• OVER 5,000 ARTICLES AND QUOTES PUBLISHED!
  • 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

    • 1,395,696 Visits
  • Recent Posts

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

    Join 1,270 other followers
  • August 2022
    M T W T F S S
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • Recommended Reading

The Way Of Humility

In the words of Andrew Murray:

The greatest test of whether the holiness we profess to seek or to attain is truth and life will be whether it produces an increasing humility in us. In man, humility is the one thing needed to allow God’s holiness to dwell in him and shine through him. The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is lack of humility. The holiest will be the humblest.

On Abortion

John Piper

Quoting from John Piper (“Ten Reasons Why it is Wrong to Take the Life of Unborn Children”, Sermon: April 7, 1989, www.DesiringGod.org):

1. God commanded, “Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13).

2. The destruction of conceived human life – whether embryonic, fetal, or viable – is an assault on the unique person-forming work of God.

3. Aborting unborn humans falls under the repeated biblical ban against “shedding innocent blood.”

4. The Bible frequently expresses the high priority God puts on the protection and provision and vindication of the weakest and most helpless and most victimized members of the community.

5. By judging difficult and even tragic human life as a worse evil than taking life, abortionists contradict the widespread biblical teaching that God loves to show His gracious power through suffering and not just by helping people avoid suffering.

6. It is a sin of presumption to justify abortion by taking comfort in the fact that all these little children will go to heaven or even be given full adult life in the resurrection.

7. The Bible commands us to rescue our neighbor who is being unjustly led away to death.

8. Aborting unborn children falls under Jesus’ rebuke of those who spurned children as inconvenient and unworthy of the Savior’s attention.

9. It is the right of God the Maker to give and to take human life. It is not our individual right to make this choice.

10. Finally, saving faith in Jesus Christ brings forgiveness of sins and cleansing of conscience and help through life and hope for eternity. Surrounded by such omnipotent love, every follower of Jesus is free from the greed and fear that might lure a person to forsake these truths in order to gain money or avoid reproach.

God Glorified In The Gift Of Grace

Jonathan Edwards

We have a great dependence on the grace of God. God was not obliged to reward us with His mercy, but He chose to deliver us from hell and eternal wrath. Now, we continue to stand in need of God’s free and sovereign grace as we pursue righteousness. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) helps us to understand the magnificence of God’s grace:

God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:28-31)

It was of mere grace that God gave us his only begotten Son. The grace is great in proportion to the dignity and excellency of what is given: the gift was infinitely precious, because it was a person infinitely worthy, a person of infinite glory; and also because it was a person infinitely near and dear to God. The grace is great in proportion to the benefit we have given us in him: the benefit is doubly infinite, in that in him we have deliverance from an infinite, eternal misery; and do also receive eternal joy and glory. The grace in bestowing this gift is great in proportion to our unworthiness to whom it is given; instead of deserving such a gift, we merited infinitely ill of God’s hands. The grace is great according to the manner of giving, or in proportion to the humiliation and expense of the method and means by which way is made for our having the gift. He gave him to us dwelling amongst us; he gave him to us incarnate, or in our nature; he gave him to us in our nature, in the like infirmities, in which we have it in our fallen state, and which in us do accompany, and are occasioned by the sinful corruption of our nature. He gave him to us in a low and afflicted state; and not only so, but he gave him to us slain, that he might be a feast for our souls.

The grace of God in bestowing this gift is most free. It was what God was under no obligation to bestow: he might have rejected fallen man, as he did the fallen angels. It was what we never did any thing to merit; it was given while we were yet enemies, and before we had so much as repented. It was from the love of God that saw no excellency in us to attract it; and it was without expectation of ever being requited for it.

And it is from mere grace that the benefits of Christ are applied to such and such particular persons. Those that are called and sanctified are to attribute it alone to the good pleasure of God’s goodness, by which they are distinguished. He is sovereign, and hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardens. (“God Glorified In Man’s Dependence”)

God’s Work From Beginning To End

James Montgomery Boice

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. . . . (Ephesians 1:3-5)

James Montgomery Boice said this of predestination:

Any interpretation of this mysterious doctrine that detracts from the love of God is rightly suspected. Predestination is thoroughly grounded in the love of God. God is saying, “I must rescue these human beings from the dark pit of sin. They cannot help themselves so I must pull them out”. . . .

