Death Comes to AllEcclesiastes 9 1 But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. 2 It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. 3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. 4 But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.
Enjoy Life with the One You Love7 Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.
8 Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.
9 Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
Wisdom Better Than Folly11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. 12 For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.
13 I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me. 14 There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. 15 But there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. 16 But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heard.
17 The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. 18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.
Ecclesiastes 10 1 Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench;
so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
2 A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right,
but a fool’s heart to the left.
3 Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense,
and he says to everyone that he is a fool.
4 If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place,
for calmness will lay great offenses to rest.
8 He who digs a pit will fall into it,
and a serpent will bite him who breaks through a wall.
9 He who quarries stones is hurt by them,
and he who splits logs is endangered by them.
10 If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge,
he must use more strength,
but wisdom helps one to succeed.
11 If the serpent bites before it is charmed,
there is no advantage to the charmer.
12 The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor,
but the lips of a fool consume him.
13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness,
and the end of his talk is evil madness.
14 A fool multiplies words,
though no man knows what is to be,
and who can tell him what will be after him?
15 The toil of a fool wearies him,
for he does not know the way to the city.
16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
and your princes feast in the morning!
17 Happy are you, O land, when your king is the son of the nobility,
and your princes feast at the proper time,
for strength, and not for drunkenness!
18 Through sloth the roof sinks in,
and through indolence the house leaks.
19 Bread is made for laughter,
and wine gladdens life,
and money answers everything.
20 Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king,
nor in your bedroom curse the rich,
for a bird of the air will carry your voice,
or some winged creature tell the matter.
Cast Your Bread upon the Waters
Ecclesiastes 11 1 Cast your bread upon the waters,
for you will find it after many days.
2 Give a portion to seven, or even to eight,
for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.
3 If the clouds are full of rain,
they empty themselves on the earth,
and if a tree falls to the south or to the north,
in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.
4 He who observes the wind will not sow,
and he who regards the clouds will not reap.
6 In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.
7 Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.
8 So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.
9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
10 Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.
Remember Your Creator in Your Youth
Ecclesiastes 12Ecclesiastes 12 1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, 3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, 4 and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— 5 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— 6 before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. 8 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.
Fear God and Keep His Commandments9 Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. 10 The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.
11 The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. 12 My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
What I'm Reading
How to Handle Your Doubt When Times Get Tough
By J. Warner Wallace 6/29/2015
If you’re watching the culture closely, you’ve probably noticed it’s increasingly difficult (and unpopular) to hold a Christian worldview in America. Fewer and fewer of us identify as Christians in what is quickly becoming a “post-Christian” culture. Some predict it’s only going to get worse, and I tend to agree. That’s why I’m so glad I’m a Christian evidentialist. If you’re a believer, your definition of Biblical “faith” will determine the way you process your own doubt and it will shape your response in difficult times. The God of the Bible admonished Old and New Testament believers when they struggled with doubt in times of crisis, and His and response was consistently grounded in His evidential nature.
The Christian definition of “faith” is not simply “blind,” unsupported belief. Instead, Biblical faith is a reasonable trust in what cannot be seen, given the strength of the evidence that has been seen. When God’s children floundered in their faith, He repeatedly called them to a reasonable trust in the evidence He had provided them. Let me give you two examples of God’s evidential response to doubt; one from the Old Testament and one from the New:
An Example From the Old Testament: When the Israelites struggled with doubt and fear as they faced hostile cultures and difficult times, God provided them with an approach to help them overcome their uncertainty:
(Dt 7:18–19) 18 do not be afraid of them. Just remember what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, 19 the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the LORD your God brought you out. The LORD your God will do the same to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. NRSV
God commanded the Israelites to recall the public miracles He worked when He saved them from the Egyptian army. Yahweh told the Jewish nation to remember how He parted the Red Sea, and He used this supernatural act as an evidential point of reference. He didn’t simply tell his people to remember their own subjective, personal experiences with Him, but He instead asked them to recall the miracles He performed publicly. He gave them the evidence they needed to confirm His existence, even when they were starting to doubt this reality. In tough times, the Israelites simply needed to recall the evidence. If their faith was properly grounded and properly evidential, they could withstand even the worst of times. For this reason, they were commanded to respond rationally rather than emotionally.
An Example from the New Testament: When John the Baptist struggled with doubt while he was incarcerated (and just prior to his execution), he sent his disciples with a question. Jesus provided the same time-tested approach to help John overcome his doubt:
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of:
Some Things You Should Know About Christians Who Struggle With Anxiety
By Tim Challies 8/15/2016
You have probably bumped into Adam Ford before, either through his comics at Adam4d.com or through his satire at The Babylon Bee. Over the past couple of years I’ve come to enjoy Adam as a friend and recently asked if he’d like to try his hand at another medium by penning a guest article. He obliged and this is the result. I trust you’ll benefit from it.
For 7 years I have lived with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Social Anxiety. It has completely changed my life. I have written and drawn about these things before and the response has proven to me that there are tons of Christians who relate to my story. This probably includes people you know. I also know that many are hesitant to tell others about their struggles. So for them, based on my experience, I compiled a little list of things you should know about your Christian friends and family who struggle with anxiety.
It changes us. | Before I had these issues I was an outgoing, type-A extrovert. I fed off social situations and loved being the center of attention. Today I’m a serious introvert who struggles mightily with social situations, unfamiliar settings, having any attention on me, meeting new people, talking on the phone, or even writing an article like this one. More often than not, I just can’t do it. I’ve been unable to leave my house for stretches of time. I’ve almost crashed my car while having a panic attack. I hate going to the doctor or the barber shop. I can’t do small groups with people I don’t know. I’ve tried so, so hard to go to conferences (I wanted to go to T4G so bad this year!), but I’ve never been able to go through with it. I’m a mess, really.
It’s not a Matthew 6 or Philippians 4 issue—it’s a physiological issue. | Pre-anxiety-me would probably have scoffed at this. But having an anxiety disorder is not the same thing as being a worrywart. Most people with anxiety don’t go to the doctor and say, “I dunno doc, I can’t stop worrying about stuff.” Most of us go to the doctor with troubling physical symptoms, and only then do we learn that anxiety is the cause. In my case, I went to the doctor thinking I was having a stroke or some major brain issue. In reality, I was having my first panic attack. When the doctor told me it was anxiety I thought he was crazy or that he was not taking me seriously. I was convinced I was experiencing medical trauma! My entire central nervous system was telling me so. And then this guy tells me I have anxiety. It was surreal. I’ve had tons of people tell me that this is their story as well. This is not the same type of anxiety that manifests mainly as nagging worry. We have a mental disorder, not a control problem.
We know it doesn’t make any sense. | It doesn’t make sense to you—or us, most of the time. It’s called a disorder because it is a disorder—our brains are malfunctioning. We know our thoughts are illogical. We know there is no good reason for our adrenaline to be pumping like we’re running from a T-Rex. We know it’s just the anxiety messing with us. But knowing that doesn’t help a single bit.
Tim Challies: I am a Christian, a husband to Aileen and a father to three children aged 10 to 16. I worship and serve as an elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario. I am a book reviewer, co-founder of Cruciform Press, and have written five books:
I began my web site in 2002 and have been writing there daily since 2003. It is my place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things I’ve discovered in my online travels.
Tim Challies Books:
Seeing Through, Not With, The Eye
By Justin Taylor 10/13/2009
Ravi Zacharias: “We now learn to listen with our eyes and think with our feelings. . . . We are meant to see through the eye, with the conscience; when we start seeing with the eye devoid of the conscience, all kinds of belief can invade your imagination.”
This life’s dim windows of the soul
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with, not through, the eye.
I was standing today in the dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside and through the crack at the top of the door there came a sunbeam. From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it.
Then I moved, so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences. --- C.S. Lewis
Click here to go to source
Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.
