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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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A Purpose for All Believers

Trusting GodJerry Bridges:

God has an over-arching purpose for all believers: to conform us to the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ (see Romans 8:29). He also has a specific purpose for each of us that is His unique, tailor-made plan for our individual life (see Ephesians 2:10). And God will fulfill that purpose. As Psalm 138:8 says, “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me.” Because we know God is directing our lives to an ultimate end and because we know He is sovereignly able to orchestrate the events of our lives toward that end, we can trust Him. We can commit to Him not only the ultimate outcome of our lives, but also all the intermediate events and circumstances that will bring us to that outcome. (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

God’s Kindness

Grace - KindnessOr do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. (Romans 2:4-11 ESV)

Have you lived your life with little regard for the kindness of God? Most people probably do not give much thought to this aspect of God’s character. They take His blessings for granted. Yet, God’s kindness is shown to us in many ways throughout our lives.

The verses above speak of the riches of His kindness. What do these riches consist of? The Bible teaches us that God is rich in grace (Ephesians 1:7), in mercy (Ephesians 2:4), in supplying need (Philippians 4:19), in giving things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17), and rich in the strength He provides to the Christian (Ephesians 3:16 & 21).

These verses also teach us about God’s forbearance and patience in holding back His day of wrath so many may repent. God’s Salvationkindness is meant to lead us to repentance; to turn us from sin to God. Eternal life will be given to those who by God’s kindness are led to repent and do good. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 ESV)

However, many will despise God’s kindness and remain impenitent. For these there will be a day of wrath bringing tribulation and distress. Paul writes, “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. . . . (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 ESV)

This is the outcome of those who do not properly respond to God’s kindness as manifested through the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no partiality with God. Those who do evil will be punished and those who do good will be blessed. “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.” (Romans 11:22 ESV)

Allow the kindness of God to lead you to repentance by turning from selfishness, disobedience to the truth, and unrighteousness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV) As you go about your life this day, remember the kindness of God which He has so graciously given in order that you may be in Christ and Christ in you.

Samuel at Gilgal

What is Adoption?

Adoption is taking someone outside the natural family into the relationship of a son and heir. Moses was the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter. We, who were strangers and aliens (Ephesians 2:12), God has taken and made sons and heirs with Christ Jesus. According to L.R. Shelton, Jr., God does three things in adoption:

(1) He gives us His name. He who is adopted bears the name of Him who adopts Him—“I will write upon him the name of my God” (Rev 3:12).

(2) He sanctifies us by His Spirit. When He adopts, He anoints; when He makes sons, He makes saints. When a man adopts another for his son and heir, he may put his name upon him, but he cannot put his disposition into him; if he be of a sullen, gloomy, sulky nature, he cannot alter it; but whom God adopts He sanctifies. He not only gives a new name, but a new nature. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4). He infuses into us His Spirit of holiness. He turns the wolf into a lamb; He makes the heart humble and gracious; He works such a change as if another soul dwelt in the same body (2 Cor 5:17).

(3) Where the Holy Spirit enters, there is a cry: “God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal 4:6). It is the Spirit of God that cries. Romans 8:15 tells us that it is our cry, but a cry prompted and inspired by the Holy Spirit because He is the Spirit of adoption. He anoints us in some manner so that we are able to pray aright. He puts His divine energy into us so that we cry, Abba, Father, in an acceptable manner. There are times when we cannot cry at all, and then He cries in us. There are seasons when doubts and fears abound, and so suffocate us with their fumes that we cannot even raise a cry, and then the indwelling Spirit represents us, crying in our name, and making intercession for us according to the will of God (Rom 8:26,27). Thus does the cry, “Abba, Father,” rise up in our hearts even when we feel as if we could not pray, and dare not think ourselves children. Then we may each say: “I live, yet not I, but the Spirit of Christ that dwelleth in me.” On the other hand, at times our soul gives such a sweet assent to the Spirit’s cry that it becomes ours also, but then we more than ever own the work of the Spirit, and still ascribe to Him the blessed cry, “Abba, Father.” It is literally the cry of the Son. God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, and that Spirit cries in us exactly according to the cry of the Son. (“Adoption”)

