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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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WHAT’S WRONG HERE?

According to a study by LifeWay Research:

  • Three-quarters of Americans (77 percent) agreed that people must contribute to their own effort for personal salvation.

  • Almost two-thirds of evangelicals (64 percent), and nearly as many Americans (60 percent) described heaven as a place where “all people will ultimately be reunited with their loved ones.”

  • Almost two-thirds (65 percent) said that most people are good by nature, even though everyone sins a little.

  • Sixty-four percent of Americans said God accepts the worship of all religions.

  • More than half (52 percent) said that Jesus is the “first and greatest being created by God.”

(See article by Tyler O’Neil, 12 Lies American Evangelicals Believe)

 

 

 

THE HIGHEST GOOD

Jonathan Edwards:

Works of Jonathan Edwards“God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.” (The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 17: Sermons and Discourses, 1730-1733)

LIFE IS TOO SHORT!

John Piper:

John Piper“Fight for us, O God, that we not drift numb and blind and foolish into vain and empty excitements. Life is too short, too precious, and too painful to waste on worldly bubbles that burst. Heaven is too great, hell is too horrible, and eternity is too long that we should putter around on the porch of eternity.”

WHEN I LIE DYING

Charles SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“When I lie dying, when heart and flesh are failing me, when I shall have little else to think of but my Lord and the eternal state, then shall thoughts of Him pull up the floodgates of the river of bliss and let the very joy of Heaven into my heart! And, by His Grace, I shall be eager to be up and away! I shall not dread the pains, and groans, and dying strife of which some talk so much—but the sweetness of “my meditation of Him” shall make me forget even the bitterness of death, itself.” (1895, Sermon #2403)

CLIMBING UP TO HEAVEN

George WhitefieldGeorge Whitefield:

What! Get to heaven on your own strength? Why, you might as well try to climb to the moon on a rope of sand!

FIGHT FOR US, O GOD!

hear_my_cry_o_godJohn Piper:

“Fight for us, O God, that we not drift numb and blind and foolish into vain and empty excitements. Life is too short, too precious, too painful to waste on worldly bubbles that burst. Heaven is too great, hell is too horrible, eternity is too long that we should putter around on the porch of eternity.”

SHALL WE KNOW ONE ANOTHER IN HEAVEN?

Thomas WatsonThomas Watson:

Some have asked whether we shall know one another in heaven. Surely, our knowledge will not be diminished, but increased. The judgment of Luther and Anselm, and many other divines is, that we shall know one another; yea, the saints of all ages, whose faces we never saw; and, when we shall see the saints in glory without their infirmities of pride end passion, it will be a glorious sight.

 

 

COMFORT IN LOOKING FORWARD TO HEAVEN

J. C. RyleJ. C. Ryle:

Would you know the secret of comfort in looking forward to that heaven whereunto every believer desires to go? I believe there are few children of God who do not sometimes feel anxious, troubled, and cast down, when they think quietly about the eternal habitation towards which they are travelling. The nature of it, the manner of it, the employments of it, their own apparent unfitness and uniqueness for it, will sometimes perplex their minds. These thoughts will sometimes come across the believer’s mind, especially in times of sickness, filling him with heaviness, and making his heart sink. Now I know no remedy against these thoughts to be compared to the recollection of the continual intercession of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Christ is gone into heaven to be the forerunner of a people who are to follow after Him. He is gone to prepare a place for them, and the place where to He goes is the place where to His people are to go by and by. When they go there they will find all things made ready,–a place for everyone, and a fitting and proper place too, through the intercession of their Lord and Savior. There never will be a time when their company will not be liked in heaven There never will be a time when their old sins,–the sins of their youth and their backslidings, their wickedness before conversion, their profligacy, it may be, before the grace of God came into their hearts,–there never will be a day when all these sins shall come up against them, and make them feel abashed and ashamed in heaven. Christ will be in the midst. Christ will ever stand interceding. Where Christ is, there His people will be. Where He lives, His perfect merit, His spotless righteousness, His intercession, will make them perfect in the sight of God the Father. They will stand in heaven, seen in Christ, clothed in Christ, members of Christ, part of Christ; and so will possess a firm and solid and eternal title to the eternal joys which shall be hereafter. (“Able to Save”)

HEAVEN

George WhitefieldGeorge Whitefield:

I may take it for granted, that all of you amongst whom I am now preaching the kingdom of God, hope after death to go to a place which we call Heaven.