Are All Your Friends Your Age?
By Calley Sivils 7/17/2017
It’s a strange thing to see arguments for why an entire demographic of people are “the worst.” But as a member of the “Millennial” generation, it is apparently not only acceptable, but almost trendy (just try googling Millennial and worst). But disesteem doesn’t only run downhill. Many Millennials roll their eyes not only at the clichéd caricatures of themselves they hear from older generations, but at the older generations themselves.
This is, of course, nothing close to a new phenomenon. Envy, conflict, and disrespect have never been confined to the “neighbors” within our own generation. We all need Jesus to restore relationships not only with those who are near to us, but to those who are different.
Without Christ’s restorative grace, such intergenerational pride will endure. “But it shall not be so” in Jesus’s church (Mark 10:43). We need each other. And God provides the grace for both young and old to reach out to one another in grace and understanding. The church is not only forties and under (woe to us if it were!). And the church is not only fifties and over (again, woe to us if it were!). God calls, utilizes, and sanctifies his children of all ages.
Exhortation for Younger Believers | Pride is a species-wide disease for humans, reflective of our enmity with God and inheritance from Adam. However, its manifestations are many and some are subtle and difficult to detect.
In young people, our pride is often manifested in the illusion that youth is forever. In foolishness, we forget old age. No matter how young you are, old age is coming for you — unless God wills your time be short. Wisdom only comes when God helps us “to number our days” and enables that truth to penetrate our hearts so that we use what time we have wisely and in a manner glorifying to him.
The New/Old Way Our Culture Pressures Us To Conform
By Tim Challies 8/11/2017
Every culture has certain standards that distinguish good and respectable people from the bad and disreputable people. Every culture has ways of compelling people to adhere to its standards. Some force adherence through guilt, some through fear, and some through shame.
In a guilt-innocence culture, your standing before others depends upon your level of guilt or innocence. Your reputation is measured by adherence to laws, so nations and cities and even organizations all have their laws carefully codified. If you break one of these laws you enter into a state of guilt and can only have your innocence restored by satisfying the requirements of the laws you’ve broken, perhaps by paying a fine or serving a jail sentence.
In a fear-power culture, your standing before others depends upon your level of fear or power, especially over gods and spirits. Your reputation is measured by the amount of power you gain and maintain. Fear comes when power has been taken by others or ceded through a failure to conform to society’s expectations. The way to overcome fear is to gain power, perhaps by offering a sacrifice (with the most costly sacrifices gaining the greatest amount of power) or by consulting with a shaman or witch doctor.
In a shame-honor culture, your standing before others depends upon your level of shame or honor. When you fail to maintain cultural norms, you gain shame and need to restore it with acts of honor. The greater the shame, the greater the act of honor needed to balance the scales. This is why we sometimes hear of honor killings in which a man will murder members of his family. The horror of bearing shame is greater than the horror of slaughtering his own child.
Every culture has elements of all three, but one always predominates. You probably see that western cultures tend to be guilt-innocence, southern cultures tend to be fear-power, and eastern cultures tend to be shame-honor.
Tim Challies: I am a Christian, a husband to Aileen and a father to three children aged 10 to 16. I worship and serve as an elder at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario. I am a book reviewer, co-founder of Cruciform Press, and have written five books:
I began my web site in 2002 and have been writing there daily since 2003. It is my place to think out loud and in public while also sharing some of the interesting things I’ve discovered in my online travels.
Tim Challies Books:
When God Messes with Your Life Plan
By Stephen Altrogge 8/14/2017
Creating life plans is big business these days. For a sum of money, you can hire a Life Coach (Life Guru, Life Master, Life Sensei, whatever it’s called), and they will then help you construct a master life plan. The life plan will probably contain some, or all, of the following items:
Stephen Altrogge Books:
- 1 Create: Stop Making Excuses and Start Making Stuff
- 2 Untamable God: Encountering the One Who Is Bigger, Better, and More Dangerous Than You Could Possibly Imagine
- 3 The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence
- 4 Game Day for the Glory of God: A Guide for Athletes, Fans, and Wannabes
- 5 Twists and Turns: Short Stories About Strange Situations
- 6 The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Thoughts On Following Jesus, Amish Romance, the Daniel Plan, the Tebow Effect, and the Odds of Finding Your Soul Mate
- 7 The Last Superhero
- 8 The Chip
The God Who Commands Our Emotions
By John Piper 8/12/2015
To obey God is to love God, right? Well, it depends on what you mean, as John explained in his message titled “What Jesus Demands from the World” at The Gospel Coalition 2015 conference. Here’s what he said:
And how many people have you ever heard say, “Loving God or loving Jesus is obeying Jesus”? They base it on the text, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). That text says the exact opposite.
Conditions | An “if-then” sentence doesn’t say that the then or the if are the same, but “If I am hungry, I will eat lunch” doesn’t mean hunger is lunch. “If you love me, you will obey” doesn’t mean love is obedience. It means, in fact, it comes before and enables — “If you love me, you will obey.” They are not the same.
Love goes first. Love is underneath, holding up, staying in the yoke, abiding, enjoying, treasuring, marveling, being entranced by, being filled with. And out of that, a good tree bears good fruit. A bad tree bears bad fruit. Make the tree good. That is another command that comes later in the book.
So my answer to the question, “What is this love?” is, first, that it is not synonymous with obedience.
- Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture
- Don't Waste Your Life
- Desiring God, Revised Edition: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist
- When I Don't Desire God (Redesign): How to Fight for Joy
- A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness
- Future Grace, Revised Edition: The Purifying Power of the Promises of God
- When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God--and Joy
- This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence
- Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God's Grace
- Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ (Revised Edition)
- Living in the Light: Money, Sex and Power
- The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God
- Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life
- A Camaraderie of Confidence: The Fruit of Unfailing Faith in the Lives of Charles Spurgeon, George Müller, and Hudson Taylor
- A Camaraderie of Confidence: The Fruit of Unfailing Faith in the Lives of Charles Spurgeon, George Müller, and Hudson Taylor
- Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions
- God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself
- Rethinking Retirement: Finishing Life for the Glory of Christ
- The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin
- Doctrine Matters: Ten Theological Trademarks From a Lifetime of Preaching
- A Hunger for God (Redesign): Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer
- The Dangerous Duty of Delight: The Glorified God and the Satisfied Soul
- Battling Unbelief: Defeating Sin with Superior Pleasure
- Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry, Updated and Expanded Edition
- The Supremacy of God in Preaching
- Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Redesign): A Response to Evangelical Feminism
- Risk Is Right: Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It
- Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ: The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton (The Swans Are Not Silent)
- A Godward Heart: Treasuring the God Who Loves You
- The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce
- Don't Waste Your Cancer
- Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian
- The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd
- Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully: The Power of Poetic Effort in the Work of George Herbert, George Whitefield, and C. S. Lewis
- Suffering and the Sovereignty of God
- Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist
- The Justification of God: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1-23
- Finally Alive
- A Godward Life: Seeing the Supremacy of God in All of Life
- Spectacular Sins (Redesign): And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ
- Pierced by the Word: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Soul
- God's Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (With the Complete Text of The End for Which God Created the World)
- Life as a Vapor: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Faith
- Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God
- 50 Crucial Questions: An Overview of Central Concerns about Manhood and Womanhood
- What Jesus Demands from the World (Paperback Edition)
- What's the Difference?: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible
- Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen
- Finish the Mission: Bringing the Gospel to the Unreached and Unengaged
- John Calvin and His Passion for the Majesty of God
- A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer
- Does God Desire All to Be Saved?