One day we are truly going to praise Him for the plan of salvation! Can you believe that God has predestined you and me to be holy before Him? Can you really believe that He planned this from all eternity? How can we not be praising Him for all that He has saved us from?

In the verses above, the phrase “in love”, leads to the phrase, “He predestined us”. What does this mean? Election is God’s choice and God’s choice alone, of man to salvation. Predestination, however, is in advance of this. To be predestined you must have a destination that has been preordained. If you look at Romans chapter 8, verse 29 you will read: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” God’s predestination ultimately conforms us to the image of Christ. One day, you and I will be like Christ. Predestination is the guarantee that if we believe in Christ, someday we will be completely like Christ.

There is a lot of “once saved and you can be lost” nonsense going around in the church today. It was the hand of God that saved you and do you believe His hand may be forced to let you go? Predestination means that when you are saved a process has been set in motion for you to become like Christ. This is a God decision that was made before the world began! Once started, there is no stopping. God has willed it to come to pass. This is predestination. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30) This is the golden chain of salvation.

Jonathan Edwards: A Sure Sign Of God’s Grace

Paul says in 2 Cor 4:34, “even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Unbelievers can see that there is a gospel, and understand the facts about it, but they do not see its light. The light of the gospel is the glory of Christ, his holiness and beauty. It is this gospel light, shining into our hearts that enables us to see the beauty of the plan of salvation. This supernatural light shows us the infinite loveliness of Jesus and convinces us of His sufficiency as our Savior. Jonathan Edwards discusses this intimate knowledge of Christ:

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder.” (James 2:19)

[W]hat are the kinds of experiences that are truly spiritual and holy [as opposed to that which even demons may experience]? What do I have to find in my own heart, as a sure sign of God’s grace there? What are the differences that show them to be from the Holy Spirit?

This is the answer: those feelings and experiences which are good signs of God’s grace in the heart differ from the experience of demons in their source and in their results. Their source is the sense of the overwhelming holy beauty and loveliness of the things of God. When a person grasps in his mind, or better yet, when he feels his own heart held captive by the attractiveness of the Divine, this is an unmistakable sign of God’s working.

The demons and damned in hell do not now, and never will experience even the tiniest bit of this. Before their fall, the demons did have this sense of God. But in their fall, they lost it, the only thing they could lose of their knowledge of God. We have seen how the demons have very clear ideas about how powerful God is, his justice, holiness, and so on. They know a lot of facts about God. But now they haven’t a clue about what God is like. They cannot know what God is like any more than a blind man can know about colors! Demons can have a strong sense God’s awesome majesty, but they don’t see his loveliness. They have observed His work among the human race for these thousands of years, indeed with the closest attention; but they never see a glimmer of His beauty. No matter how much they know about God (and we have seen that they know very much indeed) the knowledge they have will never bring them to this higher, spiritual knowing what God is like. On the contrary, the more they know about God, the more they hate Him. The beauty of God consists primarily in this holiness, or moral excellence, and this is what they hate the most. It is because God is holy that the demons hate Him. One could suppose that if God were to be less holy, the demons would hate Him less. No doubt demons would hate any holy Being, no matter what He was like otherwise. But surely they hate this Being all the more, for being infinitely holy, infinitely wise, and infinitely powerful!

Wicked people, including those alive today, will on the day of judgment see all there is to see of Jesus Christ, except His beauty and loveliness. There is not one thing about Christ that we can think of that will not be set before them in the strongest light on that brilliant day. The wicked will see Jesus “coming in clouds with great power and glory.” (Mark 13:26) They will see his outward glory, which is far, far greater than we can possibly imagine now. You know the wicked will be thoroughly convinced of all who Christ is. They will be convinced about His omniscience, as they see all their sins replayed and evaluated. They will know first-hand Christ’s justice, as their sentences are announced. His authority will be made utterly convincing when every knee will bow, and every tongue confess Jesus as Lord. (Phil 2:10-11) The divine majesty will be impressed upon them in quite an effective way, as the wicked are poured into hell itself, and enter into their final state of suffering and death (Rev 20:14-15) When that happens, all their knowledge of God, as true and as powerful as it may be, will be worth nothing, and less than nothing, because they will not see Christ’s beauty.

Therefore, it is this seeing the loveliness of Christ that makes the difference between the saving grace of the Holy Spirit, and the experiences of demons. This sight or sense is what makes true Christian experience different from everything else. The faith of God’s elect people is based on this. When a person sees the excellence of the gospel, he senses the beauty and loveliness of the divine scheme of salvation. His mind is convinced that it is of God, and he believes it with all his heart.

