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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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LOOKING BACK

I had lived with no idea how thoroughly sin had penetrated every area of my life. Even the idea that I needed some kind of forgiveness was ridiculous to me. God, however, is merciful.

I was His enemy, yet God brought me to Him. Paul said:

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)

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IMMEASURABLE BLESSINGS

3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV)

blessings

I believe it is impossible for Christians to find themselves in such appalling circumstances – where the promises of God hold no encouragement to those who love God and obey Him. According to the verses above, God’s power gives everything needed for life and godliness. Christians are the beneficiaries of immeasurable blessings when they grow in the knowledge of and obedience to God. Through Jesus Christ, these precious and very great promises are given in order that the elect may participate in the divine nature and obtain holiness.

However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts. (John Calvin)

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MAN’S INABILITY

Martin LutherTherefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— (Romans 5:12 ESV)

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8 ESV)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23 ESV)

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV)

“Inability” is a problem for man because he is absolutely spiritually dead and cannot connect to God, His truth, or authority. “The Fall” has rendered the natural man incapable of performing any spiritual good. Unsaved man is dead in his sins. He is of this world, the flesh, and the devil. He is a slave to sin and does nothing outside of this evil spiritual realm.

The doctrine of Inability teaches that as a result of the fall, man is now inclined to do evil. He has an inner prejudice against the will of God. Fallen man (natural man) sees nothing desirable in God and will blindly run down the path of sin. We were born in a state of total rebellion against God. Rebellion against God is sin. Our inability to submit to God or reform ourselves is sin. We are therefore deserving of God’s wrath. Continue reading

Divine Grace

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

“The black foils of trouble shall bring out the brighter jewel of divine grace.”

Will the Real Christ Please Step Forward?

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

The Christ of a great many professors is only fit to occupy a niche on the church wall, as a dead, inactive, but revered person.

Jesus is not a ‘Real Christ’ to many, he is not a Christ who can really befriend them in the hour of grief; not a brother born for adversity, not a condescending companion.

But the Christ of the well-taught Christian, is a sympathizing, practical friend, who is actually near, entering into our sorrows, sharing in our crosses, and taking a part with us in all the battle of life. (“Leaning on the Beloved”)

Asleep On Duty

From a sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon:

I should not expect if I were a member of a commercial firm, to take half the profits, and to do none of the work. It is low to the very last degree to share the ‘benefits’ without uniting in the ‘toil’. And yet some Christian professors are guilty of this miserable conduct.

As it was in the days of Job, so it is even until now – “the OXEN were ‘ploughing’, and the DONKEYS were ‘feeding’ beside them.” There is always a large proportion of the latter class in the Churches, too glad to feed, but quite unwilling to work. (“What Meanest Thou, O Sleeper?”)

Reading

According to Charles H. Spurgeon:

‘As the apostle says to Timothy, so also he says to everyone, ‘Give yourself to reading.’ He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves that he has no brains of his own. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritan writers, and expositions of the Bible. The best way for you to spend your leisure is to be either reading or praying.’

Home Blessings

From “Faith’s Checkbook” by Charles H. Spurgeon:

“He blesseth the habitation of the just” (Proverbs 3:33).

He fears the LORD, and therefore he comes under the divine protection even as to the roof which covers himself and his family. His home is an abode of love, a school of holy training, and a place of heavenly light. In it there is a family attar where the name of the LORD is daily had in reverence. Therefore the LORD blesses his habitation. It may be a humble cottage or a lordly mansion; but the LORD’s blessing comes because of the character of the inhabitant and not because of the size of the dwelling.

That house is most blest in which the master and mistress are Godfearing people; but a son or daughter or even a servant may bring a blessing on a whole household. The LORD often preserves, prospers, and provides for a family for the sake of one or two in it, who are “just” persons in His esteem, because His grace has made them so. Beloved, let us have Jesus for our constant guest even as the sisters of Bethany had, and then we shall be blessed indeed.

Let us look to it that in all things we are just — in our trade, in our judgment of others, in our treatment of neighbors, and in our own personal character. A just God cannot bless unjust transactions.

The Work Of God

Charles H. Spurgeon

 

 

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

True religion is supernatural at its beginning, supernatural in its continuance, and supernatural in its close. It is the work of God from first to last. (Spurgeon, All Of Grace, 114)

God Never Forsakes

Charles Spurgeon

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

“For the LORD will not cast off His people, neither will He forsake His inheritance” (Psalm 94:14).