- Preparing for Marriage: Help for Christian Couples
- The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent
- The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright
- The Satisfied Soul: Showing the Supremacy of God in All of Life
- Thinking. Loving. Doing.: A Call to Glorify God with Heart and Mind
- A Hunger for God (Redesign): Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer
- Quest for Joy (Pack of 25) (Proclaiming the Gospel)
- Ruth: Under the Wings of God
- Not a Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth
Shedd, Plato, and the Nature of Human Thinking
By E.J. Hutchinson 8/13/2017
In the first chapter of Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, “Relation of Sacred Eloquence to Biblical Exegesis,” W.G.T. Shedd discusses what “originality” might mean for the “sacred orator,” for he has just said that the study of sacred revelation does indeed grant an originality to “religious thinking and discourse.”
Shedd writes: | Originality is a term often employed, rarely defined, and very often misunderstood. It is frequently supposed to be equivalent to the creation of truth. An original mind, it is vulgarly imagined, is one that gives expression to ideas and truths that were never heard of before,–ideas and truths “of which the human mind never had even an intimation or presentiment, and which come into it by a mortal leap, abrupt and startling, without antecedents and without premonitions.”
But Shedd finds such vulgarizing silly, and its silliness is predicated on a failure to observe the distinction between creature and creator. For creatures, such “originality” is impossible. He goes on:
But no such originality as this is possible to a finite intelligence. Such aboriginality as this is the prerogative of the Creator alone, and the results of it are a revelation, in the technical and strict sense of the term. Only God can create de nihilo, and only God can make a communication of truth that is absolutely new. Originality in man is always relative, and never absolute.
Shedd then takes Plato as an example. Shedd gives Plato the highest praise and comments:
Select, for illustration, an original thinker within the province of philosophy,–select the contemplative, the profound, the ever fresh and living Plato. Thoughtfully peruse his weighty and his musical periods, and ask yourself whether all this wisdom is the sheer make of his intellectual energy, or whether it is not rather an emanation and efflux from a mental constitution which is as much yours as his. He did not absolute originate these first truths of ethics, these necessary forms of logic, these fixed principles of physics. They were inlaid in his rational structure by a higher author, and by an absolute authorship; and his originality consists solely in their exegesis and interpretation. And this is the reason that, on listening to his words, we do not seem to be hearing tones that are wholly unknown and wholly unheard of. We find an answering voice to them in our own mental and moral constitution.
E. J. Hutchinson | Associate Professor of Classics, Hillsdale College. Director, Collegiate Scholars Program (formerly Honors Program), Hillsdale College | 33 East College Street | Kendall 211 | Hillsdale, MI 49242
Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA. Ph.D., Classics, 2009. | Dissertation: “Quid facit cum evangeliis Maro?: The Cultural Background of Sedulius' Intertextual Argument with Vergil in the Paschale carmen.”
Affiliated Fellow, American Academy in Rome, 2005-2006, Classical Summer School, American Academy in Rome, 2004, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA. M.A., Classics, 2004, Thesis: “Exegesis and Exclusion: Concepts of Lex in the Apotheosis of Prudentius.”
Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI. B.A. summa cum laude, Classics (Departmental Honors), 2002.
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 94The LORD Will Not Forsake His People
1 O LORD, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
2 Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!
3 O LORD, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
4 They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
5 They crush your people, O LORD,
and afflict your heritage.
6 They kill the widow and the sojourner,
and murder the fatherless;
7 and they say, “The LORD does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.”
8 Understand, O dullest of the people!
Fools, when will you be wise?
9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
10 He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
He who teaches man knowledge—
11 the LORD—knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath.
Grace to You: An Interview with John MacArthur
By John MacArthur 6/01/2012
Tabletalk: How did the Grace to You radio program begin, and how many people does it reach today?
John MacArthur: It began in kind of a roundabout fashion. Sometime in the early 1970s, we began to get letters from Baltimore, thanking us for our radio ministry. But we didn’t have a radio ministry. So, we looked into it and learned that a Maryland radio station, WRBS, was playing sermon tapes in the evening hours, and people were responding to the teaching of God’s Word.
So, we began to discuss what would be needed to sustain a radio ministry. Up to that point, all the nationally syndicated daily Bible-teaching broadcasts featured someone in a studio talking into a microphone. We decided to see what would happen if we just featured sermons from our weekly worship services. We took some one-hour sermons, split them in two, taped short opening and closing segments in the studio, and put them on the air.
We bought time on a local radio station that featured country music, and we were sandwiched between horse races and the evening news. That was not a great time slot for building an audience, so when a nearby Christian station offered us a half hour daily, we seized the opportunity. The response was encouraging immediately, and we have grown from there.
The first official broadcasts of Grace to You in its current half-hour format were in 1978. The broadcast premiered on three stations that year. It’s now heard daily on more than a thousand stations worldwide. A recent conservative estimate informed us that we have more than two million listeners per week. Add the Internet stream and downloads, and the numbers are staggering.
TT: What do you see as the primary goal and purpose of the Master’s College and Seminary?
JM: The goal of both institutions is to produce a generation of young people who have a grasp on the Scriptures, a sound understanding of theology, and a commitment to proclaim and defend the truth of God’s Word.
Nothing in the universe is more important than divine truth. We’re saved by the truth and sanctified by the truth. We have hope in the truth. We live by the truth. We love the truth. The greatest need in the world is for truth — divine truth, as revealed by the Scriptures.
We want to give students a premium education at the highest level academically, with the highest level of clarity and the highest level of commitment to the truth. Both institutions seek to equip as many graduates as possible with a thoroughly biblical worldview and a deep, abiding love for Christ and His Word.
TT: How would you counsel a pastor who recognizes the inerrancy of Scripture but who struggles to preach with confidence because he knows he does not interpret Scripture infallibly?
JM: Of course, none of us is infallible, but it’s possible to understand the truth of the infallible Scriptures without being infallible ourselves. For example, we can know with absolute certainty that Jesus is God, that salvation is by grace through faith, that God is just, and that He judges sin. There’s an endless array of things we’re taught in Scripture that are clear and undeniable. The central message of Scripture is perspicuous — clear enough for all its essential propositions to be understood. Above all, the way of salvation through Christ is clear, and the claim that we are fallible will be no excuse for those who reject it.
It is significant that Scripture commends boldness, clarity, conviction, and courage — especially in church leaders (Titus 1:9). Timidity and faintheartedness are not spiritual virtues to be nurtured but fleshly character flaws that need to be overcome (Eph. 6:19–20; Col. 4:4; 2 Tim. 1:6–8). The faithful preacher’s calling is to declare the Word of God without mitigating it, modifying it, or apologizing for it. He is not there to share personal opinions. He ought to speak accordingly (Ezek. 2:4–7).
The commonly held notion that strong convictions are inherently uncharitable is itself an uncharitable judgment, rooted in secular and postmodern rationalism rather than biblical values. Likewise, skepticism, not Scripture, is the source of the notion that we can never really be sure about anything because our interpretations are fallible.
It’s not “arrogant” by any biblical standard to declare our confidence in the truth of God’s Word or to say “Thus says the Lord” where God has indeed spoken. What’s truly arrogant is the notion that God hasn’t spoken clearly enough, or that He hasn’t told us enough to enable the faithful pastor to teach and preach with that kind of authority.
It’s true enough that the mind of God is inscrutable, especially from the narrow perspective of human wisdom. Notice, however, that when the Apostle Paul made that very point, he immediately added, “But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). The immediate context, especially verse 10, shows that Paul was speaking of how the Spirit illumines our minds to understand what is revealed to us in Scripture. Luke 24:45 says Christ opened the disciples’ minds “to understand the Scriptures.” Though we cannot know everything perfectly, of course, it does not follow that we cannot know anything for certain. Confusion on that point is the Achilles’ heel of postmodern philosophy.
TT: Why did you write the book Slave?
