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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 SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM THE BIBLE?

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

Many of us read the Bible with the purpose of knowing it better. Often, however, we read the Bible without allowing it to change our lives. We may scan the Scriptures daily looking for some reinforcement of our own “core values” but without allowing the Scriptures to speak to us personally about sin and righteousness.

Continue reading

PURSUE JOY!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4 ESV)

Samuel A CainAre you a joyful Christian? Do you revel in God? Is it not enough that God has clothed us with the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness to make us a consistently joyful people? (Isaiah 61:10 ESV)

We all face obstacles to joy through contact with others and the circumstances in which we live. There are people who dislike Christians specifically or have a bad attitude toward people in general. Christians may even find that their troubles are coming from other Christians. Continue reading

SANCTIFICATION AND THE WORD OF GOD

Bishop J. C. Ryle:

Bishop J. C. Ryle“The instrument by which the Spirit effects (sanctification) is generally the Word of God.” (Holiness, 16)

The All-Sufficiency of the Scriptures

Bible Are the Scriptures sufficient to lead us unto salvation? Do we need other sources of religious authority to help us gain salvation? Your answers to these questions are very important.

There are many who deny the all-sufficiency of the Scriptures. They may believe in the Bible and traditions or they may accept additional writings and revelations as equal with the Bible. These ideas lead people to look to other authorities for the final word on their religious beliefs. By doing this they have rejected the all-sufficiency of the Bible, which often results in heresy.

Is the Bible alone an all-sufficient guide for your life and salvation? Paul writes to Timothy, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV) The Bible completes us. There is no need for traditions, additional writings, or revelations.

In the Scriptures, you have all you need to believe in Jesus and have life in His name. You have fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You have eternal life and entrance into His heavenly kingdom. Any new teaching you come across that is not in the Bible, was never meant to be.

Put your faith in the Word of God and His Word alone. In the Scriptures, the whole counsel of God has been revealed to us finally. Therefore, we refer to the Scriptures as all-sufficient in matters pertaining to God. Remember again these words of Paul, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4 ESV)

Samuel at Gilgal

The Scriptures are Written in the Every-Day Language of Men

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner D.D.:

The Scriptures are written in the every-day language of men, and they often describe an act or a thing as it appears to be, rather than as it really is. The Bible speaks of “the four corners of the earth,” Isaiah 11:12, and of “the foundations of the earth,” Psalm 104:5; yet no one understands this to mean that the earth is square, or that it actually rests upon a foundation. We speak of the sun rising and setting, yet we know that it is not the motion of the sun but that of the earth as it turns over on its axis which causes this phenomenon. Likewise, when the Scriptures speak of God repenting, for instance, no one with proper ideas of God understands it to mean that He sees He has pursued a wrong course and changes His mind. It simply means that His action as seen from the human view-point appears to be like that of a man who repents.

In other places the Scriptures speak of the hands, or arms, or eyes of God. These are what are known as “anthropomorphisms,” instances in which God is referred to as if He were a man. When the word “repent,” for instance, is used in its strict sense God is said never to repent: “God is not a man, that He should lie, neither the son of man, that He should repent.” Numbers 23:19; and again, “The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent; for He is not a man, that He should repent,” 1 Samuel 15:29. (The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination)

The Object of Faith

B. B. Warfield:

The saving power of faith resides thus not in itself, but in the Almighty Savior on whom it rests. It is never on account of its formal nature as a psychic act that faith is conceived in Scripture to be saving, – as if this frame of mind or attitude of heart were itself a virtue with claims on God for reward, or at least especially pleasing to Him (either in its nature or as an act of obedience) and thus predisposing Him to favor, or as if it brought the soul into an attitude of receptivity or of sympathy with God, or opened a channel of communication from Him. It is not faith that saves, but faith in Jesus Christ: faith in any other savior, or in this or that philosophy or human conceit (Col. 2:16, 18, 1 Tim. 4:1), or in any other gospel than that of Jesus Christ and Him as crucified (Gal. 1:8, 9), brings not salvation but a curse. It is not, strictly speaking, even faith in Christ that saves, but Christ that saves through faith. The saving power resides exclusively, not in the act of faith or the attitude of faith or the nature of faith, but in the object of faith; and in this the whole biblical representation centers, so that we could not more radically misconceive it than by transferring to faith even the smallest fraction of that saving energy which is attributed in the Scriptures solely to Christ Himself. (“The Religious Life of Theological Students”)

The Greatest Power

R. C. Sproul writes:

“I think the greatest weakness in the church today is that almost no one believes that God invests His power in the Bible. Everyone is looking for power in a program, in a methodology, in a technique, in anything and everything but that in which God has placed it—His Word. He alone has the power to change lives for eternity, and that power is focused on the Scriptures.” (The Prayer of the Lord)

God Governs

English: Source: http://homepage.mac.com/shane...

God is in every experience, working according to his good pleasure and purpose from the beginning to the fullness of time. According to A. A. Hodge:

Providence, as made known to us in Scripture, history and our religious experience, includes two distinct exercises of the divine energy: (1st) preservation, and (2d) government.

Preservation is the continuous exercise of the divine omnipotence through successive duration upholding all creatures in being and in power. . . . All atoms of matter and all created spirits live and move and have all their being and the unfailing spring of all their energies in him only. If he should withdraw his supporting power, the whole dependent universe would lapse into non-being immediately.

Government includes God’s control of all the activities of all his creatures of every kind, and his direction of them toward the fulfilling of his one eternal plan. That God has one universal plan which he executes with undeviating purpose in all his works of creation and of providence is made very certain, first, from the fact that he is an infinite Intelligence acting from eternity before all worlds, and absolutely unconditioned by any facts or powers external to himself.

