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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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LIGHT

There is no light, no knowledge, no wisdom, apart from God. All existence and all knowledge depend on God. If we have life, we live by Him. (Acts 17:28) If we have any knowledge, we know by Him. (Romans 11:36) We do not shed light on Him by the light we see. He is the origin, the source. If we have any measure of light, it is He who is shedding light on what we see, not we.

(John Piper, A Peculiar Glory, Crossway, 2016, p.160)

SPLIT UPON THE ROCKS

William Nicholson:

Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. (Psalm 12:1 ESV)

William P. NicholsonNever was there a time like the present, when Atheism and Infidelity appeared so determined, if possible, to annihilate the Christian religion! Behold their attempts. In schools and books, there is an incessant attempt to instill into the minds of the young, principles inimical to Christianity, as well as to draw professors from their steadfastness. Some have already split upon the rocks of Atheism — some have stranded on the quick sands of Infidelity.

LIVING BY GRACE IN AN UNFAIR WORLD

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 ESV)

Samuel A CainSometimes a sense of unfairness may even afflict a Christian’s heart. We travel through hard times and do not know why. We often think only with a focus on our circumstances rather than on God’s Word and His Grace. Yet, we must trust God and wait on Him, not our circumstances.

I do not, personally, know anyone who has not suffered troubles at some point in their life, including myself. The inevitable human question is “Why?” Why do awful things happen to us? Why do bad things happen to people we love? We must learn to accept that some of our questions will only be answered in heaven. Continue reading

A CULTURAL MANDATE

James Montgomery BoiceJames Montgomery Boice:

Reformed theology also emphasizes the cultural mandate, or the obligation of Christians to live actively in society and work for the transformation of the world and its cultures. Reformed people have had various views in this area, depending on the extent to which they believe such a transformation possible But on the whole they agree on two things. First we are called to be in the world and not to withdraw from it. This sets reformed believers apart from monasticism. Second, we are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the prisoner. But the chief needs of people are still spiritual, and social work is no adequate substitute for evangelism. In fact, efforts to help people will only be truly effective as their hearts and minds are changed by the gospel. This sets reformed believers apart from, mere humanitarianism. It has been objected to reformed theology that anyone who believes along reformed lines will lose all motivation for evangelism. ‘If God is going to do the work, why should I bother?’ But it does not work that way. It is because God does the work that we can be bold to join Him in it, as He commands us to do. We do it joyfully, knowing that our efforts will never be in vain. (Reformed Theology)

THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS

Sinclair B. FergusonSinclair Ferguson:

“When man became the measure of all things what was lost was man.”

HEAVENLY MINDED MEN

C. S. LewisC. S. Lewis:

“If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire; the great men who built up the Middle Ages; the English evangelicals who abolished the slave trade, all left their mark on earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” (Mere Christianity)

THE VIRGIN BIRTH

James M. BoiceJames Montgomery Boice:

The virgin birth is important in regard to our world view. When I speak of a world view, I mean a total world philosophy. The most important issue in philosophy is whether we are living in a closed universe or an open universe. When we look about at the visible universe, when we see matter and the laws that govern it, the basic question is whether that is all there is. If it is, we have a closed universe. That is the dominant view of our time. On the other hand, when we look at the universe of things and ideas, do we confess that we are not dealing with a closed universe but with a universe in which God lies above and beyond what we see? That is an open universe, and that is the Bible’s view.

PROVIDENCE

John FlavelJohn Flavel:

If God has given you but a small portion of the world, yet if you are godly He has promised never to forsake you (Heb. 13:5). Providence has ordered that condition for you which is really best for your eternal good. If you had more of the world than you have, your heads and hearts might not be able to manage it to your advantage.

All the dark, intricate, puzzling providences at which we were sometimes so offended…we shall [one day] see to be to us, as the difficult passage through the wilderness was to Israel, “the right way to the city of habitation”.

INTERPRETING SCRIPTURE WITH PREJUDICE

Bible StudyJ.I. Packer:

We approach Scripture with minds already formed by the mass of accepted opinions and viewpoints with which we have come into contact, in both the Church and the world…It is easy to be unaware that it has happened; it is hard even to begin to realize how profoundly tradition in this sense has molded us.

