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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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WHAT’S WRONG HERE?

According to a study by LifeWay Research:

  • Three-quarters of Americans (77 percent) agreed that people must contribute to their own effort for personal salvation.

  • Almost two-thirds of evangelicals (64 percent), and nearly as many Americans (60 percent) described heaven as a place where “all people will ultimately be reunited with their loved ones.”

  • Almost two-thirds (65 percent) said that most people are good by nature, even though everyone sins a little.

  • Sixty-four percent of Americans said God accepts the worship of all religions.

  • More than half (52 percent) said that Jesus is the “first and greatest being created by God.”

(See article by Tyler O’Neil, 12 Lies American Evangelicals Believe)

 

 

 

LOOKING BACK

I had lived with no idea how thoroughly sin had penetrated every area of my life. Even the idea that I needed some kind of forgiveness was ridiculous to me. God, however, is merciful.

I was His enemy, yet God brought me to Him. Paul said:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Continue reading

THE GOSPEL SEED

And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29 ESV)

How do we make Jesus known to the world? The parable above guides us in this regard. In order to make Him known, we must sow the words of Jesus Christ. The words of Jesus are the promise of salvation.

Continue reading

THOUGHTS FOR YOUNG ADULTS

Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! (Psalm 25:7 ESV)

Physical beauty is fleeting. Physical strength is used up by time. Even the mind of a genius is slowed by age. Yet, in our youth we often carry a false sense of immortality in which we view ourselves as invincible. We demonstrate this by magical thinking (i.e. self-absorbing daydreams & fantasies) and through foolish actions that may injure us or change our lives for the worse in years to come. We blind ourselves to inevitable consequences for a few moments of pleasure. We too quickly reject the traditional beliefs of our parents and the church without really trying to understand them. We reject anything that is not popular or the current fad. Our lives are consumed by sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, jealousy, envy, strife, and drunkenness, which prevent our entrance into the kingdom of heaven. (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV) If we ever, over the years, learn the truth of these matters, the majority of our lives may have passed us by. Perhaps this is best illustrated by the Chinese proverb: “Too soon old; Too late wise.”

Continue reading

SALVATION AND SOVEREIGNTY

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

In this verse is one of the great mysteries that theologians and believers have argued about for centuries. How far do man’s will and God’s sovereignty go in determining the salvation of the Christian?

Salvation is certainly a demonstration of God’s glory. We know that God is absolutely sovereign over everything that exists because He created anything that does exist. (Colossians 1:16 ESV) God’s salvation through Jesus Christ is also evidence of the degree to which that sovereignty stretches. Jesus said:

Continue reading

UNDERSTANDING THE END FOR WHICH WE WERE MADE

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16 ESV)

There are many people, including Christians, who do not  godhave a clear understanding of the purpose for which God made them.The Westminster Shorter Catechism states this doctrine by way of a question and answer:

Q: “What is the chief end of man?”

A: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

The ultimate end or chief purpose of man is to glorify and enjoy God. Too few people have any concern for the glory of God and therefore, certainly cannot enjoy Him.

Continue reading

WHO IS A CHRISTIAN?

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9 ESV)

salvation jesusA Christian is someone who has been born again in Christ to eternal life and salvation. His sins have been pardoned and he is in a state of grace. He now desires to obey God in order to please Him and glorify Him. He has the Holy Spirit to strengthen his desire and ability to live out his obligation to Jesus Christ. The Christian seeks to live life sincerely before God and to walk worthy of Christ.

Authenticity is the path of Christian sanctification. A Christian is not perfect. A Christian’s good works are the result of God’s saving grace. Good works do not save anyone; they are the consequence of having been saved. Even faith is the gift of God. Christians still err, but they are grieved when they do. The Christian’s grief leads to repentance. Sincere repentance leads to God’s forgiveness. God is faithful and just to forgive sins and to cleanse the Christian from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV) Continue reading

THE MERCY OF GOD

And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him. (Matthew 20:29-34 ESV)

Samuel A CainWhat may we learn from this event? It is obvious that the two men were serious about their present condition and their request. They readily acknowledged the authority and power of Jesus when they called Him “Lord” and recognized Him as the Messiah when they said He was the “Son of David”. The two men begged for mercy knowing they were owed none. When Jesus asked them what they wanted, they specifically asked Him to open their eyes so they could see. Jesus had pity on them, touched their eyes, and they were immediately healed. Having received such a great gift, the formerly blind beggars followed Him.