JM: I wrote the book because I have always been concerned that professing Christians don’t really understand what it means to confess Jesus as Lord. I’ve been on a multidecade campaign to help people understand that. I have written about it in a number of books because practically every issue that currently troubles evangelical churches comes back to a failure to grasp all that is involved in Jesus’ lordship. Whose church is it? Who is in charge? Who sets standards of truth, righteousness, obedience, and the gospel message? Are those things determined by opinion polls and democratic elections, or do the lordship of Christ and the sovereign rule of God mean something?
The answers to all those questions are easy once we recognize the true implications of the biblical word doulos — “slave.” To say that Jesus is Lord and we are His slaves is to define the relationship with inescapable clarity.
We’re not like butlers or tablewaiters — as if we were free agents employed by someone to serve — but we are slaves, owned by Christ and obligated to render absolute obedience to Him. He purchased us with His blood. He redeemed us from the bondage of our sin. But “having been set free from sin, [we] have become slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:18). Once we understand that, a host of difficult practical and theological questions are easily answered.
So, in an important sense, that book sums up and punctuates practically everything I have been saying about Jesus’ lordship for the past forty years.
TT: You have ministered alongside Dr. Sproul at conferences for many years in spite of differences on issues such as baptism and eschatology. How would you respond to Christians who believe that disagreement on these doctrines precludes any such cooperation?
JM: Obviously, the things we agree on are far greater in number and infinitely more important than the things we might disagree on. When it comes to foundational matters and the core truths of the gospel, R. C. and I are in complete agreement. The drive-train of authentic Christianity consists of vital doctrines such as the nature of God; the fallenness of humanity; the person and work of Christ; the authority and inspiration of Scripture; the way of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone; the nature of Christ’s atoning work; and all truths of similar import. On all such matters, R. C. and I stand together without wavering or hesitation.
That’s not to say other doctrines on which we may disagree are basically unimportant. But as long as we agree on things that are essential to the gospel, two believers ought to be able to disagree without anathematizing one another when it comes to secondary issues like the mode or subjects of baptism, the timing of events associated with Christ’s return, or the finer nuances of biblical ecclesiology. Baptism, of course, is an extremely important issue, but it isn’t the kind of thing that separates the sheep from the goats. It deals with a symbol, not the actual instrument of justification.
When anyone understands and affirms all the essentials of gospel truth, we can stand together and affirm the honor and glory of God in His redemptive work. We can participate together and affirm one another in the proclamation and defense of the gospel, and it is a joy and a privilege to do so alongside Dr. Sproul.
From 1964 to 1966 Dr. MacArthur served as an associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Burbank , California and from 1966 to 1969 as a faculty representative for Talbot Theological Seminary, where he graduated with honors.
In 1969, John came to Grace Community Church . The emphasis of his pulpit ministry is the careful study and verse-by-verse exposition of the Bible, with special attention devoted to the historical and grammatical background behind each passage.Under John's leadership, Grace Community Church's two morning worship services fill the 3,000-seat auditorium to capacity. Several thousand members also participate each week in dozens of fellowship groups and training programs, led by members of the pastoral staff and lay leaders. These groups are dedicated to equipping members for ministry on local, national, and international levels.
In 1985, John became president of The Master's College (formerly Los Angeles Baptist College ), an accredited, four-year, liberal arts Christian college in Santa Clarita , California . In 1986, John founded The Master's Seminary, a graduate school dedicated to training men for full-time pastoral roles and missionary work. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, John regularly teaches Expository Preaching at the seminary and frequently speaks in chapel.
John is also president and featured teacher with Grace to You. Founded in 1969, Grace to You is the nonprofit organization responsible for developing, producing, and distributing John's books, audiocassettes, free sermons (MP3s) and the Grace to You, Portraits of Grace, and Grace to You Weekend radio programs. Grace to You airs thousands of times daily throughout the English speaking world reaching all major population centers in the United States, as well as Australia, Canada, Europe, India, New Zealand, the Philippines, and South Africa. It also airs more than 450 times daily in Spanish reaching 23 countries, including Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, and Colombia.
Since completing his first best-selling book The Gospel According to Jesus, in 1988, John has written over 100 books and, through Grace to You and retail bookstores, distributed millions of copies worldwide.Many of John's books are available on CD-ROM and many titles have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marathi, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and several other major languages.
John and his wife, Patricia, live in Southern California and have four grown children: Matt, Marcy, Mark, and Melinda.They also enjoy the enthusiastic company of their eleven grandchildren--Johnny, Ty, Jessy, KD, Olivia, Susannah, Gracie, Kylee, Andrew, Brooke and Elizabeth.
"MacArthur calls himself a "leaky dispensationalist"--meaning he rejects any and all "dispensational" soteriological innovations, holding to classic Reformed (i.e., Protestant, not "covenantal") soteriology. MacArthur's "dispensationalism" is eschatological and ecclesiological only. And given the fact that soteriology is central to our whole understanding of Christianity, whereas eschatology and ecclesiology deal primarily with secondary doctrines, it would be my assessment that MacArthur has far less in common with Ryrie than he would have with anyone who believes 1) that God's grace is efficacious for regeneration and sanctification as well as for justification, and 2) that God graciously guarantees the perseverance of all true believers." - Phil Johnson John MacArthur Books:
- 1 Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth
- 2 12 Ordinary Men: How the Master Shaped His Disciples for Greatness
- 3 12 Extraordinary Women: How God Shaped Women of the Bible
- 4 The MacArthur Bible Commentary
- 5 Fundamentals of the Faith: 13 Lessons to Grow in the Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ
- 6 NKJV, The MacArthur Study Bible: Revised & Updated Edition
- 7 Anxious for Nothing: God's Cure for the Cares of Your Soul
- 8 Romans: Grace, Truth, and Redemption
- 9 The Gospel According to Jesus: What Is Authentic Faith?
- 10 Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit
- 11 Counseling: How to Counsel Biblically
- 12 Ephesians: Our Immeasurable Blessings in Christ
- 13 How to Study the Bible
- 14 12 Ordinary Men Workbook
- 15 Revelation: The Christian's Ultimate Victory
- 16 The Gospel According to Paul: Embracing the Good News
- 17 12 Extraordinary Women Workbook
- 18 Saved without a Doubt: Being Sure of Your Salvation
- 19 Parables: The Mysteries of God's Kingdom Revealed
- 20 Because the Time is Near: Book of Revelation
- 21 Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven About the Death of a Child
- 22 Philippians: Christ, the Source of Joy and Strength
- 23 Fundamentals of the Faith Teacher's Guide: 13 Lessons to Grow in Grace & Knowledge
- 24 Acts: Spread of the Gospel
- 25 John
- 26 2nd Coming: Signs of Christ's Return & End of the Age
- 27 Revelation (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 28 1 Perfect Life: Complete Story of the Lord Jesus
- 29 Ashamed of the Gospel (3rd Edition): When the Church Becomes Like the World
- 30 Hebrews: Christ: Perfect Sacrifice, Perfect Priest
- 31 Genesis 1 to 11: Creation, Sin, and the Nature of God
- 32 Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ
- 33 Drawing Near: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith
- 34 Alone with God: Rediscovering the Power and Passion of Prayer
- 35 Charismatic Chaos
- 36 Found: God's Will
- 37 NKJV, MacArthur Daily Bible: Read Through Bible in One Year
- 38 Colossians and Philemon: Completion and Reconciliation in Christ
- 39 The Glory of Heaven (Second Edition): The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life
- 40 Think Biblically! (Trade Paper): Recovering a Christian Worldview
- 41 Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong: A Biblical Response to Today's Most Controversial Issues
- 42 Worship: The Ultimate Priority
- 43 Matthew: The Coming of the King (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 44 The Book on Leadership
- 45 Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically (MacArthur Pastor's Library)
- 46 1 and 2 Peter: Courage in Times of Trouble (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 47 Brave Dad: Raising Your Kids to Love and Follow God
- 48 KJV, Journal the Word Bible, Large Print
- 49 Ruth & Esther: Women of Faith, Bravery, and Hope (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 50 Luke: The Savior of the World (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 51 The Vanishing Conscience
- 52 The Battle for the Beginning
- 53 Hard to Believe: The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus
- 54 1 Kings 1 to 11, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes: The Rise and Fall of Solomon (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 55 1, 2, 3 John and Jude (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 56 Daniel: God's Control Over Rulers and Nations (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 57 1 and 2 Thessalonians and Titus: Living Faithfully in View of Christ's Coming (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 58 The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment
- 59 Galatians: The Wondrous Grace of God (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 60 Preaching: How to Preach Biblically (MacArthur Pastor's Library)
- 61 Called to Lead: 26 Leadership Lessons from the Life of the Apostle Paul
- 62 MacArthur's Quick Reference Guide to the Bible
- 63 The Truth About Forgiveness
- 64 The Gospel According to the Apostles
- 65 Fool's Gold?: Discerning Truth in an Age of Error
- 66 2 Samuel: David's Heart Revealed (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 67 The Master's Plan for the Church
- 68 1, 2, 3 John and Jude: Established in Truth ... Marked by Love (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 69 Joshua, Judges, and Ruth: Finally in the Land (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 70 None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible
- 71 Strength for Today: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith
- 72 Daniel and Esther: Israel in Exile (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 73 The Only Way To Happiness: The Beatitudes (Foundations of the Faith)
- 74 Genesis 12 to 33: The Father of Israel (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 75 What The Bible Says About Parenting Biblical Principle For Raising Godly Children
- 76 Genesis 34 to 50: Jacob and Egypt (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 77 1 & 2 Timothy (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 78 The Inerrant Word: Biblical, Historical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspectives
- 79 Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses Its Will to Discern
- 80 The Silent Shepherd: The Care, Comfort, and Correction of the Holy Spirit (John Macarthur Study)
- 81 1 Samuel: The Lives of Samuel and Saul (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 82 The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
- 83 Why Believe the Bible?
