Posted on Saturday, May 18, 2013 by Samuel
Listed below are the current 12 largest Protestant Denominations in the US:
1. Southern Baptist Convention: 16.2 million members
2. The United Methodist Church: 7.8 million members
3. The Church of God in Christ: 5.5 million members
4. National Baptist Convention: 5.0 million members
5. Evangelical Lutheran Church, U.S.A.: 4.5 million members
6. National Baptist Convention of America: 3.5 million members
7. Assemblies of God: 2.9 million members
8. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): 2.8 million members
9. African Methodist Episcopal Church: 2.5 million members
10. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America: 2.5 million members
11. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS): 2.3 million members
12. The Episcopal Church: 2.0 million members
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Posted on Friday, April 26, 2013 by Samuel
“In God’s worship, there must be nothing tendered up to God but what He has commanded. Whatsoever we meddle with in the worship of God must be what we have a warrant for out the Word of God. This speech of Moses‘ is upon the occasion of the judgment of God upon Aaron’s sons for offering strange fire. They offered fire that God had not commanded. Hence I say that all things in God’s worship must have a warrant out of God’s Word. It must be commanded; it’s not enough that it is not forbidden. I beseech you to observe it. It is not enough that a thing is not forbidden, and you cannot see what harm there is in it. But is must be commanded. I confess that in matters that are civil and natural this may be enough. If it is according to the rules of prudence and not forbidden in the Word, we may make use of this in civil and natural things. But when we come to matters of religion and the worship of God, we must either have a command, wherein God manifests His will, either by a direct command, or by comparing one with thing with another, or drawing consequences plainly from the words.” (Gospel Worship, p.10)
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Posted on Monday, April 15, 2013 by Samuel
“In the matter of worship, God stands upon little things. Some things may seem to be very small and little to us, yet God stands much upon them in the matter of worship; for there is nothing wherein the prerogative of God more appears than in worship. Princes stand much upon their prerogatives. Now God has written the law of natural worship in our hearts. But there are other things in the worship of God that are not written in our hearts, that only depend upon the will of God revealed in His Word, which would not be duties except that are revealed in His Word. And these are of such a nature that we can see no reason for them except God would have them so. For example, there are many kinds of ceremonies to manifest the honor to princes that have no reason at all merely because it is a civil institution so appointed. So God would have some ways of honoring Himself that the creature may not see a reason for but merely that it is the will of God to have them so.” (Gospel Worship, p.13)
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Posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 by Samuel
A man may be long-suffering in promoting the interests of his own beliefs or church, and be ready to die for the peculiar opinions of his own religious denomination, and yet have no real love for Christ. Such was the zeal of the Pharisees. This is a false zeal. J. C. Ryle explains:
“It is always good to be zealous in a good cause.” (Galatians 4:18)
Alas, I fear there are many professing Christians who if they had lived in the days when our Lord and His apostles walked upon earth, would have called Him and all His followers enthusiasts and fanatics. There are many, I fear, who have more in common with Annas and Caiaphas—with Pilate and Herod—with Festus and Agrippa—with Felix and Gallio—than with Paul and the Lord Jesus Christ. . . .
There never was a grace of which Satan has not made a counterfeit. There never was a good coin issued from the mint—but forgers at once have coined something very like it. It is one of Satan’s devices to place distorted copies of the believer’s graces before the eyes of men, and so to bring the true graces into contempt. No grace has suffered so much in this way as zeal. Of none perhaps are there so many shams and counterfeits abroad. We must therefore clear the ground of all rubbish on this question. We must find out when zeal in religion is really good, and true, and of God.
Reader, if zeal be true, it will be a zeal according to knowledge. It must not be a blind, ignorant zeal. It must be a calm, reasonable, intelligent principle, which can show the warrant of Scripture for every step it takes. The unconverted Jews had zeal. Paul says, “I bear them record that they have a zeal of God—but not according to knowledge.” (Rom. 10:21) Saul had zeal when he was a persecuting Pharisee. He says himself, in one of his addresses to the Jews, “I was zealous toward God, as you all are this day.” (Acts 22:3) … They were all zealous. They were all in earnest. But their zeal was not such zeal as God approves—it was not a “zeal according to knowledge.”
