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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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AFRAID OF FALLING?

Bishop J. C. RyleBishop J. C. Ryle:

In the next place, I would cheer those readers who have walked in the way of God, and yet are afraid of falling. Why should you be afraid? What should make you fear? What should make you suppose that you shall ever be allowed to fall away, while Jesus Christ lives at the right hand of God to make intercession for you? All the power of the Lord Jesus Christ is pledged upon your behalf. He has undertaken to care for all the flock that God the Father has committed into His hand. He will care for it. He has cared for it. He went to the cross for it. He died for it. He is ever at the right hand of God, and has not ceased to care for it. Every member of that flock–the weakest, the feeblest member of that flock–is equally dear to the Lord and Savior, and none shall pluck the least of Christ’s sheep out of God’s hand. Can you stop the tides of the sea, and make them not rise at your command? Can you make the waters stay when the tide begins to fall? Can you prevent the sun in heaven going down in the west, or prevent the same sun from rising tomorrow morning in the east? You cannot do it: the thing is impossible And all the power of devils, all the power of the world, and all the enemies of the Christian, shall not be able to pluck out of the hand of Jesus Christ one single soul who has been brought by the Spirit’s teaching to true union with Christ, and for whom Jesus Christ intercedes. The days of Christ’s weakness have passed away. He was “crucified through weakness,” and was weak on our account when He went to the cross. The days of His weakness are over: the days of His power have begun. Pilate shall no more condemn Him: He shall come to condemn Pilate. All power is His in heaven and earth, and all that power is engaged on behalf of His believing people.

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THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE CHRISTIAN

Bishop J. C. RyleBishop J. C. Ryle:

Reader, would you know the security for the perseverance of God’s own people? Would you know why it is that Christ’s sheep shall never perish, and none shall ever pluck them out of His hand? It is a miraculous thing. When you look at the believer’s heart, listen to the believer’s prayers, mark the believer’s confessions,–when you see how a just man may fall, sometimes seven times,–when you see, with all this, the believer’s perseverance, it is a marvel indeed. To carry a candle upon a stormy night, when winds and gusty blasts are blowing from every quarter,–to carry it still burning, steadily burning, along the street,–this is a wonderful achievement. To go over a stormy sea in a little boat,–to mount billow after billow, and not see the waves breaking over the boat, and overturning it,–this is well-nigh a miracle. To see a little child tottering along the crowded street, a child some three or four years old –to see it tottering on and making its way in safety, from one end of a long street to the other,–this is a mighty marvel. But, after all, what is this, but the life, and history, and experience of every true Christian? Though he falls, he rises again; though he is cast down, he is not destroyed. He goes on from one position to another, like the moon upon a stormy night, plunging from one cloud into another, yet by-and-by shining out again and walking in brightness. What is the secret of it all? It is the continual intercession of a mighty Friend at the right hand of God: a Friend that never slumbers and never sleeps: a Friend who cares for the believer morning, noon, and night. The intercession of Christ is the secret of the perseverance of the Christian. (“Able to Save”)

The Intercession of Jesus Christ

Bishop J. C. RyleJ.C. Ryle:

Reader, I charge you solemnly, never to lose sight of this mighty truth of the Gospel,–the intercession and priestly office of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I believe that a firm grasp of this truth is one great safeguard against the errors of the Church of Rome. I believe that losing sight of this great truth is one principal reason why so many have fallen away from the faith in some quarters, have forsaken the creed of their Protestant forefathers, and have gone back to the darkness of Rome. Once firmly established upon this holy truth,–that we have a Priest, an altar, and a Confessor; that we have a unfailing, never-dying, ever-living intercession, who has deputed His office to none,–and we shall see that we need turn aside nowhere else. We need not hew for ourselves broken cisterns that can hold no water, when we have in the Lord Jesus Christ a fountain of living water, ever flowing and free to all. We need not seek any human priest upon earth, when we have a Divine Priest living for us in heaven.

