitute, because death was the penalty of our sins; and because His substitution was accepted of God, He has saved those for whom He made His soul a sacrifice. By death He became like the corn of wheat which bringeth forth much fruit. There must be a succession of children unto Jesus; He is “the Father of the everlasting age.” He shall say, “Behold, I and the children whom thou hast given me.”

A man is honored in his sons, and Jesus hath His quiver full of these arrows of the mighty. A man is represented in his children, and so is the Christ in Christians. In his seed a man’s life seems to be prolonged and extended; and so is the life of Jesus continued in believers. Jesus lives, for He sees His seed. He fixes His eye on us, He delights in us, He recognizes us as the fruit of His soul travail. Let us be glad that our Lord does not fail to enjoy the result of His dread sacrifice, and that He will never cease to feast His eyes upon the harvest of His death. Those eyes which once wept for us, are now viewing us with pleasure. Yes, He looks upon those who are looking unto Him. Our eyes meet! What a joy is this! (Faith’s Checkbook)

I THOUGHT ONCE …

I thought once I had no need of salvation,
To the depth of my sin I was blind.
The thought of my need for forgiveness
Was folly to my human mind.

Yet, God’s plan of election was for me,
His Spirit gave faith to my heart.
None of my works were considered,
If ever I had been so smart.

By grace I was saved from the darkness
And brought into His brilliant Light.
No ability had I to contribute
To the birth carried out by His Might!

God’s Love is no flash of emotion,
Eventually to dim and die out.
He will always be there to guide me,
To save me from the evil’s dark rout.

A blessed hope is now awaiting,
Jesus secured it on the Cross.
Salvation is there before me,
God’s sheep will never be lost.

Samuel at Gilgal

The Resurrection

Bishop J. C. Ryle

J. C. Ryle:

The fact of our Lord’s resurrection rests on evidence which no infidel can ever explain away. It is confirmed by testimony of every kind, sort, and description. The plain unvarnished story which the Gospel writers tell about it, is one that cannot be overthrown. The more the account they give is examined, the more inexplicable will the event appear, unless we accept it as true. If we choose to deny the truth of their account we may deny everything in the world. It is not so certain that Julius Caesar once lived, as it is that Christ rose again.

Let us cling firmly to the resurrection of Christ, as one of the pillars of the Gospel. It ought to produce in our minds a settled conviction of the truth of Christianity. Our faith does not depend merely on a set of texts and doctrines. It is founded on a mighty historical fact which the skeptic has never been able to overturn. It ought to assure us of the certainty of the resurrection of our own bodies after death. If our Master has risen from the grave, we need not doubt that His disciples shall rise again at the last day. Continue reading

Christ Died and Rose Again

Charles H. Spurgeon by Ron AdairCharles H. Spurgeon:

“The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is one of the best attested facts on record. There were so many witnesses to behold it, that if we do in the least degree receive the credibility of men’s testimonies, we cannot and we dare not doubt that Jesus rose from the dead. It is all very easy for infidels to say that these persons were deceived, but it is equally foolish, for these persons could not every one of them have been so positively deceived as to say that they had seen this man, whom they knew to have been dead, afterwards alive; they could not all, surely, have agreed together to help on this imposture: if they did, it is the most marvelous thing we have on record, that not one of them ever broke faith with the others, but that the whole mass of them remained firm. We believe it to be quite impossible that so many rogues should have agreed forever. They were men who had nothing to gain by it; they subjected themselves to persecution by affirming the very fact; they were ready to die for it, and did die for it. Five hundred or a thousand persons who had seen him at different times, declared that they did see him, and that he rose from the dead; the fact of his death having been attested beforehand. How, then, dare any man say that the Christian religion is not true, when we know for a certainty that Christ died and rose again from the dead? And knowing that, who shall deny the divinity of the Savior? Who shall say that he is not mighty to save? Our faith hath a solid basis, for it hath all these witnesses on which to rest, and the more sure witness of the Holy Spirit witnessing in our hearts.” (Spurgeon’s Sermons: Volume 2)

Remarkable Words from the Cross

Jesus on the CrossHenry Kranenburg:

Being crucified on a cross was not only a gruesome way to die; it was also marked as the most low and cursed way to die. God himself had said that if you die by hanging on wood, you’re cursed. Well, the Romans, who supervised this method of death, knew all this. And that is why they, as bloody and violent as they were, made a law stating that no Roman citizen would ever be allowed to die that way.

But Jesus was hung on this wooden death instrument. Nails were driven through his hands and through his feet. To hang by your arms like that would tighten your chest and slowly suffocate you. Although for a while your muscles would work hard to let you breathe, your muscles would tire out and breathing would get harder and harder. The person hanging would try to resist that by pushing up with his feet or pulling with his hands to free his chest for breathing; but that would of course make the pain against the nails in his flesh excruciating. Add to it that all this was done under the hot Mid-East sun and you get a sense of the terribleness of death by crucifixion. I don’t know whether this was the worst possible death or not. I do know that together with the curse that God had put on crucifixion, it was a horrible death.

