• 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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  • June 2023
    M T W T F S S
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That God May Grant Repentance

Chosen for LifeSam Storms:

If a person is to repent, he or she must be enabled by God to do so. He must be ‘granted’ repentance as a gift. Whether or not a person repents, says Paul, is ultimately up to God. It rests with him and his sovereign good pleasure to give or to withhold that which leads to ‘a knowledge of the truth.’ That God does not bestow this gift universally is self-evident. Were repentance something that God gives to all, Paul would hardly have said that ‘perhaps’ God may grant repentance. Clearly he envisions the real possibility that God may not so grant. (ref. 2 Timothy 2:24-26) (Chosen for Life, A Case for Divine Election)

Men Who Chase Strange Fire

Do not be so puffed up with pride that you go off track after your own foolish imaginations. Take heed that you keep yourself in obedience to the Word of God. Then you will, day by day, be more confirmed in the faith until God calls you home. John Calvin reminds us:

But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

St. Paul hath shown us, that if we will be of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, we must be partakers of His cross; we must walk in death before we can come to life. How long will this death continue? As long as we are in this world. Therefore St. Peter saith, baptism is, as it were, a figure of the ark of Noah (I Pet. 3:21). For we must be enclosed, as it were, in a grave; being dead to the world, if we will be quickened by the mark of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . .

Let us learn that until God shall take us out of this world, we must be as pilgrims in a strange country: and that our salvation shall not be shown us until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: for He has become the first fruits of them that slept (I Cor. 15). And likewise, “He is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence” (Col. 1:18). . . .

St. John saith that we are sure we are God’s children: that we shall see Him even as He is, when we shall be made like Him. It is true, God is revealed to us when He transformed us into His image; but that which we conceive by faith, is not yet seen, we must hope for it at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . .

We see how the children of God are afflicted in this world; yea, it is often pitiable to behold their situation; while the unbelievers who contemn God, are at their ease, and live in pleasure. They make their triumph, whereas the saints are made as the off-scouring of the world (I Cor. 4:13). How is it possible for men to conceive this heresy: to say the resurrection is already past? And yet we see that this was welcome to some; yea, in the primitive church in the time of the apostles. When they, whom Jesus Christ had chosen to preach His truth throughout the world, still lived, some fell from the faith.

When we see such an example, have we not occasion to be astonished, and walk in fear! Not that we should doubt but what God will help and guide us, but it behooves us to arm ourselves with prayer, and rely upon the promises of our God . . . If the apostles, who exercised all the power that was given them from above to maintain the truth of God, could not prevent men from being misled, what must we expect now-a-days! Let us be diligent in prayer, and flee to God that He may preserve us by His Holy Spirit. May we not be puffed up with presumption, but consider our nothingness, for we should quickly be overthrown, if we were not upheld by the Supreme Being. (“Pure Preaching of the Word”)

False Believers and the Truth

There are many in our churches who think themselves saved and indeed they are. There are also many in the church who believe themselves saved and are not. You may be surprised to find out who is really following a false idea of Christianity in your own church. This is why teaching the absolute truth of God’s Word is so important. John Calvin gives us an example:

But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

Hymeneus and Philetus were not obscure men; for St. Paul makes mention of them, although they were afar off, Timothy being at this time in Ephesus. It is therefore evident that they were famous men. They had been for some time in great reputation, as chief pillars in the church. But we see how far they fell; even to renounce everlasting salvation which was purchased for us by our Lord Jesus Christ. If we look not for the resurrection, of what use is it for us to teach that there is a redeemer who hath saved us from the slavery of death? Of what use will the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ be to us, unless we wait for the fruit that is promised us in the latter day, at His coming?

Notwithstanding these men had been for a season of the number of the faithful, yet they fell, as it were, into the bottomless gulf of hell. Thus God declares His vengeance toward them that abuse His gospel. It seems that these men were drunken with foolish ambition: they sought nothing but renown; they disguised the simplicity of the Word of God, and endeavored to show themselves greater than others. But God esteems His Word far higher than He doth man; for if men cast it down and make a mock of it, He will not hold them guiltless. Thus we see that those who were like angels have become very devils: they are blinded, and yet they would become great doctors.