Jonathan Edwards On False Religious Experiences

Jonathan Edwards

Is it possible that you can believe in God, see His majesty and holiness, and know that Jesus died for sinners and still not have received salvation? Jonathan Edwards explains how this is possible:

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.” (James 2:19)

It must be understood, that when the Bible talks about believing that Jesus is the Son of God, as a proof of God’s grace in the heart, the Bible means not a mere agreement with the truth, but another kind of believing. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” (1 John 5:1) This other kind of believing is called “the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.” (Titus 1:1) There is a spiritual holding to the truth, which will be explained later on.

Some people have strong religious experiences, and think of them as proof of God’s working in their hearts. Often these experiences give people a sense of the importance of the spiritual world, and the reality of divine things. However, these, too, are no sure proof of salvation. Demons and damned human beings have many spiritual experiences which have a great effect on their heart attitudes. They live in the spiritual world and see first-hand what it is like. Their sufferings show them the worth of salvation and the worth of a human soul in the most powerful way imaginable. The parable in Luke chapter 16 teaches this clearly, as the suffering man asks that Lazarus might be sent to tell his brothers to avoid this place of torment. No doubt people in hell now have a distinct idea of the vastness of eternity, and of the shortness of life. They are completely convinced that all the things of this life are unimportant when compared to the experiences of the eternal world. People now in hell have a great sense of the preciousness of time, and of the wonderful opportunities people have, who have the privilege of hearing the Gospel. They are completely aware of the foolishness of their sin, of neglecting opportunities, and ignoring the warnings of God. When sinners find out by personal experience the final result of their sin there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt 13:42) So even the most powerful religious experiences are not a sure sign of God’s grace in the heart. . . .

[W]e can see that men in this world can have experiences of the same kind as those of demons and damned people. They have the same mental outlook, the same opinions and emotions, and the same kind of impressions on the mind and heart. Notice, that for the apostle James it is a convincing argument. He claims that if people think believing in one God is proof of God’s grace, it is not proof, because demons believe the same. James is not referring to the act of believing only, but also to the emotions and actions that go along with their belief. Shuddering is an example of emotions from the heart. This shows that if people have the same kind of mental outlook, and respond from the heart in the same way, it is no sure sign of grace.

The Bible does not state how much people in this world may see God’s glory, and not have God’s grace in their hearts. We are not told exactly to what degree God reveals himself to certain people, and how much they will respond in their hearts. It is very tempting to say that if a person has a certain amount of religious experience, or a certain amount of truth, they must be saved. Perhaps it is even possible for some unsaved people to have greater experiences than some of those who have grace in their hearts! So it is wrong to look at experience or knowledge in terms of amount. Men who have a genuine work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts have experiences and knowledge of a different kind. (Originally titled “True Grace Distinguished from the Experience of Devils” by Jonathan Edwards, 1752)

Jonathan Edwards On The Knowledge Of God

Jonathan Edwards

Have you ever thought about the fact that demons have a more complete knowledge of God than you do? Demons are spiritual creatures. They have a concrete knowledge of God’s existence. Jonathan Edwards explains that even with such knowledge, they are doomed to eternal punishment. So, what can men achieve with this kind of knowledge? Edwards elaborates on this theme:

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.” (James 2:19)

How do you know if you belong to God? We see in these words what some people depend on as an evidence of their acceptance with God. Some people think that they are all right before God if they are not as bad as some evil person. Other people point to their family history or church membership to show that God approves of them. There is an evangelism program in common use that asks people certain questions. One of the questions is, “Suppose you were to die today. Why should God let you into his heaven?” A very common response is, “I believe in God.” Apparently the apostle James knew people who said the same thing: I know I am in God’s favor, because I know these religious doctrines.

Of course James admits that this knowledge is good. Not only is it good, but it is also necessary. Nobody can be a Christian who doesn’t believe in God; and more than that, the One True God. This is particularly true for those who had the great advantage of actually knowing the apostle, someone who could tell them of his first-hand experience with Jesus, the Son of God. Imagine the great sin of a person, who knew James, and then refused to believe in God! Certainly this would make their damnation greater. Of course, all Christians know that this belief in the One God is only the start of good things because “anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Heb. 11:6.)