And my heart’s desire and prayer to God for you is, that you all may have mansions prepared for you there. But give me leave to tell you, were you now to see these heavens opened, and the angel clothed with all his heavenly drapery, with one foot upon the earth, and another upon the sea; nay, were you to see and hear the angel of the everlasting covenant, Jesus Christ himself, proclaiming “time shall be no more,” and giving you all an invitation immediately to come to heaven; heaven would be no heaven to you, nay it would be a hell to your souls, unless you were first prepared for a proper enjoyment of it here on earth. “For what communion hath light with darkness?” Or what fellowship could unrenewed sons of Belial possibly keep up with the pure and immaculate Jesus? The generality of people form strange ideas of heaven.

And because the scriptures, in condescension to the weakness of our capacities, describe it by images taken from earthly delights and human grandeur, therefore they are apt to carry their thoughts no higher … But permit me to tell you, and God grant it may sink deep into your hearts! Heaven is rather [slightly more] a state than a place; and consequently, unless you are previously disposed by a suitable state of mind, you could not be happy even in heaven itself. For what is grace but glory militant? What is glory but grace triumphant? This consideration made a pious author say, that “holiness, happiness, and heaven, were only three different words for one and the self-same thing.” And this made the great Preston, when he was about to die, turn to his friends, saying, “I am changing my place, but not my company.” He had conversed with God and good men on earth; he was going to keep up the same, and infinitely more refined communion with God, his holy angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, in heaven. (“The Potter and the Clay”)

PREPARING FOR HEAVEN

Bishop J. C. RyleJ. C. Ryle:

“Lastly, we must be holy, because without holiness on earth — we will never be prepared to enjoy Heaven. …I do not know what others may think — but to me it does seem clear that Heaven would be a miserable place to an unholy man. It cannot be otherwise. People may say in a vague way, that they “hope to go to Heaven,” but they do not consider what they say. There must be a certain “fitness for the inheritance of the saints in light.” Our hearts must be somewhat in tune. To reach the holiday of glory — we must pass through the training school of grace. We must be heavenly-minded and have heavenly tastes in the present life — or else we will never find ourselves in Heaven in the life to come! (Holiness)

IF HEAVEN WERE BY MERIT …

Charles SpurgeonC. H. Spurgeon:

“If heaven were by merit, it would never be heaven to me, for if I were in it I should say, “I am sure I am here by mistake; I am sure this is not my place; I have no claim to it.” But if it be of grace and not of works, then we may walk into heaven with boldness.” (Sermons, 6.354.)

To Love at all is to be Vulnerable

Love One AnotherC. S. Lewis:

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

John Wept and then He Wept No More

Are you lost? Christ says, “I am the way”. Are you blinded by darkness? Christ says, “I am the light of the world”. Are you spiritually dead? Christ says, “I am the resurrection and the life”. Are you dejected? Christ says He will send the Comforter. John Erskine reminds of the great value of the knowledge of Christ.

“The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.” (John 3:35)

“If the knowledge of all things be worth nothing, in respect of the knowledge of Christ; then all things are only in his hand; but so it is, that all things are but loss and dung in respect of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, Phil. 3:5.” The great apostle desired to know nothing but Christ, and him crucified; yea, this is life eternal to know him, and God in him, John 17:3. The knowledge of Christ is the most certain, the most profitable, and the most comfortable knowledge. It is the most certain knowledge; we know other things only by their shape and species; but we know Christ by the Spirit; we know other things by the testimony of men; but we know Christ by the testimony of the Spirit; now, as the testimony of the Spirit is more certain than the testimony of man; so the knowledge of Christ is the most certain knowledge. It is the most profitable; it is a knowledge that gives us the possession of the things we know; by the knowledge of Christ we are possessed of Christ by our knowledge of his fullness, we are possessed of his fullness; By his knowledge shall my righteous Servant justify many.” If it be life eternal to know him, surely it is most profitable. It is the most comfortable; all our lack of comfort and satisfaction flows from our lack of the knowledge of Christ; and all our true comfort arises from the knowledge and view of him. John wept, because he thought none was able to open the seals of the book of God’s decrees, concerning man’s redemption; but, upon the revealing of Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the weeping was stilled; he wept no more, Rev. 5:4, 5. (“Heaven’s Grand Repository”)