No Such Thing as Chance

Think about this: God could not be sovereign, if chance existed. God cannot be sovereign unless He is sovereign over all things. If God is not sovereign, He is not God.  A. A. Hodge weaves a discussion of “chance” into the following article on God’s providential care:

The providence of God over his rational creatures involves three elements: First, his working in the entire sphere of their environment, presenting external motives and influences, molding character and stimulating to action. Secondly, his working in their bodies and souls through the natural laws of their organizations, through the entire process of their growth. And thirdly, his immanent working within their will, whereby his directive energy becomes confluent with their own spontaneity, and “he turns the hearts of men as the rivers of water are turned,” and “works in us to will, and be willing to do, of his own good pleasure.”

The redeemed Christian is a child already at home in his Father’s house. All these beauties and all this abundant wealth belong to our Father, and are set apart for our use. All things whatsoever that come to pass, however dark and enigmatical, are expressions of our Father’s will, and are wisely designed to promote our welfare in the present and to secure it with infallible certainty in the great Hereafter. The word “chance” expresses simply a relation. An event happens by “chance” when the causes which produce it are so complex or so unusual as to be incapable of rational expectation by us. Hence, as far as God is concerned, there is absolutely no such thing as chance. As far as we are concerned, all events which lie beyond the reach of scientific prediction fall into the category of chance. But by faith we embrace the infinitely wise will of God and accept all events as the excellent will of our heavenly Father. Creation and providence are seen to be the preparatory work which culminates in redemption. We read all the means in the light of the glorious end, even in him. “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:11-12 ESV) “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36 ESV)

The Problem of Anger

Do you have a problem with anger? In my opinion, more and more people today seem to have difficulty with anger. We are becoming a people of very low “Emotional IQs”. Does “Reason” leave the room when you become angry? When people with low “Emotional IQs” become angry, the rational part of the mind seems to shut down and their anger becomes destructive. “A man of quick temper acts foolishly. . . .” (Proverbs 14:17 ESV)

Such people actually lose control of themselves. “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9 ESV) Most people have learned and are mature enough, fortunately, to keep their anger under control. The Apostle Paul reminds us, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV) Here we see that a person can be angry without sin. Even Jesus became angry on some occasions toward the sinful disobedience of men. The anger of God the Father and Son is a righteous anger, but today – I’m writing about sinful anger – not righteous anger.

Whereas righteous anger is all about things of the Will, Honor, and Glory of God; sinful anger is really all about us, our inconvenience, our pride, and our will. So, what does the Bible say we are to do about sinful anger?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31 ESV) “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:8-10 ESV) In verse after verse, it becomes obvious that this type of ongoing anger is incompatible with the Christian life. Note too that anger is put into a class which includes wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, and lies.

Unlike God the Father and Son, human beings are filled with the imperfections of sin. Our anger is often wrong and unnecessary because of false presumptions. We become angry over personal issues and yet remain silent when God is dishonored and sin is exalted.

However, man’s sinful inclinations can be transformed; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV) “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18 ESV) This does not mean that a Christian will now live a sin-free life, but it does mean that we are no longer compelled by sin as we were before we received grace.

Irrational anger may now be defeated! “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 ESV) Discipline the way you think. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2 ESV) For it is now possible to: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15 ESV)

The Christian life is all about the inner transformation that begins with salvation. As you consistently read and meditate on the Scriptures, praying to God for wisdom and understanding, the Holy Spirit will help you grow in holiness. Anger problems can be overcome – but the Holy Spirit teaches us through the Word of God and prayer. If you are not a consistent reader of God’s Book and do not attend church regularly, then you are not fulfilling your part in the process of sanctification. You must take an active part in renewing your mind through the Word of God.

