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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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The Practice Of Piety

Isaac Barrow

Quoting Isaac Barrow (1630-1677):

“It is a fair adornment of a man and a great convenience both to himself and to all those with whom he converses and deals, to act uprightly, uniformly, and consistently. The practice of piety frees a man from interior distraction and from irresolution in his mind, from duplicity or inconstancy in his character, and from confusion in his proceedings, and consequently securing for others freedom from deception and disappointment in their transactions with him.” (Godliness is Profitable for All Things by Isaac Barrow)

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Winning God’s Approval

John Bunyan

Quoting Protestant preacher and author of The Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan:

“When I thought I kept this or that commandment, or did, by word or deed, anything that I thought was good, I had great peace in my conscience, and should think with myself, God cannot choose but be now pleased with me; yea, to relate it in mine own way, I thought no man in England could please God better than I. But poor wretch as I was! I was all this while ignorant of Jesus Christ; and going about to establish my own righteousness; and had perished therein, had not God in mercy showed me more of my state by nature. But upon a day, the good providence of God called me to Bedford … I came where there were three or four poor women … talking about the things of God … I drew near to hear what they said, for I was now a brisk talker also myself, in the matters of religion; but I may say, I heard but understood not; for they were far above, out of my reach. Their talk was about a new birth, the work of God on their hearts, also how they were convinced of their miserable state by nature; they talked how God had visited their souls with His love in the Lord Jesus, and with what words and promises they had been refreshed, comforted, and supported, against the temptations of the devil: moreover, they reasoned of the suggestions and temptations of Satan in particular; and told to each other, by which they had been afflicted and how they were borne up under his assaults. They also discoursed of their own wretchedness of heart, and of their unbelief; and did contemn, slight and abhor their own righteousness, as filthy, and insufficient to do them any good.” (Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners)

The Responsibility Of Preachers And Bible Teachers

Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon was not one to mince words when speaking to other preachers about their accountability and responsibility to deliver the Word of God accurately. You cannot claim that God has put you in a hard place and, therefore, place the blame for your weakness on Him. Preachers and teachers of the Gospel Truth will be held accountable to God:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers; for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1)

Let each man bethink him of the responsibility that rests upon him. I should not like to handle the doctrine of responsibility with the view of proving that it squares with the doctrine of predestination. It does do so, assuredly. I believe in predestination without cutting and trimming it; and I believe in responsibility without adulterating and weakening it. Before you the man of God places a quiver full of arrows, and he bids you shoot the arrow of the Lord’s deliverance. Bestir yourself, and draw the bow! I beseech you; remember that every time you shoot there shall be victory for Israel. Will you stop at the third shooting? The man of God will feel angry and grieved if you are thus straitened, and he will say, “Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times, and then Syria would have been utterly destroyed.” Do we not fail in our preaching in our very ideal of what we are going to do, and in the design we set before us for accomplishment? Having labored a little, are we not very satisfied? Shake off such base content! Let us shoot many times. Brethren, be filled with a great ambition; not for yourselves, but for your Lord. Elevate your ideal! Have no more firing at the bush. You may, in this case, shoot at the sun himself; for you will be sure to shoot higher if you do so, than if some groveling object were your aim. Believe for great things of a great God. Remember, whether you do so or not, great are your responsibilities. There never was a more restless time than now. What is being done to-day will affect the next centuries, unless the Lord should very speedily come. I believe that if we walk uprightly and decidedly before God at this time, we shall make the future of England bright with the gospel; but trimming now, and debasing doctrine now, will affect children yet unborn, generation after generation. Posterity must be considered. I do not look so much at what is to happen to-day, for these things relate to eternity. For my part, I am quite willing to be eaten of dogs for the next fifty years; but the more distant future shall vindicate me. I have dealt honestly before the living God. My brother, do the same. Who knows but what thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? If thou hast grit in thee, quit thyself like a man. If thou hast God in thee, then thou mayest yet do marvels. But if not, bent, doubled up, proven to be useless, thou shalt lie on that foul dunghill which is made up of cowards’ failures and misspent lives. God save both thee and me from that! (“The Preacher’s Power and the Conditions of Obtaining it”)

God Has Confirmed Our Liberty

Magna charta cum statutis angliae (Great Chart...

Magna Carta

Many of the great historic documents of law and liberty are inseparable from the influence of Christianity. The Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights are two important examples of this influence. Gary DeMar writes:

If your children study medieval history, or history of England, make the effort to open their textbook on the chapter concerning Magna Carta and read what it says about the origins of Magna Carta. Whether the textbook is a Christian or a non-Christian textbook, you will learn that (1) in the early 13th century there was an evil king of England named John, (2) his barons rose in rebellion against him, and (3) in 1215 the barons forced King John to sign a document known as Magna Carta where his power over his barons was limited by law, and the barons’ privileges and freedoms were established and protected. . . .

While certain details in the picture the textbooks reveal are correct, the above picture about the history and the origins of Magna Carta is incorrect. It is a typical example of what scholars call “historical revisionism”—re-writing history by historians, teachers, authors, and politicians to fit a specific modern agenda, or to comply with specific modern view of the history of mankind. . . . The historical truth is that Magna Carta was not drafted by the barons, the barons didn’t initiate it at all, and that the Carta had a completely different ideological origin and political and legal intent than what our modern historians presume. Far from being a generally political or legal document, the Carta was a Christian document first, and then everything else.

The falsity of the above historical narrative is revealed by a simple reading of the opening lines of the Carta itself:

“John, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, greeting.

“Know that before God, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honor of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and cardinal of the holy Roman Church, Henry archbishop of Dublin, William bishop of London, Peter bishop of Winchester, Jocelin bishop of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh bishop of Lincoln, Walter Bishop of Worcester, William bishop of Coventry, Benedict bishop of Rochester, Master Pandulf subdeacon and member of the papal household, Brother Aymeric. . . .”

Note carefully: The Magna Carta doesn’t start with barons, and doesn’t start with individual liberties. It doesn’t start with political considerations, and it doesn’t start with the issue of who holds what power. Magna Carta starts as a religious document, concerned with the “health of the soul” of the King, and with the “honor of God,” and with the “exaltation of the Holy Church.” In addition to that, the King acknowledges that the “advice” for signing the Carta comes from the bishops first, and then from the barons.

As if this was not enough, the main text of the Great Charter starts with the most forgotten clause that is very seldom quoted by modern historians:

“First, that we have granted to God, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired.”

The question here is: If the signing of the Magna Carta was a conflict between the King and the barons, as the history textbooks tell us, then why does it start with a solemn clause to defend the liberties of the church? Why were the barons so concerned with the inviolability of the rights of the church rather than with their own rights?

Continue reading this entire article. . . .

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