• 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.

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,396,212 Visits
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,269 other subscribers
  • March 2023
    M T W T F S S
  • Recommended Reading

A Prayer by Archibald Alexander

From Archibald Alexander’s Thoughts on Religious Experience:

“O most merciful God! I rejoice that thou dost reign over the universe with a sovereign sway, so that thou dost according to thy will, in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. Thou art the Maker of my body, and the Father of my spirit, and thou hast a perfect right to dispose of me, in that manner which will most effectually promote thy glory: and I know whatever thou dost is right, and wise, and just, and good….Grant, gracious God! that the rich blessings of the new covenant may be freely bestowed on thy unworthy servant….And now, righteous Lord God Almighty, I would not attempt to conceal any of my actual transgressions, however vile and shameful they are; but would penitently confess them before thee; and would plead in my defense nothing but the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died the just for the unjust, to bring us near to God….And grant, O Lord! that as long as I am in the body, I may make it my constant study and chief aim to glorify thy name, both with soul and body, which are no longer mine but thine; for I am ‘bought with a price’—not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. Enable me to let my light so shine that others seeing my good works shall glorify thy name. O! make use of me as an humble instrument of advancing thy kingdom on earth, and promoting the salvation of immortal souls….And when my spirit leaves this clay tenement, Lord Jesus receive it! Send some of the blessed angels to convoy my inexperienced soul to the mansion which thy love has prepared. And O! let me be so situated, though in the lowest rank, that I may behold thy glory. May I have an abundant entrance administered unto me into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; for whose sake and in whose name, I ask these things. Amen.”

The Christian Example

Quoting John Flavel:

“Oh, that I might live to see that day when professors [converts] shall not walk in vain show; when they shall please themselves no more with a name to live, being spiritually dead; when they shall no more (as many of them now are) be a company of frothy, vain, and unserious persons, but the majestic beams of holiness shining from their heavenly and serious conversation shall awe the world, and command reverence from all who are about them; when they shall warm the hearts of those who come nigh them, so that men shall say, ‘God is truly in these men!'”

Absolved Only Through the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ

Quoting John Calvin

[I]n order to have an abiding place in the church, we need the Lord Jesus Christ as our foundation. There are many who claim to be children of God who have never been born again through that good seed which enlightens, and brings acceptance with God, who then acknowledges us as his children. We must hold fast to the pure doctrine of the gospel if we desire to be truly united to the Lord Jesus Christ. He, as our Head and our Mediator, unites us to God the Father. We have already spoken about the reason why Paul mentions both the servile and the free offspring. He tells us that those who seek justification through their own good deeds are severing themselves from the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. For they are binding themselves to perform that which is impossible, that is, to satisfy God by keeping his commandments. Whereas, we are so full of weaknesses that we cannot possibly fulfill the least article of the law, let alone reach the perfection which the law requires. This is why Paul concludes that we must maintain the liberty that was purchased for us by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Planned From The Foundation Of The World

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ before time and the world saw our faithlessness and entered into an agreement with His own Son. God pledged Himself in a covenant. Only Christ is our Representative and Mediator. Christ is our Guarantor — all blessing comes in and through Him. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides further insight into this below:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

[I]n [God’s] eternal Council [He] drew up a great covenant called the covenant of grace or the covenant of redemption. Why did He do so? Let me ask a question by way of reply. Why does the Apostle say, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’? There are those who say that the answer is that He wants us to know the kind of Father God is. I agree with that. I remember an old preacher saying once that if you told certain people that God is a Father they would be terrified and alarmed. There are some people, he said, to whom the term ‘Father’ means a drunkard who spends all the family’s money and comes home drunk. That is their idea of a father; it is the only father they have ever known. So God in His kindness, and in order that we may know the kind of Father He is, says: I am the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Son is like the Father; but even that does not go far enough, there is much more than that here.

This new description of God is one of the most important statements in the New Testament. Go back to the Old Testament and you will find God described as ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’. God also speaks of Himself as ‘the God of Israel’, but now we have ‘the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’. This is in order to teach us that all the blessings that come to us come in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, and as a part of that covenant that was made between the three blessed Persons before the foundation of the world. Even the blessings that came to the Old Testament saints all came to them through the Lord Jesus Christ. Before the foundation of the world God saw what would happen to man. He saw the Fall, and man’s sin which would have to be dealt with, and there the Plan was made and an agreement was made between the Father and the Son. The Father gave a people to the Son, and the Son voluntarily made Himself responsible to God for them. He contracted to do certain things for them, and God the Father on His side contracted to do other things. God the Father said He would grant forgiveness and reconciliation and restoration and new life and a new nature to all who belonged to His Son. The condition was that the Son should come into the world and take human nature and the sin of mankind upon Himself and bear its punishment, stand for them, and suffer for them and represent them. That was the covenant, that was the agreement that was made, and it was made ‘before the foundation of the world’. God was able to tell Adam about that in the Garden of Eden when He told him that ‘the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head’. This had been planned before creation, and God began to announce it even there. (“The Everlasting Covenant”)

Be Thankful!