And so, dear Christian, are you still often overcome by sinful anger? Continue then to renew your mind and keep a firm grip on God’s Holy Word. By this, “you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe. . . .” (Ephesians 1:18-19 ESV)

The Power of God

[A]nd what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:19-23 ESV)

We see in Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians a desire that they increase their understanding on: “the hope of His calling” – “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” and “the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe”

Let us think about the last item above and try to discover what kind of power Paul is writing about and how this power may be seen in the lives of Christians. Reflect on this; the nature of God’s power in believers is the same that worked in Christ. 

This power was seen when Jesus was raised from the dead (Ephesians 1:19-20) and we see this power again when God seated Jesus at his right hand in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 1:20) We also see it when God puts all things under the feet of Jesus. (Ephesians 1:21-23)

Meditate on this; God’s power gave life to His crucified Son and raised Him to the highest position in the universe. As Christians, how have we seen such power in our own lives?

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)

These verses tell us that we were once dead in our trespasses and sins. We lived our lives in the way of the world and were servants to Satan. We only cared to live according to the passions of our flesh and the desires of our bodies and minds. We deserved only wrath and even though we were dead in our sins, God gave us life according to the power of His grace through Jesus Christ.

Through God’s power He has saved us and raised us up to be seated with Him in His Kingdom. We are sitting with Christ at God’s right hand and are being strengthened by God’s power. (Ephesians 3:16) His power is evident in us when the fruit of the spirit is displayed in our lives. His power gave us a new birth by which we were transformed into a new life as the children of God. Therefore, what Christian – who is indeed a Christian – can say that he has never experienced the power of God in his life?

Faith, Peace, and Joy

Faith can do what nothing else can; it gives us joy and peace. Faith is the key which opens the gates of heaven. How can there be an objection to this means of salvation which is established by the mercy and the wisdom of God? Charles H. Spurgeon writes:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. (Ephesians 2:8 ESV)

Even in common things faith of a certain sort lies at the root of all. I wonder whether I shall be wrong if I say that we never do anything except through faith of some sort. If I walk across my study it is because I believe my legs will carry me. A man eats because he believes in the necessity of food; he goes to business because he believes in the value of money; he accepts a cheque because he believes that the bank will honor it. Columbus discovered America because he believed that there was another continent beyond the ocean; and the Pilgrim Fathers colonized it because they believed that God would be with them on those rocky shores. Most grand deeds have been born of faith; for good or for evil, faith works wonders by the man in whom it dwells. Faith in its natural form is an all-prevailing force, which enters into all manner of human actions. Possibly he who derides faith in God is the man who in an evil form has the most of faith; indeed, he usually falls into a credulity which would be ridiculous, if it were not disgraceful. God gives salvation to faith, because by creating faith in us He thus touches the real mainspring of our emotions and actions. He has, so to speak, taken possession of the battery and now He can send the sacred current to every part of our nature. When we believe in Christ, and the heart has come into the possession of God, then we are saved from sin, and are moved toward repentance, holiness, zeal, prayer, consecration, and every other gracious thing. “What oil is to the wheels, what weights are to a clock, what wings are to a bird, what sails are to a ship, that faith is to all holy duties and services.” Have faith, and all other graces will follow and continue to hold their course.

Faith, again, has the power of working by love; it influences the affections toward God, and draws the heart after the best things. He that believes in God will beyond all question love God. Faith is an act of the understanding; but it also proceeds from the heart. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness”; and hence God gives salvation to faith because it resides next door to the affections, and is near akin to love; and love is the parent and the nurse of every holy feeling and act. Love to God is obedience, love to God is holiness. To love God and to love man is to be conformed to the image of Christ; and this is salvation.

Moreover, faith creates peace and joy; he that hath it rests, and is tranquil, is glad and joyous, and this is a preparation for heaven. God gives all heavenly gifts to faith, for this reason among others, that faith worketh in us the life and spirit which are to be eternally manifested in the upper and better world. Faith furnishes us with armor for this life, and education for the life to come. It enables a man both to live and to die without fear; it prepares both for action and for suffering; and hence the Lord selects it as a most convenient medium for conveying grace to us, and thereby securing us for glory. (All of Grace)

Why Are We Saved by Grace through Faith?

