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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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  • Recommended Reading

BORN FROM ABOVE

george-whitefield-pictureGeorge Whitefield:

These depraved natures of ours, must necessarily undergo a universal moral change; our understandings must be enlightened; our wills, reason, and consciences, must be renewed; our affections must be drawn toward, and fixed upon things above; and because flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven, this corruptible must put on incorruption, this mortal must put on immortality. And thus old things must literally pass away, and behold all things, even the body as well as the faculties of the soul, must become new. This moral change is what some call, repentance, some, conversion, some, regeneration; choose what name you please, I only pray God, that we all may have the thing. The scriptures call it holiness, sanctification, the new creature, and our Lord calls it a “New birth, or being born again, or born from above.”

These are not barely figurative expressions, or the flights of eastern language, nor do they barely denote a relative change of state conferred on all those who are admitted into Christ’s church by baptism; but they denote a real, moral change of heart and life, a real participation of the divine life in the soul of man. Continue reading

Half-Truth Christianity

Narrow Gate and WayBy Paul Washer:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 NIV)

One of the most dangerous things you can ever do is teach half of a truth. And it is something in evangelical Christianity in America that is too often common place. Half a truth is taught. One side of the coin is shown. And that leaves a very, very dangerous blind side to those who are not discerning.

We are taught today that there is only one small gate and that is true. We hear that in almost every denomination. … We hear that in modern day preaching. There is one small gate and his name is Jesus. But if you go through any other gate you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. You will not be saved. There is no hope for you. There is no gate except Christ and all those who miss Christ miss forgiveness, miss right standing with God and enter in to a devil’s hell. That is true. We say that correctly and I applaud those who say this. But that is only half the truth. And because it is only half the truth this text has been used to damn many people to hell. Continue reading

J. C. Ryle Commenting on Matthew 2:13-23

Bishop J. C. RyleJ. C. Ryle:

Greatness and riches are a perilous possession for the soul. They know not what they seek who seek to have them. They lead men into many temptations. They are likely to fill the heart with pride, and to chain the affections down to things below. “Not many mighty, not many noble are called.” “A rich man will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven with difficulty.”

Do you envy the rich and great? Does your heart say, “Oh I that I had their place, and rank, and substance?” Beware of giving way to the feeling. The very wealth which you admire may be gradually sinking its possessor down into hell. A little more money might be your ruin. Like Herod you might run into every excess of wickedness and cruelty. “Take heed, and beware of covetousness.” “Be content with such things as you have.” (Expository Thoughts on Matthew)

Establishing the Kingdom of Heaven

Loraine Boettner D.D.:

[W]hat can give the Christian more satisfaction and joy than to know that the whole course of the world is ordered with reference to the establishment of the Kingdom of heaven and the manifestation of the Divine glory; and that he is one of the objects upon which infinite love and mercy is to be lavished?

SCRIPTURE PROOF

2 Timothy 1:9: (It is God) who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal.

Psalm 33:11: The counsel of Jehovah standeth fast for ever; the thoughts of His heart to all generations.

Isaiah 37:26: Hast thou not heard how I have done it long ago, and formed it of ancient times?

Isaiah 46:9, 10: I am God and there is none like me; declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things that are not yet done.

2 Thessalonians 2:13: God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.

Matthew 25:34: Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

1 Peter 1:20: (Christ) who (as a sacrifice for sin) was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world.

Jeremiah 31:3: Jehovah appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love.

Acts 15:18: Saith the Lord, who maketh these things known from of old.

Psalm 139:16: Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance; And in thy book they were all written, Even the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was none of them.

(From: The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

History and Doctrine

Jesus did not content Himself with the articulation of permanent moral principles. He announced an approaching event and gave an account of its meaning. When He gave an account of the meaning He rooted it in the significance of historical facts. J. Gresham Machen writes:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9 ESV)

The primitive Church was concerned not merely with what Jesus had said, but also, and primarily, with what Jesus had done. The world was to be redeemed through the proclamation of an event. And with the event went the meaning of the event; and the setting forth of the event with the meaning of the event was doctrine. These two elements are always combined in the Christian message. The narration of the facts is history; the narration of the facts with the meaning of the facts is doctrine. . . .

It has already been admitted that if doctrine is to be abandoned, Paul must be abandoned: it may now be admitted that if doctrine is to be abandoned, even the primitive Jerusalem Church, with its message of the resurrection, must be abandoned. . . .

Must we really take such a step as that? It would certainly be an extraordinary step. A great religion derived its power from the message of the redeeming work of Christ; without that message Jesus and His disciples would soon have been forgotten. The same message, with its implications, has been the very heart and soul of the Christian movement throughout the centuries. . . .

It is not true that in basing Christianity upon an event the disciples of Jesus were departing from the teaching of their Master. For certainly Jesus Himself did the same thing. Jesus did not content Himself with enunciating general principles of religion and ethics; the picture of Jesus as a sage similar to Confucius, uttering wise maxims about conduct, may satisfy Mr. H. G. Wells, as he trips along lightly over the problems of history, but it disappears as soon as one engages seriously in historical research. ‘Repent,’ said Jesus, ‘for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’ The gospel which Jesus proclaimed in Galilee consisted in the proclamation of a coming Kingdom. But clearly Jesus regarded the coming of the Kingdom as an event, or as a series of events. No doubt He also regarded the Kingdom as a present reality in the souls of men; no doubt He represented the Kingdom in one sense as already present. We shall not really succeed in getting along without this aspect of the matter in our interpretation of Jesus’ words. But we shall also not get along without the other aspect, according to which the coming of the Kingdom depended upon definite and catastrophic events. But if Jesus regarded the coming of the Kingdom as dependent upon a definite event, then His teaching was similar at the decisive point to that of the primitive Church; neither He nor the primitive Church enunciated merely general and permanent principles of religion; both of them, on the contrary, made the message depend upon something that happened. Only, in the teaching of Jesus the happening was represented as being still in the future, while in that of the Jerusalem Church the first act of it at least lay already in the past. Jesus proclaimed the event as coming; the disciples proclaimed part of it at least as already past; but the important thing is that both Jesus and the disciples did proclaim an event. Jesus was certainly not a mere enunciator of permanent truths, like the modern liberal preacher; on the contrary He was conscious of standing at the turning-point of the ages, when what had never been was now to come to be. (Christianity and Liberalism)

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