The ability of these persons, of whom St. Paul speaks, were not of the common sort; they were not idiots, but of high standing in all the churches: and yet they are fallen into such blindness that they deny the resurrection of the dead: that is, they renounce the chief article of our religion and deprive themselves of all hope of salvation. How is this possible! It seemeth strange that men who were able to teach others should come to such gross and beastly ignorance. Thus we see how God revengeth scoffers and scorners that abuse His Word. It cannot be but He must cast them off into a state of reprobation; that they may never be able to discern any more, and become utterly void of all reason.

Therefore, if at this day, we see men become beastly, after having known the truth of God, and become void of reason, we must know that God will thereby magnify His Word, and cause us to feel the majesty thereof. And why so? Because He punished the contempt of it by giving such persons to the devil, and giving him full liberty over them. Therefore we must not be offended when we see those who have tasted the gospel [heard the Word – but never born again], revolt from the obedience of God; but let it rather be a confirmation of our faith: for God shows us plainly that His Word is of such importance that He cannot in any wise have men abuse it, nor take it in vain, neither disguise or profane it.

We must learn to take heed, and walk fearfully and carefully. Let us view these things as a looking-glass set before our eyes, that we may see those who seemed to be passing for good Christians, fallen; having in themselves nothing but wickedness, using detestable speeches, having nothing but filthiness in all their lives. Seeing God hath placed these things before us, let us take warning thereby, and awake and walk in the simplicity of the gospel, that we may not become a prey to Satan. (“Pure Preaching of the Word”)

The Lord Would Have the Wicked Made Known

Take heed, and walk fearfully and carefully. Let us view the truth through a magnifying-glass set before our eyes. Look at those who seemed to be passing for good Christians and yet, they are fallen; having in themselves nothing but wickedness. Read closely the following words of John Calvin:

But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

Satan cometh with his poison and plagues, that he may destroy all. We see the flock of God troubled and tormented with ravenous wolves that devour and destroy whatsoever they can. Must we be moved with mercy towards a wolf: and in the mean time let the poor sheep and lambs of which our Lord hath such a special care, let them. I say, perish? When we see any wicked man troubling the church? Either by offences or false doctrine, we must prevent him as much as lieth in our power: we must warn the simple, that they be not misled and carried away; this I say, is our duty.

The Lord would have the wicked made known that the world may discern them that their ungodliness may be made manifest to all. St. Paul speaketh of some who are busy bodies, idlers &c.: these must be pointed out likewise, that they may be shunned. What must be done to those who have the sword in hand; who have become very devils; who can in no wise live in peace and concord, but thrust themselves forward to bring all to naught? When we see them thus, must we hold our peace? Let us learn to know them that trouble the church of God, and keep them back, and endeavor to prevent them from doing injury. Hereby we see how few there are that have a zeal for God’s church.

We speak not only of open enemies … but we see others that seek to turn us away from the simplicity of the gospel: they endeavor to bring all things into disorder; they sow tares, that they may bring this doctrine into hatred, and cause men to be grieved with it; others would have a licentious liberty to do what wickedness they choose, and thus throw off the yoke of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . .

And yet, who is there among us that setteth himself against these things? Who is there that saith, let us beware and be watchful? On the contrary, those that ought to reprove such wickedness sharply not only wink at it, and let it pass, but they favor it, and give it their support. We see the wickedness that overspreads the land; we see those that endeavor to pervert and bring to naught our salvation, and bring the church of God into doubt; and shall we dissemble, and make as though we saw none of these things? We may boast as much as we please about being Christians, yet there are more devils among us than Christians, if we countenance such things.

Therefore, let us look well to the doctrine which is here given us; and if we see wicked persons trying to infect the church of God, to darken good doctrine, or destroy it, let us endeavor to bring their works to light, that every one may behold them, and thereby be enabled to shun them. If we attend not to these things, we are traitors to God, and have no zeal for His honor, nor for the salvation of the church. (“Pure Preaching of the Word”)

The Wicked Herb

How should we respond to the teaching of false doctrine in the church? John Calvin answers this question below:

But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

If we have a desire to obey our God as we ought, we must practice that which is commanded us, and pray Him to cleanse the church from . . . the devil’s instruments. This might be applied to all corruptions and stumbling-blocks invented by the devil; but it is here spoken of concerning the doctrine whereby we are quickened, which is the true food of the soul.