Faith is like a beautiful stream through which the blessings of Christ flow to us. We are justified through faith; not on account of it. Faith is the work of God. It is not our faith that brings salvation. Faith is a gift of God to undeserving sinners. Charles H. Spurgeon elaborates more on this:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. (Ephesians 2:8 ESV)

Why is faith selected as the channel of salvation? No doubt this inquiry is often made. “By grace are ye saved through faith,” is assuredly the doctrine of Holy Scripture and the ordinance of God; but why is it so? Why is faith selected rather than hope, or love, or patience?

It becomes us to be modest in answering such a question, for God’s ways are not always to be understood; nor are we allowed presumptuously to question them. Humbly we would reply that, as far as we can tell, faith has been selected as the channel of grace, because there is a natural adaptation in faith to be used as the receiver. Suppose that I am about to give a poor man alms: I put it into his hand—why? Well, it would hardly be fitting to put it into his ear, or to lay it upon his foot; the hand seems made on purpose to receive. So, in our mental frame, faith is created on purpose to be a receiver: it is the hand of the man, and there is a fitness in receiving grace by its means.

Do let me put this very plainly. Faith which receives Christ is as simple an act as when your child receives an apple from you, because you hold it out and promise to give him the apple if he comes for it. The belief and the receiving relate only to an apple; but they make up precisely the same act as the faith which deals with eternal salvation. What the child’s hand is to the apple, that your faith is to the perfect salvation of Christ. The child’s hand does not make the apple, nor improve the apple, nor deserve the apple; it only takes it; and faith is chosen by God to be the receiver of salvation, because it does not pretend to create salvation, nor to help in it, but it is content humbly to receive it. “Faith is the tongue that begs pardon, the hand which receives it and the eye which sees it; but it is not the price which buys it.” Faith never makes herself her own plea, she rests all her argument upon the blood of Christ. She becomes a good servant to bring the riches of the Lord Jesus to the soul, because she acknowledges whence she drew them, and owns that grace alone entrusted her with them.

Faith, again, is doubtless selected because it gives all the glory to God. It is of faith that it might be by grace, and it is of grace that there might be no boasting; for God cannot endure pride. “The proud he knoweth afar off,” and He has no wish to come nearer to them. He will not give salvation in a way which will suggest or foster pride. Paul saith, “Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Now, faith excludes all boasting. The hand which receives charity does not say, “I am to be thanked for accepting the gift”; that would be absurd. . . So God has selected faith to receive the unspeakable gift of His grace, because it cannot take to itself any credit, but must adore the gracious God who is the giver of all good. . . .

God selects faith as the channel of salvation because it is a sure method, linking man with God. When man confides in God, there is a point of union between them, and that union guarantees blessing. Faith saves us because it makes us cling to God, and so brings us into connection with Him. (All of Grace)

Come at Once

Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Life without God is a painful and disappointing business. If you neglect the study of God, you are blundering through life not seeing or understanding what is going on around you. Don’t waste your life and lose your soul. Charles H. Spurgeon writes:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. (Ephesians 2:8 ESV)

Faith is the root of obedience, and this may be clearly seen in the affairs of life. When a captain trusts a pilot to steer his vessel into port he manages the vessel according to his direction. When a traveler trusts a guide to conduct him over a difficult pass, he follows the track which his guide points out. When a patient believes in a physician, he carefully follows his prescriptions and directions. Faith which refuses to obey the commands of the Savior is a mere pretense, and will never save the soul. We trust Jesus to save us; He gives us directions as to the way of salvation; we follow those directions and are saved. Let not my reader forget this. Trust Jesus, and prove your trust by doing whatever He bids you.