- 84 Divine Design: God's Complementary Roles for Men and Women
- 85 Exodus and Numbers: The Exodus from Egypt (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 86 Evangelism: How to Share the Gospel Faithfully (MacArthur Pastor's Library)
- 87 1 Corinthians (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- 88 The Power of Suffering: Strengthening Your Faith in the Refiner's Fire
- 89 Standing Strong: How to Resist the Enemy of Your Soul (John MacArthur Study)
- 90 The Keys to Spiritual Growth: Unlocking the Riches of God
- 91 The Truth About Lordship of Christ
- 92 A Faith to Grow On
- 93 12 Unlikely Heroes Study Guide: How God Commissioned Unexpected People
- 94 The God Who Loves: He Will Do Whatever It Takes To Draw Us To Him
- 95 The Murder of Jesus
- 96 The Jesus You Can't Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
by Bill Federer
of Knowing Truth?
Modern culture esteems science as the preeminent means of understanding the world. If something cannot be established by science, then, according to many, it is either unknowable or simply a matter of personal faith.
While science is an undeniably important means of discovering truths about our world, and it has contributed greatly to human flourishing, it is unwarranted to claim that it’s the sole—or even the best—means of knowing truth.
In his excellent book, The Experience of God, philosopher David Bentley Hart provides a penetrating response to the claim that science is the sole means of knowing truth:
Quite a few otherwise intelligent men and women take it as established principle that we can know as true only what can be verified by empirical method of experimentation and observation. This is, for one thing, a notoriously self-refuting claim, inasmuch as it cannot itself be demonstrated to be true by any application of empirical method.
More to the point, though, it is transparent nonsense: most of the things we know to be true, often quite indubitably, do not fall within the realm of what can be tested by empirical methods; they are by their nature episodic, experiential, local, personal, intuitive, or purely logical. The sciences concern certain facts as organized by certain theories, and certain theories as constrained by certain facts; they accumulate evidence and enucleate hypotheses within very strictly limited paradigms; but they do not provide proofs of where reality begins or ends, or of what the dimensions of truth are. They cannot even establish their own working premises—the real existence of the phenomenal world, the power of the human intellect accurately to reflect that reality, the perfect lawfulness of nature, its mathematical regularity, and so forth—and should not seek to do so, but should confine themselves to the truths to which their methods give them access.
They should also recognize what the boundaries of the scientific rescript are. There are, in fact, truths of reason that are far surer than even the most amply supported findings of empirical science because such truths are not, as those findings must always be, susceptible of later theoretical revision; and then there are truths of mathematics that are subject to proof in the most proper sense and so are more irrefutable still. And there is no single discourse of truth as such, no single path to the knowledge of reality, no single method that can exhaustively define what knowledge is, no useful answer whose range has not been limited in advance by the kinds of questions that prompted them.
The failure to realize this can lead only to the delusions of the kind expressed in, for example, G.G. Simpson’s self-parodying assertion that all attempts to define the meaning of life or the nature of humanity made before 1859 are not entirely worthless, or in Peter Atkin’s ebulliently absurd claims that modern science can “deal with every aspect of existence” and that it has never in fact “encountered a barrier.” Not only do sentiments of this sort verge upon the deranged, they are nothing less than violent assaults upon the truth dignity of science.
Science is an unbelievably value means of knowing the world. We should never downplay its significance. But, as Hart points out, we should avoid the temptation to overplay its significance as well.
Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 18 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
A man's most glorious actions
will at last be found to be but glorious sins,
if he hath made himself,
and not the glory of God,
the end of those actions.
--- Thomas Brooks
God shall be all in all.
--- John Milton
Paradise Lost (Hackett Classics)
We often learn more of God under the rod that strikes us
than under the staff that comforts us.
--- Stephen Charnock
Christian spirituality does not begin merely in our quest for understanding. It begins in our understanding that something is deeply wrong with us – a realization that can lead to a renewed dedication to the values of the gospel.
--- Mark R. McMinn
... from here, there and everywhere
Thanks to Meir Yona
5. Those therefore that were able to find the ways out of the city retired. But now Vespasian always staid among those that were hard set; for he was deeply affected with seeing the ruins of the city falling upon his army, and forgot to take care of his own preservation. He went up gradually towards the highest parts of the city before he was aware, and was left in the midst of dangers, having only a very few with him; for even his son Titus was not with him at that time, having been then sent into Syria to Mucianus. However, he thought it not safe to fly, nor did he esteem it a fit thing for him to do; but calling to mind the actions he had done from his youth, and recollecting his courage, as if he had been excited by a divine fury, he covered himself and those that were with him with their shields, and formed a testudo over both their bodies and their armor, and bore up against the enemy's attacks, who came running down from the top of the city; and without showing any dread at the multitude of the men or of their darts, he endured all, until the enemy took notice of that divine courage that was within him, and remitted of their attacks; and when they pressed less zealously upon him, he retired, though without showing his back to them till he was gotten out of the walls of the city. Now a great number of the Romans fell in this battle, among whom was Ebutius, the decurion, a man who appeared not only in this engagement, wherein he fell, but every where, and in former engagements, to be of the truest courage, and one that had done very great mischief to the Jews. But there was a centurion whose name was Gallus, who, during this disorder, being encompassed about, he and ten other soldiers privately crept into the house of a certain person, where he heard them talking at supper, what the people intended to do against the Romans, or about themselves [for both the man himself and those with him were Syrians]. So he got up in the night time, and cut all their throats, and escaped, together with his soldiers, to the Romans.
