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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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Prayer Explains Mysteries!

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

“But it is good for me to draw near to God.”Psalm 73:28

In this psalm, poor Asaph had been greatly troubled–He had been trying to untie that Gordion knot concerning the righteousness of a providence which permits the wicked to flourish and the godly to be tried; and because he could not untie that knot, he tried to cut it, but he cut his own fingers in the act, and became greatly troubled.

He could not understand how it was that God could be just, and yet give riches to the wicked, while his own people were in poverty. At last Asaph understood it all, for he went into the house of his God, and there he understood the latter end of the wicked. And he says — looking back upon his discovery of a clue to this great labyrinth –“It is good for me to draw near to God.”

Prayer explains mysteries!

If you would understand the Word of God in its knotty points, if you would comprehend the mystery of the gospel of Christ, remember, Christ’s scholars must study upon their knees.

Depend upon it, that the best commentator upon the Word of God is its author, the Holy Spirit- and if you would know the meaning, you must go to him in prayer!

John Bunyan says that he never forgot the divinity he taught, because it was burnt into him when he was on his knees.

That is the way to learn the gospel. If you learn it upon your knees you will never unlearn it.

That which ‘men’ teach you, men can unteach you– if I am merely convinced by reason, and a better reasoner may deceive me. If I merely hold my doctrinal opinions because they seem ‘to me’ to be correct, I may be led to think differently another day.

But if ‘God’ has taught them to me — he who is himself pure truth — I have not learned amiss, but I have so learned that I shall never unlearn, nor shall I forget.

Behold, believer, you are this day in a labyrinth– whenever you come to a turning place, where there is a road to the right or to the left, if you would know which way to go, fall on your knees, then go on. And when you come to the next turning place, on your knees again, and so proceed again.

The one clue to the whole labyrinth of ‘providence’, and of ‘doctrinal opinion’, is to be found in that one hallowed exercise — prayer.

Continue much in prayer, and neither Satan nor the world shall much deceive you.

Behold- before you the sacred ark of truth. But where is the key? It hangs upon the silver nail of prayer! Go reach it down, unlock the casket, and be rich! (Sermon: “Let Us Pray”)

Benjamin Rush On The Republic And Religion

Benjamin Rush, an important proponent of heroi...

Benjamin Rush

Quoting Benjamin Rush (Signer of the Declaration of Independence):

The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments. (Source: Benjamin Rush, Essays, Literary, Moral and Philosophical (Philadelphia: Thomas and William Bradford, 1806), p. 8.)

 

Jonathan Edwards: A Selfish Deception

Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards, in the article below, helps us to distinguish salvation from a false hope which comes from our own self-love and pride:

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder.” (James 2:19)

[S]omeone might answer these thoughts by saying, “I agree with you. I see that believing in God, seeing His majesty and holiness, and knowing that Jesus died for sinners is not proof of grace in my heart. I agree that demons can know these things as well. But I have some things they don’t have. I have joy, peace, and love. Demons can’t have them, so that must show that I am saved.”

Yes, it is true that you have something more than a demon can have, but it is nothing better than a demon could have. A person’s experience of love, joy, etc., may not be because they have any cause in them different from a demon, but just different circumstances. . . .

All the things that were discussed before about demons and damned people, arise from two main causes, natural understanding and self-love. When they think about themselves, these two things are what determine their feelings and response. Natural understanding shows them that God is holy, while they are wicked. God is infinite, but they are limited. God is powerful, and they are weak. Self-love gives them a sense of the importance of religion, the eternal world, and a longing after salvation. When these two causes work together, demons and damned men become aware of the awesome majesty of God, whom they know will be their Judge. . . .

The reason many people feel joy, peace, and love today, while demons do not, may be more due to their circumstances, rather than any difference in their hearts. The causes in their hearts are the same. For example, the Holy Spirit is now at work in the world keeping all of mankind from being as wicked as they could be (2 Thess 2:17). This is in contrast to demons, who are just as wicked as they can be all the time. Furthermore, God in his mercy gives gifts to all people, such as the rain for crops (Matt 5:45), heat from the sun, etc. Not only that, but often people receive many things in life to bring them happiness, such as personal relationships, pleasures, music, good health, and so on. Most important of all, many people have heard news of hope: God has sent a Savior, Jesus Christ, who died to save sinners. In these circumstances, the natural understanding of people can cause them to feel things that demons never can.

Self-love is a powerful force in the hearts of men, strong enough without grace to cause people to love those who love them, “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32) It is a natural thing for a person who sees God being merciful, and who knows that they are not as bad as they could be, to therefore be sure of God’s love for them. . . .

Imagine the situation of the demons. They know they are unrestrained in their wickedness. They know God is their enemy and always will be. Although they are without any hope, still they are active and fighting. Just think, what if they had some of the hope that people have? What if demons, with their knowledge of God, had their wickedness restrained? Imagine if a demon, after all his fears about God’s judgment, was suddenly led to imagine that God might be his Friend? That God might forgive him and let him, sin and all, into heaven? Oh the joy, the wonder, and the gratitude we would see! Would not this demon be a great lover of God, since, after all everybody loves people who help them? What else could cause feelings so powerful and sincere? Is it any wonder, that so many people are deceived this way? Especially since people have the demons to promote this delusion. They have been promoting it now for many centuries, and alas they are very good at it.

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