Such Little Knowledge of Spiritual Things

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

Our idolatrous love of worldly things is a chief cause of our knowing so little of spiritual things. Because we love this and that so much, we love Christ so little. You can not fill your life-cup from the pools of earth, and yet have room in it for the crystal streams of heaven. (“The Heaven of Heaven” No. 824, Rev. 22:4)

Looking to Heaven

In the following article Jonathan Edwards waxes eloquently in his description of the blessings of Heaven:

There are many principles contrary to love that make this world like a tempestuous sea. Selfishness, and envy, and revenge, and jealousy, and kindred passions keep life on earth in a constant tumult, and make it a scene of confusion and uproar, where no quiet rest is to be enjoyed except in renouncing this world and looking to heaven.

But oh! what rest is there in that world which the God of peace and love fills with his own gracious presence, and in which the Lamb of God lives and reigns, filling it with the brightest and sweetest beams of his love; where there is nothing to disturb or offend, and no being or object to be seen that is not surrounded with perfect amiableness and sweetness; where the saints shall find and enjoy all that they love, and so be perfectly satisfied; where there is no enemy and no enmity; but perfect love in every heart and to every being; where there is perfect harmony among all the inhabitants, no one envying another, but everyone rejoicing in the happiness of every other; where all their love is humble and holy, and perfectly Christian, without the least carnality or impurity; where love is always mutual and reciprocated to the full; where there is no hypocrisy or dissembling, but perfect simplicity and sincerity; where there is no treachery, or unfaithfulness, or inconstancy, or jealousy in any form; where there is no clog or hindrance to the exercises or expressions of love, no imprudence or indecency in expressing it, and no influence of folly or indiscretion in any word or deed; where there is no separation wall, and no misunderstanding or strangeness, but full acquaintance and perfect intimacy in all; where there is no division through different opinions or interests, but where all in that glorious and loving society shall be most nearly and divinely related, and each shall belong to every other, and all shall enjoy each other in perfect prosperity and riches, and honor, without any sickness, or grief, or persecution, or sorrow, or any enemy to molest them, or any busybody to create jealousy or misunderstanding, or mar the perfect, and holy, and blessed peace that reigns in heaven!

And all this in the garden of God — in the paradise of love, where everything is filled with love and everything conspires to promote and kindle it, and keep up its flame, and nothing ever interrupts it, but everything has been fitted by an all wise God for its full enjoyment under the greatest advantages forever. . . And who can express the fullness and blessedness of this peace! What a calm is this! How sweet, and holy, and joyous! What a haven of rest to enter, after having passed through the storms and tempests of this world. . . .

And oh! What joy will there be, springing up in the hearts of the saints, after they have passed through their wearisome pilgrimage, to be brought to such a paradise as this! Here is joy unspeakable indeed, and full of glory — joy that is humble, holy, enrapturing, and divine in its perfection! Love is always a sweet principle; and especially divine love. Love, even on earth, is a spring of sweetness; but in heaven it shall become a stream, a river, an ocean!

All shall stand about the God of glory, who is the great fountain of love, opening, as it were, their very souls to be filled with those effusions of love that are poured forth from his fullness, just as the flowers on the earth, in the bright and joyous days of spring, open their bosoms to the sun, to be filled with his light and warmth, and to flourish in beauty and fragrancy under his cheering rays. Every saint in heaven is as a flower in that garden of God, and holy love is the fragrance and sweet odor that they all send forth, and with which they fill the bowers of that paradise above.

Every soul there is as a note in some concert of delightful music, that sweetly harmonizes with every other note, and all together blend in the most rapturous strains in praising God and the Lamb forever. . . And thus they will love, and reign in love, and in that godlike joy that is its blessed fruit, such as eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has ever entered into the heart of man in this world to conceive; and thus in the full sunlight of the throne, enraptured with joys that are forever increasing, and yet forever full, they shall live and reign with God and Christ forever and ever!

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