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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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Send Me No Visions

Martin LutherMartin Luther:

I have made a covenant with my God that He send me neither visions, dreams, nor even angels. I am well satisfied with the gift of the Holy Scriptures, which give me abundant instruction and all that I need to know both for this life and for the life which is to come. Martin Luther

Luther: Reading through the Bible

Martin Luther Nailing His 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Door October 31, 1517Martin Luther:

For some years now, I have read through the Bible twice every year. If you picture the Bible to be a mighty tree and every word a little branch, I have shaken every one of these branches because I wanted to know what it was and what it meant.

Earthly Princes

JohnCalvinJohn Calvin:

“For earthly princes lay aside their power when they rise up against God; and are unworthy to be reckoned among the number of mankind. We ought, rather, to spit upon their heads than to obey them.” (Calvin’s Bible Commentary)

Humility

John CalvinJohn Calvin:

“I was always exceedingly delighted with that saying of Chrysostom, “The foundation of our philosophy is humility”; and yet more pleased with that of Augustine: “As the orator, when asked, What is the first precept in eloquence? answered, Delivery: What is the second? Delivery: What is the third? Delivery: so if you ask me concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, I will answer, first, second, and third, Humility.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion)

The Spirit of Faith

John CalvinJohn Calvin:

“Just as the light of the sun, while it invigorates a living and animated body, produces effluvia in a carcass; so it is certain that the sacraments where the Spirit of faith is not present, breathes mortiferous [deadly] rather than vital odor.” (Treatises on the Sacraments: Catechism of the Church of Geneva, Forms of Prayer, and Confessions of Faith)

Ceremonies

John Calvin:

“With respect to ceremonies, there is some appearance of a change having taken place; but it was only the use of them that was abolished, for their meaning was more fully confirmed. The coming of Christ has taken nothing away even from ceremonies, but, on the contrary, confirms them by exhibiting the truth of shadow.” (Calvin’s Commentaries)

Philosophers

John Calvin:

“[Philosophers] are like a traveler passing through a field at night who in a momentary lightning flash sees far and wide, but the sight vanishes so swiftly that he is plunged again into the darkness of night before he can take even a step – let alone be directed on the way by its help.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion)

Consider His Goodness

John Calvin:

“The whole world is a theatre for the display of the divine goodness, wisdom, justice, and power, but the Church is the orchestra, as it were—the most conspicuous part of it; and the nearer the approaches are that God makes to us, the more intimate and condescending the communication of his benefits, the more attentively are we called to consider them.” (Commentary on Psalms – Volume 5)

Prophetic Doctrine

John Calvin:

“As far as sacred Scripture is concerned, however much froward men try to gnaw at it, nevertheless it clearly is crammed with thoughts that could not be humanly conceived. Let each of the prophets be looked into: none will be found who does not far exceed human measure. Consequently, those for whom prophetic doctrine is tasteless ought to be thought of as lacking taste buds.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion)

Reformation Day 2012

Today is a religious holiday celebrated in remembrance of the Reformation. On Reformation Day, we give praise to God for what He did in 16th century Germany through Dr. Martin Luther and the other Reformers who followed. They accomplished nothing less than the recovery of the true gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

The Catholic Church of the 16th century had incorporated many errors and superstitions into its doctrine of beliefs. One, the sale of indulgences, incensed Martin Luther and he determined to hold a debate with other faculty members at the University of Wittenberg on the subject. Luther knew that forgiveness from sins could not be purchased. He taught that salvation is not earned by good deeds but received only as a free gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Among other things, Luther had made a study of the Greek New Testament and had been persuaded that the Greek word for repentance, “metanoia”, meant a change of heart, not a performance of outward works.

Luther’s Ninety-five Theses were written in Latin. He nailed them on the Wittenberg Castle Church Door on October 31st, 1517. The church door functioned as a public bulletin board and it was there that important notices were displayed. Luther wished these to be discussed by scholars, rather than the general populace. Yet, within a couple of weeks, copies were available all over Germany. The Ninety-five Theses were quickly translated into German and were made available to people as far away as Rome. Luther’s ideas spread like wildfire, aided by the newly invented printing press.

The Catholic Church tried to silence Luther with accusations of heresy and threats of excommunication. However, He was protected by his local ruler, Frederick the Wise. Martin Luther continued to write more critiques of the Church in the years that followed.

I am thankful for Luther and the other Reformers who returned the church to the faith of Paul and Augustine by putting the Scriptures ahead of church traditions and church authority. I also pray that God will keep us faithful to the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

Contemplating Providence

John Calvin writes:

“We ought to contemplate providence not as curious and fickle persons are wont to do but as a ground of confidence and excitement to prayer. When he informs us that the hairs of our head are all numbered it is not to encourage trivial speculations but to instruct us to depend on the fatherly care of God which is exercised over these frail bodies.”

Moving Forward Daily

From the desk of John Calvin:

“No one can travel so far that he does not make some progress each day. So let us never give up. Then we shall move forward daily in the Lord’s way. And let us never despair because of our limited success. Even though it is so much less than we would like, our labor is not wasted when today is better than yesterday!” (Institutes of the Christian Religion)

Provision

Quoting John Calvin:

“Thus it is that we may patiently pass through this life with its misery, hunger, cold, contempt, reproaches, and other troubles – content with this one thing: that our King [Jesus] will never leave us destitute, but will provide for our needs until, our warfare ended, we are called to triumph.”

According to God’s Perfect Measure

From the desk of John Calvin:

“In a way, the futile excuses many people use to cover their superstitions are demolished. They think it is enough to have some sort of religious fervor, however ridiculous, not realizing that true religion must be according to God’s will as the perfect measure; that He can never deny Himself and is no mere spirit form to be changed around according to individual preference.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion)

Fictitious Worship

John Calvin:

“There is no knowing that does not begin with knowing God.”

“Those who set up a fictitious worship merely worship and adore their own delirious fancies; indeed, they would never dare so to trifle with God, had they not previously fashioned him after their own childish conceits.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion)

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