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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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Reaching For Satisfaction in God

mezzotint portrait of Cotton Mather (Feb. 12, ...

Cotton Mather

Quoting Cotton Mather:

Our continual apprehension of God, may produce our continual satisfaction in God, under all His dispensations. Whatever enjoyments are by God conferred upon us, where lies the relish, where the sweetness of them? Truly, we may come to relish our enjoyments, only so far as we have something of God in them. It was required in Psalm. xxxvii. 4, “Delight thyself in the Lord.” Yea, and what if we should have no delight but the Lord? Let us ponder with ourselves over our enjoyments: “In these enjoyments I see God, and by these enjoyments, I serve God!”

And now, let all our delight in, and all our value and fondness for our enjoyments, be only, or mainly, upon such a divine score as this. As far as any of our enjoyments lead us unto God, so far let us relish it, affect it, embrace it, and rejoice in it: “O taste, and feed upon God in all;” and ask for nothing, no, not for life itself, any further than as it may help us, in our seeing and our serving of our God.

And then, whatever afflictions do lay fetters upon us, let us not only remember that we are concerned with God therein, but let our concernment with God procure a very profound submission in our souls. Be able to say with him in Psalm. xxxix. 9, “I open not my mouth, because thou didst it.” In all our afflictions, let us remark the justice of that God, before whom, “why should a living man complain for the punishment of his sin?” The wisdom of that God, “whose judgments are right:” the goodness of that God, who “punishes us less than our iniquities do deserve.” Let us behave ourselves, as having to do with none but God in our afflictions: And let our afflictions make us more conformable unto God: which conformity being effected, let us then say, “‘Tis good for me that I have been afflicted.”

Sirs, what were this, but a pitch of holiness, almost angelical! Oh! Mount up, as with the wings of eagles, of angels: be not a sorry, puny, mechanic sort of Christians any longer; but reach forth unto these things that are thus before you.

The Second Coming Of Christ

Dr. William Ames was born in 1576 at Ipswich in Suffolk, that region east of Anglia where Puritanism had first “begun”. Ames chose the center of Puritan learning, Cambridge University, over Oxford for his higher education. Ames voice was one of the most influential in the theological development of the Puritan and Reformed churches in England and the Netherlands. According to Daniel Neal, the first furniture at Harvard were the books of Ames. His influence upon the theology of New England was so great that he was quoted more than Luther or Calvin combined. The Marrow of Theology is Ames’ most well known work. Cotton Mather said that if a student of divinity were to have nothing but The Bible and The Marrow, he would be a most able minister. Ames described the Second Coming of Christ as follows:

The second coming of Christ will be like the first in that it shall be real, visible, and apparent. Acts 1:11. But it will be dissimilar in that: First, it will be attended with greatest glory and power. Matt. 24:30; Titus 2:13; second, it will dispense the greatest terror among the ungodly and the greatest joy among the godly, 2 Thess. 1:7-10.

Two events, the resurrection and the last judgment, will finally distinguish between the godly and the ungodly, 2 Cor. 5:10.

Resurrection relates to what has fallen. Because man fell from life by the separation of soul from body, it is necessary for his rising again that the same soul be reunited to the same body and that the same man exists in the restored union of the two. . . .

Therefore, the raising of the dead properly belongs to Christ, (eanthropos), the God-man. The operating principle is Christ’s divine omnipotence by which it may be easily accomplished, even in an instant. . . .

Although all will be raised by Christ, it will not all happen in one and the same way. The resurrection of the faithful is to life and is accomplished by virtue of the union which they have with Christ who is their life (Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 4:14) and by the operation of his quickening Spirit which lives in them. Rom. 8:11, He . . . shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit dwelling in you. But the resurrection of the others is through that power of Christ by which he will execute avenging justice. . . .

The last judgment is exercised by Christ as king, for the power of judging is part of the office of a king. . . .

The place of this judgment will be in the air, 1 Thess. 4:17.