Now let us come to that part of the subject, in which St. Paul informs us who are of this number. He saith, “Of whom is Hymeneus, and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already: and overthrow the faith of some.” When he names Hymeneus and Philetus, he showeth that we must not spare them, who, like scabby sheep, may infect the flock, but we must rather tell every one, what kind of men they are, that they may beware of them. Are we not traitors to our neighbors when we see them in danger of being turned from God, and do not inform them of it? A wicked man that goeth about to establish perverse doctrine, and cause offences in the church, what is he but an impostor? If I dissemble when I see him, is it not as though I should see my neighbor in danger, and would not bid him beware?

If the life of the body ought to be so precious to us that we would do all in our power to preserve it, of how much more importance is the life of the soul! Those who endeavor to turn every thing upside down will come and sow their false doctrine among the people, in order to draw them into a contempt of God. These barking dogs, these vile goats, these ravenous wolves, are they that have erred, and endeavored to overthrow the faith of the church: and yet we suffer them. Men will frequently say, must we be at defiance with them? Must we cast them off that they may fall into despair? This is said by those who think we ought to use gentleness; but what mercy is it to spare one man, and in the mean time to cast away a thousand souls, rather than warn them? We must not suffer wicked herbs to grow among us – lest they should get the upper hand, and choke whatsoever good seed there be, or utterly destroy it. (“Pure Preaching of the Word”)

Do Not Turn Aside from Pure Doctrine

There are many cultural Christians who eagerly seek to have ego boosting trash taught to them; they want the Word of God to be pleasant to listen to. Therefore, they seek ineffective and unbeneficial false teaching. According to John Calvin:

But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

[A particular] doctrine may not seem bad to us at the first view, yet notwithstanding, if it has not a tendency to lead us to God, and strengthen us in His service, to confirm us in the faith and hope that is given us of everlasting life, it will deceive us in the end; and prove to be but a mixture which serveth no purpose, except to take away the good which we had received before.

To be short, those that have not this in view, to draw the world to God, and build up the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He may rule among us, mar all. All the labor and pains they take but increases their wickedness; and if they be suffered to go on in this way, a gate is set open to Satan, whereby he may bring to naught whatsoever is of God. Although this is not done at the first blow, yet we see the end is such. To express this better, St. Paul adds, “Their word will eat as doth a canker.”

The word “eat,” mentioned here, is not commonly understood; it is what the surgeons call, an eating sore, and what is also called, St. Anthony’s fire: that is to say, when there is such an inflammation in any part of the body, that the sore eateth not only the flesh and sinews, but the bones also. In short, it is a fire that devoureth all: the hand will cause the arm to be lost, and the foot the leg, unless at the beginning, the part that is affected be cut off; thus the man is in danger of losing his members, unless there be fit remedies provided for it; in this case we should spare no pains, but cut off the part affected, that the rest be not utterly destroyed.

Thus we view it here spiritually: for St. Paul showeth us that although we may have been well instructed in wholesome doctrine, all will be marred, if we give place to these unprofitable questions, and only endeavor to please the hearers, and feed their desires. Seeing we understand what St. Paul’s meaning is, let us endeavor to put this exhortation into practice. When we see men go about, endeavoring to turn us aside from the true doctrine, let us shun them, and shut the gate against them. Unless we take it in hand at the first start, and entirely cut it off, it may be as difficult to control as the disease of which we have spoken.