However, James is clear that although this belief a good thing, it is definitely not proof that a person is saved. What he means is this: “You say you are a Christian and you are in God’s favor. You think God will let you into heaven, and the proof of it is, you believe in God. But that is no evidence at all, because the demons also believe, and they are sure to be punished in hell.” The demons believe in God, you can be sure of that! They not only believe that He exists, but they believe that God is a holy God, a sin-hating God, a God of truth, who has promised judgments, and who will carry out his vengeance upon them. This is the reason the demons “shudder” or tremble- they know God more clearly than most human beings do, and they are afraid. Nevertheless, nothing in the mind of man, that devils may experience as well, is any sure sign of God’s grace in our hearts.

This reasoning may be easily turned around. Suppose demons could have, or find within themselves, something of God’s saving grace-proof they would go to heaven. This would prove James wrong. But how absurd! The Bible makes it clear that demons have no hope of salvation, and their believing in God does not take away their future punishment. Therefore believing in God is not proof of salvation for demons, and it is safe to say, not for people, either.

This is seen even more clearly when we think about what demons are like. They are unholy: anything that they experience cannot be a holy experience. The devil is perfectly wicked. “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” (1 John 3:8) Therefore the demons are called evil spirits, unclean spirits, powers of darkness, and so on. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph 6:12)

So it is plain that anything in the minds of demons cannot be holy, or lead to true holiness by itself. The demons clearly know many things about God and religion, but they do not have a holy knowledge. The things they know in their minds may make impressions in their hearts- indeed we do see that the demons have very strong feelings about God; so strong, in fact, that they “shudder.” But they are not holy feelings because they have nothing to do with the work of the Holy Spirit. If this is true of the experience of demons, it is also true of the experience of men.

Charles H. Spurgeon On Building Your Church

Charles H. Spurgeon

Quoting 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.

J. C. Ryle On Faith And Thirst

There is only one thing that can fill an empty soul and Jesus Christ is that river of living waters. Bishop J. C. Ryle explains it as follows:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. (John 7:37)

He that thirsts and wants to come to Christ must remember that simple faith is the one thing required. By all means let him come with a penitent, broken, and contrite heart; but let him not dream of resting on that for acceptance. Faith is the only hand that can carry the living water to our lips. Faith is the hinge on which all turns in the matter of our justification. It is written again and again that “whosoever believeth shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:5-6) “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:5) Happy is he that can lay hold on the principle laid down in that matchless hymn,-

Just I am! without one plea,

Save that Thy blood was shed for me,

And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,-

O Lamb of God, I come!

How simple this remedy for thirst appears! But oh, how hard it is to persuade some persons to receive it! Tell them to do some great thing, to mortify their bodies, to go on pilgrimage, to give all their goods to feed the poor, and so to merit salvation, and they will try to do as they are bid. Tell them to throw overboard all idea of merit, working, or doing, and to come to Christ as empty sinners, with nothing in their hands, and, like Naaman, they are ready to turn away in disdain. (2 Kings 5:12) Human nature is always the same in every age. There are still some people just like the Jews, and some like the Greeks. To the Jews Christ crucified is still a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness. Their succession, at any rate, has never ceased! Never did our Lord say a finer word than that which He spoke to the proud scribes in the Sanhedrin,-“Ye will not come unto Me that ye might have life.” (John 5:40)

But, simple as this remedy for thirst appears, it is the only one for man’s spiritual disease, and the only bridge from earth to heaven. Kings and their subjects, preachers and hearers, masters and servants, high and low, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, all must alike drink of this water of life, and drink in the same way. (Sermon: “If Any Man!”)

Your Only Relief May Be Found In Christ

Caricature of John Charles Ryle (10 May 1816 -...

Bishop J. C. Ryle

There is a simple solution to the greatest problem (Where will you spend eternity?) facing humanity. Faith in Christ is the only medicine for man’s spiritual disease, and the only bridge from earth to heaven. J. C. Ryle explains its importance:

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38)

The efficacy of a medicine depends in great measure on the manner in which it is used. The best prescription of the best physician is useless if we refuse to follow the directions which accompany it. Suffer the word of exhortation, while I offer some caution and advice about the Fountain of living water.

