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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 MARRED CLAY

George WhitefieldGeorge Whitefield   (1714-1770):

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. (Jeremiah 18:1-6 ESV)

Had we kept our original integrity, the law of God would have yet been written in our hearts, and thereby the want of a divine revelation, at least such as ours, would have been superseded; but being fallen, instead of rising in rebellion against God, we ought to be filled with unspeakable thankfulness to our all bountiful Creator, who by a few lines in his own books hath discovered more to us, than all the philosophers and most learned men in the world could, or would, have discovered, though they had studied to all eternity. Continue reading

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In A Time of Trouble

Thomas_Case_(1598–1682)Thomas Case:

In the time of our trouble God causes us to see what an evil and bitter thing it is to grieve his good Spirit. When we are in the bitterness of our spirits, and want the Comforter, then we begin to call to mind how often we have grieved the Spirit which would have been a Comforter to us and have sealed us to the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30); and say within ourselves in reference to the Spirit of God, as once the sons of Jacob said one to another in reference to Joseph, “We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us” (Genesis 42:21). In some such language, I say, will the soul in the hour of temptation bespeak itself? Ah, I am verily guilty concerning that tender Spirit of Grace and Comfort which hath often said, “O! Do not this abominable thing which I hate” (Jeremiah 44:4); but I would not hear. Is not this he whose rebukes I have slighted, whose counsels I have despised, whose warnings I have neglected, yea whose comforts I have undervalued, and counted them as a small thing? Ah wretch! How just is it now that the Spirit of God should withdraw? That he should despise my sorrows, and laugh at my tears; shut out my prayers, quench my smoking flax, and break my bruised reed? (cf. Isaiah 42:3). Well, if the Lord shall indeed be pleased to bring my soul out of trouble, and to revive my fainting spirit with his sweet consolations, I hope I shall carry myself for the future more obedient to the counsels and rebukes of the Spirit of Grace. (“Treatise on Affliction”)

Knowing Jesus

Is Jesus Christ God? John Calvin writes:

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)

Do what we can, we shall never have any hope, or be able to lay hold of the bounty and goodness of God, to return to Him, and call upon Him, until we know the majesty of God that is in Jesus Christ; and likewise the weakness of man’s nature … The devil hath bestowed all his art to pervert this doctrine; seeing that our salvation is grounded thereon. We should therefore be so much the more confirmed and strengthened in it; that we may never be shaken, but stand steadfast in the faith, which is contained in the gospel.

First of all we have this to note, that we shall never know Jesus Christ to be our Savior, until we know that He was God from everlasting. That which was written of Him by Jeremiah the prophet, must needs be fulfilled: “Let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord” (Jer. 9:24). St. Paul shows that this must be applied to the person of our Lord Jesus Christ: and thereupon he protests that he made no account of any doctrine or knowledge, only to know Jesus Christ.

Again, how is it possible for us to have our life in Him, unless He is our God, and we are maintained and preserved by His virtue? How can we put our trust in Him? For it is written. “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm” (Jer. 17:5). Again, how can we be preserved from death except by God’s infinite power? Even if Scripture bore no witness to the Deity of Jesus Christ, it is impossible for us to know Him as our Savior, unless we admit that He possesses the whole majesty of God; unless we acknowledge Him to be the true God; because He is the wisdom of the Father whereby the world was made, preserved, and kept in being. Therefore let us be thoroughly resolved in this point, whenever we speak of Jesus Christ, that we lift our thoughts on high, and worship this majesty which He had from everlasting, and this infinite essence which He enjoyed before He clothed himself in humanity. (“The Mystery of Godliness”)

Evidence Supporting Jeremiah

Archaeology and the Bible:

In 2005, a Hebrew University archaeologist uncovered a clay seal dated from about 580 BC bearing the name Yehuchal ben-Shelemayahu, who is identified as a royal envoy and court minister sent by King Zedekiah to the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 37 and 38).

Christian Art?