Furthermore, if zeal be true, it will be a zeal from true motives. Such is the subtlety of the heart, that men will often do right things from wrong motives. Amaziah and Joash, kings of Judah, are striking proofs of this. Just so, a man may have zeal about things that are good and right—but from ulterior motives, and not from a desire to please God. And such zeal is worth nothing. It is reprobate silver. It is utterly lacking when placed in the balance of God. Man looks only at the actions. God looks at the motives. Man only thinks of the quantity of work done. God considers the doer’s heart. (“Be Zealous”)
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Posted on Saturday, April 6, 2013 by Samuel
If you identify yourself as a Christian, then I assume it really matters to you whether or not Jesus wants you to attend church. After all, He is your King…not just your adviser…or your buddy…but your Lord…and your God. Right?
We live in a day where many professing believers are being tempted to ditch the whole “church thing.” In some cases, it’s because they had a bad experience in a church. That is understandable…because it happens. Just as divorce takes place in marriages, pain is also experienced in certain church situations. So what’s the solution? Should you dump church…or instead, get connected to one where you will grow?
Continue reading here. . . .
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Posted on Friday, April 5, 2013 by Samuel
With the U.S. Supreme Court set to take up gay marriage and potentially legalize it this summer, churches that host wedding ceremonies or other events for traditional couples should examine their bylaws and shield themselves from the impact of possible litigation, says an attorney who specializes in religious liberty issues.
Read the entire article here. . . .
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Church, Constitution, Family, God, Holiness, Samuel A. Cain, Samuel at Gilgal | Tagged: Same-sex marriage, United States Supreme Court | Comments Off
Posted on Friday, March 22, 2013 by Samuel
I have heard that one of the Church fathers said, “We cannot better understand the Trinity than as a revelation of divine love. The Father is the loving One. The Son is the Fountain of love in whom the love is poured out. The Holy Spirit is the living love that unites both and then overflows into this world.” Andrew Murray writes:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love …” (Galatians 5:22 ESV)
We read, “Love is the fulfilling of the law”‘ (Romans 13: 10), and my desire is to speak on love as a fruit of the Spirit with a twofold object. One is that this word may be a searchlight in our hearts, and give us a test by which to try all our thoughts about the Holy Spirit and all our experience of the holy life. Let us try ourselves by this word. Has this been our daily habit, to seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of love? “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” Has it been our experience that the more we have of the Holy Spirit, the more loving we become? In claiming the Holy Spirit, we should make this the first object of our expectation. The Holy Spirit comes as a Spirit of love.
Oh, if this were true in the Church of Christ, how different her state would be! May God help us to get hold of this simple, heavenly truth that the fruit of the Spirit is a love, which appears in the life. Just as the Holy Spirit gets real possession of the life, the heart will be filled with real, divine, universal love.
One of the great causes why God cannot bless His Church is the lack of love. When the body is divided, there cannot be strength. In the time of their great religious wars, when Holland stood out so nobly against Spain, one of their mottoes was: “Unity gives strength.” It is only when God’s people stand as one body, one before God in the fellowship of love, one toward another in deep affection, one before the world in a love that the world can see – it is only then that they will have power to secure the blessing, which they ask of God. Remember that if a vessel that ought to be one whole is cracked into many pieces, it cannot be filled. You can take one part of the vessel and dip out a little water into that, but if you want the vessel full, the vessel must be whole. That is literally true of Christ’s Church. And if there is one thing we must pray for still, it is this – Lord, melt us together into one by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let the Holy Spirit, who at Pentecost made them all of one heart and one soul, do His blessed work among us. Praise God, we can love each other in a divine love, for “the fruit of the Spirit is love.” Give yourselves up to love, and the Holy Spirit will come; receive the Spirit, and He will teach you to love more. (“The Fruit of the Spirit is Love”)
Filed under: Christianity, Church, Holy Spirit, Samuel at Gilgal, Love | Tagged: Andrew Murray | 1 Comment »
Posted on Sunday, March 17, 2013 by Samuel
There are many elements that go into the total concept of fellowship, as it is described in the New Testament, but the sharing together in suffering is one of the most profitable. It probably unites our hearts together in Christ more than any other aspect of fellowship. (Trusting God, p. 189)
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Posted on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 by Samuel
“God is not an employer looking for employees. He is an Eagle looking for people who will take refuge under his wings. He is looking for people who will leave father and mother and homeland or anything else that may hold them back from a life of love under the wings of Jesus.” (A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race, and the Sovereignty of God)
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Posted on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 by Samuel
Men and women with zeal throw themselves into one grand pursuit. They put everything else aside. They count everything else as inferior in importance. J. C. Ryle tells us that the same habit of mind must be applied to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“It is always good to be zealous in a good cause.” (Galatians 4:18)
Come now, and give me your attention, while I tell you something about zeal. Listen to me for your own sake—for the sake of the world—for the sake of the Church of Christ. Listen to me, and by God’s help, I will show you that to be zealous—is to be wise.
Zeal in religion is a burning desire to please God, to do His will, and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way. It is a desire which no man feels by nature—which the Spirit puts into the heart of every believer when he is converted—but which some believers feel so much more strongly than others, that they alone deserve to be called zealous men.
This desire is so strong when it really reigns in a man, that it impels him to make any sacrifice—to go through any trouble, to deny himself to any amount—to suffer, to work, to labor, to toil—to spend himself and be spent, and even to die—if only he can please God and honor Christ.
A zealous man is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, whole-hearted, and fervent in spirit. He only sees one thing—he cares for one thing—he lives for one thing—he is swallowed up in one thing—and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives—or whether he dies; whether he has health—or whether he has sickness; whether he is rich—or whether he is poor; whether he pleases man—or whether he gives offense; whether he is thought wise—or whether he is thought foolish; whether he gets blame—or whether he gets praise; whether he gets honor—or whether he gets shame—for all this, the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing, and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God’s glory. (“Be Zealous”)
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Posted on Monday, March 4, 2013 by Samuel
Most ancient religious writings do not profess to be inspired by God, but the Bible professes not only to be inspired, but also to be the only inspired writing. The Bible teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven. Unlike many other ancient religious writers and philosophers, the godly men through whom the Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the Scriptures are men who speak with power, certainty, and authority.
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Posted on Monday, February 25, 2013 by Samuel
Pelagianism teaches that man’s free will is unimpaired. There is no influence that shackles or dominates man’s choice between good and evil. Man has all the power he ever had, or needs to have, to will and to do what is spiritually good. This teaching is contrary to the concept of Adam’s fall being the cause of man’s being born a sinner. Pelagianism argues that the consequences of Adam’s sins were restricted to him and were not transmitted to his posterity. Pelagianism argues that man enters the world with as pure a nature as Adam had possessed in innocence. This belief requires turning the Gospels into a remedial scheme rather than a plan to recover man from original sin by grace. This is in direct contrast to Paul and Augustine’s teaching that humanity was completely helpless in Adam’s sin and in desperate need of grace. Augustine did not deny that man had a will and that he could make choices. He simply recognized that man did not have a free will in moral issues related to God. Augustine recognized that the Scriptures taught that the effects of original sin were passed to the children of Adam and Eve and therefore, mankind’s nature was corrupted. Man could choose what he desired, but those desires are influenced by his sinful nature and thus, he sins.
Pelagius, a British monk, is considered to be the father of this heresy. It was condemned by more church councils than any other heresy in history. Pelagianism may have been condemned, but it was certainly the most popular and widespread tendency among the masses. This is no surprise, since thinking highly of ourselves and the possibilities for personal self-improvement are part of our sinful condition. We are all Pelagians by nature. Pelagianism is a gospel of works.
The Bible teaches:
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. . .” (Romans 3:23 ESV)
“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)
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8 ESV)
“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” (Romans 6:6 ESV)
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Church, Grace, Reformed Christian Topics, Samuel at Gilgal, sin, Theology | Tagged: Pelagianism | 10 Comments »
Posted on Monday, February 18, 2013 by Samuel
Do you wish to have more confidence in your faith? Read the Bible. It will give you boldness in times of adversity. John Gill writes:
Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein; and ye shall find rest for your souls. (Jeremiah 6:16)
[It is] by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts; that men are born again, not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God, his Spirit and grace; that it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy; that the work of faith is a work of power, of the operation of God, and is carried on by it, and is even according to the exceeding greatness of his power, who works in man both to will and to do of his own good pleasure (Zech. 4:6; John 1:13; 3:5; Rom. 9:15, 16; Col. 2:12; 2 Thess. 1:11; Eph. 1:10; Phil. 2:13). . . .
Read over the gracious promises and declarations in the word of God, and they will serve to confirm you in it; as that the righteous shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall grow stronger and stronger; that God will put his fear into the hearts of his people, and they shall not depart from him: that they are preferred in Christ Jesus, and in his hands, out of whose hands none can pluck them; who is able to keep them from falling, and will; and that they are, and shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation (Job 17:9; Jer. 32:40; John 10:28, 29; Jude 1:24; 1 Pet. 1:5). . . .
If the doctrines of the Resurrection of the dead, and a future Judgment, should be called in question, read the divine oracles, and there you are told, that there will be a resurrection both of the just and unjust; that the one shall come forth from their graves to the resurrection of life, and the other to the resurrection of damnation; that there is a judgment to come; that there is a righteous Judge appointed, and a day let when just judgment will be executed; and that all, small and great, good and bad, must appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, to receive for the things done in the body, whether they be good, or whether they be evil (Acts 24:16; John 5:28, 20; Acts 17:31; Rev. 20:12; 2 Cor. 5:10). (“The Scriptures: The Only Guide in Matters of Faith”)
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Posted on Saturday, February 16, 2013 by Samuel
Have you touched the Savior? Anyone may attend church, listen to the singing and sermon, yet leave church unmoved and self-satisfied with their simple attendance. C. H. Spurgeon warns us of the consequences of this attitude:
Never be content with merely coming close to Christ. When there is a gracious season in a church, and people are converted, many others rest satisfied because they have been in the congregation where works of mercy have been performed. It is dreadful to reflect that there are in our churches men and women who are perfectly satisfied with having spent Sunday in a place of worship. Now, suppose a man has leprosy and he goes to the place where Jesus is: he sees the people thronging to get near, and he joins the press; he pushes on for a certain length of time, and then he returns home perfectly content because he has joined the crowd. The next day the great Master is dispensing healing virtue right and left, and this same man joins the throng, and once more elbows himself tolerably near to the Savior, and then retires. “Well,” he says, “I got into the crowd; I pressed and squeezed, and made my way, and so I was in the way, perhaps I might have got a blessing.” Now that would be precisely similar to the condition of hundreds and thousands of people who go to a place of worship on Sunday. There is the gospel; they come to hear it; they come next Sunday, there is the gospel again; they listen to it, and they go their way each time. “Fool!” you say to the man with leprosy, “Why, you did nothing; getting into the crowd was nothing; if you did not touch the Lord who dispensed the healing, you lost all your time; and besides, you incurred responsibility because you got near to him, and yet for not putting out your hand to touch him, you lost the opportunity.” It is the same for you good people, who go where Jesus Christ is faithfully preached. You come and go, and come and go continually; and what fools you are, what gross fools, to get into the throng and to be satisfied with that, and never touch Christ! Tell me of your church-goings and your chapel-goings! They are not a morsel of use to you unless you touch the Savior through them. (Advice for Seekers)
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Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2013 by Samuel
In the New Testament, love is more of a verb than a noun. It has more to do with acting than with feeling. The call to love is not so much a call to a certain state of feeling as it is to a quality of action.
Throughout the ages, the church has understood that the most significant manifestation of true faith is love. Faith without love is not faith, only speculation or knowledge or mere intellectual assent. The fruit of authentic faith is always love.
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Church, Faith, R. C. Sproul, Reformed Christian Topics, Samuel at Gilgal | 2 Comments »