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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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BIBLICAL TRUTH OR EMOTIONALISM?

More and more churches are being led into emotionalism and not Biblical Truth, and, as a result, these congregations have no spiritual power of discernment.  They are willing to compromise Biblical truth for emotionalism and experience as they are taught to seek after a god who is not the God of the Bible.  (Justin Pierce, The Importance Of Truth and Standing Against Apostasy)

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:

Continue reading

DO NOT TREAT DOCTRINE LIGHTLY

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1:9 ESV)

After over thirty years of teaching Christian adults in several churches, I cannot tell you how often I have heard statements in various forms similar to this: “I don’t want to know doctrines. I just want to know Jesus.” This clever response gives the appearance of a deep spirituality but often I have found that the Jesus they are seeking to know is more the idol of their imaginations than the Jesus found in the Bible.

Continue reading

LIVING IN THE ABSENCE OF MORAL LAW

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18 ESV)

I-love-this-grace-thingThere are too many in our time who claim salvation by grace and live as if there is no moral law. They live lives of irresponsible deviancy from the truth of God. In practice, they do not honor God in their hearts or minds. They are blasphemous because their lives are no different from their non-Christian friends who deny the gospel. Do you profess to know God but deny Him by your works?

Life is not an experiment in relativism; it is the pursuit of the true nature of reality. It is the gravest error to think you can live in contradiction to the truth. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV) As Christians, we are to hold forth this light in the Danger-antinomianiamdark places of the world. As Jesus said, “… let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 ESV) Therefore, we live to open the eyes of the morally blind in order that “… they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.” (Acts 26:18 ESV) We pray that they receive forgiveness for their sins and sanctification through faith in Jesus Christ.

TRUTH IN THE WILDERNESS

J.C. Ryle:

Bishop J. C. RyleDo not put implicit confidence in any man’s opinion, merely because he is a minister.

What are the best of ministers but men; dust, ashes and clay, men with a nature like our own, men exposed to temptations, men liable to weaknesses and failings.

They have often driven the truth into the wilderness, and decreed that to be true, which was false. The greatest errors have been begun by ministers.

Peace without truth is a false peace; it is the very peace of the devil. Unity without the gospel is a worthless unity; it is the very unity of hell. Continue reading

THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT AND THE WORD OF GOD

Samuel A CainIn all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, (Ephesians 6:16 – 17 ESV)

In Christianity, the sword often symbolizes, righteousness, justice, truth and purity. The Apostle Paul’s famous list of the pieces of the armor of God is found in Ephesians 6. The sixth piece of armor Paul mentions is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God! It is God’s statement, the Bible. As long as we speak and preach in harmony with the Bible, we have the sword of the Spirit. If we stray apart from His Word, we lose the power of this spiritual sword. As long as we stay connected to God’s Word, the sword or word of God will be “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV) Continue reading

THE CHRISTIAN MIND

Samuel A CainSet your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, (Colossians 3:2 ESV)

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. (Psalm 119:15 ESV)

My college philosophy professor once said, “The man who does not know truth will not recognize evil when it comes. The man who knows truth will also know evil.” It is through the mind of Christ that we know truth. Paul writes in Romans, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

Natural man is born with the predisposition to set his mind on desiring the pleasures of this world, even though they bring him sorrow. (Romans 8:5-6 ESV) If a man is born again, he has access to the mind of Christ in a way which was impossible before the Holy Spirit came to dwell in him. (1 Corinthians 2:16 ESV) This partnership of the Holy Spirit and man seeks the wisdom of Christ in order to live a holy life like Jesus. Such wisdom enables us to avoid vain “philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8 ESV) Continue reading

THE PURE WORD OF GOD

Charles SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“What can you do, you children, playing with your little wooden swords – what can you do against men covered from head to foot with the steel mail of the habit of sin? Sunday school teachers, teach your children more and more the pure Word of God! And preachers, do not try to be original, but be content to take of the things of Christ and show them to the people, for that is what the Holy Spirit, Himself does – and you will be wise to use His method and His sword. No sinner around you will be saved except by the knowledge of the great Truths contained in the Word of God. No man will ever be brought to repentance, to faith and to life in Christ, apart from the constant application of the Truth through the Spirit.” (1891, Sermon #2201)

TRUTH MATTERS!