6. And now Vespasian comforted his army, which was much dejected by reflecting on their ill success, and because they had never before fallen into such a calamity, and besides this, because they were greatly ashamed that they had left their general alone in great dangers. As to what concerned himself, he avoided to say any thing, that he might by no means seem to complain of it; but he said that "we ought to bear manfully what usually falls out in war, and this, by considering what the nature of war is, and how it can never be that we must conquer without bloodshed on our own side; for there stands about us that fortune which is of its own nature mutable; that while they had killed so many ten thousands of the Jews, they had now paid their small share of the reckoning to fate; and as it is the part of weak people to be too much puffed up with good success, so is it the part of cowards to be too much affrighted at that which is ill; for the change from the one to the other is sudden on both sides; and he is the best warrior who is of a sober mind under misfortunes, that he may continue in that temper, and cheerfully recover what had been lost formerly; and as for what had now happened, it was neither owing to their own effeminacy, nor to the valor of the Jews, but the difficulty of the place was the occasion of their advantage, and of our disappointment. Upon reflecting on which matter one might blame your zeal as perfectly ungovernable; for when the enemy had retired to their highest fastnesses, you ought to have restrained yourselves, and not, by presenting yourselves at the top of the city, to be exposed to dangers; but upon your having obtained the lower parts of the city, you ought to have provoked those that had retired thither to a safe and settled battle; whereas, in rushing so hastily upon victory, you took no care of your safety. But this incautiousness in war, and this madness of zeal, is not a Roman maxim. While we perform all that we attempt by skill and good order, that procedure is the part of barbarians, and is what the Jews chiefly support themselves by. We ought therefore to return to our own virtue, and to be rather angry than any longer dejected at this unlucky misfortune, and let every one seek for his own consolation from his own hand; for by this means he will avenge those that have been destroyed, and punish those that have killed them. For myself, I will endeavor, as I have now done, to go first before you against your enemies in every engagement, and to be the last that retires from it."
7. So Vespasian encouraged his army by this speech; but for the people of Gamala, it happened that they took courage for a little while, upon such great and unaccountable success as they had had. But when they considered with themselves that they had now no hopes of any terms of accommodation, and reflecting upon it that they could not get away, and that their provisions began already to be short, they were exceedingly cast down, and their courage failed them; yet did they not neglect what might be for their preservation, so far as they were able, but the most courageous among them guarded those parts of the wall that were beaten down, while the more infirm did the same to the rest of the wall that still remained round the city. And as the Romans raised their banks, and attempted to get into the city a second time, a great many of them fled out of the city through impracticable valleys, where no guards were placed, as also through subterraneous caverns; while those that were afraid of being caught, and for that reason staid in the city, perished for want of food; for what food they had was brought together from all quarters, and reserved for the fighting men.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston
by D.H. Stern
yes, he whose son is wise will rejoice in him.
25 So let your father and mother be glad;
let her who gave you birth rejoice.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
What’s the good of prayer?
Lord, teach us to pray. --- Luke 11:1.
It is not part of the life of a natural man to pray. We hear it said that a man will suffer in his life if he does not pray; I question it. What will suffer is the life of the Son of God in him, which is nourished, not by food, but by prayer. When a man is born from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve that life or nourish it. Prayer is the way the life of God is nourished. Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves; the Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.
“Ask and ye shall receive.” We grouse before God, we are apologetic or apathetic, but we ask very few things. Yet what a splendid audacity a childlike child has! Our Lord says—“Except ye become as little children.” Ask, and God will do. Give Jesus Christ a chance, give Him elbow room, and no man will ever do this unless he is at his wits’ end. When a man is at his wits’ end it is not a cowardly thing to pray, it is the only way he can get into touch with Reality. Be yourself before God and present your problems, the things you know you have come to your wits’ end over. As long as you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.
It is not so true that “prayer changes things” as that prayer changes me and I change things. God has so constituted things that prayer on the basis of Redemption alters the way in which a man looks at things. Prayer is not a question of altering things externally, but of working wonders in a man’s disposition.
the Poetry of RS Thomas
Selected poems, 1946-1968
The One Furrow (Song At The Year's Turning)
When I was young, I went to school
With pencil and foot-rule
Sponge and slate,
And sat on a tall stool
At learning's gate.
When I was older, the gate swung wide;
Clever and keen-eyed
In I pressed,
But found in the mind's pride
No peace, no rest.
Then who was it taught me back to go
To cattle and barrow,
Field and plough;
To keep to the one furrow,
As I do now?
There is an old Yiddish saying: “Shikker iz a goy,” meaning “Only a gentile gets drunk.” It seems to encapsulate an attitude that Jews were not susceptible to the dangers of alcohol, that though Kiddush wine and schnapps were a part of Jewish culture, Jews knew “when to say when.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel makes a similar point in his book about eastern European Jewry, The Earth Is the Lord's: The Inner World of the Jew in Eastern Europe (Jewish Lights Classic Reprint):
Drunkards were rarely seen among Jews. When night came and a man wanted to pass away time, he did not hasten to a tavern to take a drink, but went to pore over a book or joined a group which—either with or without a teacher—revered books, (p. 45)
Was this an idealized view of the traditional world of the shtetl? Does nostalgia make us see that world through rose-colored glasses? Or did Jews throughout the past struggle with wine and liquor just as everyone else did? After all, according to the Midrash, Aaron’s two sons died because of their abuse of alcohol, and the Book of Proverbs probably wouldn’t have spent time warning people about the dangers of drink if that danger hadn’t been a very real one.
Rabbi Isaac Trainin, in the introduction to the book Addictions in the Jewish Community, reports that in the early 1950s banquet managers in New York City hotels were unable to bring down the cost of kosher dinners; they made their money on liquor sales and, as they explained, “Jews don’t drink.” Twenty years later, the same banquet managers were actually soliciting Jewish business. Why the change? “You Jews drink like everyone else now.” Today, Jews are to be found in significant numbers at AA meetings, in alcohol detox facilities, and in all manner of therapeutic situations seeking to battle the disease of alcoholism and the devastation of drinking.
Even if we believe that the values of Judaism and the cohesiveness of the Jewish community once kept Jews immune from drinking problems, that is certainly no longer the case. Over the course of the twentieth century, Jews became more and more a part of the larger American culture, and ties to their religion and people were weakened. Behaviors that were once not spoken about—such as domestic violence, gambling, and drug abuse—were now as commonplace within the Jewish community as they were in the outside world.
Drinking in the time of the shtetl took place in the tavern after a long day of work. Today, when a Jew is tempted to imbibe, it is in very different situations. Drinking to excess has become a part of the culture on many college campuses. It is not limited to weekend fraternity parties, but for vast numbers of students becomes a daily routine. Since going off to college is an almost universal phenomenon among Jewish high school seniors, the exposure to binge drinking will continue to increase.
Even sadder is what takes place at many Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations. It is an almost routine “game” at many of these parties for thirteen-year-olds to try and obtain hard liquor by any means possible. This includes from parents, who want to be thought of as “good guys,” or from bartenders who are worn down saying “No” over and over again, or even by kids stealing a bottle when no one is looking. How ironic that a lifetime problem with alcohol may begin at a function meant to mark the coming of age and maturity of a Jewish teenager.
While the drunk has his eye on his cup, we—the parents, we—the Jewish community, need to keep our eyes set on the drunk.
“No, you cannot.”
“What do you mean, ‘No, you cannot’? It’s my car, and I’ll drive it if I want.”
“It’s your car, but you’re my friend. You had a couple of drinks—fine, that’s what people do at parties. But I can’t let you drive home like this. So the answer remains ‘No.’ You may not have the keys to your car back.”
Who are our friends? Whom do we trust? Sometimes, it’s hard for us to see what they see. At times, a friend may be doing us a favor by denying us what we want. At other times, a “friend” may do exactly what we ask but may actually be looking out for his or her best interests, and not ours. This is especially true when our own ability to reason is impaired.
This Midrash text is reminding us to keep our eyes open, to be careful of those who would give us what we want, because this may not always be in our own best interest. There is a prayer that asks God to grant us not what we want, but what we need. The friend who takes our keys away when we are impaired and unable to drive with full faculties is doing just that. The relative who tells us “No” when we want to hear “Yes” may be doing us a favor, though we may be too emotionally impaired to comprehend this at the time.
