• 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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Patrick Henry: The Voice Of A Patriot!

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!

Patrick Henry

March 23, 1775

There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free–if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending–if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained–we must fight! I

Patrick Henry

repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us! They tell us, sir that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength but irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable–and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace–but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! (Excerpt from original speech)

Was Jesus Just A Great Moral Teacher?

C. S. Lewis

Quoting British author C.S. Lewis (1898-1963):

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Ronald Reagan: He Really Was What He Said He Was

President Ronald Reagan

Quoting President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004):

“I still can’t help wondering how we can explain away what to me is the greatest miracle of all and which is recorded in history. No one denies there was such a man, that he lived and that he was put to death by crucifixion. Where … is the miracle I spoke of? Well consider this and let your imagination translate the story into our own time — possibly to your own home town. A young man whose father is a carpenter grows up working in his father’s shop. One day he puts down his tools and walks out of his father’s shop. He starts preaching on street corners and in the nearby countryside, walking from place to place, preaching all the while, even though he is not an ordained minister. He never gets farther than an area perhaps 100 miles wide at the most. He does this for three years. Then he is arrested, tried and convicted. There is no court of appeal, so he is executed at age 33 along with two common thieves. Those in charge of his execution roll dice to see who gets his clothing — the only possessions he has. His family cannot afford a burial place for him so he is interred in a borrowed tomb. End of story? No, this uneducated, property-less young man has, for 2,000 years, had a greater effect on the world than all the rulers, kings, emperors; all the conquerors, generals and admirals, all the scholars, scientists and philosophers who have ever lived — all of them put together. How do we explain that — unless He really was what He said He was?”

The Best Security For The Republic

Charles Carroll, Signer of the Declaration of ...

Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Quoting Charles Carroll of Carrollton (Signer of the Declaration of Independence):

Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, [and] which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, and [which] insured to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments. (Source: Bernard C. Steiner, The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry (Cleveland: The Burrows Brothers, 1907), p. 475. In a letter from Charles Carroll to James McHenry of November 4, 1800.)

The God Pleasing Man

Richard Baxter

Quoting Richard Baxter:

See therefore that you live upon God’s approval as that which you chiefly seek, and will suffice you: which you may discover by these signs.

1. You will be most careful to understand the Scripture, to know what doth please and displease God.

2. You will be more careful in the doing of every duty, to fit it to the pleasing of God than men.

3. You will look to your hearts, and not only to your actions; to your ends, and thoughts, and the inward manner and degree.

4. You will look to secret duties as well as public and to that which men see not, as well as unto that which they see.

5. You will reverence your consciences, and have much to do with them, and will not slight them: when they tell you of God’s displeasure, it will disquiet you; when they tell you of his approval, it will comfort you.

6. Your pleasing men will be charitable for their good, and pious in order to the pleasing of God, and not proud and ambitious for your honor with them, nor impious against the pleasing of God.

7. Whether men are pleased or displeased, or how they judge of you, or what they call you, will seem a small matter to you, as their own interest, in comparison to God’s judgment. You live not on them. You can bear their displeasure, censures, and reproaches, if God be but pleased. These will be your evidences. (Richard Baxter on “Man-Pleasing”)

Truth Redefined

Kelly O’Connell is an author, attorney, and radio show host. In his article “Who Defines ‘Truth’ When Politicians Re-Write the Dictionary?” he points out three areas of American life – Education, Church, and Political Correctness – where the false has been declared true:

The very notion of truth itself has been tied, stretched out and crucified for political advantage in America. This is why we are in a dreary swamp, a national malaise. Our current struggles are all the more remarkable considering most result from wrong ideas. A simple attitude adjustment, ie a “reality check”—would eliminate most of our seemingly permanent issues fairly quickly. Our troubles occur because disreputable political doctrines are raised over common sense. For example, huge deficits undermine America’s ability to continue its military and humanitarian roles, home and abroad. And yet, the notion of serious spending cuts is regarded by liberals as more horrible than an offer to barbecue holy cows in downtown Bombay.

