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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 Delphi Inscription and Acts

Gallio Delphi InscriptionArchaeology and the Bible:

But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. . . . (Acts 18:12 ESV)

Luke’s usage of proconsul as the title for Gallio in Acts 18:12 has come under much criticism by secular historians, as the later traveler and writer Pliny never referred to Gallio as a proconsul. This fact alone, they said, proved that the writer of Acts wrote his account much later as he was not aware of Gallio’s true position. It was only recently that the Delphi Inscription, dated to 52 A.D. was uncovered. This inscription states, “As Lusius Junius Gallio, my friend, and the proconsul of Achaia…” Here then was secular corroboration for the Acts 18:12 account. Yet Gallio only held this position for one year. Thus the writer of Acts had to have written this verse in or around 52 A.D., and not later, otherwise he would not have known Gallio was a proconsul. Suddenly this supposed error not only gives credibility to the historicity of the Acts account, but also dates the writings in and around 52 A.D. Had the writer written the book of Acts in the 2nd century as many liberal scholars suggest he would have agreed with Pliny and both would have been contradicted by the eyewitness account of the Delphi Inscription.

The Minister’s Calling

R.B. Kuiper

From the desk of R.B. Kuiper (teacher of theology):

He who holds the ministerial office is beset by certain perils that are properly described as peculiar for the reason that they spring from the special dignity and the great usefulness of the office. . . .

Many a minister . . . has forgotten that he is a man of like passions with others and has become pretentious and pompous. . . . A man gifted with a considerable measure of good sense once said of his two brothers, both of whom were pastors: “One of my brothers has entered the ministry, the other has remained a human being.” . . .

Many a minister assumes a domineering attitude and presumes to lord it over God’s heritage. . . . Often the minister regards himself as the commander-in-chief of his church. He insists that his word be honored as law, hardly less binding than the laws of the ancient Medes and Persians. . . .

Because his duties are manifold, there is great danger that the minister will fail to put first things first; that he will “spread himself thin,” . . . that he will attempt to do so many things that he does nothing well. Perhaps he will be an administrator rather than a teacher. The finances of the church may interest him more than do the spiritual riches of the Word of God. The numerical growth of the church may concern him more than does its spiritual growth. Instead of concentrating on the central task of the ministry, teaching the Word of God, he may make the erection of a new church edifice his chief ambition. He may even turn into the proverbial “jack of all trades,” comprising chauffeur, messenger boy and assistant housekeeper. Because he tries to do too much, he may accomplish next to nothing.

How can these perils be avoided? The answer is simple. The minister must always remember that the dignity of his office adheres not in his person but in his office itself. He is not at all important, but his office is extremely important. Therefore he should take his work most seriously without taking himself seriously. He should preach the Word in season and out of season in forgetfulness of self. He should ever have an eye single to the glory of Christ, whom he preaches, and count himself out. It should be his constant aim that Christ, whom he represents, may increase while he himself decreases. Remembering that minister means nothing but servant, he should humbly, yet passionately, serve the Lord Christ and His church. The words of the apostle Paul should be his very own: “Whose I am and whom I serve” (Acts 27:28).

Such a minister is sure to enhance the glory of Christ’s church. (The Glorious Body of Christ [Banner of Truth, 1966], p. 140-42)

Thomas Boston On God’s Providence

Thomas Boston

God’s providence is often difficult for us to understand intellectually or experimentally. We simply do not see things in the moment as God sees them in eternity. Therefore, we should not judge the providence of God harshly. Thomas Boston offers below some sound advice concerning the providence of God:

Beware of drawing an excuse for your sin from the providence of God; for it is most holy, and is in no way any cause of any sin you commit. Every sin is an act of rebellion against God; a breach of his holy law, and deserves his wrath and curse; and therefore cannot be authorized by an infinitely-holy God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity without detestation and abhorrence. Though he has by a permissive decree allowed moral evil to be in the world, yet that has no influence on the sinner to commit it. For it is not the fulfilling of God’s decree, which is an absolute secret to every mortal, but the gratification of their own lusts and perverse inclinations, that men intend and mind in the commission of sin.

Beware of murmuring and fretting under any dispensations of providence that you meet with; remembering that nothing falls out without a wise and holy providence, which knows best what is fit and proper for you. And in all cases, even in the middle of the most afflicting incidents that happen to you, learn submission to the will of God, as Job did, when he said upon the end of a series of the heaviest calamities that happened to him, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord,” Job, I. 21. In the most distressing case, say with the disciples, “The will of the Lord be done,” Acts, 21:14.

Beware of anxious cares and fearfulness about your material well-being in the world. Our Lord has cautioned his followers against, Matt. 6:31. “Take no thought, (that is, anxious and perplexing thought,) saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” Never let the fear of man stop you from duty, Matt. 10:28, 29; but let your souls learn to trust in God, who guides and superintends all the events and administrations of providence, by whatever hands they are performed.