Around this time in the process, the criminals would be screaming with pain. And in their pain they would scream out revenge and curses on those who put them up there. Or, knowing their death was looming, they would scream, confessing their wrong, maybe hoping it might help and someone would have mercy.

But not Jesus. Jesus doesn’t scream.

Instead Jesus says: forgive them. In pain and under the curse of hanging there on that wood, Jesus says of these people that have nailed him to these beams: “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (From a sermon prepared by Rev. Henry Kranenburg, Hamilton, Ont.)

Jesus Had a Human Body

Making Sense of Christ and the SpiritWayne Grudem:

The fact that Jesus had a human body just like our human bodies is seen in many passages of Scripture. He was born just as all human babies are born (Luke 2:7). He grew through childhood to adulthood just as other children grow: “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). Moreover, Luke tells us that “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

Jesus became tired just as we do, for we read that “Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well” in Samaria (John 4:6). He became thirsty, for when he was on the cross he said, “I thirst” (John 19:28). After he had fasted for forty days in the wilderness, we read that “he was hungry” (Matt. 4:2). He was at times physically weak, for during his temptation in the wilderness he fasted for forty days (the point at which a human being’s physical strength is almost entirely gone and beyond which irreparable physical harm will occur if the fast continues). At that time “angels came and ministered to him” (Matt. 4:11), apparently to care for him and provide nourishment until he regained enough strength to come out of the wilderness. When Jesus was on his way to be crucified, the soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene to carry his cross (Luke 23:26), most likely because Jesus was so weak following the beating he had received that he did not have strength enough to carry it himself. The culmination of Jesus’ limitations in terms of his human body is seen when he died on the cross (Luke 23:46). His human body ceased to have life in it and ceased to function, just as ours does when we die.

Continue reading

He Rose Again!

J.C.-RyleJ. C. Ryle:

Reader, beware of regarding the Lord Jesus Christ only as one that is dead. Here, I believe, many greatly err. They think much of His death, and it is right that they should do so. But we ought not to stop short there. We ought to remember that He not only died and went to the grave, but that He rose again, and ascended up on high, leading captivity captive. We ought to remember that He is now sitting on the right hand of God, to do a work as real, as true, as important to our souls, as the work which He did when He shed His blood. Christ lives, and is not dead. He lives as truly as any one of ourselves. Christ sees us, hears us, knows us, and is acting as a Priest in heaven on behalf of His believing people. The thought of His life ought to have as great and important a place in our souls as the thought of His death upon the cross.

Jesus Took Our Place

A Heart for GodSinclair B.Ferguson:

Christ’s death was substitutionary… Jesus was taking our place. That is why the charges brought against Him were blasphemy and treason, for these are the very charges we face before the judgment seat of God. We have made ourselves into gods, and thus blasphemed His holy Name; we have rebelled against His rightful rule over our lives, and we are guilty of high treason against his gracious majesty. (A Heart for God, 1987)

God

John PiperQuotes from John Piper:

“All that looks like reality to us is dependent on God. There is creation and Creator, nothing more. And creation gets all its meaning and purpose from God.”

“If you alter or obscure the Biblical portrait of God in order to attract converts, you don’t get converts to God, you get converts to an illusion. This is not evangelism, but deception.”

“Christians believe in a sovereign God who never says “Oops”. We believe that all our days … are divine strokes on the canvas of our lives by the Master Artist who certified his skill, his power, and his love in the Masterpiece of Calvary. If you doubt His skill in painting your life – look at Calvary”

The World’s Condemnation

Passion of Jesus ChristJohn Piper:

“The world will bring its condemnation. They may even put their sword behind it. But we know that the highest court has already ruled in our favor. ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:31) No one successfully If they reject us, he accepts us. If they hate us, he loves us. If they imprison us, he sets our spirits free. If they afflict us, he refines us by the fire. If they kill us, he makes it a passage to paradise. They cannot defeat us. Christ has died. Christ has risen. We are alive in him. And in him there is no condemnation. We are forgiven, and we are righteous. ‘And the righteous are bold as a lion.’ (Proverbs 28:1)” (Passion of Jesus Christ)

A Man of Sorrows

J. C. RyleJ.C. Ryle (Commenting on Mt. 2:13-23):

Observe how the Lord Jesus was “a man of sorrows” even from His infancy. Trouble awaits Him as soon as He enters into the world. His life is in danger from Herod’s hatred. His mother and Joseph are obliged to take Him away by night, and “flee into Egypt.” It was only a type and figure of all His experience upon earth. The waves of humiliation began to beat over Him, even when He was a nursing child.

The Lord Jesus is just the Savior that the suffering and sorrowful need. He knows well what we mean, when we tell Him in prayer of our troubles. He can sympathize with us, when we cry to Him under cruel persecution. Let us keep nothing back from Him. Let us make Him our bosom friend. Let us pour out our hearts before Him. He has had great experience of affliction. (Expository Thoughts on Matthew)

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