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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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The New Birth Allows Us To See Sin For What It Is

Bishop J. C. Ryle

The natural man thinks lightly about sin. He does not understand why Christians feel the necessity of being so particular about it. His own sinful actions are of little importance to him. However, when he experiences the “new birth” sin becomes an abominable thing which he hates. He longs to grow in holiness before the Lord. Bishop J. C. Ryle explains why this is so:

“And He has made you alive, who were once dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1)

Many a one could tell you that once he did not think himself such a very great transgressor. At any rate he fancied he was no worse than others. Now he would say with the apostle Paul, he feels himself the “chief of sinners.” (1 Tim. 1:15)

“I cannot pray—but I sin—I cannot hear or preach a sermon—but I sin—I cannot give an alms, or receive the sacrament—but I sin—nay, I cannot so much as confess my sins—but my confessions are still aggravations of them. My repentance needs to be repented of, my tears want washing, and the very washing of my tears needs still to be washed over again with the blood of my Redeemer.” (Beveridge)

“Woe is me, that man should think there is anything in me! He is my witness, before whom I am as crystal, that the secret house-devils that bear me too often company that the corruption which I find within, make me go with low sails.” (Rutherford’s Letters, 1637)

Once he did not consider he had a bad heart. He might have his faults, and be led away by bad company and temptations—but ‘he had a good heart at the bottom’. Now he would tell you, he knows no heart as bad as his own. He finds it “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” (Jer. 17:6.)

Once he did not suppose it was a very hard matter to get to heaven. He thought he had only to repent, and say a few prayers, and do what he could, and Christ would make up what was lacking. Now he believes the way is narrow, and few find it. He is convinced he could never have made his own peace with God. He is persuaded that nothing but the blood of Christ could wash away his sins. His only hope is to be “justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Rom. 3:28.) (Sermon: “Alive or Dead?”)

The Responsibility Of Preachers And Bible Teachers

Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon was not one to mince words when speaking to other preachers about their accountability and responsibility to deliver the Word of God accurately. You cannot claim that God has put you in a hard place and, therefore, place the blame for your weakness on Him. Preachers and teachers of the Gospel Truth will be held accountable to God:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers; for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1)

Let each man bethink him of the responsibility that rests upon him. I should not like to handle the doctrine of responsibility with the view of proving that it squares with the doctrine of predestination. It does do so, assuredly. I believe in predestination without cutting and trimming it; and I believe in responsibility without adulterating and weakening it. Before you the man of God places a quiver full of arrows, and he bids you shoot the arrow of the Lord’s deliverance. Bestir yourself, and draw the bow! I beseech you; remember that every time you shoot there shall be victory for Israel. Will you stop at the third shooting? The man of God will feel angry and grieved if you are thus straitened, and he will say, “Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times, and then Syria would have been utterly destroyed.” Do we not fail in our preaching in our very ideal of what we are going to do, and in the design we set before us for accomplishment? Having labored a little, are we not very satisfied? Shake off such base content! Let us shoot many times. Brethren, be filled with a great ambition; not for yourselves, but for your Lord. Elevate your ideal! Have no more firing at the bush. You may, in this case, shoot at the sun himself; for you will be sure to shoot higher if you do so, than if some groveling object were your aim. Believe for great things of a great God. Remember, whether you do so or not, great are your responsibilities. There never was a more restless time than now. What is being done to-day will affect the next centuries, unless the Lord should very speedily come. I believe that if we walk uprightly and decidedly before God at this time, we shall make the future of England bright with the gospel; but trimming now, and debasing doctrine now, will affect children yet unborn, generation after generation. Posterity must be considered. I do not look so much at what is to happen to-day, for these things relate to eternity. For my part, I am quite willing to be eaten of dogs for the next fifty years; but the more distant future shall vindicate me. I have dealt honestly before the living God. My brother, do the same. Who knows but what thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? If thou hast grit in thee, quit thyself like a man. If thou hast God in thee, then thou mayest yet do marvels. But if not, bent, doubled up, proven to be useless, thou shalt lie on that foul dunghill which is made up of cowards’ failures and misspent lives. God save both thee and me from that! (“The Preacher’s Power and the Conditions of Obtaining it”)

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