No, nor will He cast even so much as one of them. Man has his castoffs, but God has none; for His choice is unchangeable, and His love is everlasting. None can find out a single person whom God has forsaken after having revealed Himself savingly to him. This grand truth is mentioned in the psalm to cheer the heart of the afflicted. The LORD chastens His own; but He never forsakes them. The result of the double work of the law and the rod is our instruction, and the fruit of that instruction is a quieting of spirit, a sobriety of mind, out of which comes rest. The ungodly are let alone till the pit is digged into which they will fall and be taken; but the godly are sent to school to be prepared for their glorious destiny hereafter. Judgment will return and finish its work upon the rebels, but it will equally return to vindicate the sincere and godly. Hence we may bear the rod of chastisement with calm submission; it means not anger, but love.

God may chasten and correct, But He never can neglect;

May in faithfulness reprove, But He ne’er can cease to love.

God Is Above Human Philosophy

Charles H. Spurgeon

From the writings of Charles H. Spurgeon:

“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” (1 Corinthians 1:19)

This verse is a threatening so far as the worldly wise are concerned, but to the simple believer it is a promise. The professedly learned are forever trying to bring to nothing the faith of the humble believer, but they fail in their attempts. Their arguments break down, their theories fall under their own weight, their deep-laid plots discover themselves before their purpose is accomplished. The old gospel is not extinct yet, nor will it be while the LORD liveth. If it could have been exterminated, it would have perished from off the earth long ago. We cannot destroy the wisdom of the wise, nor need we attempt it, for the work is in far better hands. The LORD Himself says, “I will,” and He never resolves in vain. Twice does He in this verse declare His purpose, and we may rest assured that He will not turn aside from it. What clean work the LORD makes of philosophy and “modern thought” when He puts His hand to it! He brings the fine appearance down to nothing; He utterly destroys the wood, hay, and stubble. It is written that so it shall be, and so shall it be. LORD, make short work of it. Amen, and amen. (Faith’s Checkbook)

Pruning The Fruitful

Charles H. Spurgeon

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

“Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2).

This is a precious promise to one who lives for fruitfulness. At first it seems to wear a sharp aspect. Must the fruitful bough be pruned? Must the knife cut even the best and most useful? No doubt it is so, for very much of our LORD’s purging work is done by means of afflictions of one kind or another. It is not the evil but the good who have the promise of tribulation in this life. But, then, the end makes more than full amends for the painful nature of the means. If we may bring forth more fruit for our LORD, we will not mind the pruning and the loss. Still, purging is sometimes wrought by the Word apart from trial, and this takes away whatever appeared rough in the flavor of the promise. We shall by the Word be made more gracious and more useful. The LORD who has made us, in a measure, fruit-bearing, will operate upon us till we reach a far higher degree of fertility. Is not this a great joy? Truly there is more comfort in a promise of fruitfulness than if we had been warranted riches, or health, or honor. LORD Jesus, speedily fulfill Thy gracious word to me and cause me to abound in fruit to Thy praise! (Faith’s Checkbook)

Charles H. Spurgeon: The Minister Must Know His Place

 

Charles H. Spurgeon

Charles H. Spurgeon could never be accused of using the gifts that God had given him unwisely. Spurgeon’s own influence for Christ was felt in the four corners of the earth before satellite television and radio. In this excerpt from a speech to ministers, Spurgeon reminds them not to be distracted and hold fast to the calling of God:

Our daydreams are over: we shall neither convert the world to righteousness, nor the church to orthodoxy. We refuse to bear responsibilities which do not belong to us, for our real responsibilities are more than enough. Certain wise brethren are hot to reform their denomination. They ride out gallantly. Success be to the champions! They are generally wiser when they ride home again. I confess great admiration for my Quixotic brethren, but I wish they had more to show for their valor. I fear that both church and world are beyond us; we must be content with smaller spheres. Even our own denomination must go its own way. We are only responsible so far as our power goes, and it will be wise to use that power for some object well within reach. For the rest, let us not worry and weary about things beyond our line. What if we cannot destroy all the thorns and thistles which curse the earth; we can, perhaps, cleanse our own little plot. If we cannot transform the desert into a pasture, we may at least make two blades of grass grow where only one grew before; and that will be something.

Brethren, let us look well to our own steadfastness in the faith, our own holy walking with God. Some say that such advice is selfish; but I believe that, in truth, it is not selfishness, but a sane and practical love of others which leads us to be mindful of our own spiritual state. Desiring to do its level best, and to use its own self in the highest degree to God’s glory, the true heart seeks to be in all things right with God. He who has learned to swim has fostered a proper selfishness, for he has thereby acquired the power of helping the drowning. With the view of blessing others, let us covet earnestly the best blessings for ourselves.