A notable form of faith arises out of assured knowledge; this comes of growth in grace, and is the faith which believes Christ because it knows Him, and trusts Him because it has proved Him to be infallibly faithful. An old Christian was in the habit of writing T and P in the margin of her Bible whenever she had tried and proved a promise. How easy it is to trust a tried and proved Savior! You cannot do this as yet, but you will do so. Everything must have a beginning. You will rise to strong faith in due time. This matured faith asks not for signs and tokens, but bravely believes. Look at the faith of the master mariner—I have often wondered at it. He looses his cable, he steams away from the land. For days, weeks, or even months, he never sees sail or shore; yet on he goes day and night without fear, till one morning he finds himself exactly opposite to the desired haven toward which he has been steering. How has he found his way over the trackless deep? He has trusted in his compass, his nautical almanac, his glass, and the heavenly bodies; and obeying their guidance, without sighting land, he has steered so accurately that he has not to change a point to enter into port. It is a wonderful thing—that sailing or steaming without sight. Spiritually it is a blessed thing to leave altogether the shores of sight and feeling, and to say, “Good-bye” to inward feelings, cheering Providences, signs, tokens, and so forth. It is glorious to be far out on the ocean of divine love, believing in God, and steering for Heaven straight away by the direction of the Word of God. “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed”; to them shall be administered an abundant entrance at the last, and a safe voyage on the way. Will not my reader put his trust in God in Christ Jesus. There I rest with joyous confidence. Brother, come with me, and believe our Father and our Savior. Come at once. (All of Grace)

Love and Faith

The following article reminds me of Martin Luther’s admission, “I did not love God and was indignant towards Him, if not in wicked revolt, at least in silent blasphemy.” Luther’s deep sense of his own sinfulness led him to understand that a God who dealt with human beings strictly on the basis of merit was always going to be a God of punishment. Therefore, Luther’s discovery in the Bible of a God who loves His children by grace changed everything for him. For God’s love is to be experienced by grace through faith – not as something earned – but as something freely given. Do you love God and trust Him? Charles H. Spurgeon writes:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. (Ephesians 2:8 ESV)

Another and a higher form of faith is that faith which grows out of love. Why does a boy trust his father? The reason why the child trusts his father is because he loves him. Blessed and happy are they who have a sweet faith in Jesus, intertwined with deep affection for Him, for this is a restful confidence. These lovers of Jesus are charmed with His character, and delighted with His mission, they are carried away by the loving kindness that He has manifested, and therefore they cannot help trusting Him, because they so much admire, revere, and love Him.

The way of loving trust in the Savior may thus be illustrated. A lady is the wife of the most eminent physician of the day. She is seized with a dangerous illness, and is smitten down by its power; yet she is wonderfully calm and quiet, for her husband has made this disease his special study, and has healed thousands who were similarly afflicted. She is not in the least troubled, for she feels perfectly safe in the hands of one so dear to her, and in whom skill and love are blended in their highest forms. Her faith is reasonable and natural; her husband, from every point of view, deserves it of her. This is the kind of faith which the happiest of believers exercise toward Christ. There is no physician like Him, none can save as He can; we love Him, and He loves us, and therefore we put ourselves into His hands, accept whatever He prescribes, and do whatever He bids. We feel that nothing can be wrongly ordered while He is the director of our affairs; for He loves us too well to let us perish, or suffer a single needless pang. (All of Grace)

Knowledge Is Essential To Faith

You must have faith that God is, and that He hears the cries of sincere hearts. You must know in your mind and heart that the gospel is from God. You must understand that justification by faith is the grand truth which God has revealed to us. Jesus is in truth our God and Savior; the Redeemer of men. Charles H. Spurgeon helps us to understand:

“By grace are ye saved, through faith” (Ephesians ii. 8).

Still, I again remind you that faith is only the channel or aqueduct, and not the fountainhead, and we must not look so much to it as to exalt it above the divine source of all blessing which lies in the grace of God. Never make a Christ out of your faith, nor think of as if it were the independent source of your salvation. Our life is found in “looking unto Jesus,” not in looking to our own faith. By faith all things become possible to us; yet the power is not in the faith, but in the God upon whom faith relies. Grace is the powerful engine, and faith is the chain by which the carriage of the soul is attached to the great motive power. The righteousness of faith is not the moral excellence of faith, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ which faith grasps and appropriates. The peace within the soul is not derived from the contemplation of our own faith; but it comes to us from Him who is our peace, the hem of whose garment faith touches, and virtue comes out of Him into the soul.

