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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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The Truth about Us!

The purpose of the law is to reveal our sinfulness and bring us to Christ. When Christ refers to the commandments, He is using it to expose sin. Pastor David Moore writes:

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:17-23 ESV)

It is interesting how the Lord went about finding this man out. Notice that Jesus only presented him with the parts of the Ten Commandments that deal with man-to-man relationships. The first four commandments which deal with man to God, He leaves unmentioned. There is no question that the young man has violated these , but the Lord wants to expose the self righteousness of this earnest enquirer, and he wants him to see that whilst he seeks eternal life, in his own mind he actually doesn’t have a need for it.

When the young man says of these laws “Master, all these I have observed from my youth.” I believe him. The chances are good that he had never committed adultery, that he had not murdered anyone, that he was generally honest, truthful, and honoring of his parents – at least on a superficial level. But if he is suggesting, as he is, that he had never murdered – even with his tongue, that he had not committed adultery – even in his heart, that he had never spoken anything less than the whole truth, then we can only marvel at his blindness and inability to see the truth about himself.

Let me tell you something, the truth about ourselves is hard. We can give man a softer image, we can proclaim him as generally good, mostly kind and humanitarian – but the truth is we are wicked to the bone, we are selfish, depraved, we are ungodly, we are by nature the enemies of God we are everything we would rather not be and that is the hard truth, and you cannot proclaim a true gospel without facing men with the hard truth about ourselves. I don’t see too much “seeker sensitivity” here. I see hard realities. Tough, damning statements, that tell the truth about who men are and what they are like. (“The Hard Gospel”)

What Keeps Us Honest?

The Supreme Court and lesser federal courts have ruled that plaques bearing the Ten Commandments must be taken down from courthouses and other judicial buildings because they allegedly violate the First Amendment’s so-called Establishment Clause.

But if psychologist Dan Ariely is right about how to cure dishonesty, then we should be putting the Ten Commandments up on every street corner, as well as every courthouse.

Read this interesting article by Dr. Benjamin Wiker at tothesource.

The Way to Live

If we do not live according to God’s commandments we shall suffer. According to Proverbs 13:15, ESV“Good sense wins favor, but the way of the treacherous is their ruin.” Isaiah 57:21, ESV teaches us that – “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.” A man may be wealthy and intelligent but as long as he is wicked he will never know peace. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shares his insights:

This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:27-29 ESV)

God not only tells us that He has made us in His own image and likeness and that we are responsible beings, He has told us how to live. Here is the great problem, ‘Why is the world as it is? Why the drunkenness and the immorality and the vice and the dishonesty and the chicanery and the battling? What is the matter, what is the cause of it all? There is a simple answer according to the Bible – that man instead of living according to God’s laws, is living according to His own ideas. But God has told us how to live. Where does He tell us? In what are called the Ten Commandments – if only everybody in the world lived according to the Ten Commandments tonight, our world would be paradise! What are they? Well, we are told that we must start by all submitting to God. We are not gods, that is the trouble in the world, there are too many gods in it. Every man is a god, everyman sets himself up; he is the authority, he is the god. ‘This is what I say’, he says and he is insubordinate. That is the folly, there is only one God and He has told us that we must live to His glory. ‘And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength …. And Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’ [Mark 12:30-31]. And you will never love your neighbor as yourself until you have submitted yourself to God. Then you will see yourself as you are and you will see your neighbor as he is and you will see that you are both failures and you are both helpless and you are both hopeless – and you will love him for the first time, as you love yourself.

But then God goes on and these are the particulars – thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s ox, or his ass, or his manservant or his maidservant or his wife (Exodus 20:13-17); Those are the ten commandments – if only everybody lived according to God’s commandments! There would be no infidelity, there would be no promiscuity, and there would be no separations, no divorces, and no little children breaking their hearts because father and mother have gone their own selfish ways, leaving their little hearts to suffer. There would be an end to that. There would be no theft and dishonesty, there would be no drunkenness, there would be no drug addiction, there would be no atomic bombs, there would be no need of all these conferences to try and produce some precarious peace. There would be peace if only everybody in the world lived as God has told us to live. This Word is still true tonight, that is the way to live. (“A Kingdom Which Cannot Be Shaken”)

The Sexual Revolution

The following consists of excerpts from an excellent article by Michael Wagner which may be viewed in its entirety through the link below:

We all want different things. And because of our fallen natures, many of our wants are for things that will harm us and those around us—we lust after power, sex, other people’s possessions, even revenge. If everyone simply pursued their own desires, it’s hard to see how civilization could survive.

