• 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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  • May 2023
    M T W T F S S
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Following Christ

George Whitefield enjoyed his greatest triumph during his month-long tour through New England (1739). Welcomed by ministers and officials of colonies and towns, he found shops closed and business suspended during his stays, thousands of people at his heels, and many following him to the next town. Whitefield’s Boston visit lasted 10 days. Met on the road by a committee of ministers and conducted into the town, he found all meetinghouses except King’s Chapel open to him. He preached in all of them and also on the Common, where thousands could assemble. The contemporary record was set down in superlatives. Benjamin Colman’s words are typical: “admired and followed beyond any man that ever was in America.” The following is an excerpt from a sermon by Whitefield:

[T]hat I may know him and the power of his resurrection. . . . (Philippians 3:10 ESV)

The devils themselves cannot but believe the doctrine of the resurrection, and tremble; but yet they continue devils, because the benefits of this resurrection have not been applied to them, nor have they received a renovating power from it, to change and put off their diabolical nature. And so, unless we not only profess to know, but also feel that Christ is risen indeed, by being born again from above, we shall be as far from the kingdom of God as they: our faith will be as ineffectual as the faith of devils.

Nothing has done more harm to the Christian world, nothing has rendered the cross of Christ of less effect, than a vain supposition, that religion is something without us. Whereas we should consider, that every thing that Christ did outwardly, must be done over again in our souls; or otherwise, the believing there was such a divine person once on earth, who triumphed over hell and the grave, will profit us no more, than believing there was once such a person as Alexander, who conquered the world.

As Christ was born of the Virgin’s womb, so must he be spiritually formed in our hearts. As he died for sin, so must we die to sin. And as he rose again from the dead, so must we also rise to a divine life.

None but those who have followed him in this regeneration, or new-birth, shall sit on thrones as approvers of his sentence, when he shall come in terrible majesty to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

It is true, as for the outward work of our redemption, it was a transient act, and was certainly finished on the cross, but the application of that redemption to our hearts, is a work that will continue always, even unto the end of the world.

So long as there is an elect man breathing on the earth, who is naturally engendered of the offspring of the first Adam, so long must the quickening spirit, which was purchased by the resurrection of the second Adam, that Lord from heaven, be breathing upon his soul.

For though we may exist by Christ, yet we cannot be said to exist in him, till we are united to him by one spirit, and enter into a new state of things, as certainly as he entered into a new state of things, after that he rose from the dead.

We may throng and crowd about Christ, and call him “Lord, Lord,” when we come to worship before his footstool; but we have not effectually touched him, till by a lively faith in his resurrection, we perceive a divine virtue coming out of him, to renew and purify our souls. (“The Power of Christ’s Resurrection”)

The Clergy And The Militia Prior To The Revolution

From the desk of David B. Kopel, Research Director of the Independence Institute:

In New England, Congregationalist ministers were usually the preachers of special sermons on Election Day (when a sermon was preached to the legislature and governor) and Artillery Day (when new militia artillery officers were elected). On these days, the preachers departed from narrowly religious themes, and often spoke of the duty of Christian men to fight for liberty against tyranny.

Militia muster days were another occasion on which ministers exhorted men to fight in defense of their liberty, and to volunteer for expeditions beyond their state’s borders. At all special military occasions, ministers presented prayers. A minister who wanted to address an important public issue could also announce a special weekday sermon.

Important sermons had a much broader audience than just the people who were in attendance when the minister spoke. Sermons were often reprinted, and distributed to other states. By 1776, the New England Congregationalist ministers were preaching at a record pace of over two thousand sermons per week. The number of Congregationalist pamphlets from New England exceeded the number of secular pamphlets from all the other colonies combined by more than four to one. . . .

Elisha Fish published the sermon “The Art of War Lawful and Necessary for a Christian People”, to encourage young men in their militia exercises. His introduction to the published version spoke of his intent to encourage other writers “to spread this martial Fire through our happy Land.” Free men bearing arms to defend their liberty were “the true strength and safety of every commonwealth.”