Do not think little of means, seeing God works by them; and he that has appointed the end, orders the means necessary for gaining the end. Do not rely upon means, for they can do nothing without God, Matt. 4:4. Do not despair if there be no means, for God can work without them, as well as with them; Hosea 1:7. “I will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.” If the means be unlikely, he can work above them, Rom. 4:19. “He considered not his own body now dead, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb.” If the means be contrary, he can work by contrary means, as he saved Jonah by the whale that devoured him. That fish swallowed up the prophet, but by the direction of providence, it vomited him out upon dry land.

Lastly, Happy is the people whose God is the Lord: for all things shall work together for their good. They may sit secure in exercising faith upon God, come what will. They have good reason for prayer; for God is a prayer-hearing God, and will be enquired of by his people as to all their concerns in the world. And they have ground for the greatest encouragement and comfort in the middle of all the events of providence, seeing they are managed by their covenant God and gracious friend, who will never neglect or overlook his dear people, and whatever concerns them. For he has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you,” Heb. 13:5.

Preaching Is Much More Than A Man Eloquently Speaking

William Gouge

How is it that preaching may be called “The Word of God”? William Gouge enlightens us:

The subject matter to be preached is here called “the word of God.” Although that which is spoken by ministers is only the sound of a man’s voice, yet that which true ministers of God preach in exercising their ministerial function is the word of God. Thus it is said of the apostles, “They spoke the word of God,” Acts 4:31, and it is said of the people of Antioch, that “almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God,” Acts 13:44.

That which ministers do or ought to preach is called the word of God in four respects:

1. As for ordinary ministers, they have God’s word written and left upon record for their use, “For all Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” 2 Tim. 3:16. They therefore that ground what they preach upon the Scripture, and deliver nothing but what is agreeable to it, preach the word of God.

2. In regard to the subject-matter which they preach, which is the will of God; as the apostle exhorts, to “understand what the will of the Lord is,” Eph. 5:17, and to “prove what is that good, that acceptable, and perfect will of God,” Rom. 12:2.

3. In regard to the purpose of preaching, which is the glory of God, and making known “the manifold wisdom of God,” Eph. 3:10.

4. In regard to the mighty effect and power of it, for preaching God’s word is “the power of God unto salvation, Rom. 1:16. Preaching the word of God is “mighty through God to bring every thought to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Cor. 10:4, 5. For “the word of God is quick and powerful,” etc., Heb. 4:12.

So close ought ministers to hold to God’s word in their preaching, that they should not dare to swerve away from it in anything. The apostle pronounces a curse against him, whosoever he is, that shall preach any other word, Gal. 1:8, 9.

Therefore we have just cause to avoid such teachers as preach contrary to this doctrine, Rom. 16:17, 2 John 10. . . . The feigning of new light and immediate inspiration in these days is a mere pretence. . . .

“Take heed what you hear,” Mark 4:24. We must hear nothing with approval except what we know to be the word of God. We must, therefore, be well acquainted with the Scriptures ourselves, and by them test the things which we hear, whether they are the word of God or not, as the men of Berea did, Acts 17:11. . . .

“Take heed how you hear,” Luke 18:18. That which we know to be grounded upon the Scriptures we must receive, “not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God,” 1 Thess. 2:13. We must with reverence attend to it; we must in our hearts believe, and we must in our lives obey it.

It is God’s word that does convert, quicken, comfort, and build up, or, on the other side, wound and beat down. What is the reason that there was so great an alteration made by the ministry of Christ and his disciples, by the apostles and others after them, indeed, by Luther, and other ministers of reformed churches? They did not preach traditions of elders like the scribes; nor men’s inventions. . . . They preached the pure word of God. The more purely God’s word is preached, the more deeply it pierces and the more kindly it works. (Gouge’s Commentary on Hebrews)

John Stott On Feeding The Sheep

Quoting John Stott:

We who are called to be Christian preachers today should do all we can to help the congregation to grow out of dependence on borrowed slogans and ill-considered clichés, and instead to develop their powers of

John Stott

intellectual and moral criticism, that is, their ability to distinguish between truth and error, good and evil. Of course, we should encourage an attitude of humble submission to Scripture, but at the same time make it clear that we claim no infallibility for our interpretation of Scripture. We should urge our hearers to ‘test’ and ‘evaluate’ our teaching. We should welcome questions, not resent them. We should not want people to be moonstruck by our preaching, to hang spellbound on our words, and to soak them up like sponges. To desire such an uncritical dependence on us is to deserve the fierce denunciation of Jesus for wanting to be called ‘rabbi’ by men. (Matt 23:7, 8) By contrast, the people of Berea are commended as ‘noble’ . . . because they combined enthusiastic receptivity with critical listening. . . . (Acts 17:11)

This kind of open but questioning mind is implicit even in the ‘pastoral’ metaphor. . . . The way in which the shepherd feeds [the sheep] is significant. In reality, he does not feed them at all (except perhaps in the case of a sick lamb which he may take up in his arms and bottle-feed); instead he leads them to good grazing pasture where they feed themselves. (Between Two Worlds: The Art of Preaching in the Twentieth Century, (Eerdmans, 1982) p. 177)

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