Fortunately for us, God has provided rules for living—the Ten Commandments—that restrict these desires so that they don’t harm others. The Law helps to make harmonious social life possible. Rules make civilization possible—no rules, no civilization.

But many today don’t like rules and this is especially true with regard to sexual behavior. So-called “Victorian” sexual morality has been accused of being the cause of psychological “hang-ups”; Biblical morality is seen as the source of much human suffering. The solution, in this view, can only be found in individual and societal sexual liberation. The “need” to break out of the confining and suffocating constraints of traditional morality was thus a major impetus to what has been called the “Sexual Revolution,” a significant social development in the Western countries whereby modern liberal views of sexual attitudes and behavior replaced the traditional norms of Western civilization. This revolution, and the attitudes and behaviors it promoted, has been embraced by the political, academic and media establishments, as well as many common citizens. It was the Sexual Revolution that led to the legalization of abortion and the widespread acceptance of divorce, promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality and cohabitation without marriage, basically a shopping list of many current social problems. . . .

With the spread of pornography, and at the same time a dramatic increase in the production of adult literature (i.e. immoral literature), came a basically simultaneous liberalization of obscenity laws, often through judicial interpretation. . . .

Divorce went from a necessary evil to a positive good almost overnight”. Promiscuous sex outside of marriage was seen as a major component of “freedom” by proponents of sexual liberation. And as one would expect, such behavior led to a large number of “unwanted pregnancies.”

What to do? Well, kill the babies, of course. The problem was that abortion was commonly restricted or even illegal in most jurisdictions.

Many states in the USA had laws against abortion, for example. So these laws needed to be overturned. The US Supreme Court obliged by striking down all abortion laws in that country in the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. . . .

According to this view of the world, Christianity is the killjoy of life. It compels people to restrain their natural sexual appetites, which can only legitimately be expressed within monogamous marriage. Supposedly this causes Christians to be “repressed,” leading to various social and psychological problems. Sexual liberation (that is, throwing off Christian moral restraint) leads to relaxed, well-adjusted people. And these people can freely enjoy the good things in life—you know, like promiscuity, pornography, divorce and abortion. Isn’t that appealing?

No. The rules stipulated in the Ten Commandments lead to the good life, not a so-called “liberation” from the Commandments. All people are sinful, and so all people experience problems in their lives, including Christians. But those problems cannot be alleviated by throwing away God’s rules for human living. Quite to the contrary, in fact. Biblical morality is a sure guide to the good life. The happiness promised by the Sexual Revolution is a fraud. Surely that should be apparent by now. (“NO RULES, NO CIVILIZATION: The Sexual Revolution left us free . . . to be Miserable”)

Copyright Michael Wagner 2008

Read this entire article from the April 2008 issue of Reformed Perspective magazine. . . .

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!'”

Students Unwilling To Make Judgments On Right And Wrong

The following article is taken from excerpts of Chuck Colson’s Moral Relativism and Education”:

Dr. Stephen Anderson teaches philosophy at A.B. Lucas Secondary School in Ontario, Canada. His students had just finished a unit on metaphysics and were about to start one on ethics.

To jump start the discussion and to “form a baseline from which they could begin to ask questions about the legitimacy of moral judgments of all kinds,” Anderson shared with them a gruesome photo of Bibi Aisha, a teenage wife of a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan. When Bibi tried to get away from her abusive husband, her family caught her, cut off her nose and ears, and left her to die in the mountains. Only Bibi didn’t die. Somehow she crawled to her grandfather’s house, and was saved in an American hospital.

Writing in Education Journal magazine, Anderson relates how he was sure that his students, “seeing the suffering of this poor girl of their own age, [they] would have a clear ethical reaction,” one they could talk about “more difficult cases.”

But their response shocked Anderson. “[He] expected strong aversion [to it], … but that’s not what I got. Instead, they became confused … afraid to make any moral judgment at all. They were unwilling to criticize,” as he said, “any situation originating in a different culture. They said, ‘Well, we might not like it, but maybe over there it’s okay.’”

Anderson calls their confusion and refusal to judge such child mutilation a moment of startling clarity, and indeed it is. He wonders if it stems not from too little education, but from too much multiculturalism and so-called “values education,” which is really just an excuse for moral relativism.