He that thirsts and wants relief must come to Christ Himself: He must not be content with coming to His Church and His ordinances, or to the assemblies of His people for prayer and praise. He must not stop short even at His holy table, or rest satisfied with privately opening his heart to His ordained minister. Oh, no! he that is content with only drinking their waters “shall thirst again.” (John iv. 13.) He must go higher, further, much further than this. He must have personal dealings with Christ Himself: all else in religion is worthless without Him. . . . The hand of man may take the stone from the grave and show the dead; but none but Jesus can say to the dead, “Come forth and live.”

He that thirsts and wants relief from Christ must actually come to Him. It is not enough to wish, and talk, and mean, and intend, and resolve, and hope. Hell, that awful reality, is truly said to be paved with good intentions. Thousands are yearly lost in this fashion, and perish miserably just outside the harbour. Meaning and intending they live; meaning and intending they die. . . . [We must] “come to ourselves” and think, but we must actually come to the High Priest, to Christ. We must come to the Physician. (Sermon: “If Any Man!”)

The Priceless Gift Of Christ

J. C. Ryle

He who thirsts must come to Christ Himself. Contentment with attending Church and small groups is not fellowship with Christ. The partaking of Holy Communion or privately opening your heart to your pastor is in vain if you do not personally know the Forgiver of sins. If you are content with only these outer observances, you will continue to thirst. Bishop J. C. Ryle helps us to understand:

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38)

There is a grand simplicity about [these verses] which cannot be too much admired. There is not a word in it of which the literal meaning is not plain to a child. Yet, simple as it appears, it is rich in spiritual meaning. . . . It solves that mighty problem which all the philosophers of Greece and Rome could never solve, -“How can man have peace with God?” Place it in your memory side by side with six other golden sayings of your Lord. “I am the bread of life: he that cometh unto ME shall never hunger; and he that believeth on ME shall never thirst.”-“I am the Light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”-“I am the Door: if any man enter in, he shall be saved.”-“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father but by ME.”- “Come unto ME, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”-“Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” Add to these six texts the one before you today. Get the whole seven by heart. Rivet them down in your mind, and never let them go. When your feet touch the cold river, on the bed of sickness and in the hour of death, you will find these seven texts above all priceless. (John vi. 35, viii. 12, x. 9, xiv. 6; Matt. xi. 28; John vi. 37.)

For what is the sum and substance of these simple words? It is this. Christ is that Fountain of living water which God has graciously provided for thirsting souls. From Him, as out of the rock smitten by Moses, there flows an abundant stream for all who travel through the wilderness of this world. In Him, as our Redeemer and Substitute, crucified for our sins and raised again for our justification, there is an endless supply of all that men can need, -pardon, absolution, mercy, grace, peace, rest, relief, comfort, and hope.

This rich provision Christ has bought for us at the price of His own precious blood. To open this wondrous fountain He suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, and bore our sins in His own body on the tree. He was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (1 Pet. ii. 24, iii. 18; 2 Cor. v. 21.) And now He is sealed and appointed to be the Reliever of all who are laboring and heavy laden, and the Giver of living water to all who thirst. It is His office to receive sinners. It is His pleasure to give them pardon, life, and peace. And the words of the text are a proclamation He makes to all mankind,-“If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” (Sermon: “If Any Man!”)

The Message Of Christ’s Birth

Quoting Dennis Bratcher:

At the heart of the nativity narratives in both Matthew and Luke, is a simple fact: amid the struggle of a people who had longed for 500 years for God to act in the world in new ways, God came to be with them in a way that totally identified himself with us, as human beings. Amid the most unlikely of circumstances, to the most unlikely of people, God became man for the salvation of all people.

The Materialistic Mind

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, (b. 29 May 1874 – d....

G. K. Chesterton

G. K. Chesterton believed that materialism caused human beings to lose contact with their own common sense and everyday experience as material and spiritual beings. He saw materialism as a species of madness. A madman may think himself a goat, although the differences between a man and a goat are obvious. The materialist trys to reduce all human thought to chemical reactions in the brain. This does not explain, however, man’s keen desire to understand the meaning and purpose of life beyond fulfilling his basic needs. A man’s life cannot be reduced to a few simple causes and effects. According to Dr. Benjamin Wiker:

We have a strange prejudice nowadays—perhaps it is really a superstition—that truth is a function of time, i.e., that being later in time and truer are more or less identical, as if the best way to avoid error is to hold off being born as long as possible. . . .