Samuel A CainJesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6 ESV)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth … (John 16:13 ESV)

The sum of your word is truth … (Psalm 119:160 ESV)

Lead me in your truth and teach me … (Psalm 25:5 ESV)

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32 ESV)

If you have ever taken a “True/False” test in school, you understand that your grade was based on your knowledge of which statements (etc.) were true and which statements were false. In life, we often have to make decisions based on our understanding of what is true and what is not. Knowing truth is important to us, because truth corresponds exactly with reality.

In the world today, many do not believe in absolute truth. They believe in a kind of personal and circumstantial relativism that rejects the idea of absolute truth. Although their opinion is illogical, many who call themselves Christians also believe that truth is a matter of personal opinion. Bishop J. C. Ryle writes:  Continue reading

DIMMED BY ERROR

Charles H SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“It is a sad affliction when in our solemn assemblies the brilliance of the Gospel Light is dimmed by error. The clearness of the testimony is spoiled when doubtful voices are scattered among the people and those who ought to preach the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth, are preaching doctrines which are the imaginations of men and the inventions of the age!” (1887, Sermon #1990)

The Altar Call and Eleven Choruses of “Just as I Am”

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-JonesQuoting D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

1. It is wrong to put direct pressure on the will. The will should always be approached primarily through the mind, the intellect, and then through the affections. The action of the will should be determined by those influences.

2. In the end it may produce a condition in which what has determined the response of the man who ‘comes forward’ is not so much the Truth itself as, perhaps, the personality of the evangelist, or some vague general fear, or some other kind of influence.

3. The preaching of the Word and the call for decision should not be separated in our thinking.

4. This method surely carries in it the implication that sinners have an inherent power of decision and of self-conversion. Continue reading

Vocation

According to J. Gresham Machen:

“For Christians to influence the world with the truth of God’s Word requires the recovery of the great Reformation doctrine of vocation. Christians are called to God’s service not only in church professions but also in every secular calling. The task of restoring truth to the culture depends largely on our laypeople.

To bring back truth, on a practical level, the church must encourage Christians to be not merely consumers of culture but makers of culture. The church needs to cultivate Christian artists, musicians, novelists, filmmakers, journalists, attorneys, teachers, scientists, business executives, and the like, teaching its laypeople the sense in which every secular vocation-including, above all, the callings of husband, wife, and parent–is a sphere of Christian ministry, a way of serving God and neighbor that is grounded in God’s truth. Christian laypeople must be encouraged to be leaders in their fields, rather than eager-to-please followers, working from the assumptions of their biblical worldview, not the vapid clichés of pop culture.”

You Must Study The Word Of God

William Gurnall

From the desk of William Gurnall:

Christian, if you can once and for all break your engagement to the flesh and become a free man in Christ, truth will be your steadfast friend. Study God’s word faithfully as well. Satan has a habit of stopping the ears from hearing sound doctrine before he opens them to listen to corrupt. He will, as often as he can, pull a saint away from God’s Word and talk him into rejecting some point of truth. But he who rejects the truth of one doctrine, loses the blessing of them all. Paul predicted how this would happen “They shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Do not pretend you want to be lead into truth if you will not bother to study the whole Word of God. In doing so, you are no different from a child who says he wants to learn, yet plays the truant. Such a child must be disciplined. Because your Heavenly Father loves you, He will bring you back to the Word with shame and sorrow, rather than leave you trapped in Satan’s lies.

As you study and grow, be wary of new doctrine. Do not hastily accept every thing you hear, even when from the pulpit. Now I admit that to reject a doctrine simply because we have never heard of it before is foolish. But we have every right to wait and inquire before embracing it. When you hear a new notion about the truth, go to God in prayer and seek His council. Search the scriptures. Discuss it with your pastor and with other Christians whose wisdom and maturity you trust.

