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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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Divine Confirmation

Do we not all desire to know from time to time that our faith in Christ will not fail us in the end? In those dark times that come upon us, do we not feel some need for confirmation that we will be preserved in our position with Christ? Charles H. Spurgeon addresses this subject:

I want you to notice the security which Paul confidently expected for all the saints. He says—“Who shall confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is the kind of confirmation which is above all things to be desired. You see it supposes that the persons are right, and it proposes to confirm them in the right. … Divine confirmation can only be enjoyed by those to whom the grace of God has been already manifested. It is the work of the Holy Ghost. He who gives faith strengthens and establishes it: He who kindles love in us preserves it and increases its flame. What He makes us to know by His first teaching, the good Spirit causes us to know with greater clearness and certainty by still further instruction. Holy acts are confirmed till they become habits, and holy feelings are confirmed till they become abiding conditions. Experience and practice confirm our beliefs and our resolutions. Both our joys and our sorrows, our successes and our failures, are sanctified to the selfsame end: even as the tree is helped to root itself both by the soft showers and the rough winds. The mind is instructed, and in its growing knowledge it gathers reasons for persevering in the good way: the heart is comforted, and so it is made to cling more closely to the consoling truth. The grip grows tighter, and the tread grows firmer, and the man himself becomes more solid and substantial.

This is not a merely natural growth, but is as distinct a work of the Spirit as conversion. The Lord will surely give it to those who are relying upon Him for eternal life. By His inward working He will deliver us from being “unstable as water,” and cause us to be rooted and grounded. It is a part of the method by which He saves us—this building us up into Christ Jesus and causing us to abide in Him. Dear reader, you may daily look for this; and you shall not be disappointed. He whom you trust will make you to be as a tree planted by the rivers of waters, so preserved that even your leaf shall not wither.

What a strength to a church is a confirmed Christian! He is a comfort to the sorrowful, and a help to the weak. Would you not like to be such? Confirmed believers are pillars in the house of our God. These are not carried away by every wind of doctrine, nor overthrown by sudden temptation. They are a great stay to others, and act as anchors in the time of church trouble. You who are beginning the holy life hardly dare to hope that you will become like them. But you need not fear; the good Lord will work in you as well as in them. One of these days you who are now a “babe” in Christ shall be a “father” in the church. Hope for this great thing; but hope for it as a gift of grace, and not as the wages of work, or as the product of your own energy.

The inspired apostle Paul speaks of these people as to be confirmed unto the end. He expected the grace of God to preserve them personally to the end of their lives, or till the Lord Jesus should come. Indeed, he expected that the whole church of God in every place and in all time would be kept to the end of the dispensation, till the Lord Jesus as the Bridegroom should come to celebrate the wedding-feast with his perfected Bride. All who are in Christ will be confirmed in Him till that illustrious day. Has He not said, “Because I live ye shall live also”? He also said, “I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” He that hath begun a good work in you will confirm it unto the day of Christ. The work of grace in the soul is not a superficial reformation; the life implanted as the new birth comes of a living and incorruptible seed, which liveth and abideth for ever; and the promises of God made to believers are not of a transient character, but involve for their fulfillment the believer’s holding on his way till he comes to endless glory. We are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation. “The righteous shall hold on his way.” Not as the result of our own merit or strength, but as a gift of free and undeserved favor those who believe are “preserved in Christ Jesus.” Of the sheep of His fold Jesus will lose none; no member of His Body shall die; no gem of His treasure shall be missing in the day when He makes up His jewels. Dear reader, the salvation which is received by faith is not a thing of months and years; for our Lord Jesus hath “obtained eternal salvation for us,” and that which is eternal cannot come to an end. (All of Grace)

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Resurrection Power

Even though the secular world may cast us out and laugh at our profession of faith, yet Jesus Christ will walk with, and abide in us. George Whitefield writes:

[T]hat I may know him and the power of his resurrection. . . . (Philippians 3:10 ESV)

By the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are new-born to a heavenly inheritance amongst all them which are sanctified; but our own corrupt wills, would tempt us to sell this glorious birth-right for the vanities of the world, which, like Esau’s red pottage, may please us for a while, but will soon be taken away from us. God knows this, and therefore rather bids us renounce them . . . [than lose] the privilege of that glorious birth-right, to which, by knowing the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are entitled.

O the depth of the riches and excellency of Christianity! Well might the great St. Paul count all things but dung and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of it. Well might he desire so ardently to know Jesus, and the power of his resurrection. For even on this side of eternity it raises us above the world, and makes us to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Well might that glorious company of worthies, recorded in the Holy scriptures, supported with a deep sense of their heavenly calling, despise the pleasures and profits of this life, and wander about in sheep-skins, and goat-skins, in dens and caves of the earth, being destitute, afflicted, tormented.

And O that we were all like minded! That we felt the power of Christ’s resurrection as they did! How should we then “count all things as dung and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord!” How should we then recover our primitive dignity, trample the earth under our feet, and with our souls be continually gasping after God?

And what hinders but we may be thus minded? Is Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, altered from what he was? No, “he is the same yesterday, today, and for ever.” And though he is exalted to the right hand of God, yet he is not ashamed to call us brethren. The power of his resurrection is as great now as formerly, and the Holy Spirit, which was assured to us by his resurrection, as ready and able to quicken us who are dead in trespasses and sins, as any saint that ever lived. Let us but cry, and that instantly, to Him that is mighty and able to save; let us, in sincerity and truth, without secretly keeping back the least part, renounce ourselves and the world; then we shall be Christians indeed.

