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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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WHO IS A CHRISTIAN?

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 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 2:4-9 ESV)

salvation jesusA Christian is someone who has been born again in Christ to eternal life and salvation. His sins have been pardoned and he is in a state of grace. He now desires to obey God in order to please Him and glorify Him. He has the Holy Spirit to strengthen his desire and ability to live out his obligation to Jesus Christ. The Christian seeks to live life sincerely before God and to walk worthy of Christ.

Authenticity is the path of Christian sanctification. A Christian is not perfect. A Christian’s good works are the result of God’s saving grace. Good works do not save anyone; they are the consequence of having been saved. Even faith is the gift of God. Christians still err, but they are grieved when they do. The Christian’s grief leads to repentance. Sincere repentance leads to God’s forgiveness. God is faithful and just to forgive sins and to cleanse the Christian from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV) Continue reading

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NO ONE KNOWS …

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“No one knows the true God in the real sense of knowledge except through Jesus Christ, for no man comes unto the Father but by the Son. But even if he could know God, in a measure, apart from the Revelation of Him in Christ Jesus, it would be a knowledge of terror that would make him flee away and avoid God! It would not be life to our souls to know God apart from His Son, Jesus Christ! We must know the Christ whom He has sent or our knowledge does not bring eternal life to us.” (1895, Sermon #2396)

Behind the Curtains: Salvation!

7-deadly-sinsAll human beings are born sinners and enemies of God. (Psalms 51:5, Ephesians 2:3) We merit nothing but God’s wrath. Sin is always at work in us bearing fruit for death. (Romans 7:5) Even if we deny our sinfulness, we simply deceive ourselves. (1 John 1:8) We must change in order to be reconciled to God, but it is not in our power to change.

Praise God! – He has chosen to have mercy on many sinners. He has promised to give us a new heart and spirit. (Ezekiel 36:26-27) Even though we were dead in our sins, God chose to love us. (Ephesians 2:4-5) From eternity, God has chosen for Himself a people; (Romans 8:30) a people born by the Will of God – not man. (John 1:13) Continue reading

Knowing the Character of God

James M. BoiceIf we know God, we know His character. If we truly know His character, we will desire His character in ourselves. James Montgomery Boice writes:

[K]nowledge of God is important, for only through the knowledge of God can an individual enter into what the Bible terms eternal life. Jesus indicated this when he prayed, “And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (Jn. 17:3). At first glance even this does not seem important enough to the “natural man” to make him want to know God at all costs. But this is because, lacking eternal life, he cannot begin to understand what he is missing. He is like a person who says that he does not appreciate good music. His dislike does not make the music worthless; it simply indicates an inadequate ground of appreciation in him. So also those who do not appreciate God’s offer of life indicate that they do not have the capability of understanding or valuing what they are lacking. The Bible says, “The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).

It might help such a person to be told that the promise of eternal life is also the promise of being able to live life fully as an authentic human being. This is true, but it is also true that eternal life means more than this. It means coming alive, not only in a new but also in an eternal sense. It is what Jesus meant when he said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (In. 11:25-26).

[K]nowledge of God is important because … it also involves knowledge of ourselves. Our day is the day of the psychiatrist and psychologist. Men and women spend billions of dollars annually in an attempt to know themselves, to sort out their psyches. Certainly there is need for psychiatry, particularly Christian psychiatry. James Montgomery BoiceBut this alone is inadequate in the ultimate sense if it does not bring individuals into a knowledge of God against which their own worth and failures may be estimated.

On the one hand, knowledge of ourselves through the knowledge of God is humbling. We are not God nor are we like him. He is holy; we are unholy. He is good; we are not good. He is wise; we are foolish. He is strong; we are weak. He is loving and gracious; we are filled with hate and with selfish affectations. Therefore, to know God is to see ourselves as Isaiah did: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Is. 6:5). Or as Peter did: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk. 5:8). On the other hand, such knowledge of ourselves through the knowledge of God is also reassuring and satisfying. For in spite of what we have become we are still God’s creation and are loved by him. No higher dignity has been given to women and men than the dignity the Bible gives them. (“On Knowing God”)

Seven Strands

Arthur Pink writes:

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29)

No stronger passage in all the Word of God can be found guaranteeing the absolute security of every child of God. Note the seven strands in the rope which binds them to God.

First, they are Christ’s sheep, and it is the duty of the shepherd to care for each of his flock! To suggest that any of Christ’s sheep may be lost is to blaspheme the Shepherd Himself!

Second, it is said “They follow” Christ, and no exceptions are made. The Lord does not say they ought to, but declares they do. If then the sheep “follow” Christ they must reach Heaven, for that is where the Shepherd is gone!

Third, to the sheep is imparted “eternal life”. To speak of eternal life ending is a contradiction in terms.

Fourth, this eternal life is “given” to them. They did nothing to merit it; consequently they can do nothing to demerit it.

Fifth, the Lord Himself declares that His sheep “shall never perish,” consequently the man who declares that it is possible for a child of God to go to Hell makes God a liar.

Sixth, from the Shepherd’s “hand” none is able to pluck them; hence the Devil is unable to encompass the destruction of a single one of them.

Seventh, above them is the Father’s “hand,” hence it is impossible for them to jump out of the hand of Christ even if they tried to. It is impossible for a sheep to perish even if it desired to – as though one ever did! The “hand of Christ” is beneath us, and the “hand” of the Father is above us. Thus are we secured between the clasped hands of Omnipotence!

It has been well said that if one soul who trusted in Christ should be missing in Heaven, there would be one vacant seat there, one crown unused, one harp unstrung; and this would grieve all Heaven and proclaim a disappointed God. But such a thing is utterly impossible!

Who did Christ Redeem?

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

We hold that Christ did not redeem every man, but only redeemed those men who will ultimately attain unto eternal life.

We do not believe that he redeemed the damned. We do not believe that he poured out his life blood for souls already in hell.

We never can imagine that Christ suffered in the room and stead of all men, and that then afterwards these same men have to suffer for themselves.

We do not believe that Christ pays their debts, and then God makes them pay their debts again a second time.

We hold to this – that Christ laid down his life for his sheep, and that his laying down his life for the sheep involved and secured the salvation of every one of them. (No. 572, Romans 11:36)

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