The day and year of it is not revealed in Scripture and, therefore, cannot be fixed by men.

The sentence, to be carried out immediately, will be to eternal life or death. . . .

Christ, (theanthropos), the God-man, is the judge—a deputy, as it were—but because of his divine authority and power, upon which depends the strength of the sentence, he is the principal judge. . . .

Judgment will be rendered not only on wicked men but also on evil angels. . . .

The fire that is destined to purge and renew the world will not precede the judgment but shall follow. . . .

The elements will not be taken away, but changed.

After the day of judgment Christ will remain king and mediator forever.

Why Are Young Men Leaving The Church?

Church life today is suffering from the disappearance of young men between ages 20 and 25. Why is it that as long as the boys stay home with their parents, they go to church; but when they leave home between the ages of 18 – 20, they leave the church as well? Bojidar Marinov thinks he knows the answer. He writes:

[W]hy would a young man stay in the church? Is there a “male” message in our churches today? Is there a message that gives a young man a worthy cause to work for and to fight for? Why would he stay, to listen all his life to the same sermon over and over again, in many different versions of it? Come back every Sunday to learn—for the n-th time, over and over again—that God loves us? Shed tears over the same emotional stuff every week? Or hear that we live in the “last times” and therefore evil will expand and he can’t do anything to turn the tide? Or that his gifts mean nothing in these “last times,” all he is supposed to do is to “witness” to save a few souls from hell?

. . . What message do the churches have for those with the gift to be bankers? “Praise God you make money to pay tithes”? What about truck drivers? “God put you there to evangelize at the truck stops”? Do the churches have a message for banking itself as a legitimate part of the kingdom of God? Or truck driving? Or fitness? Or business management?

There is no message for them. The church’s message concerns only the church and the limited scope of activities that the pastors have declared to be “spiritual.” Any young man with gifts outside the scope of these activities is left to feel a “second class” citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. And guess what: Men are born with the impulse to be first class. This impulse is in the Y-chromosome. They will look for a cause, they will look for meaning in life, they will look for ideas, worldviews, professions, that give them the opportunity to have that meaningful first-class life. . . .

Why would he want to stay in a church, passive, listening to the same sermon every Sunday that tells him that there is nothing he can do to change the world except snatch a few souls from hell? He is eager to go out there and prove himself in all those fields but then the church is silent about them, the preachers never preach about them and never explain the spiritual value of those jobs, sports, political and social causes, business, etc. in the Kingdom of God. There is no theology for political action, no theology for business action, no theology for social activity. . . .

The silence and the refusal of the churches to preach and teach a comprehensive worldview creates a tension; and our young men resolve the tension by leaving the church and going to the world. . . . It is a perfectly logical response to the deficiencies in our churches’ preaching and teaching. . . .

This hasn’t always been the case. Two or three centuries ago . . . America was postmillennial. The American church had a message of victory, a message that this country was a City on a Hill, and by its example God would change the world for Christ. Whether they were rafters and cowboys in the wilderness, or store clerks and builders in the cities of the East, Christian boys heard the same message from their preachers: “We are a nation created by God to be Christian and to exhibit God’s glory. We have a Manifest Destiny to create a godly society that will be admired and imitated by the nations of the world. . . . Men like Cotton Mather preached on political and economic issues (Fair Dealings Between Debtor and Creditor is one example); and the civil government was constantly under scrutiny and criticism from the pulpits. The churches did not wait for their boys to go out and find worthy causes. The churches led the boys in those worthy causes in their crusade to redeem the world for Christ. . . .

And young men stayed in the churches, and built Christian families, and expanded the Kingdom of God, and built the Christian culture that we today thank God for. . . .

That should tell us how we can take our young men back. As long as we have a female church with a female message, our young men will prefer to stay away from it. You only get what you preach. The loss of our sons to the enemy is a curse, and it is our fault we have let our churches truncate the message to irrelevance.

Read more here. . . .

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