Both insanity and materialism suffer a fateful contraction of reality, and both share “the strongest and most unmistakable mark of madness,” to wit, the “combination between a logical completeness and a spiritual contraction.” That combination is a perfect expression of many of the most eminent of our modern secular theories: their rejection of God and the soul allows them to posit that everything can be reduced to a few simple, physical causes.

Against this, Chesterton wisely declared that, “As an explanation of the world, materialism has a sort of insane simplicity. It has just the quality of a madman’s argument; we have at once the sense of it covering everything and the sense of it leaving everything out”. . . .

The key to living sanely, Chesterton says, is to realize that we live in a world that is larger than our grasp, a far grander cosmos than we can ever fully understand, one given to us by a God who is wiser and far more benevolent than we can comprehend. Against the notion that we understand everything, if we are honest, we find that our everyday lives are shot full of mystery. . . . For Chesterton, we must humbly and gratefully take things as we find them and accept the mysteries as gifts from God, rather than try to deny them by some entirely lucid but simplistic theory.

Read more here. . . .

Fanaticism

Jim Elliot

Jim Elliot

Quoting Jim Elliot:

“I lack the fervency, vitality, life, in prayer which I long for. I know that many consider it fanaticism when they hear anything which does not conform to the conventional, sleep-inducing eulogies so often rising from Laodicean lips; but I know too that these same people can acquiescently tolerate sin in their lives and in the church without so much as tilting one hair of their eyebrows.”

Where Are The Heroes?

8 These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite; he was chief of the three. He wielded his spear against eight hundred whom he killed at one time.

9 And next to him among the three mighty men was Eleazar the son of Dodo, son of Ahohi. He was with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel withdrew. 10 He rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword. And the Lord brought about a great victory that day, and the men returned after him only to strip the slain.

11 And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines. 12 But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the Lord worked a great victory. (2 Samuel 23)

There is a sad tendency among modern men and women to seek to discredit rather than admire the noble character of a hero. It seems that praise must be accompanied by an unhealthy dose of skepticism – otherwise, to praise a real hero is to humiliate yourself. It is as if true admiration must be left behind in the nursery with the innocence of childhood. The modern man must not admire anything or he will appear ridiculous to his peers. Strong beliefs and actions are only for fanatics. Let some historic figure be seen as a hero and there will be no end to those academic researchers who will seek to find some piece of scandal or half-truth in his or her life that will bring him or her down to their level. Our modern culture has become too insecure to tolerate the possibility of noble character. Charles Wagner, who is the author of Courage, writes:

What is a hero? He is a man of larger stature than his fellows, who has lived an intense and wider human life than the majority; a being who concentrates in his mind and heart the aspirations of a whole epoch, and gives them powerful expression; or it may be that he is a man who appears above the crowd to accomplish one deed, but one so great, so fine, that it immortalizes him.

When we study the history of humanity, we see heroes appearing at the beginning of every great movement. Their example is contagious; some virtue emanates from them and takes possession of others. It is their privilege to arouse enthusiasm, hope, and light. They are the saviors of hopeless times, the guides in dark days, the pioneers of the future, the pure and noble victims who die for justice and truth, in order to pave the way for them. But what influence would they have without the respect, admiration, and enthusiasm which they excite in us? It is by dint of admiring them that we become capable of profiting by their virtues. What is true of the hero is true of everything that is heroic, to no matter what degree. Everything that is great, everything that is beautiful, everything that is pure and sacred, penetrates to our hearts through our respect and admiration. These are the senses by which we perceive the high realities of the soul….

I am not speaking here of our illustrious heroes, but of those obscure, unknown, unnamed heroes of whom the world is full. It is for them that I ask of youth eyes and ears to perceive, and a heart to admire. . . .

Where is this good, of which I speak, to be found? We must seek for it. Those who seek for it and are capable of seeing it will find it. I urge many young people to investigate this unknown region. They will discover many salutary herbs which will serve them as elixirs.

The truth is that no one has any idea of the number of good people who live about us. The amount of suffering patiently borne, the injuries pardoned, the sacrifices made, the disinterested efforts, are impossible to count. It is a world full of unknown splendors, like the profound grottoes lighted by the marvelous lamp of Aladdin. These are the reserves of the future; these are the silent streams that run beneath the earth, and without which the sources of good would long since have become exhausted, and the world have returned to barbarism. Happy is he who can explore the sacred depths!

Continue reading. . . .

%d bloggers like this: