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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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Worship Energizes The Heart

Quoting Sam Storms:

Worship is eminently practical because adoring and affectionate praise is what restores our sense of ultimate value. It exposes the worthless and temporary and tawdry stuff of this world. Worship energizes the heart to seek satisfaction in Jesus alone. In worship we are reminded that this world is fleeting and unworthy of our heart’s devotion. Worship connects our souls with the transcendent power of God and awakens in us appreciation for true beauty. It pulls back the veil of deception and exposes the ugliness of sin and Satan. Worship is a joyful rebuke of the world. When our hearts are riveted on Jesus everything else in life becomes so utterly unnecessary and we become far less demanding.

“I crucified Thee”

Dr. Robert Crouse was a noted Patristic and Medieval scholar, and a teacher and priest in the Anglican Church of Canada. Father Crouse instilled a deep love of learning in generations of students. He was also a noted priest, a bulwark of orthodox faith, and has been described as “the conscience of the Canadian Church”. The following contains excerpts from a Good Friday sermon by Dr. Crouse:

“Then Jesus took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things written by the Prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked and spitefully entreated and spitted on: and they shall scourge him, and put him to death; and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things, and this saying was hid from them; neither understood they the things which were spoken.” (Luke 18.31-34)

“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem” is the summons of this day. Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, to witness those things which come to pass here. We gaze and fix our minds and hearts upon the passion of the Son of God. Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, to witness a mystery which astounds and stupefies, a mystery before which all words seem cheap, and every symbol seems too shallow. What thoughts or what emotions can embrace such horrendous contradictions: the Son of God is spitted on; the Son of God, the Word of Life, goes down to death. How can we contemplate such things? How can we even begin to understand? How can we fix our minds and hearts on that?

In the mystery of that moment, all the powers of heaven and earth and hell are shaken. The sun withholds its light, and the whole creation, which longs for its redemption, utters its astounded cry, as the earth quakes, and the rocks are rent. In that moment, all the hopes and expectations of religion are confounded, and the veil of the Temple is rent in twain from the top unto the bottom. Many bodies of the saints arise and go about the city. That is to say, the whole settled order of the universe and of human life and expectations, all that is reasonable and dependable, is overturned; turned upside down when God, the Son of God, is spitted on, when the Word of Life goes down to death. . . .

The power of human wickedness is no doubt great. Its machinations sink into the very fabric of our life, and cripple the mind and heart. The power of human wickedness is great, but not so great that it should touch the holy peace of God, unless he willed that it should touch him. Jesus says to Pilate, “Thou could’st have no power against me, unless it were given thee from above.” Human wickedness will raise itself in pride and claim to be “as God,” but that is devilish delusion. God is not touched unless he will it so to be.

We bear in mind today the weight of human wickedness, that reckless pride which rises up against the holiness of God and the order of his universe. But that is not what is first and most important in the mystery of the love of God, who freely wills our woes to touch his heart, who freely gives himself against our sins, in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. That is the mystery of this day, and that is why we call this Friday “Good.” We celebrate the mystery of the love of God: that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Begotten Son.” (John 3.16) That is love unthinkable, utterly unmerited, beyond all possible expectation.

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5.6-8).

Our task today is nothing other than the contemplation of that mystery of love. It is to fix our minds and hearts upon the passion and the dying of the Son of God . . . All that is understandable. But in the end, there is only one answer to all of this: we must gaze upon the charity of God in Christ. The charity of God must be our food and drink. . . .

This is why the heart of Christian life is the sacrament of Calvary, the sacrament of body broken, and blood out-poured. Christ’s sacrifice abides with us in the sacrament, so that we may look upon the mystery of love and eat and drink the charity of God . . . We must eat and drink the charity of God so that God’s own charity, which hears, believes, hopes and endures, may be the substance of our life and the renewal of our minds.

© R.D. Crouse, all rights reserved

How Praise Completes Joy

Quoting C.S. Lewis:

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. If it were possible for a created soul fully to “appreciate,” that is, to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme blessedness. To praise God fully we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God, drowned in, dissolved by that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression. Our joy is no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds.

Useful Servants In The House Of God

From Charles H. Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening:

He did it with all his heart and prospered. (2 Chronicles 31:21)

This is no unusual occurrence; it is the general rule of the moral universe that those men prosper who do their work with all their hearts, while those are almost certain to fail who go to their labor leaving half their hearts behind them. God does not give harvests to idle men except harvests of thistles, nor is He pleased to send wealth to those who will not dig in the field to find its hid treasure. It is universally confessed that if a man would prosper, he must be diligent in business. It is the same in religion as it is in other things. If you would prosper in your work for Jesus, let it be heart work, and let it be done with all your heart. Put as much force, energy, heartiness, and earnestness into religion as ever you do into business, for it deserves far more. The Holy Spirit helps our infirmities, but He does not encourage our idleness; He loves active believers. Who are the most useful men in the Christian church? The men who do what they undertake for God with all their hearts. Who are the most successful Sabbath-school teachers? The most talented? No; the most zealous; the men whose hearts are on fire, those are the men who see their Lord riding forth prosperously in the majesty of His salvation. Whole-heartedness shows itself in perseverance; there may be failure at first, but the earnest worker will say, “It is the Lord’s work, and it must be done; my Lord has bidden me do it, and in His strength I will accomplish it.” Christian, art thou thus “with all thine heart” serving thy Master? Remember the earnestness of Jesus! Think what heart-work was His! He could say, “The zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up.” When He sweat great drops of blood, it was no light burden He had to carry upon those blessed shoulders; and when He poured out His heart, it was no weak effort He was making for the salvation of His people. Was Jesus in earnest, and are we lukewarm?

