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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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UNDER THE SPIRIT’S INFLUENCE

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV)

The Holy Spirit dwells within me. These are wonderful words. All who live by faith in the Son of God may truthfully say this. Anyone who does not have the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ does not belong to Him. (Romans 8:9 ESV)

The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth because He is the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit inspired Scriptures are the true words of God. (John 16:13 ESV) The Holy Spirit persuades us that the Bible is the source of truth about Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit teaches us all things and reminds us of the words of Jesus. (John 14:26) The Spirit guides us in our everyday lives and helps us to avoid those things which displease God. Jesus said:

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WILL I EVER BE RIGHTEOUS?

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. (1 Peter 3:12 ESV)

The God of the Bible is righteous and takes sin so seriously that our own efforts cannot erase the guilt of our iniquity. Yet, through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, God has forgiven our sins that we may participate in His righteousness. In Christ, we see the righteousness of the invisible God lived out in human conduct and character. Righteousness is the fruit of a life in Christ.

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GODLY LIVING

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, (Ephesians 4:1 ESV)

With the passing of time, many Christians tend to lose their sense of the wonder of God’s grace. We begin to forget the sinfulness that destined us for eternal punishment. We may even begin to ignore the source of our faith.

Look at how gracious God has been to us. We may never fully understand God’s mercy, but such a boundless benevolence surely deserves a grateful response. Living a godly life is such a response.

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CONSIDERING SIN

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 ESV)

Consider sin. It twists and disfigures the soul. The image man once reflected of God is now shattered by sin. It disfigures man and destroys the image of God as though it were despised. Every sin flies in the face of God’s wisdom. All sin is a declaration of war against God.

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GOD’S KINDNESS

John Calvin:

John CalvinFor God, who is the highest righteousness, cannot love the unrighteousness that He sees in us all. All of us, therefore, have in ourselves something deserving of God’s hatred . . . But because the Lord wills not to lose what is His in us, out of His own kindness He still finds something to love. (Institutes 2, 16, 3)

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

THE WORLD DOES NOT KNOW US

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1-2 ESV)

Samuel A CainChristians have been given the right to become children of God by receiving Jesus and believing in Him. God has declared that He will be a Father to us. (2 Corinthians 6:18 ESV) Therefore, no one born of God keeps on sinning because the child of God practices righteousness. (1 John 3:9-10 ESV)

The world, however, sees something very different. The world of today is skeptical and indifferent about Christians and the Church. People have lost respect for church leaders. Many ask, “How can you trust the Clergy when they are involved in so many scandals?” The unchurched continue to see Christians as hypocrites. It is also clear that many within the Church are stumbling blocks for the unchurched. Continue reading

PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ SAKE

John CalvinJohn Calvin:

There is singular consolation, moreover, when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. For our thought should then be, How high the honour which God bestows upon us in distinguishing us by the special badge of his soldiers. By suffering persecution for righteousness’ sake, I mean not only striving for the defence of the Gospel, but for the defence of righteousness in any way. Whether, therefore, in maintaining the truth of God against the lies of Satan, or defending the good and innocent against the injuries of the bad, we are obliged to incur the offence and hatred of the world, so as to endanger life, fortune, or honour, let us not grieve or decline so far to spend ourselves for God; let us not think ourselves wretched in those things in which he with his own lips has pronounced us blessed, (Matth. v. 10.) Poverty, indeed considered in itself, is misery; so are exile, contempt, imprisonment, ignominy: in fine, death itself is the last of all calamities. But when the favor of God breathes upon us, there is none of these things which may not turn out to our happiness. Let us then be contented with the testimony of Christ rather than with the false estimate of the flesh, and then, after the example of the Apostles, we will rejoice in being “counted worthy to suffer shame for his name,” (Acts v. 41.)

RIGHTEOUSNESS

Samuel A CainFor our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:29 ESV)

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. (Proverbs 21:3 ESV)

God is righteous, but absolute righteousness is not possible for human beings. Men are not pronounced righteous based on personal virtue, but are declared righteous by grace through Jesus Christ. These persons produce the fruit of righteousness because God is working in them. Living a righteous life is not easy for anyone. The righteous life requires discipline and humble obedience to God. With determination the heart can be trained in righteousness. In time, the Christian will find that more of his attitudes and actions are guided by righteousness as he becomes more like Jesus.