Ministers taught that the militia bred good Christian character, whereas standing armies bred degradation and vice. . . .

What was true for the military arm of society was true for the entire society: the loss of freedom created a condition of moral degradation, of servile dependence, and of temptation to vice. Christian virtue was nearly impossible to maintain if political liberty were destroyed. The fight for political liberty was a sacred cause because civil liberty was the garden for the proper cultivation of the Christian soul, according to God’s natural law.

Read more here. . . .

Discerning Real Christians

The traits of Christianity are not equally visible in all Christians. Love, faith, obedience, and devotion will vary during different periods of the Christian experience. Sanctification is by degrees. A Christian may be a baby in grace and knowledge. Their faith and love may be weak. They have, however, passed from death unto life. A Christian’s growth is usually not consistent. There are successes and failures as we navigate the path to spiritual growth.

We find in the Bible examples of terrible falls and sin in the lives of true believers. The Bible gives warnings and the promises of temporal judgment and discipline from God. John Cotton was a Puritan leader in New England, who wrote: “There is none under a covenant of grace that dare allow himself in any sin; for if a man should negligently commit any sin, the Lord will school him thoroughly and make him sadly to apprehend how he has made bold with the treasures of the grace of God. Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid: None that has a portion in the grace of God dareth therefore allow himself in sin; but if through strength of temptation he be at any time carried aside, it is his greatest burden.”

When a man says he is a Christian and lives like the world, how do we know that he is a Christian? How do we know that he is not a Christian? We really don’t. He may be a true Christian who has temporarily lost his way and is currently in the condition of what some call “back-sliding”. It is also very possible that he was never savingly united to Christ to begin with. Only God knows for certain.

The fact remains, however, that even though works do not save us, good works are the fruit of saving faith. The presence or absence of real fruit is something that every professed Christian must examine in their own lives. It was Charles Haddon Spurgeon who warned his students: ‘If the professed convert distinctly and deliberately declares that he knows the Lord’s will but does not mean to attend to it, you are not to pamper his presumption, but it is your duty to assure him that he is not saved. Do not suppose that the Gospel is magnified or God glorified by going to the worldlings and telling them that they may be saved at this moment by simply accepting Christ as their Savior, while they are wedded to their idols, and their hearts are still in love with sin. If I do so I tell them a lie, pervert the Gospel, insult Christ, and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.’

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.

Who Is The Founder Of America?

John Calvin

John Calvin

Quoting Loraine Boettner:

‘If the average American citizen were asked, who was the founder of America, the true author of our great Republic, he might be puzzled to answer. We can imagine his amazement at hearing the answer given to this question by the famous German historian, Ranke, one of the profoundest scholars of modern times. Says Ranke, ‘John Calvin was the virtual founder of America.”

D’Aubigne, whose history of the Reformation is a classic, writes: ‘Calvin was the founder of the greatest of republics. The Pilgrims who left their country in the reign of James I, and landing on the barren soil of New England, founded populous and mighty colonies, were his sons, his direct and legitimate sons; and that American nation which we have seen growing so rapidly boasts as its father the humble Reformer on the shore of Lake Leman.’

Dr. E. W. Smith says, ‘These revolutionary principles of republican liberty and self-government, taught and embodied in the system of Calvin, were brought to America, and in this new land where they have borne so mighty a harvest were planted, by whose hands? – the hands of the Calvinists. The vital relation of Calvin and Calvinism to the founding of the free institutions of America, however strange in some ears the statement of Ranke may have sounded, is recognized and affirmed by historians of all lands and creeds.’

All this has been thoroughly understood and candidly acknowledged by such penetrating and philosophic historians as Bancroft, who far though he was from being Calvinistic in his own personal convictions, simply calls Calvin ‘the father of America,’ and adds: ‘He who will not honor the memory and respect the influence of Calvin knows but little of the origin of American liberty.’

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