Secondly, from all that the Scriptures teach us as to his sovereignty, eternal foreknowledge, and as to making his own glory the single end of all things. And thirdly, the same fact is obviously exhibited in the unexceptional experience of all generations of men, and the revelations of modern science, exhibiting the absolutely unbroken continuity of thought and purpose and of divine superintendence and control in the whole universe, in all its parts and during all its successive ages. . . .

God effectually governs all his creatures and all their actions by a method to us inscrutable, but certainly consistent with his own perfections and with their properties and laws. This government is revealed in the Scriptures and in our experience to be universal, certainly efficient, holy, benevolent and wise. (“The Scriptural Doctrine of Divine Providence”)

Loving The Written Word Of God

Thomas Watson

We should do our best to meditate on the Bible every day. The true Christian meditates on the truth and holiness of the Word. He endeavors to saturate his mind with the Scriptures. Thomas Watson explains the importance of loving God’s Word:

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. (Psalm 119:97-98 ESV)

Chrysostom compares the Scripture to a garden set with ornaments and flowers. A godly man delights to walk in this garden and sweetly solace himself. He loves every branch and part of the Word: He loves the counseling part of the Word, as it is a directory and rule of life. The Word is the direction sign which points us to our duty. It contains in it things to be believed and practiced. A godly man loves the directions of the Word.

He loves the threatening part of the Word. The Scripture is like the Garden of Eden: as it has a tree of life in it, so it has a flaming sword at its gates. This is the threatening of the Word. It flashes fire in the face of every person who goes on obstinately in wickedness. ‘God will wound the head of His enemies, the hairy scalp of the one who still goes on in his trespasses.’ (Psa. 68:21). The Word gives no indulgence to evil. It will not let a man halt half-way between God and sin. The true mother would not let the child be divided (I Kings 3:26), and God will not have the heart divided. The Word thunders out threats against the very appearance of evil. It is like that flying scroll full of curses (Zech. 5:1). A godly man loves the menaces of the Word. He knows there is love in every threat. God would not have us perish; he therefore mercifully threatens us, so that he may scare us from sin. God’s threats are like the buoy, which shows the rocks in the sea and threatens death to such as come near. The threat is a curbing bit to check us, so that we may not run in full career to hell. There is mercy in every threat.

He loves the consolatory part of the Word – the promises. He goes feeding on these as Samson went on his way eating the honeycomb (Judges 14:8, 9). The promises are all marrow and sweetness. They are reviving to us when we are fainting; they are the conduits of the water of life. ‘In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.’ (Psa. 94:19). The promises were David’s harp to drive away sad thoughts; they were the breast which gave him the milk of divine consolation.

A godly man shows his love to the Word written by diligently reading it. The noble Bereans ‘searched the Scriptures daily’ (Acts 17:11). Apollos was mighty in the Scriptures (Acts 18:12). The Word is our Magna Carta for heaven; we should be daily reading over this charter. The Word shows what truth is and what error is. It is the field where the pearl of price is hidden. How we should dig for this pearl! A godly man’s heart is the library to hold the Word of God; it dwells richly in him (Col. 3:16). It is reported of Melancthon that when he was young, he always carried the Bible with him and read it greedily. The Word has a double work: to teach us and to judge us. Those who will not be taught by the Word shall be judged by the Word. Oh, let us make ourselves familiar with the Scripture! (“A Godly Man is a Lover of the Word!”)

The Practice Of Godly Discernment

Most of us would very much like to see God’s hand write a special message to us in the clouds so that we might know God’s providential guidance and will for our own actions. The truly serious Christian wants God to lead in each step before him, but very often he is faulty in his discernment of God’s Will.

How is such discernment to be found? It is to found by listening to the voice of God in His Word; the Bible. In the Scriptures, you will find the mind and will of God through the careful reading and hearing of His Word. God makes it our duty to study and live by His Word because it will be to our good and to His Glory. Therefore, discerning the Will of God involves acting in accordance with the Bible’s teachings to test the circumstances and then follow the godly path.

Suppose you have some business pending, whether secular or spiritual (Personally, I believe it is correct to look at the secular as only a subheading of the spiritual because all the areas of life are under God.): that you do not know the correct course of action to take. What you want is to know the Will of God. To do this, you use your understanding and judgment to apply God’s Word to your situation to decide the proper course of action. We do this by reading the Bible; serious contemplation of the matter; seeking the advice of godly friends; and earnest prayer to God to grant us understanding. We must also do all we are able to submit our own pride to the wisdom of the Lord.

Are you seeking knowledge of God’s Will by mysterious impulses or impressions upon your mind? I would suggest to you that this is not safe. Should we look for marks or signs indicating the way we should go? I do not deny that sometimes in His mercy God may offer such indications of His guidance. However, we must not make such things our rule of discernment. The mind is often inclined to see what we want it to see. Our own inclinations may overrule good sense, prudence, and our knowledge of the Scriptures.

Christian, do not use the Bible as a fortune-telling book. In troublesome times, opening the Bible carelessly and allowing your eyes to gaze as they will upon some random verse of Scripture and then ascribing to it some meaning which fits your fancy is ridiculous. This is an abuse of the Word of God. Do not forsake the Bible for imagination, impressions, or impulses. Do you consider yourself a spiritual giant who can easily discern the divine from the diabolical? Such lofty opinions of yourself will make you dependent upon delusions and self-deception.

The Holy Spirit will lead us through our minds; that our thoughts will be directed to the Word of God. Saturated in the truth of the Scriptures, we may then confidently begin to apply God’s principles to our circumstances. This is the practice of godly discernment.

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