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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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J. I. Packer: Preaching About Sin

J. I. Packer

From the writings of J. I. Packer:

“If we do not preach about sin and God’s judgment on it, we cannot present Christ as Savior from sin and the wrath of God. And if we are silent about these things, and preach a Christ who saves only from self and the sorrows of this world, we are not preaching the Christ of the Bible . . . Such preaching may soothe some, but it will help nobody; for a Christ who is not seen and sought as a Savior from sin will not be found to save from self or from anything else.” (Packer, A Quest For Godliness, 164, 165)

Part VI: George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior

George Washington

At the age sixteen, George Washington wrote out by hand, 110 Rules of Civility. These are based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595. The rules have one major interest in common; a focus on other people and not on our own self-interests which is so prevalent today. Some of his ideas may seem quaint to our modern minds but they are an excellent reminder of the importance of being a gentleman!

61 Utter not base and frivolous things among grave and learned men, nor very difficult questions or subjects among the ignorant, or things hard to be believed; stuff not your discourse with sentences among your betters nor equals.

62 Speak not of doleful things in a time of mirth or at the table; speak not of melancholy things or death and wounds, and if others mention them, change if you can the discourse; tell not your dream, but to your intimate.

63 A man ought not to value himself of his achievements or rare qualities [damaged manuscript] virtue or kindred.

64 Break not a jest where none take pleasure in mirth; laugh not alone, nor at all without occasion; deride no man’s misfortune though there seem to be some cause.

65 Speak not injurious words neither in jest nor earnest; scoff at none although they give occasion.

66 Be not forward but friendly and courteous,the first to salute, hear, and answer; and be not pensive when it’s a time to converse.

67 Detract not from others neither be excessive in commanding.

68 Go not thither, where you know not whether you shall be welcome or not; give not advice [without] being asked, and when desired do it briefly.

69 If two contend together take not the part of either unconstrained, and be not obstinate in your own opinion; in things indifferent be of the major side.

70 Reprehend not the imperfections of others, for that belongs to parents, masters, and superiors.

 

James Montgomery Boice On The Working Of God’s Saving Grace

James M. Boice

I believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. I also believe that it is only when it is preached and taught as the Word of God will it bring the fullness of spiritual blessing. James Montgomery Boice discusses this in relationship to salvation:

And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:19-21)

There are many moving images for the Word of God in the Bible. We are told in the Psalms that the Bible is “a lamp” to our feet and “a light” to our path (Ps. 1 19:l05).Jeremiah compares it to “a fire” and to “a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces” Jer. 23:29). It is “milk” to the one who is yet an infant in Christ (1 Peter 2:2) as well as “solid food” to the one who is more mature (Heb. 5:11-14). The Bible is a “sword” (Heb. 4:12; Eph. 6:17), a “mirror” (1 Cor. 13:12; James 1:23), a “custodian” (Gal. 3:24), a “branch” grafted into our bodies (James 1:21). . . .

In the first chapter Peter has been talking about the means by which a person enters the family of God. First, he has discussed the theme objectively, saying that it is on the basis of Christ’s vicarious death that we are redeemed. “You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (vv. 18, 19). Second, he has discussed the theme subjectively, pointing out that it is through faith that the objective work of Christ is applied to us personally. “Through him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (v. 21). Finally, having mentioned these truths, Peter goes on to discuss the new birth in terms of God’s sovereign grace in election, this time showing that we are born again by means of the Word of God. . . .

What does this teach about the way in which a man or woman becomes a child of God? It teaches that God is responsible for the new birth and that the means by which he accomplishes this is his living and abiding Word. We might even say that God does a work prior to this, for he first sends the ovum of saving faith into the heart. Even faith is not of ourselves, it is the “gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). Afterward, when the sperm of the Word is sent to penetrate the ovum of saving faith, there is a spiritual conception.

The same ideas are in view in James 1:18, which says, “Of his own will he brought us forth [‘begot he us,’ KJV] by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.”

The point of these verses is that it is by means of the very words of God recorded in the Scriptures and communicated to the individual heart by the Holy Spirit that God saves the individual. It is as Calvin says, in speaking of faith:

Faith needs the Word as much as fruit needs the living root of a tree. For no others, as David witnesses, can hope in God but those who know his name (Ps. 9:10)…. This knowledge does not arise out of anyone’s imagination, but only so far as God himself is witness to his goodness. This the prophet confirms in another place: “Thy salvation [is] according to thy word” (Ps. 119:41). Likewise, “I have hoped in thy word; make me safe” (Ps. 119:4,40, 94). Here we must first note the relation of faith to the Word, then its consequence, salvation.

Is it really the Word that God uses in the salvation of the individual? If it is, if God chooses so to operate, then the preacher can hardly fail to give the words of God the fullest measure of prominence in his preaching. He will revere them as that super natural gift without which nothing that he desires to see happen within the life of the individual will happen.

We conclude that the texts of the Bible should be preached as the very (and therefore inerrant) Word of God if for no other reason than that they are the means God uses in the spiritual rebirth of those who thereby become his children. (The Foundation of Biblical Authority. London & Glasgow: Pickering & Inglis, 1979. pp.123 -143)

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