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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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GOD WITH US

Octavius WinslowOctavius Winslow:

And, O beloved! What an assuring and comforting truth is this – God with us! Now we feel equal to every service, prepared for every trial, armed for every assault. Deity is our shield, Deity is our arm, Deity is our Father and our Friend. We deal with the Divine. Deity has died for us, has atoned for us, has saved us, and will bring us safely to the realms of bliss. This God is our God, forever and ever, and will be our Father even unto death. Oh, see, my reader, that your hope is built upon nothing more and upon nothing less than Christ. The Rock of Ages must be your only foundation if saved. If you stand not in the righteousness of God when you appear in His presence, He will say to you, “How did you get in here, not having on the wedding garment?” Speechless will then be the tongue now so fluent and ingenious in its many and vain excuses, Continue reading

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GOD WITH US

Octavius WinslowOctavius Winslow:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:23 ESV)

Immanuel is God with us. We here ascend infinitely above the human. It is not merely an angel that is with us – a man that is with us; it is Deity who is with us, none less than Jehovah Himself, Israel’s covenant God and Keeper. We cannot do with anything short of Deity. If Deity does not come to our aid, if Deity does not stoop to our low estate, if Deity does not save us, we are lost to all eternity. When we fell in the first Adam, our humanity lost all its original righteousness and strength. If Deity did not interpose on our behalf, if God did not Himself embark in our rescue, the inevitable consequence must have been the shades of endless death. But a plan of deliverance had been conceived from everlasting. God, in the infinite counsels of His own mind, resolved upon the salvation of His eternally chosen and loved people. He saw that there was no eye to pity them, and no arm to save them. He resolved upon our salvation, embarked in it, accomplished it; and eternity, as it rolls upon its axis, will magnify His name, and show forth His praise. (The Works of Octavius Winslow)

IMMANUEL

Octavius WinslowBehold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:23 ESV)

Octavius Winslow:

Immanuel is God with us. We here ascend infinitely above the human. It is not merely an angel that is with us – a man that is with us; it is Deity who is with us, none less than Jehovah Himself, Israel’s covenant God and Keeper. We cannot do with anything short of Deity. If Deity does not come to our aid, if Deity does not stoop to our low estate, if Deity does not save us, we are lost to all eternity. When we fell in the first Adam, our humanity lost all its original righteousness and strength. If Deity did not interpose on our behalf, if God did not Himself embark in our rescue, the inevitable consequence must have been the shades of endless death. But a plan of deliverance had been conceived from everlasting. God, in the infinite counsels of His own mind, resolved upon the salvation of His eternally chosen and loved people. He saw that there was no eye to pity them, and no arm to save them. He resolved upon our salvation, embarked in it, and accomplished it; and eternity, as it rolls upon its axis, will magnify His name, and show forth His praise. (“Emmanuel, or The Titles of Christ,” as published in The Works of Octavius Winslow)

John Calvin and Predestination

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (John 6:37 ESV) No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. (John 6:44 ESV) All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27 ESV) In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:5-6 ESV)

I have noticed over the years that many people do not like the attention I often give to John Calvin in my blog. Perhaps they have been prejudiced by the rewriting of church and secular history by authors who (according to their own personal biases) have often portrayed Calvin as grave, somber, and the vindictive purveyor of predestination. Indeed, Calvin’s God has been slandered as cruel, unjust, and – at the very least – unfair.

Born in France in 1509, Calvin studied theology and law, and was converted in 1533. He lived in exile from 1534. In Basel, Calvin wrote the first part of his Institutes of the Christian Religion. He then traveled to Geneva; Strasbourg; and finally back to Geneva where he lived out his life. John Knox testified that under the guidance of Calvin, Geneva was “the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the Apostles.”

The terms “predestination” and “election” are often viewed with suspicion as “something vile” Calvin invented. Calvin, however, would be stunned that he is accused of inventing predestination. Except for its unpopularity in the last 130 years due to Arminianism, radical dispensationalism, pride, and sin, it is quite evident in the teachings of the Scriptures. It is clearly taught by Paul, Augustine, and Martin Luther as well (among many others). Luther said of predestination, “That is what Reason can neither grasp nor endure, and what has offended all these men of outstanding talent who have been so received for so many centuries. Here they demand that God should act according to human justice, and do what seems right to them or else cease to be God.” (The Bondage of the Will)

Many people are simply very confused about the nature of election. Paul writes: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV) In election, as taught by the Bible, we find that God has blessed us with faith according to His purpose. God is the “author and finisher” of our faith. We cannot save ourselves – so it is God Who must save us. It is God who elects (chooses). We do not choose Him. There is nothing cold, impersonal, or fatalistic about election. It is God’s response to the grip of sin which has tossed mankind over into chaos. The acceptance of predestination falls heavily on the question of whether you are willing to give God full credit and glory for saving you. For anyone who believes Christ saves us with our help; it is but a short step to – we save ourselves with Christ’s help.