Are You An Intercessor?

HUSBAND AND WIFE PRAYING (Optimized)“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people …” (1 Timothy 2:1 ESV)

Are you an intercessor? What is an intercessor? Prayer is the means that God has ordained for us to communicate with Him the needs of others and ourselves. Austin Phelps writes, “We are never more like Christ than in prayers of intercession.” It is the sweet communion of man with God as we bare our hearts to Him and, as a result, we have a greater knowledge of Him. According to A.T. Pierson, “God has no greater controversy with His people today than this, that with boundless promises to believing prayer, there are so few who actually give themselves unto intercession.”

The difficulty that most of us face in praying for others is that we have little acquaintance with God. We have little faith that God will hear us. John Lake wrote, “There is a mighty lot of difference between saying prayers and praying.” “Those who know God the best are the richest and most powerful in prayer. Little acquaintance with God, and strangeness and coldness to Him, make prayer a rare and feeble thing.” (E. M. Bounds) Without prayer, we do not have a full understanding of the problems that confront us and others, because we have not sought the Mind of God. Do you pray to know God?

“The true spirit of prayer is no other than God’s own Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the saints. And as this spirit comes from God, so doth it naturally tend to God in holy breathings and pantings. It naturally leads to God, to converse with him by prayer.” (Jonathan Edwards) Intercessory prayer honors and glorifies God. It is a great blessing to pray for others. God works through our prayers and Satan trembles. God allows this wonderful experience to the praying Christian.

Christians are commanded to pray for one another. (James 5:16 ESV) John Calvin believed that making “intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them.” It is also an expression of our love for God and His abiding presence in our lives. When the Christian prays earnestly, he will be heard. The Kingdom of God is advanced by the power of prayer. Do you want your neighbors to know Jesus? Pray for them first, and then continue to pray. Your efforts at evangelism will become more successful.

Samuel at Gilgal

How the Spirit Makes Intercession for us

Quoting John Knox:

So that without the Spirit of God supporting our infirmities (mightily making intercession for us with unceasing groans, which cannot be expressed with tongue, Rom. 8:26), there is no hope that we can desire anything according to God’s will. I mean not that the Holy Ghost does mourn or pray, but that he stirs up our minds, giving unto us a desire or boldness to pray, and causes us to mourn when we are extracted or pulled therefrom. Which things to conceive, no strength of man suffices, neither is able of itself; but hereof it is plain, that such as understand not what they pray, or expound not or declare not the desire of their hearts clearly in God’s presence, and in time of prayer, to their possibility [as far as they are able], and do not expel vain cogitations from their minds, profit nothing in prayer.

Praying For Others Glorifies God

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27)

All thinking Christians should agree that they would rather cling to the righteousness of Christ than their own. Therefore, all who are intimate with God in prayer soon learn the wisdom of dependence upon God’s power, wisdom, and love. Such men and women of prayer love to read and hear the Gospel. It is well established that what a man loves, he is. If you put a Bible in any man’s hand, and he lets his Bible lie unopened and unread: if it has no attraction to him then, mourn at what he has neglected and lost forever.

Yet, there are other men and women who know the joy and importance of praying and reading the Scriptures. You could not please them more than to ask them to pray for you. If they knew your need beforehand they will already be praying for you before you have the opportunity to ask. Even if you were their enemy, they will have prayed for you. To pray is a wonderful thing. It recognizes God’s goodness, His pure love, and submits to His good will. The true prayer closet and secret place of God and His saints is wherever the Holy Spirit has a man all to himself in the sanctuary of his heart. If you could see the man of secret prayer, you would not believe your eyes and ears. You would see him on his knees moving heaven and earth.

Since the beginning, it has been the people of low esteem in the eyes of others; the poor and the meek, and the down-trodden who have had secret power and privilege with God to prevail in prayer. What a wondrous privilege to be an intercessor before the throne of God bringing petitions on behalf of others. Such men and women bring glory and honor to God.

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