The problem in America today is our “official” national narrative is based upon a torrent of false, leftist ideas, directed by political theory towards relentless failure on every front. In other words, the elites uphold the tenets of Marxism. A key example is Political Correctness. This devilish doctrine claims no action is bad, in itself—as long as fostered by an ideologically acceptable group. . . .

Continue reading this article. . . .

Give Me That New Time Relativism. . . .

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)

People today seem to have a problem with absolute truth. The truth has always been out there and around us, but too many of us seem to want to imaginatively create “our” truth. The academic and politically correct members of our age have advocated “relative truth” over “objective” truth. Objective truth comes from outside us. It is based on the objective reality that exists. Relative truth comes from within us and is based on subjective truth. Subjective truth confines itself within the individual who becomes the sole arbiter of truth. Thus, you may often hear in our times that illogical self-defeating statement: “That may be true for you but it is not true for me.” Such a person has adopted the subjective mind-set that there is no absolute truth! This again, is a self-defeating concept.

The modern relativist creates truth for himself in his own little world of reality. If he believes in God at all, he believes in a god who looks amazingly like himself. Now, if you want to think like a Christian you cannot be swept along with this politically correct notion of relativism. You need to think like a Christian and respond to the present culture like a Christian. The Christian believes in objective absolute truth while the relativist believes in subjective non-absolute truth. In other words, the relativist makes it up as he goes along. The relativist believes there is no objective meaning or truth in the world.

This is not only a problem in the world but it is also a problem in the Church. In many churches, people believe and do things because they like them; not because it is right or true. You may choose to go to a church because you like it or like the preacher. On the other hand, how many people attend a church because that church actually holds to the truth of the Bible? Do you attend a church that actually functions in a biblical way? Or do we make our decisions in these areas because of what we feel? Many people choose a church and what parts of the Bible they believe in based on their personal feelings. This is the way relativism has wormed its way into the church.

You also hear this idea that: “There are many paths to God.” If you claim to be a Christian, do you also attempt to give equal credence to many other beliefs? “Jesus 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) If you reject Jesus’ statement and believe that the Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and Christian will all end up in Heaven, then you have become a relativist, not a Christian. You have rejected the truth of Christ to embrace many opposing truths and to deny absolute truth.

This will lead you to reject God’s Word as Truth. When you do so you are rejecting it as objective truth with one meaning. You have allowed the philosophy of relativism to infect your worldview. You must reject this popular point of view in order to stand for absolute truth which is the Word of God.

Apart From Godliness – All Religion Is Utterly Vain!

Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon writes the article below based on Joel 2:13:

“Rend your heart—and not your garments.” (Joel 2:13)

Garment-rending and other external signs of religious emotion, are easily manifested, and are frequently hypocritical. True repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Unsaved men will attend to the most multiplied and minute religious ceremonies and regulations—for such things are pleasing to their flesh. But true godliness is too humbling, too heart-searching, too spiritual for the tastes of carnal men! They prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly. External religious rituals are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up. But they are ultimately delusive, for at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than religious ceremonies and rituals to lean upon.

Apart from vital godliness—all religion is utterly vain! When offered without a sincere heart, every form of religious worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of God!

Heart-rending is divinely wrought—and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief which is personally experienced, not in mere form—but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer. It is not a matter to be merely talked of—but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating and sin-purging! But also, it is sweetly preparative for those gracious consolations which proud unhumbled souls are unable to receive! This heart-rending distinctly belongs to the elect of God—and to them alone.

The text commands us to rend our hearts—but they are naturally as hard as marble! How then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary! A dying Savior’s voice rent the rocks once—and it is just as powerful now. O blessed Spirit, let us effectually hear the death-cries of Jesus—and our hearts shall be rent!

What Is Your View Of Heaven?

John Owen (1616-1683)

John Owen

Quoting John Owen:

We may hereby examine both our own notions of the state of glory and our preparations for it, and whether we are in any measure “made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.” Various are the thoughts of men about the future state,-the things which are not seen, which are eternal. Some rise no higher but unto hopes of escaping hell, or everlasting miseries, when they die. Yet the heathen had their Elysian fields, and Mohammed his sensual paradise. Others have apprehensions of I know not what glistening glory, that will please and satisfy them, they know not how, when they can be here no longer. But this state is quite of another nature, and the blessedness of it is spiritual and intellectual. Take an instance in one of the things before laid down. The glory of heaven consists in the full manifestation of divine wisdom, goodness, grace, holiness,-of all the properties of the nature of God in Christ. In the clear perception and constant contemplation hereof consists no small part of eternal blessedness. What, then, are our present thoughts of these things? What joy, what satisfaction have we in the sight of them, which we have by faith through divine revelation? What is our desire to come unto the perfect comprehension of them? How do we like this heaven? What do we find in ourselves that will be eternally satisfied hereby? According as our desires are after them, such and no other are our desires of the true heaven,-of the residence of blessedness and glory. Neither will God bring us unto heaven whether we will or no. If, through the ignorance and darkness of our minds,-if, through the earthliness and sensuality of our affections,-if, through a fullness of the world, and the occasions of it,-if, by the love of life and our present enjoyments, we are strangers unto these things, we are not conversant about them, we long not after them,-we are not in the way towards their enjoyment. The present satisfaction we receive in them by faith, is the best evidence we have of an indefeasible interest in them. How foolish is it to lose the first-fruits of these things in our own souls,- those entrances into blessedness which the contemplation of them through faith would open unto us,-and hazard our everlasting enjoyment of them by an eager pursuit of an interest in perishing things here below! This, this is that which ruins the souls of most, and keeps the faith of many at so low an ebb, that it is hard to discover any genuine working of it.

Liberty Depends On. . . .

Oil on canvas painting of Fisher Ames; size wi...

Fisher Ames

Quoting Fisher Ames (Framer of the First Amendment):

Our liberty depends on our education, our laws, and habits . . . it is founded on morals and religion, whose authority reigns in the heart, and on the influence all these produce on public opinion before that opinion governs rulers. (Source: Fisher Ames, An Oration on the Sublime Virtues of General George Washington (Boston: Young & Minns, 1800), p. 23)

Do You Understand The Doctrine Of Original Sin?

Theologian Charles Hodge, a critic of Darwin's...

Charles Hodge

Charles Hodge, D.D. was the principal of Princeton Theological Seminary between 1851 and 1878. A Presbyterian theologian, he was a leading exponent of historical Calvinism in America during the 19th century. In the excerpt below, Hodge helps us to understand original sin:

[O]ur Confession [Westminster Confession of Faith] teaches the doctrine of original sin. That doctrine is essential to the Reformed or Calvinistic system. Any man who denies that doctrine thereby rejects the system taught in our Confession, and cannot with a good conscience say that he adopts it. Original sin, however, is one thing; the way in which it is accounted for, is another. The doctrine is that such is the relation between Adam and his posterity that all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, are born in a state of sin and condemnation. Any man, who admits this, holds the doctrine. But there are at least three ways of accounting for this fact. The scriptural explanation as given in our Standards is, that “the covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity, all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.” The fact that mankind fell into that estate of sin and misery in which they are born, is accounted for on the principle of representation. Adam was constituted our head and representative, so that his sin is the judicial ground of our condemnation and of the consequent loss of the divine image, and of the state of spiritual death in which all men come into the world. This, as it is the scriptural, so it is the Church view of the subject. It is the view held in the Latin and the Lutheran, as well as in the Reformed Church, and therefore belongs to the Church catholic. Still it is not essential to the doctrine. Realists admit the doctrine, but, unsatisfied with the principle of representative responsibility, assume that humanity as a generic life acted and sinned in Adam; and, therefore, that his sin is the act, with its demerit and consequences, of every man in whom that generic life is individualized. Others, accepting neither of these solutions, assert that the fact of original sin (i.e., the sinfulness and condemnation of man at birth) is to be accounted for in the general law of propagation. Like begets like. Adam became sinful, and hence all his posterity are born in the state of sin, or with a sinful nature. Although these views are not equally scriptural, or equally in harmony with our Confession, nevertheless they leave the doctrine intact, and do not work a rejection of the system of which it is an essential part. (From: “What is Meant by Adopting the Westminster Confession?”)