John A. Broadus

It is very easy during hard trials to forget past blessings. God, however, does not want His sons and daughters to display attitudes of ingratitude. He seeks to strengthen us for endurance and reminds us that the habit of thankfulness to God is a valuable asset to get us through such times. John A. Broadus writes here about developing the habit of thankfulness:

“[G]ive thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

We hear a great deal said about habits. But it nearly always means bad habits. Why should we not think and speak much about good habits? They are as real, and almost as great, a power for good as bad habits are for evil. . . .

Consider the value of the habit of thankfulness. It tends to quell repining. We are all prone, especially in certain moods, to complain of our lot. Every one of us has at some time or other imagined, and perhaps declared, that he has a particularly hard time in this world. It is to be hoped that in other moods we are heartily ashamed of ourselves for such repining. But how to prevent its recurrence? A most valuable help will be the habit of thankfulness to God. Then if a fretful, repining spirit begins to arise, just in the middle, perhaps, of some complaining sentence, we shall suddenly change to an expression of thankfulness-and perhaps end with laughing at ourselves for the folly of such repining.

It tends to enhance enjoyment. We all know that when we receive a gift, with any true sentiment and any suitable expression of thankfulness, the reaction of gratitude augments our gratification.

It serves to soothe distress. Persons, who are greatly afflicted, and not wont to be thankful, sometimes find the memory of past joys only an aggravation of present sorrow. Far otherwise with one who has learned to be habitually thankful. For him the recollection of happier hours is still a comfort.

It helps to allay anxiety. Did you ever notice what the apostle says to the Philippians? “In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” Notice carefully that we are to prevent anxiety by prayer as to the future with thanksgiving for the past.

It cannot fail to deepen penitence. “The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.” When we are fully in the habit of thankfully observing and recalling the loving-kindnesses and tender mercies of our heavenly Father, this will make us perceive more clearly, and lament more earnestly, the evil of sin against him; and what is more, this will strengthen us to turn from our sins to his blessed service.

It has as one necessary effect to brighten hope. “I love to think on mercies past, And future good implore” is a very natural conjunction of ideas. If we have been wont to set up Ebenezers upon our path of life, then every glance backward along these milestones of God’s mercy will help us to look forward with more of humble hope.

Worry Is Not A Trivial Sin

John MacArthur

Quoting John MacArthur:

Worry is not a trivial sin, because it strikes a blow both at God’s love and at God’s integrity. Worry declares our heavenly Father to be untrustworthy in His Word and His promises. To avow belief in the inerrancy of Scripture and in the next moment to express worry is to speak out of both sides of our mouths. Worry shows that we are mastered by our circumstances and by our own finite perspectives and understanding rather than by God’s Word. Worry is therefore not only debilitating and destructive but maligns and impugns God. (Matthew 1-7, Moody, 1985, p. 425)

Lie Down By Faith

Quoting Anne Dutton:

Oh, what heart can conceive, or tongue express, a thousandth part of that joy and glory which He has reserved for His people in the world to come, when He will bid them enter into His own joy, and He Himself will be their everlasting light and their glory! Oh, then we shall have the light of life, of glory-life, in such manner and measure as far surpasses all our present thought!

Come, lie down by faith, in the bosom of His eternal Love! It is a sweet, soft bed, that will delight and refresh you exceedingly! Here is a basin of heavenly wine, or rather a sea of boundless bliss! Drink your fill, bathe your soul in pleasures—and shout the glories, the fullness, the praises of the strong Jehovah amid all your felt emptiness, weakness, and imperfections! So shall you be exceeding joyful and fruitful, and your obedience highly pleasing to your God and Father, in the Son of His love. (Anne Dutton’s “Letters on Spiritual Subjects”)

Human Nature Is Blind To Christ

Thomas Boston

Christians should admire the freedom and power of grace, which came to them in their condition of helplessness and brought them out of the state of sin and wrath. In such a condition they would certainly have perished if God had not been merciful. The natural man is totally unable to muster up the strength to come to Christ, unless he is drawn. Thomas Boston writes:

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him. (John 6.44)