A right view of predestination exalts the love and majesty of God. If you deny election, you decrease the supremacy of God in your heart. God is supremely sovereign over the universe and everything in it. There is not one molecule in creation that is beyond His control. If God is not sovereign, He is not God. If He is not sovereign, you and I will never be saved from sin.

“Predestination should be taught… because it is one of the primary Gospel doctrines, and foundations of faith. It cannot be ignored without great injury to the Church and to believers, since it is the fount of our gratitude to God, the root of humility, the foundation and most firm anchor of confidence in all temptations, the fulcrum of the sweetest consolation, and the most powerful spur to piety and holiness.” (Institutio Theologiae Elencticae, Question 6) In the election and predestination of God we discover hopefulness and truth. Accepting that God predestined us, should give each of us confidence that God will carry out His purpose in us. I close with the following words from Octavius Winslow:

“What doctrine is more emptying, humbling, and therefore sanctifying, than predestination? It lays the axe at the root of all human boasting. In the light of this truth, the most holy believer sees that there is no difference between him and the vilest sinner that crawls the earth, but what the mere grace of God has made. . . One blessing accruing from the doctrine of predestination is the sweet and holy submission into which it brings the mind under all afflictive dispensations. Each step of his pilgrimage and each incident of his history, the believer sees appointed in the everlasting covenant of grace. . . The radiance which predestination reflects upon the entire history of the child of God, and the calm repose which it diffuses over the mind in all the perplexing, painful, and mysterious events of that history, can only be understood by those whose hearts have fully received this doctrine.”

What Is Jesus To You?

Octavius Winslow

Quoting Octavius Winslow:

What are you to yourself? Worthless? Vile? Empty? What is Jesus to you? Precious? Lovely? All your salvation? All your desire? What is sin to you? The most hateful thing in the world? What is holiness to you? Most lovely? Most longed for? What is the throne of grace to you? The most attractive spot? What is the cross to you? The sweetest resting place in the universe? What is God to you? Your God? Your Father? The spring of all your joys? The fountainhead of all your bliss? The center where your affections meet? Is it so? Then you are a child of God! Those low views of yourself…that brokenness, that inward mourning, that secret confession, that longing for…more spirituality, more grace, more devotedness, more love, does but prove the existence, reality, and growth of God’s work within you. Cheer up, precious soul! That soul never perished, that felt itself to be vile, and Jesus to be precious!

All Points To Him

Octavius Winslow

Quoting Octavius Winslow:

“But the Scriptures point to Me!” (John 5:39)

Search the Scriptures, my reader, with a view of seeing and knowing more of your Redeemer, compared with whom nothing else is worth knowing or making known.

Love your Bible, because it testifies of Jesus; because it unfolds a great Savior, an almighty Redeemer; because it reveals the glory of a sin pardoning God, in the person of Jesus Christ.

Aim to unravel Jesus in the types, to grasp Him amid the shadows, to trace Him through the predictions of the prophet, the records of the evangelist, and the letters of the apostles.

All speak of, and all lead to, Jesus! (“Morning Thoughts”)

God’s Guiding Of Providence

Octavius Winslow

Quoting Octavius Winslow:

We live in a world of mysteries. They meet our eye, awaken our inquiry, and baffle our investigation at every step.

Nature is a vast arcade of mysteries. Science is a mystery. Truth is a mystery. Religion is a mystery. Our existence is a mystery. The future of our being is a mystery.

And God, who alone can explain all mysteries, is the greatest mystery of all. How little do we understand of the inexplicable wonders of a wonder working God, “whose thoughts are a great deep,” and “whose ways are past finding out.”

But to God nothing is mysterious.

In His purpose, nothing is unfixed. In His forethought, nothing is unknown. In His providence, nothing is contingent. His glance pierces the future as vividly as it beholds the past. “He knows the end from the beginning.” All His doings are parts of a divine, eternal, and harmonious plan.

He may make ”darkness his secret place; His pavilion round about him dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies,” and to human vision His dispensations may appear gloomy, discrepant, and confused. Yet He is “working all things after the counsel of His own will,” and all is transparent and harmonious to His eye! (Octavius Winslow’s, “My Times in God’s Hand”)

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