The Rabbis who wrote the Midrash were not cynical or pessimistic. It would be best to call them realistic. They knew that when one person is defenseless, there will be another person who is willing to advantage by saying, “Hey, he was asking for it.” Thus, our challenge is twofold: to watch out for the best interests of others when their judgment is lacking and to keep our wits about us when we are vulnerable.
God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
--- Acts 17:27.
What Saint Paul said to the people of Athens Christ says to everybody, to you and me and all these multitudes. (Phillips Brooks, “The Nearness of God,” downloaded from the Web site The Unofficial Episcopal Preaching Resource Page, at www.edola.org/clergy/episcopalpreaching.html, accessed Aug. 21, 2001.) He comes to you and says it: You are restless, always on the brink of something that you never reach, always on the point of grasping something that eludes you, always haunted by something that makes it impossible for you to settle down into absolute rest. I tell you what it means. It is God with you. It is Immanuel. His presence it is that will not let you be at peace. You don’t see him, but he is close by you. You never will have peace until you do see him and turn to him to find the peace that he will not let you find away from him. “Come to me,… and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). That was the revelation of the Incarnation. Listen, how across all the centuries you can hear the Savior giving that revelation, that interpretation of their own troubled lives to multitudes; now to Nicodemus, now to the Samaritan woman, now to Pontius Pilate, and all along, every day, to his disciples by what they saw from hour to hour of his peace in his Father.
Listen again. Hear Christ giving the same revelation today, and ask yourself this: “If it were true, if God in his perfection, with his perfect standards in himself, with his perfect hopes for me, God in his complete holiness and his complete love—if he were here close to me, only separated from me by the thin veil of my blindness, wouldn’t it explain everything in my life?” There is the everlasting question, my dear friends, to which there is only one answer. What else can explain this mysterious, bewildering, fluttering, hoping, fearing, dreaming, dreading, waiting, human life—what but this, which is the Incarnation truth, that God from whom this life came is always close to it, that he is always doing what he can do for it, even when people do not see him, and that he cannot do for them all his love would do only because of the veil that hangs between him and them? “Not far from each one of us”—there is the secret of our lives—weak and wicked because we will not live with God; restless, unable to be at peace in our weakness and wickedness, because God is not far from us.
--- Phillips Brooks
A Hymnbook Under His Arm August 28
Levi (Matthew) wasn’t the only tax collector to follow Christ into full-time ministry. Ira Sankey did, too. Sankey was born on August 28, 1840, in a small Pennsylvania town. His family later moved to New Castle, where his father became president of a local bank. Ira served in the Union Army during the Civil War, then returned home to serve as the local internal revenue collector.
His real love, however, was singing, and he was in demand through Pennsylvania and Ohio as a soloist at meetings. His father, hoping he would enter politics, complained, “I am afraid that boy will never amount to anything. All he does is run about the country with a hymnbook under his arm.” His mother replied that she would rather see him with a hymnbook under his arm than a whisky bottle in his pocket.
In 1870 Ira attended the national convention of the YMCA, meeting in Indianapolis. One of the convention sessions was dragging along so badly that Ira offered to lead some hymns. At the end of the session, he was approached by a big, burly man who pelted him with questions. “Where are you from? What is your business? Are you married?”
When Sankey told him he was married, lived in Pennsylvania, and worked for the government, the man abruptly announced, “You will have to give that up.”
“What for?” asked Sankey in amazement.
“To come to Chicago and help me in my work.”
Sankey replied that he could not possibly leave his business. To this, the man said, “You must; I have been looking for you for the last eight years.”
Thus began one of the most famous partnerships in evangelistic history—D. L. Moody and Ira Sankey. For the next quarter century, Moody and Sankey traveled around the world. As Moody preached the Gospel, Sankey sang solos, conducted the singing, and composed music for the Gospel hymns. His Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs and Solos sold over 50 million copies. He became his generation’s most beloved Gospel singer.
Once again, Jesus went to the shore of Lake Galilee. A large crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he walked along, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus. Levi was sitting at the place for paying taxes, and Jesus said to him, “Come with me!” So he got up and went with Jesus.
--- Mark 2:13,14.
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - August 28
“Oil for the light.”
--- Exodus 25:6.
My soul, how much thou needest this, for thy lamp will not long continue to burn without it. Thy snuff will smoke and become an offence if light be gone, and gone it will be if oil be absent. Thou hast no oil well springing up in thy human nature, and therefore thou must go to them that sell and buy for thyself, or like the foolish virgins, thou wilt have to cry, “My lamp is gone out.” Even the consecrated lamps could not give light without oil; though they shone in the tabernacle they needed to be fed, though no rough winds blew upon them they required to be trimmed, and thy need is equally as great. Under the most happy circumstances thou canst not give light for another hour unless fresh oil of grace be given thee.
It was not every oil that might be used in the Lord’s service; neither the petroleum which exudes so plentifully from the earth, nor the produce of fishes, nor that extracted from nuts would be accepted; one oil only was selected, and that the best olive oil. Pretended grace from natural goodness, fancied grace from priestly hands, or imaginary grace from outward ceremonies will never serve the true saint of God; he knows that the Lord would not be pleased with rivers of such oil. He goes to the olive-press of Gethsemane, and draws his supplies from him who was crushed therein. The oil of Gospel grace is pure and free from lees and dregs, and hence the light which is fed thereon is clear and bright. Our churches are the Saviour’s golden candelabra, and if they are to be lights in this dark world, they must have much holy oil. Let us pray for ourselves, our ministers, and our churches, that they may never lack oil for the light. Truth, holiness, joy, knowledge, love, these are all beams of the sacred light, but we cannot give them forth unless in private we receive oil from God the Holy Ghost.
Evening - August 28
“Sing, O barren.” --- Isaiah 54:1.
Though we have brought forth some fruit unto Christ, and have a joyful hope that we are “plants of his own right hand planting,” yet there are times when we feel very barren. Prayer is lifeless, love is cold, faith is weak, each grace in the garden of our heart languishes and droops. We are like flowers in the hot sun, requiring the refreshing shower. In such a condition what are we to do? The text is addressed to us in just such a state. “Sing, O barren, break forth and cry aloud.” But what can I sing about? I cannot talk about the present, and even the past looks full of barrenness. Ah! I can sing of Jesus Christ. I can talk of visits which the Redeemer has aforetimes paid to me; or if not of these, I can magnify the great love wherewith he loved his people when he came from the heights of heaven for their redemption. I will go to the cross again. Come, my soul, heavy laden thou wast once, and thou didst lose thy burden there. Go to Calvary again.
Perhaps that very cross which gave thee life may give thee fruitfulness. What is my barrenness? It is the platform for his fruit-creating power. What is my desolation? It is the black setting for the sapphire of his everlasting love. I will go in poverty, I will go in helplessness, I will go in all my shame and backsliding, I will tell him that I am still his child, and in confidence in his faithful heart, even I, the barren one, will sing and cry aloud.
Sing, believer, for it will cheer thine own heart, and the hearts of other desolate ones. Sing on, for now that thou art really ashamed of being barren, thou wilt be fruitful soon; now that God makes thee loath to be without fruit he will soon cover thee with clusters. The experience of our barrenness is painful, but the Lord’s visitations are delightful. A sense of our own poverty drives us to Christ, and that is where we need to be, for in him is our fruit found.
ALL THE WAY MY SAVIOR LEADS ME
Fanny J. Crosby, 1820–1915
For this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end. Psalm 48:14)
Often we become discouraged because we cannot see God’s long range plan of guidance for our lives. We need to remember that God has promised to guide our steps, not the miles ahead. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Psalm 37:23).