We all are blind beggars before God. “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV) God has to open our eyes to our true nature. We are spiritually blind sinners, and the only way we can come to Him is by His mercy.

Faith in Jesus Christ may be described as the certain confidence that He is able and willing to help when our circumstances seem to deny all possibility of relief. We are unclean, dead in sins, in bondage to Satan, and blind to the truth of God. In spite of this – Christ makes us clean, forgives our sins, releases us from the bonds of the evil one, heals our blindness and opens our eyes to the way of salvation.

IN LIGHT OF ETERNAL TRUTH

Samuel A CainJesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

God created the universe: He created man; He is the creator of time; He is the sovereign cause of whatever occurs; He is the reason for the existence of both the visible and the invisible; He is eternal truth and He is immutable. God is the reason that we exist. Jesus Christ is the only way to God. Jesus is the light of the world. He is the very embodiment of truth, and in Him we should look for truth. Jesus proclaimed that “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life” (John 14:6). In and through Christ we see truth. A simple definition for “truth” is: “Truth is!” 

It was Col. Nathan R. Jessep, in the movie A Few Good Men, who gave us the classic motion picture line: “You can’t handle the truth!” I believe this quote may be applied to more than a few lines of script in a movie. It describes the state of mind many of us have when we are confronted with a reality-hardened truth that we hoped to never face. You may wish something were not so, but truth cannot be waved away with the swish of a magic wand. Continue reading

A NEW YEAR’S PRAYER

Samuel A CainO Mighty God,

Thank You for allowing us to see the beginning of another year. Thank You for the goodness of your grace. Thank you for more time to serve you and to glorify your Name. Thank you for more time to gain Gospel progress. Thank you for the grace that will allow us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Forgive us for the sins we have committed in the year past. Forgive us for any actions that have dishonored your Name. Forgive us for neglecting the things we should have done in your Name, but did not do. Forgive us for any thoughts that were contrary to the mind of Christ.

As we welcome in this New Year, give us the faith to master our fears of the unknown. Be our shepherd, Lord, and guide us with your Wisdom. We are blessed that You give us everything we need to follow You. We are blessed that You comfort us in our time of need. Continue reading

CHOSEN TO BE HOLY

Samuel A CainEven 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, (Ephesians 1:4-5 ESV)

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16 ESV)

God is holy and therefore, is not apathetic about sin. Because God is holy, He cannot be appeased by the sinner’s own works. The God of the Bible takes sin so seriously that our own efforts cannot erase the guilt of our sin. Only a holy God can deal with it. The example of the holiness we need in our lives was found in the life of Christ. In Christ we have the holiness of the invisible God lived out in human life, conduct, and character. Through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, God has forgiven our sins that we may take part in His holiness.

Salvation is in Christ. If you are saved, it is because God has forgiven you and imparted to you the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Continue reading

“I Will Help Thee”

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

I will help thee, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 41:14)

This morning let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us: “I will help thee.” “It is but a small thing for Me, thy God, to help thee. Consider what I have done already. What! not help thee? Why, I bought thee with My blood. What! not help thee? I have died for thee; and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less? Help thee? It is the least thing I will ever do for thee; I have done more, and will do more.” “Before the world began I chose thee. I made the covenant for thee. I laid aside My glory and became a man for thee; I gave up My life for thee; and if I did all this, I will surely help thee now. In helping thee, I am giving thee what I have bought for thee already. If thou hadst need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it to thee; thou requirest little compared with what I am ready to give. ‘Tis much for thee to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow. ‘Help thee?’ Fear not! If there were an ant at the door of thy granary asking for help, it would not ruin thee to give him a handful of thy wheat; and thou art nothing but a tiny insect at the door of My all-sufficiency. ‘I will help thee.'” O my soul, is not this enough? Dost thou need more strength than the omnipotence of the United Trinity? Dost thou want more wisdom than exists in the Father, more love than displays itself in the Son, or more power than is manifest in the influences of the Spirit? Bring hither thine empty pitcher! Surely this well will fill it. Haste, gather up thy wants, and bring them here – thine emptiness, thy woes, thy needs. Behold, this river of God is full for thy supply; what canst thou desire beside? Go forth, my soul, in this thy might. The Eternal God is thine helper!

“Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismay’d!
I, I am thy God, and will still give thee aid.”
(Morning & Evening)

Do Not Try to Save Yourself!