HALF-HEARTED CREATURES

C. S. LewisC. S. Lewis:

“If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith.  Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” (The Weight of Glory, 1-2)

A LIFE OF PRAISE

Richard SibbesRichard Sibbes:

The whole life of a Christian should be nothing but praises and thanks to God; we should neither eat nor sleep, but eat to God and sleep to God and work to God and talk to God, do all to His glory and praise.

 

 

JOB DECISIONS LED BY GOD

work ethicsCommit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3 ESV)

The Holy Spirit guides you by the Word of God and His providential care. Between the two, they guide you to the right decision on many issues. After prayer and giving serious thought to a matter, your choice should be in accord with the Word of God and the talents God has given you. If your choice is in accord with the Word of God and allows you to walk in holiness and honor God; a good decision has probably been made.

There are times when providence may make your present job or profession very uncomfortable. It may become unprofitable or impractical for you to continue in your present work. You may lose your job – which is a very common problem now. In such conditions you must seek to alter your circumstances. If your present employment is enjoyable and profitable, you probably wish to keep up your current status. However, what do you do if your employer makes changes in your job which violate the Word of God? Should you be willing to resign if the circumstances cannot be changed?

Suppose you are offered employment in two places and after researching the companies, much prayer, and consideration of biblically related issues, you discover that the company which offered you the most money engages in unethical moral practices; what do you do? Which job should you take? What if you are offered two great jobs with companies whose business practices do not conflict with the God’s Word? Should you not consider first the job where you can honor God most with your ability and talents? Continue reading

The World’s Influence

Charles H. Spurgeon

From the desk of Charles Spurgeon:

“So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” (Philippians 2:15)

I believe that one reason why the church at this present moment has so little influence over the world, is because the world has so much influence over the church! Nowadays, we hear professors pleading that they may do this, and do that—that they may live like worldlings. My sad answer to them, when they crave this liberty is, “Do it if you dare. It may not cost you much hurt, for you are so bad already. Your cravings show how rotten your hearts are. If you are hungering after such dogs food—go dogs, and eat the garbage! Continue reading

Too Quick – Too Soon!

Charles H. Spurgeon“He that believeth shall not make haste” (Isaiah 28:16).

Charles H. Spurgeon:

He shall make haste to keep the LORD’s commandments; but he shall not make haste in any impatient or improper sense. He shall not haste to run away, for he shall not be overcome with the fear which causes panic. When others are flying hither and thither as if their wits had failed them, the believer shall be quiet, calm, and deliberate, and so shall be able to act wisely in the hour of trial. He shall not haste in his expectations, craving his good things at once and on the spot, but he will wait God’s time. Some are in a desperate hurry to have the bird in the hand, for they regard the LORD’s promise as a bird in the bush, not likely to be theirs. Believers know how to wait. . He shall not haste by plunging into wrong or questionable action. Unbelief must be doing something, and thus it works its own undoing; but faith makes no more haste than good speed, and thus it is not forced to go back sorrowfully by the way which it followed heedlessly. How is it with me? Am I believing, and am I therefore keeping to the believer’s peace, which is walking with God? Peace, fluttering spirit! Oh, rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him! Heart, see that thou do this at once! (Faith’s Checkbook)

Return to the Dark Ages

R. C. SproulHear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; (Hosea 4:1 ESV)

R. C. Sproul:

Charles Colson speaks of a modern “return to the Dark Ages.” When I think of the original Dark Ages, I think of a period when culture was in decline and the progress of knowledge was static.

But today we read of the problem of the explosion of knowledge. It is a time when information and communications are big business. We hear the cry from the universities that knowledge in every field of investigation is increasing so rapidly that no one can assimilate it, even in the most narrow of specialties. The age of the “expert” is over. The word expert must now be defined in relative terms.

If knowledge is light and the light is exploding in magnitude, how can we speak of a new Dark Ages? The darkness is in the heart. It is a darkness produced by a shroud covering the face of God.

Thirty years ago, I read a book written by the Jewish philosopher and theologian Martin Buber. Buber’s book had an ominous title: The Eclipse of God. That is the eclipse of our age. A shadow has passed over the glory of God. We are a people who will not have God in our thinking. We have returned to Plato’s cave, in which we prefer the dancing shadows on the wall of ungrounded opinion over the light of truth. (Visit R. C. Sproul’s web page here. . . .)

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