True Faith And Humility

Source: http://homepage.mac.com/shanerosenthal...

A. A. Hodge

A. A. Hodge, in the following article, discusses how the assurance of salvation and humility go hand-in-hand:

I think the first essential mark of the difference between true and false assurance is to be found in the fact that the truth works humility. There is nothing in the world that works such satanic, profound, God-defiant pride as false assurance; nothing works such utter humility, or brings to such utter self-emptiness, as the child-like spirit of true assurance. Surely this can be known. If a person is self-confident, there is self-assurance; if there is any evidence of pride in connection with his claim, it is a most deadly mark- it is the plague-spot which marks death and corruption. But if there is utter humility, you have the sign of the true spirit.

This will manifest itself in connection with another mark. If one is really united to Christ in a union so established that Christ is indeed in possession of the soul, the whole consciousness will be taken up with what I would call Christ-consciousness, and there will be no self-consciousness. Little children are very prompt to show their character. There is a great difference in them. Bring a child into a room. She comes thinking about nothing in particular, looking at her mother, and then looking at the guests or anything that objectively strikes her, not thinking of herself. That is pure, sweet, and lovely. She grows older, and she comes to think of herself and what people think of her, and her manner has lost its unconsciousness. A great deal of what you call bashfulness is rottenness at the heart; it is self-consciousness. Nothing in the world so tends to defile the imagination, to pervert the affections, and to corrupt the morals, as self-consciousness. You know it is connected with every diseased and morbid action of the body.

A young woman told me that she wanted the witness of the Spirit, and she talked about it everlastingly; she wanted to tell her own experience and feelings always. I told her she must forget herself, not think of her own feelings. The man who is talking about his love unceasingly has no love; the man who is talking about his faith unceasingly has no faith: the two things cannot go together. When you love, what are you thinking about? Are you not thinking about the object of your love? And when you believe, what are you thinking about? Why, the object that you believe. . . .

A great deal of Perfectionism is rotten to the core. All self-consciousness is of the very essence and nature of sin. Then, again, true confidence leads necessarily to strong desires for more knowledge and more holiness, for unceasing advances of grace.

I was told once, in a congregation where I preached, that I need not tell a certain young man anything about religion; he had finished it – that is, that, having finished it, he found nothing else to do. That is what the word ‘perfect’ means. Now, when a man has finished eternal life, when he has finished learning all the revelation of God, when he has experienced all the infinite benefits of Christ’s redemption, when he has finished all the mysterious work of the Holy Ghost in his heart, he ought to be annihilated. There is no place in heaven or on earth for such a man.

But a man who really has the love of God in his heart is always reaching forward to the things which are before. The more he loves, the more he wants to love; the more he is consecrated, the more consecration he longs for. He has grand ideas and grand aims, but they lie beyond him in heaven.

Reaching For Satisfaction in God

mezzotint portrait of Cotton Mather (Feb. 12, ...

Cotton Mather

Quoting Cotton Mather:

Our continual apprehension of God, may produce our continual satisfaction in God, under all His dispensations. Whatever enjoyments are by God conferred upon us, where lies the relish, where the sweetness of them? Truly, we may come to relish our enjoyments, only so far as we have something of God in them. It was required in Psalm. xxxvii. 4, “Delight thyself in the Lord.” Yea, and what if we should have no delight but the Lord? Let us ponder with ourselves over our enjoyments: “In these enjoyments I see God, and by these enjoyments, I serve God!”

And now, let all our delight in, and all our value and fondness for our enjoyments, be only, or mainly, upon such a divine score as this. As far as any of our enjoyments lead us unto God, so far let us relish it, affect it, embrace it, and rejoice in it: “O taste, and feed upon God in all;” and ask for nothing, no, not for life itself, any further than as it may help us, in our seeing and our serving of our God.