Anderson writes, “While we may hope some [students] are capable of bridging the gap between principled morality and this ethically vacuous relativism, it is evident that a good many are not. For them, the overriding message is ‘never judge, never criticize, never take a position.’” Anderson wonders whether in our current educational system, we’re not producing ethical paralytics? Well, if the horrifying example of the students’ reaction in this case is any indication, Anderson already knows the answer.

We would do well to ponder the words of Pope Benedict, who said on January first that neither justice nor peace is possible if we do not hold the Ten Commandments as expressions of objective truth. The Pope said that peace and justice are simply “words without content” unless founded on the bedrock of natural moral law, as expressed in the Decalogue, given to Moses more than 3,000 years ago.

To read more, click here. . . .

Aliens In Today’s Western World

Dinesh D'Souza

Quoting Dinesh D’Souza:

The effort by secularists to teach our children hostility to religion, and specifically to Christianity, is especially strange considering that Western civilization was built by Christianity. Don’t take my word for it. This, from the world’s leading social theorist, Jurgen Habermas:

Christianity and nothing else is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Time of Transitions

The problem is not that our young people know too much about Christianity, but that they know too little. In America we do not have the problem of the Muslim madrassas, where only the Koran is studied. Rather, we live in a religiously illiterate society in which the Bible is rarely taught. Consequently many people in America and the West cannot name five of the Ten Commandments or recognize Genesis as the first book of the Bible. There’s no point in even asking about the meaning of the Trinity. One in ten Americans apparently believes that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife. Ignorance of this kind has made many Westerners aliens in their own civilization, as they no longer know the literature, history, and philosophy that made the West the civilization it is today. (“Adrift”)

A Few Thoughts On Winning God’s Favor

Have you ever found yourself wondering how to win the favor of God? I’m sure this is an age old question and I am not the first to think of it. Many men have humiliated themselves, and brought themselves down in abject misery for this purpose. The History Channel often offers a view of how people of every land have starved themselves, slept on stones, lacerated their flesh and subjected themselves to all sorts of torture, thinking that these actions would win God’s favor.

Others try to win God’s favor through worship, sacrifices, by observing certain feasts and fasts, and elaborate forms of rituals. But even worship becomes monotonous and sacrifices lose their meaning. Then men come to believe in the power and action of obedience to touch God’s heart. Yet, according to Paul, man does not win God’s favor by physical degradation or ecclesiastical ceremony, or by obeying the Decalogue. There is nothing, he asserts, which a man can do which will win him the favor of God. It is not possible. The favor of the Eternal Father, therefore, is not to be earned even by obedience to the law, but is simply to be accepted as given by grace with thanksgiving and joy.

When Paul says that Christians are no longer under law, he means that they are no longer under law as external restraint. When he says that the law has passed away, he means that it has passed away as a measure of coercion, but he does not mean that the life of man can ever safely depart from the principles ordained of God. It is no longer external restraint but internal constraint, no longer external compulsion but internal impulsion that appeals to the heart of God.

There are in these modern times, however, too many people in the church who do not know how to benefit from the grace given them. There is much havoc in today’s Christian church because men use the excuse of grace to please the flesh (if they are Christians at all). If there is no internal constraint, the number of professing Christians who make shipwreck of their religious life is appalling. No love of Christ constrains them to do what God would have them do. It is evident that their “Cultural” Christianity is a sham.

So, how do we gain favor with God? We know this when we trust Jesus Christ for our salvation and receive the Spirit of God who makes us free from the Law by grace. It is the Holy Spirit working a holy internal compulsion within us to live by the principles of the Law in service to God and strengthened by God.

Madison On Self-Government

March 4: James Madison begins the first of two...

James Madison

Quoting James Madison:

“We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

Find Out If You Are Bible Literate!

To demonstrate the importance of Biblical literacy, the Bible Literacy Project has unveiled a quiz that shows the impact of Biblical characters and narratives on our everyday life. Participants can compare their score with those of other test-takers.

Many are familiar with the biblical accounts of the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Ark, the Parting of the Red Sea, the Ten Commandments, and others.

Do you know how those Bible narratives have shaped our culture? Their influence is everywhere—in literary references, newspaper headlines, major speeches, song lyrics, and more.

This quiz provides an opportunity to test your biblical literacy. Check it out!

Take The Bible Literacy Quiz Here. . . .

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