Christ Is Like A River

Quoting Jonathan Edwards:

“Christ is like a river in another respect. A river is continually flowing, there are fresh supplies of water coming from the fountain-head continually, so that a man may live by it, and be supplied with water all his life. So Christ is an ever-flowing fountain; he is continually supplying his people, and the fountain is not spent. They who live upon Christ, may have fresh supplies from him to all eternity; they may have an increase of blessedness that is new, and new still, and which never will come to an end.”

In Christ We Have God

The worship of the Trinity and the position of Christ as related to God the Father are often a conundrum for the Christian. Charles Hodge (1823-1886) helps us to understand:

In one sense of the word, Christianity is the system of truth taught by Christ and his apostles. In this sense the question, what is Christianity? is simply a historical one. It may be answered intelligently and correctly by a man who does not profess to be a Christian, just as he may answer the question, what is Brahmanism? or, what is Buddhism?

In another sense, Christianity is that state of one’s mind produced by faith in the truths revealed concerning Christ. In this sense, Christianity without Christ is an impossibility. It would be an effect without its proximate cause. Nevertheless, there is a form of religion, widespread and influential, which is called Christianity, in which Christ fails to occupy the position assigned to him in the Bible. . . .

[T]he Christian, in worshiping Christ, does not cease to worship the Father and the Spirit. He does not fail to recognize and appreciate his relation to the Father, who loved the world and gave his Son for its redemption; nor does he fail to recognize his relation to the Holy Spirit, on whom he is absolutely dependent, and whose gracious office it is to apply to men the redemption purchased by Christ. In worshiping Christ, we worship the Father and the Spirit; for these three are one — one only living and true God, the same in substance and equal in power and glory. Christ says, I am in the Father and the Father in me. I and the Father are one. He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father; and therefore, he that worships the Son, worships the Father. Hence, it is written, “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father,” but, “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” “He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.” It is to be remembered, however, that in the mysterious constitution of the Godhead, the second person of the Trinity is the Logos, the Word, the Revealer. It is through him that God is known. He is the brightness of his glory, revealing what God is. We should not know that there is a sun in the firmament, if it were not for his apaugasma [radiance]. So we should not know that God is, or what he is, were it not for his Son. “No man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal him.” In having Christ, therefore, we have God; for in him dwelleth the fullness of the Godhead. (The Princeton Review, April, 1876, Vol. 5, Issue 18, pp. 352-362)

Truth

Our modern Christians want little to do with controversy and I dare say they are likely to shun martyrdom as well. It is certain that such a weak Christianity will never fight for truth until Christians have the nerve to die for it. Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921) explains below:

It is the primary claim of Christianity that it is “the truth.” Jesus Christ, its founder, calls himself significantly “the truth” (John xiv. 6), and sums up his mission in the world as a constant witness-bearing to “the truth” (John xviii. 37). It is accordingly as “the truth” that the gospel offers itself to men; and it seeks to propagate itself in the world only as “truth,” and therefore only by those methods by which “truth” makes its way. Not the sword but the word is Christianity’s weapon of defense and instrument of conquest. “Cut me off that old man’s head” was Caliph Omar’s answer to the arguments with which the aged Christian priest met him as he triumphantly entered Jerusalem: and in this scene we have revealed the contrast between Christianity and all other religions. “That old man,” says Dr. James MacGregor, “with no shield but faith, no sword but the word, setting himself alone to stem the then raging lava-torrent of fanaticism, with its brutish alternative of the Koran or death, is typical of the fact that Christianity is an apologetic religion.” Confident that it is the only reasonable religion, it comes forward as pre-eminently the reasoning religion. The task it has set itself is no less than to reason the world into acceptance of the “truth.”

If the world were only as eager to receive the truth as the truth is to win the world, the function of Christian men might well be summed up in the one word, proclamation. But the typical responses of the world to the proclaimed truth are the cynical sneer of Pilate, “What is truth?” and the brutal commend of Omar, “Cut me off that old man’s head!” So, proclamation must needs pass into asseveration, and asseveration into contention, that the truth may abide in the world. “Bear witness to the truth”; “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints”: these are the twin exhortations by which every Christian man’s duty is declared for him. How early did the Christian proclamation produce its double fruitage of martyrdom and controversy! The old Greek word “martyr,” “witness” soon took on a specific Christian meaning, and became more and more confined to those who had sealed their testimony with their blood; and everywhere the irritated world complained of these persistent reasoners that they were turning the world upside down. (“Christianity: The Truth”)

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