And then, whatever afflictions do lay fetters upon us, let us not only remember that we are concerned with God therein, but let our concernment with God procure a very profound submission in our souls. Be able to say with him in Psalm. xxxix. 9, “I open not my mouth, because thou didst it.” In all our afflictions, let us remark the justice of that God, before whom, “why should a living man complain for the punishment of his sin?” The wisdom of that God, “whose judgments are right:” the goodness of that God, who “punishes us less than our iniquities do deserve.” Let us behave ourselves, as having to do with none but God in our afflictions: And let our afflictions make us more conformable unto God: which conformity being effected, let us then say, “‘Tis good for me that I have been afflicted.”

Sirs, what were this, but a pitch of holiness, almost angelical! Oh! Mount up, as with the wings of eagles, of angels: be not a sorry, puny, mechanic sort of Christians any longer; but reach forth unto these things that are thus before you.

Sinai And The Law

John Quincy Adams, President of the United Sta...

John Quincy Adams

Quoting John Quincy Adams (Sixth President of the United States):

The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes . . . of universal application-laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation which ever professed any code of laws. (Source: John Quincy Adams, Letters of John Quincy Adams, to His Son, on the Bible and Its Teachings (Auburn: James M. Alden, 1850), p. 61)

Election And Holiness

The extracts below were taken from A Door Opening Into Everlasting Life by Andrew Gray, modern edition ©1989 Netherlands Reformed Book and Publishing Committee. We may very seriously ask ourselves, “What has been the result of election in our lives?” Andrew Gray warns us to examine the degree of holiness in our lives:

If God hath irresistibly and effectually called thee, amongst those few, very few called ones, whom He hath chosen for Himself, let this engage thee to be holy yet more and more.

Did not the Spirit of grace knock at thy door with infinite holy motions, before thou condescended to open? Thou refused to obey, until He called, not a third time, as to Samuel, but many an hundred times. As Lot was loath to depart out of Sodom, till the angels laid hold upon his hand, and brought him forth; so thou was loath to leave thy sins, and sinful companions, till the hand of the Lord laid hold upon thine heart. God’s arbitrary and free grace called thee and left others. Oh, how should this make thee to admire God’s love, and to strive for God’s holiness!

When God took thee, He left others; he passed by thousands and ten thousands in the world, and left them in their impenitency and carnal security under the bondage and vassalage of Satan. Consider, how few there are that shall be saved, in comparison of the multitude that shall be eternally destroyed. Consider that God should call thee with an holy calling, and bring thee in to be one of that little flock, that is under the care of the good Shepherd Jesus Christ. If thou should be chosen and singled out from the rest, when they are left in a state of sin to perish eternally, what astonishing distinguishing mercy is this! How should this engage thee to be eminently holy.

Was thou called in thy younger years? Oh, be holy in all manner of conversation for a requital of God’s love that suffered thee not to stab thy soul to old age. It is a greater mercy to be called at the first, or third, than at the eleventh hour; to be called in thine infancy and early days, than in the afternoon, and evening, and twilight of thine age. Being early called, thou never made such sad shipwrecks, never involved thyself in such gross wickedness as others have done. Thou hast had long trial of the sweetness of holiness, therefore follow after it still. Was thou called of later times? Labor to make requital for the many hours, days, and years, thou lost before thou was acquainted with God. Surely holiness becomes thee forever. Oh, be holy, ye old disciples, for your time to gather grace in will not be long. Oh, be holy, ye young converts, for ye want liveliness, strength, and vigor in the way and work of the Lord.

Your experiences are but short; some tastings you have had, oh, but desire more, for the more holiness you have, the more sweetness you shall find. The richest wine lies in the lowest cellar. Hath Christ come and laid Him down under thy roof? Oh, be pure and holy that thou vex not His righteous soul. Oh, how should thou please Him, who hath so highly honored and advanced thee. . . ?

Once thou wert a great, a filthy sinner; oh, be holy, for Christ hath washed thee in His blood, justified thee by His righteousness, and sanctified thee by His Spirit, even when thou wert filthy to look upon. . . . So God chose thee when thou had little morality, little ingenuity, or natural goodness. Thou art of the number of those few that shall be saved, and so strongly bound to be eminently holy.

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