See then, dear friend, that the weakness of your faith will not destroy you. A trembling hand may receive a golden gift. The Lord’s salvation can come to us though we have only faith as a grain of mustard seed. The power lies in the grace of God, and not in our faith. Great messages can be sent along slender wires, and the peace-giving witness of the Holy Spirit can reach the heart by means of a thread-like faith which seems almost unable to sustain its own weight. Think more of Him to whom you look than of the look itself. You must look away even from your own looking, and see nothing but Jesus, and the grace of God revealed in Him.

What is this faith concerning which it is said, “By grace are ye saved, through faith?” Faith is the simplest of all things, and perhaps because of its simplicity it is the more difficult to explain . . . What is faith? It is made up of three things—knowledge, belief, and trust. Knowledge comes first. “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?” I want to be informed of a fact before I can possibly believe it. “Faith cometh by hearing”; we must first hear, in order that we may know what is to be believed. “They that know thy name shall put their trust in thee.” A measure of knowledge is essential to faith; hence the importance of getting knowledge. “Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live.” Such was the word of the ancient prophet, and it is the word of the gospel still. Search the Scriptures and learn what the Holy Spirit teaches concerning Christ and His salvation. Seek to know God: “For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” May the Holy Spirit give you the spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord! Know the gospel: know what the good news is, how it talks of free forgiveness, and of change of heart, of adoption into the family of God, and of countless other blessings. Know especially Christ Jesus the Son of God, the Savior of men, united to us by His human nature, and yet one with God; and thus able to act as Mediator between God and man, able to lay His hand upon both, and to be the connecting link between the sinner and the Judge of all the earth. Endeavor to know more and more of Christ Jesus. Endeavor especially to know the doctrine of the sacrifice of Christ; for the point upon which saving faith mainly fixes itself is this—“God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” Know that Jesus was “made a curse for us, as it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Drink deep of the doctrine of the substitutionary work of Christ; for therein lies the sweetest possible comfort to the guilty sons of men, since the Lord “made him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Faith begins with knowledge. (All of Grace)

What Is A Vigorous Faith In God?

What is faith? What is faith in God? How do we use our faith? These are just a few of the questions that trouble people when you discuss faith. Do you have the faith that moves mountains? In the sermon excerpts below, John Henry Jowett (1863-1923) explains that he believes that faith is energy and power. His words should not be too quickly dismissed; but there is also reason to be cautious.

Living Christians are not perfectly holy. The old sin nature still clings to us. Most of us are tempted when we hear the promise and faith verses of the Bible taught as a formula for health and prosperity. We are easily manipulated into believing that all we have to do is work up some kind of “power-filled personal faith” to get what we want.

As you read this post, keep in mind that faith is a gift from God. We can’t just drum up faith, because this would make faith a “work”. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV) Faith begins with God; not with us. It is God’s gift. God gives His people the faith needed for their salvation. God is also the Author of the faith you have for answered prayer or personal needs and concerns. Don’t you believe that it would be wise to ask God if what you are praying for is a part of His plan for you? Talk to God (pray) and read the Scriptures. Study carefully the context of those promise, faith, and prayer verses.

Don’t forget that you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you to act as your advocate and to help you to pray. We pay too little attention to the Holy Spirit in our churches these days. I guess this was true during Jowett’s lifetime as well. Perhaps this was his point in preaching the sermon below. It is evident that we already possess more than we comprehend.

I would be interested in reading your opinion of Jowett’s sermon, based on the excerpts below. Please share what you think!

