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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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Man is not Equal or Superior to God

Augustus TopladyMan is not equal or superior to God that he may confound God’s decree of election. Silly ideas, which make God’s Will dependent totally upon the will of man, make God no God at all. Augustus Montague Toplady writes:

Nothing can be more contrary to sound doctrine, and even to sound reason, than this. It proceeds on a supposition that man is beforehand with God in the business of salvation; and that the resolutions of God’s will are absolutely dependent on the will of his creatures: that he has, in short, created a set of sovereign beings, from whom he receives law; and that his own purpose and conduct are shaped and regulated according to the prior self-determinations of independent man. What is this but atheism in a mask? For where is the difference between the denial of a first cause and the assignation of a false one?

Quite opposite is the decision of inspiration, Romans xi. 6; where the apostle terms God’s choice of his people an election of grace, or a gratuitous election: and observes, that if it be of grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace were no more grace: but if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise, work were no more work. Conditional grace is a most palpable contradiction in terms. Grace is no longer grace than while it is absolute and free. You might, with far greater ease, bring the two poles together, than effect a coalition between grace and works in the affair of election. As far, and as high, as the heavens are above the earth, are the imminent acts of God superior to a dependence on any thing wrought by sinful, perishable man. (“A Caveat against Unsound Doctrines”)

The Need for Sound Christian Doctrine

Augustus Montague TopladyWithout knowledge of Christian doctrine, we are carelessly opening the way for sin, disguised as truth, to lead us away from the sound teachings of the Scriptures. This is the fate of the lazy man who can only bear to read “Christianity lite” in as far as it promises him gain for anything other than his soul. Augustus Montague Toplady writes:

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1 ESV)

[Doctrines] … are not of that small significance which the injudicious and the heterodox affect to give out. For, though matters of doctrine are, by some, considered merely as the shell of religion, and experience only as the kernel; yet let it be remembered that there is no coming at the kernel but through the shell: and, while the kernel gives value to the shell, the shell is the guardian of the kernel. Destroy that, and you injure this.

The apostle [Paul], … stamps the evangelical doctrines with the seal of dignity, usefulness and importance: as is evident from the epithet he makes use of. He calls the system of gospel-truths sound doctrine: (…Toplady again quotes in Greek…) salutary, health-giving doctrine; not only right and sound in itself, but conducing to the spiritual strength and health of those that receive it: doctrine, that operates like some efficacious restorative on an exhausted constitution; that renders the sin-sick souls of men healthy, vigorous and thriving; that causes them, through the blessing of divine grace, to grow as the lily, and to cast forth the root as Lebanon, to revive as the corn, and to flourish as the vine, to diffuse their branches, and rival the olive tree (Hos. xiv. 6) both in beauty and fruitfulness.

On the other hand, unsound doctrine has the very opposite effects. It impoverishes our view of God; withers our hopes; makes our faith languid; blasts our spiritual enjoyments; and lays the axe to the very root of Christian obedience. We may say of it, as the Jewish students said, on another occasion, there is death in the pot. If you eat it you are poisoned. With the utmost attention, therefore, should we attend to the apostle’s caveat, and avoid every thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. (“A Caveat against Unsound Doctrines”)

Who Shall Receive The Glory?

From the desk of Augustus Toplady:

“One great contest, between the religion of Arminianism, and the religion of Christ, is who shall stand entitled to the praise and glory of a sinner’s salvation? Conversion decides this point at once; for I think that, without any imputation of uncharitableness, I may venture to say, that every truly awakened person, at least when he is under the shine of God’s countenance upon his soul, will fall down upon his knees, with this hymn of praise ascending from his heart, Not unto me, O Lord, not unto me, but to thy name, give the glory: I am saved not for my righteousness, but for thy mercy and thy truth’s sake.”

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