According to R.C. Sproul:

“What makes art Christian art? Is it simply Christian artists painting biblical subjects like Jeremiah? Or, by attaching a halo, does that suddenly make something Christian art? Must the artist’s subject be religious to be Christian? I don’t think so. There is a certain sense in which art is its own justification. If art is good art, if it is true art, if it is beautiful art, then it is bearing witness to the Author of the good, the true, and the beautiful.” (Lifeviews)

When Prayers are not heard by God

Why are some of our prayers not answered? Perhaps we do not ask rightly and we bring too much pride to the altar of prayer. John Knox writes:

[L]et us not think that we should be heard [by God] for anything proceeding of ourselves; for such as advance, boast, or depend anything upon their own justice, [God] repels from the presence of his mercy. . . And, therefore, we find the most holy men most dejected and humbled in prayer.

David says, “O Lord, our Savior, help us, be merciful unto our sins for thy own sake. Remember not our old iniquities. But haste thee, O Lord, and let thy mercy prevent us” (Ps. 79:8-9). Jeremiah says, “If our iniquities bear testimony against us, do thou according to thy own name” (Jer. 14:7). And behold Isaiah: “Thou art angry, O Lord, because we have sinned, and are replenished with all wickedness; and our justice is like a defiled cloth. But now, O Lord, thou art our Father; we are clay, thou art the workman, and we the workmanship of thy hands. Be not angry, O Lord, remember not our iniquities for ever” (Isa. 64:5-6, 8-9). And Daniel, greatly commended of God, in his prayer, makes most humble confession in these words: “We are sinners, and have offended; we have done ungodly, and fallen from thy commandment. Therefore, not in our own righteousness make we our prayers before thee, but thy most rich and great mercies bring we forth for us. O Lord, hear! O Lord, be merciful and spare us! O Lord, attend, help, and cease not; my God, even for thy own name’s sake do it; for thy city and thy people are called after thy own name” (Dan. 9:5, 18-19). Behold, that in these prayers is no mention of their own justice, their own satisfaction, or their own merits; but most humble confession, proceeding from a sorrowful and penitent heart; having nothing whereupon it might depend, but the free mercy of God alone, who had promised to be their God (that is, their help, comfort, defender, and deliverer); as he has also done to us by Jesus Christ, in time of tribulation; and that they despair not, but after the acknowledging of their sins, called for mercy, and obtained the same. Wherefore it is plain, that such men as, in their prayers, have respect to any virtue proceeding of themselves, thinking thereby their prayers are accepted, never prayed aright.

Why Does God Defer to Answer Prayers?

Prayer has the power to achieve the impossible. Yet, many do not use it regularly, or don’t believe in its efficiency as our Christian fathers certainly did. This is certainly a primary reason why our churches are so cold and, when we do pray, we feel as if our prayers are not penetrating the floor of heaven. John Knox continues this line of thought:

[S]ometimes God defers or prolongs to grant our petitions, for the exercise and trial of our faith, and not that he sleeps or is absent from us at any time, but that with more gladness we might receive that which, with long expectation, we have abidden [awaited]; that thereby we, assured of his eternal providence (so far as the infirmity of our corrupt and most weak nature will permit), doubt not but that his merciful hand shall relieve us in most urgent necessity and extreme tribulation. Therefore, such men as teach us that it is not necessarily required that we understand what we pray, because God knows what we need, would also teach us that we neither honor God, nor yet refer or give unto him thanks for benefits received. For how shall we honor and praise him, whose goodness and liberality we know not? And how shall we know, unless we receive and sometimes have experience? And how shall we know that we have received, unless we know verily what we have asked?

The second thing to be observed in perfect prayer is, that standing in the presence of God, we are found such as bear reverence to his holy law; earnestly repenting [of] our past iniquities, and intending to lead a new life; for otherwise all our prayers are in vain, as it is written, “Whoso withdraweth his ear that he may not hear the law of God, his prayer shall be abominable” (Prov. 28:9). Likewise Isaiah and Jeremiah says thus: “You shall multiply your prayers, and I shall not hear, because your hands are full of blood:” that is, of all cruelty and mischievous works (Isa. 1:15; cf. Jer. 11:14; 14:12). Also the Spirit of God appears by the mouth of the blind (whom Jesus Christ illuminated), by these words, “We know that God heareth not sinners” (John 9:31): that is, such as do glory and continue in iniquity. So that of necessity, true repentance must needs be had, and go before perfect prayer, or sincere invocation of God’s name. (“A Treatise on Prayer, or, a Confession, and Declaration of Prayers”)

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