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:19-20 ESV)

“Faith as a grain uprooting a mountain! Such is its mighty energy! I do not shrink from the startling conjunction. Our scientists are telling us that there is energy stored in one grain of radium sufficient to raise five hundred tons a mile high. And I am not daunted when our Master, speaking of a finer power than radium, a subtler energy, a spiritual force, tells us of the enormous energy, the miracle- working energy that is housed in faith of a supreme quality, even though it is only “as a grain of mustard seed.” “Ye shall say to this mountain, Remove hence!” . . .

We are dimly gleaming that spiritual energies may have more currency than we have ever dreamed. We are discovering more and more clearly that spiritual faith and temper have much to do with physical health, and that our doctors are comparatively impotent when the soul has a malady, or when there is present “a grief that saps the mind.” I believe that many an ailment would vanish if the unbelief went out of the soul, and if in its place there came a sweet, sound, strong confidence in the Lord. ” Ye shall say unto this mountain. Remove hence! . . . and it shall remove!

And I am equally convinced that the exercise of a vigorous faith in God has more dominion than we have yet realized in securing the entire expulsion of impure bodily habits and lusts. Here is a man or woman possessed by the unclean devil of drunkenness. How can the devil be expelled? Well, we commonly say that it is a disease, and it must be treated as a disease. Yes, but how shall we treat it? A physical mountain can only be removed by physical means. Are you absolutely sure of that? The doctor shall prescribe medicine. Very well. The food shall be prudently selected, and all stimulating diet shall be tabooed. Very good. His environment shall be changed. Ah, are you sure that you are now altogether on the material plane? Are you not coming to another domain? Are you not bringing mystic forces into the ministry? He must have a new hobby! What now is your drift? His society must be refined, and his reading must be of a more restful and sedative type. Has not the treatment of the physical mountain now left the purely physical means? I do not disparage these minor ministries, for I regard them all as the beneficent gifts of God.

But, above and beyond all these, sometimes entirely apart and independent of them, I would exalt the marvelous power of the grace of God, acting through the means of alert and confident faith. I say that in these regions, even the regions of fleshly habit and passion, faith has removed mountains. I have known the craving for drink annihilated in an hour by the tremendous spiritual resources commanded by faith, and even if the instance stood alone, which is by no means the case, it affords a glimpse of a world of spiritual dynamics which we have not yet used or even realized. (“The Energy of Faith”)

Wonderful Grace!

If you have ever been to Rome or studied History (which is “His Story”), you must have seen or read about the many great aqueducts which no longer convey water into the city. The arches are now broken and the amazing structures are in ruins. You see, an aqueduct must be kept undamaged if it is to carry the water. Just so, faith too must rest on a strong foundation. It must flow right up to God and back down to us. Otherwise, it may not be a serviceable conduit of grace and mercy to our souls. Charles H. Spurgeon teaches us:

“By grace are ye saved, through faith” (Ephesians ii. 8).

Think it well to turn a little to one side that I may ask my reader to observe adoringly the fountainhead of our salvation, which is the grace of God. “By grace are ye saved.” Because God is gracious, therefore sinful men are forgiven, converted, purified, and saved. It is not because of anything in them, or that ever can be in them, that they are saved; but because of the boundless love, goodness, pity, compassion, mercy, and grace of God. Tarry a moment, then, at the well-head. Behold the pure river of water of life, as it proceeds out of the throne of God and of the Lamb!

What an abyss is the grace of God! Who can measure its breadth? Who can fathom its depth? Like all the rest of the divine attributes, it is infinite. God is full of love, for “God is love.” God is full of goodness; the very name “God” is short for “good.” Unbounded goodness and love enter into the very essence of the Godhead. It is because “his mercy endureth for ever” that men are not destroyed; because “his compassion’s fail not” that sinners are brought to Him and forgiven.