Charles H. Spurgeon by Ron AdairWhat reason have you that you would think that you can suddenly change the inclination of your heart and actions, and become a new man? The odds are surely a million to one and greater that as you sinned before you will sin again. Charles H. Spurgeon writes:

If you think about it, God’s value of heaven and yours are very different things. His salvation, when he set a price upon it, was to be brought to men only through the death of his Son. But you think that your good works can win the heaven which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, procured at the cost of his own blood! Do you dare to put your miserable life in comparison with the life of God’s obedient Son, who gave himself even to death? Does it not strike you that you are insulting God? If there is a way to heaven by works, why did he put his dear Son to all that pain and grief? Why the scenes of Gethsemane? Why the tragedy on Golgotha, when the thing could be done so easily another way? You insult the wisdom of God and the love of God.

There is no attribute of God which self-righteousness does not impugn. It debases the eternal perfections which the blessed Savior magnified, in order to exalt the pretensions of the creature which the Almighty spurns as vain and worthless. The trader may barter his gold for your trinkets and glass beads, but if you give all that you have to God it would be utterly rejected. He will bestow the milk and the honey of his mercy without money and without price, but if you come to him trying to bargain for it, it is all over for you; God will not give you choice provisions of his love that you do not know how to appreciate.

The great things you propose to do, these works of yours, what comparison do they bear to the blessing which you hope to obtain? I suppose by these works you hope to obtain the favor of God and procure a place in heaven. What is it, then you propose to offer? What could you bring to God? Would you bring him rivers of oil, or the fat of ten thousand animals? Count up all the treasures that lie beneath the surface of the earth; if you brought them all, what would they be to God? If you could pile up all the gold reaching from the depths of the earth to the highest heavens, what would it be to him? How could all this enrich his coffers or buy your salvation? Can he be affected by anything you do to augment the sum of his happiness, or to increase the glory of his kingdom? If he were hungry he would not tell you. “The cattle upon ten thousand hills are mine,” he says (Psa 50:10). Your goodness may please your fellow-creatures, and your charity may make them grateful, but will God owe anything to you for your gifts, or be in debt to you for your influence? Absurd questions! When you have done everything, what will you be but a poor, unworthy, unprofitable servant? You will not have done what you ought; much less will there be any balance in your favor to make atonement for sin, or to purchase for you an inheritance in the realms of light. (Advice for Seekers)

The Enemy of Salvation

In the words of Benjamin Rush:

The great enemy of the salvation of man, in my opinion, never invented a more effective means of limiting Christianity from the world than by persuading mankind that it was improper to read the Bible at schools.

There is but One Who is Good

What we call goodness and virtue in a human being is nothing else, but the goodness of God manifesting itself through that person. William Law writes:

The reason of my humbly and affectionately addressing this discourse to the clergy, is not because it treats of things not of common concern to all Christians, but chiefly to invite and induce them, as far as I can, to the serious perusal of it; and because whatever is essential to Christian salvation, if either neglected, overlooked, or mistaken by them, is of the saddest consequence both to themselves and the churches in which they minister. . . .

Everything else. . . however glorious and divine in outward appearance, everything that angels, men, churches, or reformations, can do for us, is dead and helpless, but so far as it is the immediate work of the Spirit of God breathing and living in it.

All scripture bears full witness to this truth, and the end and design of all that is written, is only to call us back from the spirit of Satan, the flesh, and the world, to be again under full dependence upon, and obedience to the Spirit of God, who out of free love and thirst after our souls, seeks to have his first power of life in us. When this is done, all is done that the scripture can do for us. Read what chapter, or doctrine of scripture you will, be ever so delighted with it, it will leave you as poor, as empty and unreformed as it found you, unless it be a delight that proceeds from, and has turned you wholly and solely to the Spirit of God, and strengthened your union with and dependence upon him. For love and delight in matters of scriptures, whilst it is only a delight that is merely human, however specious and saint-like it may appear, is but the self-love of fallen Adam, and can have no better a nature, till it proceeds from the inspiration of God, quickening his own life and nature within us, which alone can have or give forth a godly love. For if it be an immutable truth, that “no man can call Jesus, Lord, but by the Holy Ghost,” it must be a truth equally immutable, that no one can have Christ-like temper or power of goodness but so far, and in such degree, as he is immediately led and governed by the Holy Spirit. . . .

All possible goodness that either can be named, or is nameless, was in God from all eternity, and must to all eternity be inseparable from him; it can be nowhere but where God is. As therefore before God created anything, it was certainly true that there was but one that was good, so it is just the same truth, after God has created innumerable hosts of blessed and holy and heavenly beings, that there is but one that is good, and that is God. (“An Address to the Clergy”)

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