The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient and infallible rule of saving knowledge, faith, and duty. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein He pardons our sins and receives us as righteous in His sight. Whom God effectually calls, He freely justifies by pardoning sins and by accounting them [Elect] as righteous. This is accomplished by imputing Christ’s active obedience to the law and His passive submission in death to the elect. Through faith in Christ, the righteousness of Christ is given to us. This is known as “imputed” righteousness. When we place our faith in Jesus, God credits the righteousness of Christ to our account so that we become perfect in His sight. “For our sake he made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV) Continue reading

THE IMPUTATION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

Horatius BonarHoratius Bonar:

“This righteousness [the righteousness of Christ] is ‘reckoned’ or ‘imputed’ to all who believe; so that they are treated by God as if it were actually theirs.  They are entitled to claim all that which such a righteousness can merit from God (as the Judge of righteous claims).  It does not become ours gradually, or in fragments or drops; but is transferred to us all at once.  It is not that so much of it is reckoned to us in proportion to the strength of our faith, or the warmth of our love, or the fervor of our prayers; but the whole of it passes over to us by imputation.  In its whole quality and quantity it is transferred to us.  Its perfection represents us before God; and its preciousness, with all that that preciousness can purchase for us, henceforth belongs to us”. (The Everlasting Righteousness, 82-83)

Trust in Christ

Charles H. SpurgeonThe great righteousness of God is made plain in Jesus Christ. How extraordinary it is that men refuse to receive what is so generously provided. Charles H. Spurgeon writes:

You have only to trust Christ, and you shall live. Whoever, or whatever, or wherever you are, even though you lie at hell’s dark door to despair and die, the message comes to you: “God hath made Christ to be a propitiation for sin. He made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Christ has delivered us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” He who believes no longer has a curse upon him. He may have been an adulterer, a swearer, a drunkard, a murderer; but the moment he believes, God sees none of those sins in him. He sees him as an innocent man, and regards his sins as having been laid on the Redeemer, and punished in Jesus as he died on the tree. If you believe in Christ, though you are one of the most damnable wretches who ever polluted the earth, you shall not have a sin remaining on you after believing. God will look at you as pure; even Omniscience shall not detect a sin in you, for your sin shall be put on the scapegoat, even Christ, and carried away into forgetfulness.

Put away your accursed and idolatrous dependence upon yourself; Christ has finished salvation-work, altogether finished it. Do not hold your rags in competition with his fair white linen. Christ has borne the curse; do not bring your pitiful penances, and your tears all full of filth, to mingle with the precious fountain flowing with his blood. Lay down what is your own, and come and take what is Christ’s. Put away now everything that you have thought of being or doing by way of winning acceptance with God; humble yourselves, and take Jesus Christ to be the Alpha and Omega, the first and last, the beginning and end of your salvation. If you do this, not only will you be saved, but you are saved. Rest, O weary one, for your sins are forgiven; rise, you lame man, lame through want of faith, for your transgression is covered; rise from the dead, you corrupt one, rise, like Lazarus from the tomb, for Jesus calls you! Believe and live. (Advice for Seekers)

Justifying Righteousness

Thomas ChalmersThomas Chalmers:

Christ came to give us a justifying righteousness, and He also came to make us holy – not chiefly for the purpose of evidencing here our possession of a justifying righteousness – but for the purpose of forming and fitting us for a blessed eternity.

Faith

According to John Calvin:

“It would be the height of absurdity to label ignorance tempered by humility “faith”!

“…a man will be justified by faith when, excluded from righteousness of works, he by faith lays hold of the righteousness of Christ, and clothed in it, appears in the sight of God not as a sinner, but as righteous…”

The Infinite Power and Goodness of God

What limitations have you put upon God’s relationship to you? Is it wise for the finite to judge the infinite? According to A. A. Hodge:

God’s providence, in every part of it, must be an expression of his essential perfections, of infinite wisdom and power and of absolute righteousness and benevolence. Nothing can be a surprise to his intelligence, or too complicated for his wisdom, or too difficult for his power, or inconsistent with his perfect righteousness or love. These essential attributes of the great Ruler are abundantly manifested in all his works.

