• 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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George Whitefield: The Care Of The Soul

In the words of George Whitefield (1714 – 1770):

It was the amiable character of our blessed Redeemer, that “he went about doing good,” this great motive, which animated all his actions, brought him to the house of his friend Lazarus, at Bethany, and directed his behavior there. Though it was a season of recess from public labor, our Lord brought the sentiments and the pious cares of a preacher of righteousness into the parlor of a friend; and there his doctrine dropped as the rain, and distilled as the dew, as the little happy circle that were then surrounding him. Mary, the sister of Lazarus, with great delight made one amongst them; she seated herself at the feet of Jesus, in the posture of an humble disciple; and we have a great deal of reason to believe, that Martha, his other sister, would gladly have been with her there; but domestic cares pressed hard upon her, and “she was cumbered with much serving,” being, perhaps, too solicitous to prepare a sumptuous entertainment for her heavenly master and the train that attended him. Happy are they, who in a crowd of business do not lose something of the spirituality of their minds, and of the composure and sweetness of their tempers. This good woman comes to our Lord with too impatient a complaint; insinuating some little reflection, not only on Mary, but on himself too. “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her, therefore, that she help me.” Our Lord, willing to take all opportunities of suggesting useful thoughts, answers her in these words, of which the text is a part, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things, but one thing is needful; and Mary, has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Alas, Martha! The concerns of the soul are of so much greater importance than those of the body, that I cannot blame your sister on this occasion: I rather recommend her to your imitation, and caution you, and all my other friends, to be much on your guard, that in the midst of your worldly cares, you do not lose sight of what much better deserves your attention.

What Is A Vigorous Faith In God?

What is faith? What is faith in God? How do we use our faith? These are just a few of the questions that trouble people when you discuss faith. Do you have the faith that moves mountains? In the sermon excerpts below, John Henry Jowett (1863-1923) explains that he believes that faith is energy and power. His words should not be too quickly dismissed; but there is also reason to be cautious.

Living Christians are not perfectly holy. The old sin nature still clings to us. Most of us are tempted when we hear the promise and faith verses of the Bible taught as a formula for health and prosperity. We are easily manipulated into believing that all we have to do is work up some kind of “power-filled personal faith” to get what we want.

As you read this post, keep in mind that faith is a gift from God. We can’t just drum up faith, because this would make faith a “work”. “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) Faith begins with God; not with us. It is God’s gift. God gives His people the faith needed for their salvation. God is also the Author of the faith you have for answered prayer or personal needs and concerns. Don’t you believe that it would be wise to ask God if what you are praying for is a part of His plan for you? Talk to God (pray) and read the Scriptures. Study carefully the context of those promise, faith, and prayer verses.

Don’t forget that you have the Holy Spirit dwelling within you to act as your advocate and to help you to pray. We pay too little attention to the Holy Spirit in our churches these days. I guess this was true during Jowett’s lifetime as well. Perhaps this was his point in preaching the sermon below. It is evident that we already possess more than we comprehend.

I would be interested in reading your opinion of Jowett’s sermon, based on the excerpts below. Please share what you think!

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:19-20 ESV)

“Faith as a grain uprooting a mountain! Such is its mighty energy! I do not shrink from the startling conjunction. Our scientists are telling us that there is energy stored in one grain of radium sufficient to raise five hundred tons a mile high. And I am not daunted when our Master, speaking of a finer power than radium, a subtler energy, a spiritual force, tells us of the enormous energy, the miracle- working energy that is housed in faith of a supreme quality, even though it is only “as a grain of mustard seed.” “Ye shall say to this mountain, Remove hence!” . . .

We are dimly gleaming that spiritual energies may have more currency than we have ever dreamed. We are discovering more and more clearly that spiritual faith and temper have much to do with physical health, and that our doctors are comparatively impotent when the soul has a malady, or when there is present “a grief that saps the mind.” I believe that many an ailment would vanish if the unbelief went out of the soul, and if in its place there came a sweet, sound, strong confidence in the Lord. ” Ye shall say unto this mountain. Remove hence! . . . and it shall remove!

And I am equally convinced that the exercise of a vigorous faith in God has more dominion than we have yet realized in securing the entire expulsion of impure bodily habits and lusts. Here is a man or woman possessed by the unclean devil of drunkenness. How can the devil be expelled? Well, we commonly say that it is a disease, and it must be treated as a disease. Yes, but how shall we treat it? A physical mountain can only be removed by physical means. Are you absolutely sure of that? The doctor shall prescribe medicine. Very well. The food shall be prudently selected, and all stimulating diet shall be tabooed. Very good. His environment shall be changed. Ah, are you sure that you are now altogether on the material plane? Are you not coming to another domain? Are you not bringing mystic forces into the ministry? He must have a new hobby! What now is your drift? His society must be refined, and his reading must be of a more restful and sedative type. Has not the treatment of the physical mountain now left the purely physical means? I do not disparage these minor ministries, for I regard them all as the beneficent gifts of God.

But, above and beyond all these, sometimes entirely apart and independent of them, I would exalt the marvelous power of the grace of God, acting through the means of alert and confident faith. I say that in these regions, even the regions of fleshly habit and passion, faith has removed mountains. I have known the craving for drink annihilated in an hour by the tremendous spiritual resources commanded by faith, and even if the instance stood alone, which is by no means the case, it affords a glimpse of a world of spiritual dynamics which we have not yet used or even realized. (“The Energy of Faith”)

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