A man that is fallen into a pit cannot be supposed to help himself out of it, but by one of two ways; either by doing all himself alone, or taking hold of, and improving, the help offered him by others. Likewise an unconverted man cannot be supposed to help himself out of his natural state, but either in the way of the law, or covenant of works, by doing all himself without Christ; or else in the way of the Gospel, or covenant of grace, by exerting his own strength to lay hold upon, and to make use of the help offered him by a Savior. But, alas! The unconverted man is dead in the pit, and cannot help himself either of these ways; not the first way, for the first text tells us, that when our Lord came to help us, ‘we were without strength,’ unable to recover ourselves. We were ungodly, therefore under a burden of guilt and wrath, yet ‘without strength,’ unable to stand under it; and unable to throw it off, or get from under it: so that all mankind would have undoubtedly perished, had not ‘Christ died for the ungodly,’ and brought help to those who could never have recovered themselves. But when Christ comes and offers help to sinners, cannot they take it? Cannot they improve help when it comes to their hands? No, the second text tells, they cannot; ‘No man can come unto me,’ that is, believe in me (John 6.44), ‘except the Father draw him.’ This is a drawing which enables them to come, who till then could not come; and therefore could not help themselves by improving the help offered. It is a drawing which is always effectual; for it can be no less than ‘hearing and learning of the Father,’ which, whoever partakes of, come to Christ (verse 45). Therefore it is not drawing in the way of mere moral suasion, which may be, yea, and always is ineffectual. But it is drawing by mighty power (Eph. 1.9), absolutely necessary for those who have no power in themselves to come and take hold of the offered help.

Hearken then, O unregenerate man, and be convinced that as you are in a most miserable state by nature, so you are utterly unable to recover yourself any way. You are ruined; and what way will you go to work to recover yourself . . . ?

[A]lthough Christ is offered in the Gospel, yet they cannot believe in Him. Saving faith is the faith of God’s elect, the special gift of God to them, wrought in them by His Spirit. Salvation is offered to them that will believe in Christ, but how can you believe? (John 5.44). It is offered to those that will come to Christ; but ‘no man can come unto Him, except the Father draw him.’ It is offered to those that win look to Him, as lifted on the pole of the Gospel (Isa. 45.22); but the natural man is spiritually blind (Rev. 3.17); and as to the things of the Spirit of God, he cannot know them, for they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2.14). Nay, whosoever will, he is welcome; let him come (Rev. 22.17); but there must be a day of power on the sinner, before he can be willing (Ps. 110.3). (Human Nature In Its Fourfold State, Chapter 3, pp. 183-197)

The Effective Prayer Is Always Made In The Name Of Jesus

Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16)

We must learn to pray in the name of Christ because this is His command to us. We pray to God according to the directions Jesus has given us. This is illustrated by John 16:24, “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive.” Christ commands us to pray. This is a part of our duty to God. Christ, however, sends His own to the Father to ask supply of their wants in His Name just as a king would send someone to speak with the authority of the royal name. So to pray in the name of Christ is to go to God as a servant of Christ to speak with His blessing.

As sinners, we have no confidence in ourselves to seek the Lord, but Jesus died for our sins, and gathers us to himself through the Holy Spirit. Jesus, the Son, is one with his Father and has authority to command us to go to the Father in His name. Through the Son we are acceptable to be heard by the Father. We are encouraged by the promises of the Scriptures, given to us by God, that He will even give us His own Spirit to assist us. Romans 8:26,27 says, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

By praying in Christ’s name we recognize that we are wholly dependent on Christ’s merit and intercession for our access, acceptance, and hearing by God.

There is no access to God but through Christ. According to John 14:6, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” They who attempt to have audience with God through any other name, will have the door slammed in their face.

Therefore, we depend on Jesus for the acceptance of our prayers. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only means through which we can sanctify our prayers. Do not lay the stress of the acceptance of your prayers on your own attitude and feelings. Your prayer will not be accepted. Only Jesus can bear the weight of our unrighteousness.

Rely totally on Christ for a gracious answer. As the Apostle points out in 1 John 5:14, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Prayers are heard and answered for the sake of Christ. Only the petitions agreeable to God’s will and made in dependence upon the Son of God, are heard.

Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Sin has separated us from God, and has denied us access to the Father. The door to the Holy of Holies is forever closed to us unless an acceptable mediator can be found. Jesus is the only one who meets the criteria for this ministry. He is our High Priest and Mediator of redemption and intercession. As noted in 1 John 2:1, “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Only He is capable of making our prayers acceptable to God.

%d bloggers like this: