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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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Following Christ

George Whitefield enjoyed his greatest triumph during his month-long tour through New England (1739). Welcomed by ministers and officials of colonies and towns, he found shops closed and business suspended during his stays, thousands of people at his heels, and many following him to the next town. Whitefield’s Boston visit lasted 10 days. Met on the road by a committee of ministers and conducted into the town, he found all meetinghouses except King’s Chapel open to him. He preached in all of them and also on the Common, where thousands could assemble. The contemporary record was set down in superlatives. Benjamin Colman’s words are typical: “admired and followed beyond any man that ever was in America.” The following is an excerpt from a sermon by Whitefield:

[T]hat I may know him and the power of his resurrection. . . . (Philippians 3:10 ESV)

The devils themselves cannot but believe the doctrine of the resurrection, and tremble; but yet they continue devils, because the benefits of this resurrection have not been applied to them, nor have they received a renovating power from it, to change and put off their diabolical nature. And so, unless we not only profess to know, but also feel that Christ is risen indeed, by being born again from above, we shall be as far from the kingdom of God as they: our faith will be as ineffectual as the faith of devils.

Nothing has done more harm to the Christian world, nothing has rendered the cross of Christ of less effect, than a vain supposition, that religion is something without us. Whereas we should consider, that every thing that Christ did outwardly, must be done over again in our souls; or otherwise, the believing there was such a divine person once on earth, who triumphed over hell and the grave, will profit us no more, than believing there was once such a person as Alexander, who conquered the world.

As Christ was born of the Virgin’s womb, so must he be spiritually formed in our hearts. As he died for sin, so must we die to sin. And as he rose again from the dead, so must we also rise to a divine life.

None but those who have followed him in this regeneration, or new-birth, shall sit on thrones as approvers of his sentence, when he shall come in terrible majesty to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

It is true, as for the outward work of our redemption, it was a transient act, and was certainly finished on the cross, but the application of that redemption to our hearts, is a work that will continue always, even unto the end of the world.

So long as there is an elect man breathing on the earth, who is naturally engendered of the offspring of the first Adam, so long must the quickening spirit, which was purchased by the resurrection of the second Adam, that Lord from heaven, be breathing upon his soul.

For though we may exist by Christ, yet we cannot be said to exist in him, till we are united to him by one spirit, and enter into a new state of things, as certainly as he entered into a new state of things, after that he rose from the dead.

We may throng and crowd about Christ, and call him “Lord, Lord,” when we come to worship before his footstool; but we have not effectually touched him, till by a lively faith in his resurrection, we perceive a divine virtue coming out of him, to renew and purify our souls. (“The Power of Christ’s Resurrection”)

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The Beauty Of Christ

Who or what can compare to the loveliness of Christ; the fountain of grace and of our salvation? He is the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6), the Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16), the true Light (John 1:9), the Day Star (2Peter 1:19), the Desire of all nations (Haggai 2:7), the Heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2), the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), the Truth (John 14:6), the Wisdom of God (1Corinthians 1:24), the everlasting Light (Isaiah 60:20), and the Word of Life (1John 1:1). Charles H. Spurgeon writes here of His beauty:

“Oh love the Lord all his saints.” (Psalm 31:23)

If you want beauty, look into the face of Jesus–that marred visage has more loveliness in it than in all the smiles of Cleopatra or of the fabled maidens of days of yore.

There is no beauty anywhere but in Christ! O sun, you are not fair, when once compared with him. You stars, you are not bright, if you are set side-by-side with his eyes, that burn like lamps of fire. O fair world, and grand creation of a glorious God, you are but a dim and dusky blot compared with the splendors of his face.

When you shall see Christ in glory, you will be compelled to say that you never knew what loveliness was before. When the clouds are swept away, when the curtains that hide him from your view are drawn aside, you will find that not anything you have seen will stand a moment’s comparison with him.

You will be ready to break out, “O, black sun, black moon, dark stars, as compared with my lovely Lord Jesus.”

Oh, think of the matchless character of Christ Jesus! Were there ever such perfections as meet in him? He has not the excellency of one man, but of all men, without the faults of any.

We must coin new words before we can describe the excellencies of Christ! In fact, we must be done with tongues, and go into that land where spirits utter their thoughts without the motion of lip or the expiration of breath, before we shall be able to express the surpassing beauty, the unuttered excellency of the glorious character of Christ!

Love Jesus, for there never was such beauty in the world as there is in him.

It is your privilege to love him with all the force and vehemence of your ransomed renovated nature, giving up all your spirit to be devoured by that consecrated fire of love to the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Oh love the Lord all his saints.” — Psalm 31:23. (Sermon: “Constraining Love”)

The Priceless Gift Of Christ

J. C. Ryle

He who thirsts must come to Christ Himself. Contentment with attending Church and small groups is not fellowship with Christ. The partaking of Holy Communion or privately opening your heart to your pastor is in vain if you do not personally know the Forgiver of sins. If you are content with only these outer observances, you will continue to thirst. Bishop J. C. Ryle helps us to understand:

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38)

There is a grand simplicity about [these verses] which cannot be too much admired. There is not a word in it of which the literal meaning is not plain to a child. Yet, simple as it appears, it is rich in spiritual meaning. . . . It solves that mighty problem which all the philosophers of Greece and Rome could never solve, -“How can man have peace with God?” Place it in your memory side by side with six other golden sayings of your Lord. “I am the bread of life: he that cometh unto ME shall never hunger; and he that believeth on ME shall never thirst.”-“I am the Light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”-“I am the Door: if any man enter in, he shall be saved.”-“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father but by ME.”- “Come unto ME, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”-“Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” Add to these six texts the one before you today. Get the whole seven by heart. Rivet them down in your mind, and never let them go. When your feet touch the cold river, on the bed of sickness and in the hour of death, you will find these seven texts above all priceless. (John vi. 35, viii. 12, x. 9, xiv. 6; Matt. xi. 28; John vi. 37.)

For what is the sum and substance of these simple words? It is this. Christ is that Fountain of living water which God has graciously provided for thirsting souls. From Him, as out of the rock smitten by Moses, there flows an abundant stream for all who travel through the wilderness of this world. In Him, as our Redeemer and Substitute, crucified for our sins and raised again for our justification, there is an endless supply of all that men can need, -pardon, absolution, mercy, grace, peace, rest, relief, comfort, and hope.

This rich provision Christ has bought for us at the price of His own precious blood. To open this wondrous fountain He suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, and bore our sins in His own body on the tree. He was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (1 Pet. ii. 24, iii. 18; 2 Cor. v. 21.) And now He is sealed and appointed to be the Reliever of all who are laboring and heavy laden, and the Giver of living water to all who thirst. It is His office to receive sinners. It is His pleasure to give them pardon, life, and peace. And the words of the text are a proclamation He makes to all mankind,-“If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” (Sermon: “If Any Man!”)

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