The Plague of Sin

The following is from a sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon:

All the filth and loathsomeness that ever offended eye and nostril, is sweetness itself compared with sin. The foulest and most detestable thing in the whole universe is sin!

Sin is that which keeps the fire of hell burning as God’s great sanitary necessity. Well may God cause the fiery flames of eternal torment to go up for ever and ever, for it is only by such terrific punishment that the plague of sin can be at all restrained within bounds.

Sin is a horrible evil, a deadly poison; and yet, sinner, though you be as full of sin as an egg is full of meat, and as reeking with sin as the foulest piece of noxious matter can be reeking with foul smell — yet the infinite mercy of God in Christ Jesus can lift you from this utmost degradation, and make you to shine as a star in his kingdom at the last!

To know that my Beloved is mine, and that I am his, and that he loved me and gave himself for me, this is far better than to be heir-apparent to a score of empires! (“From the Dunghill to the Throne” No. 658)

Sanctification

When God saves a sinner, He justifies and sanctifies him. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to him and the principle of holiness is imparted to him. Andrew Murray writes:

“But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation: because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15,16)

“But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us sanctification.” (1 Corinthians 1:30)

“God hath from the beginning chosen you unto salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

[W]hat is this holiness that I must have? Christ is your sanctification. The life of Christ in you is your holiness. In Christ you are sanctified – you are holy. In Christ you must continually be sanctified. The glory of Christ must penetrate your whole life.

Holiness is more than purity. In Scripture we see that cleansing precedes holiness. Cleansing is the taking away of that which is wrong – liberation from sin. Holiness is the filling with that which is good and divine – the disposition of Jesus. Holiness is conformity to Him. It is separation from the spirit of the world and being filled with the presence of the Holy God. The tabernacle was holy because God lived there. We are holy, as God’s temple, after we have God living within us. Christ’s life in us is our holiness.

And how do we become holy? By the sanctification of the Spirit. The Spirit of God is named the Holy Spirit because He makes us holy. He reveals and glorifies Christ in us. Through Him, Christ dwells in us, and His holy power works in us. Through this Holy Spirit, the workings of the flesh are mortified, and God works in us both the will and the accomplishment. (“Holiness”)

The Offensive Christ

The following is from Charles H. Spurgeon:

There are some who stumble at Christ because of his holiness.

He is too strict for them; they would like to be Christians, but they cannot renounce their sensual pleasures; they would like to be washed in his blood, but they desire still to roll in the mire of sin.

Willing enough the mass of men would be to receive Christ, if, after receiving him, they might continue in their drunkenness, their wantonness, and self-indulgence. But Christ lays the axe at the root of the tree; he tells them that these things must be given up, for “because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience,” and “without holiness no man can see the Lord.”

Human nature kicks at this.

“What! May I not enjoy one darling lust? May I not indulge myself at least now and then in these things? Must I altogether forsake my old habits and my old ways? Must I be made a new creature in Christ Jesus?”

These are terms too hard, conditions too severe, and so the human heart goes back to the flesh pots of Egypt, and clings to the garlic and the onions of the old estate of bondage, and will not be set free even though a greater than Moses lifts up the rod to part the sea, and promises to give to them a Canaan flowing with milk and honey.

Christ offends men because his gospel is intolerant of sin. (“Unbelievers stumbling; Believers rejoicing”)

Are You Growing in Holiness?

As a Christian, do you possess a “cultural holiness”? There are many Christians who simply adapt their behaviors to the Christians around them. God, however, has not called us to be like the people we like or associate with; He has called us to conform to His Character. Andrew Murray writes:

“But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation: because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15, 16)

“But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us sanctification.” (1 Corinthians 1:30)

“God hath from the beginning chosen you unto salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

Not only has God chosen and called us for salvation, but also for holiness – salvation in holiness. The goal of the young Christian must not only be safety in Christ, but also holiness in Christ. Safety and salvation are, in the long run, found only in holiness. The Christian who thinks that his salvation consists merely in safety and not in holiness will find himself deceived. Young Christian, listen to the Word of God – Be ye holy.

And why must I be holy? Because He who called you is holy and summons you to fellowship and conformity with Himself. How can anyone be saved in God when he does not have the same disposition as God?

God’s holiness is His highest glory. In His holiness, His righteousness and His love are united. His holiness is the flaming fire of His zeal against all that is sin. This is how He keeps Himself free from sin, and in love makes others also free from it. It is as the Holy One of Israel that He is the Redeemer, and that He lives in the midst of His people. Redemption is given to bring us to Himself and to the fellowship of His holiness. We cannot possibly take part in the love and salvation of God if we are not holy as He is holy. Young Christians, be holy. (“Holiness”)

There Is Mercy In The Wilderness

Quoting Steve Camp:

It is easy to praise the Lord from the heights of His love, but it is rich to worship Him from the depths of His love. If you are in a time of testing or trial may I encourage you today to stop and worship the Lord. Find comfort in His word and in the obedience that comes from surrendering our will and rights to Him. Job prayed in the course of his trials, “Though He may slay me, I will hope in Him.” Our Lord is sovereign – He is in control of all things. There is mercy in the wilderness dear friend. Come to Christ Jesus today, worship Him in spirit and truth, and drink of His mercy as He molds you to Himself.

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