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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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Sanctification by Doctrine

James Montgomery Boice:

Paul’s “method” of sanctification is biblical doctrine. That is, to live as Christians we must know what God has done to us in making us Christians. We must know what has happened, and the only way we can know what has happened is to know the Bible. Then, because we know what God has done to us, we are to go on with God, acting on the basis of what has been done for us and in us. We can express it this way: We cannot go back to being what we were before. We are new creatures in Christ. And if we are new creatures in Christ, the only thing we can do is get on with living the Christian life. In other words, there is no way for us to go but forward…..This has nothing to do with either method or an experience. It has everything to do with knowing and living by the sufficient Word of God. Is it not true that one reason we see such immature and even sinful behavior among Christians today is that they have not really been taught what God has done to them and for them when he saved them? Aren’t our churches immature precisely because the pastors are not teaching Bible doctrines? (Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace: Rediscovering the Doctrines That Shook the World, pp. 80-81)

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Overcoming Our Present Difficulty

Quoting :

“Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.”

The Duty of Ministers

In the words of Jonathan Edwards:

It is not only our great duty, but will be our greatest honor, to imitate Christ, and do the work that he has done, and so act as co-workers with him.

The ministers of Christ should be persons of the same spirit that their Lord was of—the same spirit of humility and lowliness of heart; for the servant is not greater than his Lord. They should be of the same spirit of heavenly mindedness, and contempt of the glory, wealth, and pleasures of this world.

They should be of the same spirit of devotion and fervent love to God. They should follow the example of his prayerfulness; of whom we read from time to time of his retiring from the world, away from the noise and applause of the multitudes, into mountains and solitary places, for secret prayer, and holy converse with his Father.

Ministers should be persons of the same quiet, lamb like spirit that Christ was of, the same spirit of submission to God’s will, and patience under afflictions, and meekness towards men; of the same calmness and composure of spirit under reproaches and sufferings from the malignity of evil men; of the same spirit of forgiveness of injuries; of the same spirit of charity, of fervent love and extensive benevolence; the same disposition to pity the miserable, to weep with those that weep, to help men under their calamities of both soul and body, to hear and grant the requests of the needy, and relieve afflicted; the same spirit of condescension to the poor and lowly, tenderness and gentleness toward the weak, and great and effectual love to enemies. . . .

And in order to our imitating Christ in the work of the ministry, in any tolerable degree, we should not have our hearts weighed down, and time filled up with worldly affections, cares, and pursuits. The duties of a minister that have been recommended are absolutely inconsistent with a mind much taken up with worldly profit, glory, amusements, and entertainments.

Martyrdom and Controversy

One of the masters of Reformed Theology was Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921). While defending the truth of the gospel, he was no stranger to controversy. The following is an example of his thoughts on martyrdom and controversy:

“Martyrdom” and “controversy!” If the collocation sounds strange in our ears it can only be because we have failed to realize how inevitable is their connection, how necessarily they appear as twin fruits of the one fair tree of faithfulness. There never was a martyrdom save as the result of controversy. The spirit which would still contention for the truth never yet went to the stake. There is a sentiment abroad indeed which decries controversy. The same sentiment should certainly decry martyrdom also. An anemic Christianity which is too little virile to strive for the truth can never possess the nerve to die for it. And the contradiction of loving the one and hating the other is glaring. Says Dr. Mandell Creighton strikingly: “The age of the martyrs has a powerful attraction even to the casual reader; the age of the heresies leaves him bewildered and distressed. Yet the agents in both were discharging an equally necessary function. Both were upholding the truth of the gospel; the one against the power of the world, the other against the wisdom of the world. The martyrs had this advantage that the force of their testimony was concentrated in one supreme moment, was expressed in one heroic act, which commands universal sympathy. The controversialists had to live through a protracted struggle and are judged by all their utterances, and all their human weaknesses which the conflict remorselessly revealed.”