I want to make the most of myself. I may not even yet know the way to be most useful, but I would like to know very soon. At least, I can honestly go the length of saying that, if I felt that I could be more useful outside of the pulpit than within it, I would hurry out of it at once. If there was a street corner where I was Divinely assured that, by my blacking of shoes, God could be more glorified than He is by my bearing witness before the great congregation, I would welcome the information, and practically obey it. Some men never can do much for God in the way which they would prefer, for they were newer cut out for the work. Owls will never rival falcons by daylight; but, then, falcons would be lost in the enterprise of hunting barns at night for rats and mice, and such small deer. Each creature is not only good, but “very good” in its own place, fulfilling its own office: out of that place, it may become a nuisance. Friend, be true to your own destiny! One man would make a splendid preacher of downright hard-hitting Saxon; why must he ruin himself by cultivating an ornate style? Another attempting to be extremely simple would throw himself away, for he is florid by nature; why should he not follow his bent? Apollos has the gift of eloquence; why must he copy blunt Cephas? Every man in his own order. It seems to me; that, nowadays, every man prefers his own disorder. Let each man find out what God wants him to do, and then let him do it, or die in the attempt. In what way can I bring my Lord most glory, and be of most service to His Church while I am here? Solve that question, and pass into the practical. (“What We Would Be”)

Improve Church Attendance

From the desk of Charles H. Spurgeon:

I believe that the best, surest, and most permanent way to fill a place of worship is to preach the gospel, and to preach it in a natural, simple, interesting, earnest way. The gospel itself has a singularly fascinating power about it, and unless impeded by an unworthy delivery, or by some other great evil, it will win its own way. It certainly did so at the first, and what is to hinder it now? Like the angels, it flew upon its own wings; like the dew, it tarried not for man, neither waited for the sons of men.

The gospel has a secret charm about it which secures a hearing: it casts its good spell over human ears, and they must hearken. It is God’s own word to men; it is precisely what human necessities require; it commends itself to man’s conscience, and, sent home by the Holy Spirit, it wakes an echo in every heart.

In every age, the faithful preaching of the good news has brought forth hosts of men to hear it, made willing in the day of God’s power. Decked in the glories of free and sovereign grace, wearing the crown-royal of the covenant, and the purple of atonement – the gospel, like a queen, is still glorious for beauty, and supreme over hearts and minds.

Published in all its fullness, with a clear statement of its efficacy and immutability, it is still the most acceptable news that ever reached the ears of mortals.

Are You Out On A Limb?

Charles H. Spurgeon

When Charles H. Spurgeon arrived at The New Park Street Church, in 1854, the congregation had 232 members. By the end of his pastorate, 38 years later, that number had increased to 5,311. (Altogether, 14,460 people were added to the church during Spurgeon’s tenure.) The church was the largest independent congregation in the world. In 1865, Spurgeon’s sermons sold 25,000 copies every week. They were translated into more than 20 languages. The following article is from Spurgeon’s “Sword and the Trowel”:

Many a man may see his portrait here! The spendthrift hacks away his estate and falls into destitution and disgrace. The drunkard cuts at his health and strength, his family comfort and household peace, and when he has finished his mad work, he drops into ruin, through his own folly. The man of low, debauched habits, is chopping, with fearful effect, at his own body and soul, and will, ere long, rue the lusts which hurl him into disease, agony, and death. There are other fools beside the man in the woodcut, who are lopping off the branch which holds them up. It is base ingratitude when men are malicious and cruel to those who are their best friends. Wives and parents often have to feel sharp cuts from those whom they lovingly support and are anxious to preserve from ruin. Shame that it should be so!

Self-righteous reader, you are ready to join with us in any censure which we may pass upon the madness of the sins we have just hinted at; but permit us to ask you, whether you yourself are not photographed in our picture? You are resting upon the bough of good works, and yet, every day, your faults, imperfections, and sins are rendering it less and less able to bear your weight. It never was a firm support, and if you know yourself, and are candid enough to confess your shortcomings, you will at once perceive that it has become, in the judgment of conscience, a very frail dependence, quite unworthy of your confidence. Had you never sinned, and, consequently, never made one gash in the bough, we might tolerate your trusting to it; but since you have cut at it again and again, and it is ready even now to snap beneath you, we pray you, leave it for a surer resting-place. All reliance on self in any form or shape is gross folly. Feelings, works, prayers, almsgivings, religious observances, are all too feeble to support a sinful soul. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid—Jesus Christ the righteous.” “Whosoever believeth in him is not condemned.” “He is able also to save them to the uttermosts who come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Trust Jesus and he will never fail you. (“Sword and the Trowel” – Tract 5)

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