The truth will stand up under scrutiny. It is a fruit that never bruises or spoils from handling. But error, like a fish, begins to stink after a few days. Therefore, let new ideas sit before you, do not make a meal of them. You do not want to poison your soul with rotting mackerel when you could be feasting on manna from heaven! (The Christian in Complete Armour, 1665)

Pastors Called To Watch Their Egos

Richard Baxter

In this excerpt, Richard Baxter addresses a problem that has its root in the natural man but also often afflicts church leadership. It is easy for personal pride to be elevated in those who have authority in the church. Some govern themselves and their behavior well while others see themselves anointed by divine right. The latter attitude leads to many problems in the church. Baxter writes:

It comes to pass, that men [many pastors and teachers] so magnify their own opinions, and are as censorious of any that differ from them in lesser things, as if it were all one to differ from them and from God; and expect that all should be conformed to their judgments, as if they were the rulers of the Church’s faith! And while we cry down Papal infallibility and determination of controversies, we would, too many of us, be popes ourselves, and have all stand to our determination, as if it were infallible.

It is true, we have more modesty than expressly to say so: we pretend that it is only the evidence of truth that appears in our reasons that we expect men should yield to, and our zeal is for the truth, and not for ourselves: but as that must needs be taken for truth which is ours, so our reasons must needs be taken for valid; and if they be freely examined, and found to be infirm and fallacious, and so discovered, as we are exceeding backward to see it ourselves, because they are ours, so how angry are we that it should be disclosed to others! We so espouse the cause of our errors, as if all that were spoken against them were spoken against our persons, and we were heinously injured to have our arguments fully confuted, by which we injured the truth and the minds of men!

So that the matter is come to that pass through our pride, that if an error or fallacious argument does fall under the patronage of a reverend name, (which is no whit rare,) we must either give it the victory and give away the truth, or else become injurious to the name that doth patronize it. For though you meddle not with their persons, yet do they put themselves under all the strokes which you give their arguments, and feel [narcissism] it as sensibly as if you had spoken it of themselves, because they think it will follow in the eyes of men, that weak arguing is a sign of a weak man. If, therefore, you take it for your duty to shame their errors and false reasonings, by discovering their nakedness, they take it as if you shamed their persons; and so their names must be a garrison or fortress to their mistakes and their reverence must defend all their sayings from the light. (From the book: The Reformed Pastor)

God, Relativism, And The Law Of Non-Contradiction

The God of the Bible is the God of perfect order and perfect logic. He has created this world and established the laws of logic in it. These laws are absolute and applicable to all men, in all times, and in all places. They are not relative because they are a reflection of the holy, righteous, and perfect character of God. The moral law of God is our rule of life. It is absolute objective truth.

37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:36-38)

If you accept the philosophy of relativism; that there is no ultimate truth, then power becomes the arbiter of truth. Let’s take the idea of multiculturalism: It is a belief that each ethnic group must exist in their own little sections of society and their truth and their morality is right for them. The result is a fragmented society where there is no standard to bind everyone together. Such practices result in the destruction of that civilization, because no one is allowed (political-correctness) to stand up and say that the practices of some group are wrong. Those who advocate relativism want you to believe it is tolerant. It only allows, however, each man his own truth if that man doesn’t believe in absolute truth.

You must understand that relativism self-destructs logically. Perhaps you hear a relativist say, “There’s no such thing as absolute truth!” Ask him this question “Is that absolutely true?” If he says “Yes,” then he has admitted the reality of absolute truth. If he says “No,” he has denied the truth of his original statement.

So if the relativist has no truth apart from what he makes up for himself, then the only person he can lie to is himself. He may swear under oath to tell the truth, but he does not believe in absolute truth. The truth he tells may be absolute lies.

The relativist also has no basis for accusing someone of doing something wrong. Since, there are no standards by which to judge actions, he cannot call things right or wrong. It is impossible to ask for justice when there is no absolute standard of justice. The only world that can have objective, absolute truth and morals is a world created and governed by God. The Bible refutes the philosophy of relativism. The Bible gives us truth and morality. The Bible teaches us the truth about God. Absolute truth exists because God is a God of absolute truth.

The Bible also teaches us the truth about the world. The Bible tells us that God created the world and all of the laws that exist in the world. The laws God created are fixed. No one can make up his own laws and his own truth. There are laws of logic in the world because God created the world. God created the laws of nature and moral laws for all men. These laws are true because God is the ultimate source of absolute truth.

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