Therefore, let us not be sleeping; for this is a matter of importance; it will prove a deadly disease, unless it be seen to in time. If this exhortation had been observed, things would be in a better condition at the present day in Christendom. (“Pure Preaching of the Word”)

God will have His People Edified

Mankind is weak and foolish. Our minds are always trying to alter and bend the truth. We seem to be drawn to things which are unprofitable for our souls. Therefore, we must be very careful when it comes to our own desires. John Calvin writes:

But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

For God will have His people to be edified; and He hath appointed His Word for that purpose. Therefore, if we go not about the salvation of the people, that they may receive nourishment by the doctrine that is taught them, it is sacrilege; for we pervert the pure use of the Word of God. This word profane is set against that which is holy and dedicated to God. Whatsoever pertains to the magnifying of God, and increases our knowledge of His majesty, whereby we may worship Him; whatsoever draweth us to the kingdom of heaven, or taketh our affections from the world, and leadeth us to Jesus Christ that we may be grafted into His body, is called holy.

On the contrary, when we feel not the glory of God, when we feel not to submit ourselves to Him, when we know not the riches of the kingdom of heaven, when we are not drawn into His service to live in pureness of conscience, when we know not what the salvation meaneth which was purchased by our Lord Jesus Christ, we belong to the world, and are profaned. The doctrine which serves to mislead us in such things is also called profane. Thus we see what St. Paul’s meaning is: to wit, when we come together in the name of God, it is not to hear merry songs, and to be fed with wind, that is, with vain and unprofitable curiosity, but to receive spiritual nourishment. For God will have nothing preached in His name, but that which will profit and edify the hearers, nothing but that which containeth good matter.

But it is true, our nature is such, that we take great pleasure in novelty, and in speculations which seem to be subtle. Therefore, let us beware, and think as we ought, that we may not profane God’s holy Word. Let us seek that which edifieth, and not abuse ourselves by receiving that which hath no substance in it. It is hard to withdraw men from such vanity, because they are inclined to participate in it. But St. Paul showeth that there is nothing more miserable than such vain curiosity: “For they will increase unto more ungodliness.” As if he had said, my friends, you know not at first sight what hurt cometh by these deceivers; who go about to gain credit and estimation among you, and with pleasant toys endeavor to please you; but believe me, they are Satan’s instruments and such as in no wise serve God but increase unto more wickedness; that is. If they are let alone, they will mar the Christian religion; they will not leave one jot safe and sound. Therefore, see that you flee them as plagues, although at first sight, the poison which they bring be not perceived. (“Pure Preaching of the Word”)

Vain Preaching

John Calvin understood that men will often run after great orators who only seek to tickle the ears of their audience. He also understood that articulate preachers might arise that seek a large audience rather than the salvation of men. Calvin writes:

But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

The doctrine which is set forth to us in God’s name, to be the food of our souls, will be corrupted by the devil, if in his power; when he cannot destroy it, he blends things with it, in order to bring it into contempt, and destroy our knowledge of the will of God. There are many in this day who put themselves forward to teach; and what is the cause of it? Ambition carries them away; they disguise the Word of God, and thus Satan goes about to deprive us of the spiritual life.

But this he is not able to accomplish, unless by some means the doctrine of God be corrupted. St. Paul repeats the exhortation: that we must shun all unprofitable babbling, and stay ourselves upon plain teaching – which is forcible. He not only condemns manifest errors, superstition, and lies, but he condemns the disguising of the Word of God: as when men invent subtleties, to cloy men’s ears; bringing no true nourishment to the soul, nor edification in faith, and the fear of God, to the hearers.

When St. Paul speaks of vain babbling, he means that which contents curious men; as we see many that take great pleasure in vain questions, wherewith they seem to be ravished. They do not openly speak against the truth, but they despise it as a thing too common and base; as a thing for children and fools; as for them, they will know some higher and more profound matter. Thus they are at variance with that which would be profitable for them. Therefore, let us weigh well the words of St. Paul: vain babbling; as though he said, if there be nothing but fine rhetoric and exquisite words to gain him credit that speaks, and to show that he is well learned, [but not Bible truth and sound doctrine] none of this should be received into the church; all must be banished. (“Pure Preaching of the Word”)

The Next Time

Quoting Adrian Rogers:

He came the first time to die; He is coming again to raise the dead. When He came the first time, they questioned whether He was King; the next time the world will know that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. The first time He wore a crown of thorns; the next time He will be wearing a crown of glory. The first time He came in poverty; the next time He is coming in power. The first time He had an escort of angels; the next time He will come with ten thousands of His saints. The first time He came in meekness; He is coming again in majesty.