Remember this; or you may fall into error by fixing your minds so much upon the faith which is the channel of salvation as to forget the grace which is the fountain and source even of faith itself. Faith is the work of God’s grace in us. No man can say that Jesus is the Christ but by the Holy Ghost. “No man cometh unto me,” saith Jesus, “except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” So that faith, which is coming to Christ, is the result of divine drawing. Grace is the first and last moving cause of salvation; and faith, essential as it is, is only an important part of the machinery which grace employs. We are saved “through faith,” but salvation is “by grace.” Sound forth those words as with the archangel’s trumpet: “By grace are ye saved.” What glad tidings for the undeserving! (All of Grace)

The Christian Life

From the pen of Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

I have always found it depressing to listen to the kind of people who, whenever you meet them, will always for sure tell you the story of their conversion many years ago. They tell you that story every time. I have known people do exactly the same thing with revival. There is always something about an initial experience that is remarkable and outstanding. And a time of revival is so amazing and wonderful that it is not surprising that people go on talking about it. But, if they give the impression that they have had nothing since that wonderful experience, that ever after they have been walking through a wilderness, and traveling through a desert, then it is absolutely wrong. Their idea of the Christian life is of a dramatic experience, perhaps at the outset, after which they just trudge along, living on the strength of that and partly keeping their eye turned backwards as they go forward.

Mourning For The Lost

We mourn at the loss of a relative, a friend, or someone we just happen to work along side of. It is a mourning that follows the physical death of someone whose presence will be missed. Should we not, however, mourn most for those who are still physically alive and yet, their souls are spiritually dead? Bishop J. C. Ryle discusses this topic below:

“And He has made you alive, who were once dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1)

What shall I say to you? What can I say? What words of mine are likely to have any effect on your hearts? This I will say—I mourn over your souls. I do most sincerely mourn. You may be thoughtless and unconcerned. You may care little for what I am saying. You may scarcely run your eye over this paper, and after reading it you may despise it and return to the world; but you cannot prevent my feeling for you, however little you may feel for yourselves.

Do I mourn when I see a young man sapping the foundation of his bodily health by indulging his lusts and passions, sowing bitterness for himself in his old age? Much more then will I mourn over your souls.

Do I mourn when I see people squandering away their inheritance, and wasting their property on trifles and follies? Much more then will I mourn over your souls.

Do I mourn when I hear of one drinking slow poisons, because they are pleasant, as the drunkard or the opium-eater—inch by inch digging his own grave? Much more then will I mourn over your souls.

I mourn to think of golden opportunities thrown away—of Christ rejected, of the blood of atonement trampled under foot—of the Spirit resisted; the Bible neglected—heaven despised, and the world put in the place of God.

I mourn to think of the present happiness you are missing, the peace and consolation you are thrusting from you, the misery you are laying up in store for yourselves—and the bitter waking up which is yet to come!

Yes! I must mourn. I cannot help it. Others may think it enough to mourn over dead bodies. For my part, I think there is far more cause to mourn over dead souls. The children of this world find fault with us sometimes for being so serious and grave. Truly, when I look at the world, I marvel we can ever smile at all.

To everyone who is dead in sins I say this day—Why will you die? Are the wages of sin so sweet and good, that you cannot give them up? Is the world so satisfying that you cannot forsake it? Is the service of Satan so pleasant that you and he are never to be parted? Is heaven so poor a thing that it is not worth seeking? Is your soul of so little consequence, that it is not worth a struggle to have it saved? Oh, turn! turn before it be too late! God is not willing that you should perish. “As I live,” He says, “I have no pleasure in the death of him who dies.” Jesus loves you, and grieves to see your folly. He wept over wicked Jerusalem, saying, “I would have gathered you—but you would not be gathered.” Surely if lost, your blood will be upon your own heads. “Awake, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.” (Ezek. 18″32; Matt. 23:37; Eph. 5:14.)

Believe me, believe me, true repentance is that one step that no man ever repented of. Thousands have said at their latter end, they had “served God too little.” But no person ever said, as he left this world, that he had cared for his soul too much. The way of life is a narrow path—but the footsteps in it are all in one direction—not one child of Adam has ever come back and said it was a delusion. The way of the world is a broad way—but millions on millions have forsaken it, and borne their testimony that it was a way of sorrow and disappointment. (“Alive or Dead?”)

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