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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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CHEAP GRACE

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Cheap grace allows the church to flirt with the world’s value system. It is the evidence of untransformed hearts and minds. This love of the world is not from God and blinds them to the love of God. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV) This is why Paul writes:

Continue reading

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GRACE AND HOLINESS

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:5 NIV)

Samuel A CainThis was the cry of Isaiah ben Amoz when he was confronted with the holiness of God. Isaiah was a well-respected man who was also a member of Israel’s royal family. By the traditions of Israel and its Law, Isaiah was considered to be a righteous man.

So, why would a man like Isaiah call down a curse of doom on himself? The next thing he says is, “I am ruined!” Older translations used the phrase, “For I am undone.” The idea being communicated by Isaiah is that he is coming apart at the seams and falling to pieces. Everything he thought about himself: his self-image; his standing in the Jewish community, his self-respect; his moral character and self-confidence came crashing down in that moment. (Isaiah 6:5 ESV)

Can you imagine standing in the gaze of a holy, holy, holy God? The repetition of the word “holy” three times by the seraphim in their worship chorus exalts God to the highest level of perfect holiness. (Isaiah 6:3 ESV) In Hebrew, the repetition of a word is a technique for placing a higher level of degree or emphasis on it.

Isaiah ben Amoz is instantly aware that the LORD sees right through the pretentious defense mechanisms that guard his self-esteem. All his secrets and sins are revealed to God’s instantaneous scrutiny – everything! Isaiah feels filthy and vile. This is the reason Isaiah would curse himself. He would rather the mountains fall on him than endure the gaze of God. Indeed, who of us could bear it? Continue reading

AN OBEDIENT HEART

george-whitefield-pictureGeorge Whitefield:

“If your repentance is true, you are renewed throughout, both in soul and body; your understandings are enlightened with the knowledge of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ; and your wills, which were stubborn, obstinate, and hated all good, are obedient and comfortable to the will of God.”

“The great and important duty which is incumbent on Christians, is to guard against all appearance of evil; to watch against the first risings in the heart to evil; and to have a guard upon our actions, that they may not be sinful, or so much as seem to be so.”

STIRRING UP TROUBLE

John PiperJohn Piper:

“Jesus was not revolutionary because he said we should love God and each other. Moses said that first. So did Buddha, Confucius, and countless other religious leaders we’ve never heard of. Madonna, Oprah, Dr. Phil, the Dali Lama, and probably a lot of Christian leaders will tell us that the point of religion is to get us to love each other. “God loves you” doesn’t stir the world’s opposition. However, start talking about God’s absolute authority, holiness, Christ’s substitutionary atonement, justification by faith apart from works, the necessity of new birth, repentance, baptism, Communion, and the future judgment, and the mood in the room changes considerably.” (The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, p. 73)

MY CHIEF DESIRE

Bishop J. C. RyleBishop J. C. Ryle:

“My chief desire in all my writings, is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and make Him beautiful and glorious in the eyes of people; and to promote the increase of repentance, faith, and holiness upon earth.”

I love this quote, don’t you?

Samuel

The Unconverted Church Member

“The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one. . . . (Matthew 13:36-43 ESV)

Church AttendersThere are many unconverted members who attend our churches each Sunday. They attend week after week and year after year; never hearing anything offensive to their unregenerated lifestyles. However, the truth of the Bible is distasteful to the sinner. The cross of Christ is impertinent to the proud. If you have listened faithfully to your pastor’s sermons each Sunday and have never felt a sting of rebuke for some sin brought to light, then you have a heart of stone or need to find a new pastor.

Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers. . . . (Matthew 13:37-43 ESV)

Of course, the unconverted do not see themselves as sinners or law-breakers. In the darkness of their minds they see themselves as worthy children of an adoring God. They believe that God loves them because they are not as “bad” as their neighbors. Yet, their lives do not reflect biblical truth. This is because it is impossible for their lives to reproduce a righteousness they do not know or understand. They have set their own standards for what to call sin. Continue reading

Precious Repentance

Charles H. Spurgeon“And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye hate committed” (Ezekiel 20:43).

Charles H. Spurgeon:

When we are accepted of the LORD and are standing in the place of favor, and peace, and safety, then we are led to repent of all our failures and miscarriages toward our gracious God. So precious is repentance that we may call it a diamond of the first order, and this is sweetly promised to the people of God as one most sanctifying result of salvation. He who accepts repentance also gives repentance; and He gives it not out of “the bitter box” but from among those “wafers made with honey” on which He feeds His people. A sense of blood-bought pardon and of undeserved mercy is the best means of dissolving a heart of stone. Are we feeling hard? Let us think of covenant love, and then we shall leave sin, lament sin, and loathe sin; yea, we shall loathe ourselves for sinning against such infinite love. Let us come to God with this promise of penitence and ask Him to help us to remember, and repent, and regret, and re- turn. Oh, that we could enjoy the meltings of holy sorrow! What a relief would a flood of tears be! LORD, smite the rock, or speak to the rock, and cause the waters to flow! (Faith’s Checkbook)

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