You Must Study The Word Of God

William Gurnall

From the desk of William Gurnall:

Christian, if you can once and for all break your engagement to the flesh and become a free man in Christ, truth will be your steadfast friend. Study God’s word faithfully as well. Satan has a habit of stopping the ears from hearing sound doctrine before he opens them to listen to corrupt. He will, as often as he can, pull a saint away from God’s Word and talk him into rejecting some point of truth. But he who rejects the truth of one doctrine, loses the blessing of them all. Paul predicted how this would happen “They shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Do not pretend you want to be lead into truth if you will not bother to study the whole Word of God. In doing so, you are no different from a child who says he wants to learn, yet plays the truant. Such a child must be disciplined. Because your Heavenly Father loves you, He will bring you back to the Word with shame and sorrow, rather than leave you trapped in Satan’s lies.

As you study and grow, be wary of new doctrine. Do not hastily accept every thing you hear, even when from the pulpit. Now I admit that to reject a doctrine simply because we have never heard of it before is foolish. But we have every right to wait and inquire before embracing it. When you hear a new notion about the truth, go to God in prayer and seek His council. Search the scriptures. Discuss it with your pastor and with other Christians whose wisdom and maturity you trust.

The truth will stand up under scrutiny. It is a fruit that never bruises or spoils from handling. But error, like a fish, begins to stink after a few days. Therefore, let new ideas sit before you, do not make a meal of them. You do not want to poison your soul with rotting mackerel when you could be feasting on manna from heaven! (The Christian in Complete Armour, 1665)

John Gill On The Scriptures

Quoting John Gill:

“The scriptures are the only external guide in matters of religion; they are the way-posts we should look up unto, and take our direction from, and should steer our course accordingly: To the law and to the testimony: if men speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Isa. 8:20)”


The Reproof Of Sinners

Asahel Nettleton

He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).

The great early American preacher, Asahel Nettleton, provides here a stern warning to the church and ministers of Christ:

God has made it the duty of his people to deal faithfully with each other. Exhort one another daily, lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. And again, Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart (Leviticus 19:17).The expression is peculiarly forcible. The Almighty considers a neglect of brotherly reproof as on a par with the open indulgence of the feelings of anger and resentment. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart; thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor and not suffer sin upon him. And says our Savior, If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone. Brethren, says James, if any do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Further, God has provided for the reproof of offenders by making it a duty of parents towards their children. To attend to the spiritual concerns of children, and to restrain their wickedness is the most important part of a parent’s duty. We have had fathers of our flesh, says the Apostle, who have corrected us, and we gave them reverence-and most persons can adopt his language in relation to their own experience. Yes; and what a load of guilt will rest upon the head of that ungodly child who has despised all the warnings, the entreaties, and tears, and prayers of a pious father, or an affectionate mother, who travailed in birth again that Christ might be formed in their souls, the hope of glory, when their own bodies slumber in the dust.

God also reproves sinners by his providences. He sends his judgments abroad in the earth that the inhabitants may learn righteousness. By the pains we feel, we are admonished that we are sinners; and warned to flee from the wrath to come.

By his Word. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, and for reproof. All the invitations, commands, and threatenings, and warnings in the Bible are so many admonitions to sinners.

By his ministers. Son of man, I have made thee a watchman to the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. Show thy people their transgression, and the house of Israel their sin. Hear the injunction of Paul on Timothy: I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come(it seems as if, in uttering this prediction the Apostle had an eye upon sinners of our own day); For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.

But woe to those ministers who do not feel the weight of this charge-and woe to those wincing hearers, who (having itching ears that will not endure sound doctrine, heap to themselves teachers that prophecy smooth things, and say peace, peace to the wicked, when God hath declared that there is no peace for them. Against such preachers and hearers the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke, and all the curses that are written in this book shall be upon them, and the Lord shall blot out their names from under heaven. If ye cease to warn the wicked, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand. Mark: the consequence of withholding the warning, is the destruction of both the preacher and the hearer.

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