The spirit of the martyr and the spirit of the controversialist are therefore one. Both alike are the sport of the indifferent, and the scorn of the worldly-wise to whom opportunism is the last word of wisdom, and “convictions” the disease of fools. “Conviction,” cries the “Master-Devil” of Gilbert Parker‘s The Seats of the Mighty—”conviction is the executioner of the stupid. When a man is not great enough to let change and chance guide him he gets convictions and dies a fool.” Christian men may call him a martyr: but the world at best a fanatic, at worst a well-punished disturber of the peace. The issue does not seem to the world worth fighting for and certainly not worth dying for. If it did, the verdict would assuredly be different. At least whenever the issue seems to it worth fighting and dying for, even the worldly-wise can find ground enough for admiration and praise of that spirit of faithfulness, by which it is that the martyr and the controversialist alike are dominated. We find this anecdote in General Sir John Adye‘s Recollections of a Military Life: “An English soldier coming on duty was heard to say to his comrade, ‘Well, Jim, what’s the orders at this post?’ Jim replied, ‘Why, the orders is you’re never to leave it till you’re killed, and if you see any other man leaving it, you’re to kill him.’ ” There burns (in its own coarse form) the spirit both of the martyr and of the controversialist—or, to put it in one word, the spirit of the faithful man ready to do his duty, all his duty, and his duty to the end. Let us permit one who himself trod the thorny path to its goal make for us the application. “In Tynedale, where I was born, not far from the Scottish border,’ writes Nicholas Ridley, “I have known my countrymen watch night and day in their harness, such as they had, that is, in their jacks, and their spears in their hands (you call them northern gads), especially when they had any privy warning of the coming of the Scots. And so doing, although at every such bickering some of them spent their lives, yet by such means, like pretty men, they defended their country. And those that so did, I think that before God they died in a good quarrel, and their offspring and progeny, all the country loved them the better for their fathers’ sakes. And in the quarrel of Christ our Savior, in the defense of his own divine ordinances, by the which he giveth us life and immortality, yea, in the quarrel of faith and Christian religion, wherein resteth our everlasting salvation, shall we not watch? Shall we not go always armed, ever looking when our adversary (which, like a roaring lion, seeketh whom he may devour) shall come upon us by reason of our slothfulness? Yea, and woe be unto us, if he can oppress us unawares, which undoubtedly he will do, if he find us sleeping.” (“Christianity: The Truth”)

Worship Energizes The Heart

Quoting Sam Storms:

Worship is eminently practical because adoring and affectionate praise is what restores our sense of ultimate value. It exposes the worthless and temporary and tawdry stuff of this world. Worship energizes the heart to seek satisfaction in Jesus alone. In worship we are reminded that this world is fleeting and unworthy of our heart’s devotion. Worship connects our souls with the transcendent power of God and awakens in us appreciation for true beauty. It pulls back the veil of deception and exposes the ugliness of sin and Satan. Worship is a joyful rebuke of the world. When our hearts are riveted on Jesus everything else in life becomes so utterly unnecessary and we become far less demanding.

The First Mover Of All Good

From the desk of Robert Bolton:

“Were the holiest heart upon earth enlarged to the vast comprehension of this great world’s wideness; nay, made capable of all the glorious and magnificent hallelujahs and hearty praises offered to Jehovah, both by all the militant and triumphant church, yet would it come infinitely short of sufficiently magnifying, admiring, and adoring the inexplicable mystery and bottomless depth of this free, independent mercy, and love to God, the Fountain and First Mover of all our good.”

Forgetful Of Jesus?

From the pen of Charles H. Spurgeon:

“Do you not find yourselves forgetful of Jesus? Some creature steals away your heart, and you are unmindful of him upon whom your affection ought to be set. Some earthly business engrosses your attention when you should have your eye steadily fixed upon the cross. It is the incessant round of world, world, world; the constant din of earth, earth, earth, that takes away the soul from Christ. Oh! my friends, is it not too sadly true that we can recollect anything but Christ, and forget nothing so easy as him whom we ought to remember? While memory will preserve a poisoned weed, it suffereth the Rose of Sharon to wither.”

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