The whole universe and the entire course of its history as far as known to us, exhibit unquestioned evidence of limitless intelligence and power and of unmistakable righteousness and benevolence. This is witnessed to by the entire volume of human literature, that of philosophers, scientists and poets, as well as that of the special devotees of religion. Nevertheless, the course of providence from the point of view of man unilluminated by a supernatural revelation is full of anomalies to him utterly insoluble. The question is not whether the face of nature and the course of providence give evidence of the intelligence, power, righteousness and goodness of God this is admitted by all sober men but the true question is, as put by John Stuart Mill in his posthumously published Essay on Theism, “Are the facts of nature and the history of events, as we know them, possibly reconcilable with the belief that the Creator and Controller of the world is at the same time infinite in his wisdom and in his power and in his righteousness and in his goodness?”

Mr. Mill is assured that this reconciliation is impossible in view of the awful prevalence of moral and physical evil. He is sure that God must be limited either in his wisdom or his power or his benevolence, and is inclined to think that he is limited in all, and upon the whole, with an imperfect standard and a limited ability, strives to do as well as he can.

The apparent incongruousness of the facts, and hence the difficulty of the problem, we admit. But we have seen God because we have seen Christ, and we have learned to read all the course of providence in the light of the Cross. Since the baptism of Pentecost we have been convicted of sin and of a guilt we are utterly unable to gainsay [deny] or remove. We have been convinced that the finite can never measure the Infinite, and that self-convicted sinners can never judge the integrity of the All Holy.

In the light of Calvary we have an impregnable assurance that the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is unlimited in wisdom and in power, and that he can do no wrong. Bowing our heads in unquestioning submission to his sovereign rights and with confidence in his absolute perfection, we exclaim in the face of all apparent anomalies, [“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36 ESV)] (Popular Lectures on Theological Themes)

Self-Righteousness

This parable is a picture of many professing Christians today. You cannot search your heart too thoroughly for self-righteousness. Beware falling for the devil’s tricks that would have you thinking this parable applies to others but not to you. J. C. Ryle writes:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14 ESV)

“I tell you,” says Jesus, “this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.” The tax collector came poor in spirit, and he was justified. The Pharisee, rich in merits and self-esteem, went empty away. The penitent was not only pardoned—but justified. He had left his house heavy and afflicted by a sense of sin, he returned with joy and peace; he had asked mercy and received it, he had sought grace and found it; he had come hungering and thirsting after righteousness and he was justified. “He went down to his house justified.” But the proud Pharisee, not feeling his own needs, not acquainted with his own sinfulness, had sought no mercy, and had found none, and he departed unblessed and unheard; and from the saying the “tax collector went down to his house justified rather than the other,” we may fairly suppose this man of self-righteousness and self-dependence had none of that sense of favor and acceptance which the repenting sinner enjoyed.

See now the general APPLICATION which our Lord makes: “Everyone who exalts himself shall be abased—but he who abases himself shall be exalted.” Mark these words, “everyone who exalts himself.” High or low, rich or poor, young or old, it matters not; for God is no respecter of people, “everyone who exalts himself” and not free grace; who trusts either in whole or in part in his own righteousness and performance and not entirely in Jesus Christ—though he go to church twice a day, though he keep the letter of the Ten Commandments, though he pays everything he owes, though he is sober and moral and decently behaved—everyone who exalts himself shall be abased and condemned, when Jesus Christ shall come to judge.

But on the other hand remember, “he who humbles himself “as a sinner before God and comes unto Christ, though he may have been the most wicked of transgressors, though he may have broken all the commandments, though he may have been a Sabbath-breaker, a drunkard, a thief, an adulterer, an extortioner—whatever his sin may have been, if he acts as the tax collector did, “he shall be exalted.” That is—he shall be pardoned, and washed and sanctified and justified for the sake of Jesus Christ, and shall have his place with David and Manasseh and Mary Magdalene and the thief upon the cross—in the everlasting kingdom of our God and of the Lamb.

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