This beloved hymn came from the grateful heart of Fanny Crosby after she had received a direct answer to her prayer. One day when she desperately needed five dollars and had no idea where she could obtain it, Fanny followed her usual custom and began to pray about the matter. A few minutes later a stranger appeared at her door with the exact amount. “I have no way of accounting for this,” she said, “except to believe that God put it into the heart of this good man to bring the money. My first thought was that it is so wonderful the way the Lord leads me, I immediately wrote the poem and Dr. Lowry set it to music.” The hymn was first published in 1875.
No one knows the importance of guided steps as much as a blind person like Fanny Crosby, who lost her sight at six weeks of age through improper medical treatment. A sightless person is keenly aware that there will be stumbling and uncertainty as he continues on his way. As Fanny wrote, “Cheers each winding path I tread, gives me grace for every trial,” she has reminded us that God has never promised to keep us from hard places or obstacles in life. He has assured us, however, that He will go with us, guide each step, and give the necessary grace.
All the way my Savior leads me; what have I to ask beside? Can I doubt His tender mercy, who through life has been my Guide? Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith in Him to dwell! For I know whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Savior leads me, cheers each winding path I tread, gives me grace for ev’ry trial, feeds me with the living bread. Though my weary steps may falter, and my soul athirst may be, gushing from the Rock before me, lo! a spring of joy I see.
All the way my Savior leads me; Oh, the fullness of His love! Perfect rest to me is promised in my Father’s house above. When my spirit, clothed immortal, wings its flight to realms of day, this my song through endless ages: Jesus led me all the way.
For Today: Psalm 32:8; John 10:3–5; Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 10:4
Ask God to help you find that “perfect rest” in every stressful situation, confident that He is guiding your every step. Sing this musical truth ---
DISCOURSE III - ON GOD’S BEING A SPIRIT
2. When we say God is a Spirit, it is to be understood by way of negation. There are two ways of knowing or describing God: by way of affirmation, affirming that of him by way of eminency, which is excellent in the creature, as when we say God is wise, good; the other, by way of negation, when we remove from God in our conceptions what is tainted with imperfection in the creature. The first ascribes to him whatsoever is excellent; the other separates from him whatsoever is imperfect. The first is like a limning, which adds one color to another to make a comely picture; the other is like a carving, which pares and cuts away whatsoever is superfluous, to make a complete statue. This way of negation is more easy; we better understand what God is not, than what he is; and most of our knowledge of God is by this way; as when we say God is infinite, immense, immutable, they are negatives; he hath no limits, is confined to no place, admits of no change. When we remove from him what is inconsistent with his being, we do more strongly assert his being, and know more of him when we elevate him above all, anal above our own capacity. And when we say God is a Spirit, it is a negation; he is not a body; he consists not of various parts, extended one without and beyond another. He is not a spirit, so as our souls are, to be the form of any body; a spirit, not as angels and souls are, but infinitely higher. We call him so, because, in regard of our weakness, we have not any other term of excellency to express or conceive of him by; we transfer it to God in honor, because spirit is the highest excellency in our nature: yet we must apprehend God above any spirit, since his nature is so great that he cannot be declared by human speech, perceived by human sense, or conceived by human understanding.
II. . The second thing, that “God is a Spirit.” Some among the heathens imagined God to have a body; some thought him to have a body of air; some a heavenly body; some a human body; and many of them ascribed bodies to their gods, but bodies without blood, without corruption, bodies made up of the finest and thinnest atoms; such bodies, which, if compared with ours, were as no bodies.
The Sadducees also, who denied all spirits, and yet acknowledged a God, must conclude him to be a body, and no spirit. Some among Christians have been of that opinion. Tertullian is charged by some, and excused by others; and some monks of Egypt were so fierce for this error, that they attempted to kill one Theophilus, a bishop, for not being of that judgment. But the wiser heathens were of another mind, and esteemed it an unholy thing to have such imaginations of God. And some Christians have thought God only to be free from anything of body, because he is omnipresent, immutable, he is only incorporeal and spiritual; all things else, even the angels, are clothed with bodies, though of a neater matter, and a more active frame than ours; a pure spiritual nature they allowed to no being but God. Scripture and reason meet together to assert the spirituality of God. Had God had the lineaments of a body, the Gentiles had not fallen under that accusation of changing his glory into that of a corruptible man. This is signified by the name God gives himself (Exod. 3:14): “I am that I am;” a simple, pure, uncompounded being, without any created mixture; as infinitely above the being of creatures as above the conceptions of creatures (Job 37:23); “Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out.” He is so much a Spirit, that he is the “Father of spirits” (Heb. 12:9). The Almighty Father is not of a nature inferior to his children. The soul is a spirit; it could not else exert actions without the assistance of the body, as the act of understanding itself, and its own nature, the act of willing, and willing things against the incitements and interest of the body. It could not else conceive of God, angels, and immaterial substances; it could not else be so active, as with one glance to fetch a compass from earth to heaven, and by a sudden motion, to elevate the understanding from an earthly thought, to the thinking of things as high as the highest heavens. If we have this opinion of our souls, which, in the nobleness of their acts, surmount the body, without which the body is but a dull inactive piece of clay, we must needs have a higher conception of God, than to clog him with any matter, though of a finer temper than ours: we must conceive of him by the perfections of our souls, without the vileness of our bodies. If God made man according to his image, we must raise our thoughts of God according to the noblest part of that image, and imagine the exemplar or copy not to come short, but to exceed the thing copied by it. God were not the most excellent substance if he were not a Spirit.
Spiritual substances are more excellent than bodily; the soul of man more excellent than other animals; angels more excellent than men. They contain, in their own nature, whatsoever dignity there is in the inferior creatures; God must have, therefore, an excellency above all those, and, therefore, is entirely remote from the conditions of a body. It is a gross conceit, therefore, to think that God is such a spirit as the air is; for that is to be a body as the air is, though it be a thin one; and if God were no more a spirit than that, or than angels, he would not be the most simple being. Yet some think that the spiritual Deity was represented by the air in the ark of the testament. It was unlawful to represent him by any image that God had prohibited. Everything about the ark had a particular signification. The gold and other ornaments about it signified something of Christ, but were unfit to represent the nature of God: a thing purely invisible, and falling under nothing of sense, could not represent him to the mind of man. The air in the ark was the fittest; it represented the invisibility of God, air being imperceptible to our eyes. Air diffuseth itself through all parts of the world; it glides through secret passages into all creatures; it fills the space between heaven and earth. There is no place wherein God is not present. To evidence this,
1. If God were not a Spirit, he could not be Creator. All multitude begins in, and is reduced to unity. As above multitude there is an absolute unity, so above mixed creatures there is an absolute sirn’licity. You cannot conceive number without conceiving the beginning of it in that which was not number, viz. a unit. You cannot conceive any mixture, but you must conceive some simple thing to be the original and basis of it. The works of art done by rational creatures have their foundation in something spiritual. Every artificer, watchmaker, carpenter, hath a model in his own mind of the work he designs to frame: the material and outward fabric is squared according to an inward and spiritual idea. A spiritual idea speaks a spiritual faculty as the subject of it. God could not have an idea of that vast number of creatures he brought into being, if he had not had a spiritual nature. The wisdom whereby the world was created could never be the fruit of a corporeal nature; such natures are not capable of understanding and comprehending the things which are within the compass of their nature, much less of producing them; and therefore beasts which have only corporeal faculties move to objects by the force of their sense, and have no knowledge of things as they are comprehended by the understanding of man. All acts of wisdom speak an intelligent and spiritual agent. The effects of wisdom, goodness, power, are so great and admirable, that they bespeak him a more perfect and eminent being than can possibly be beheld under a bodily shape. Can a corporeal substance put “wisdom in the inward parts, and give understanding to the heart?”
2. If God were not a pure Spirit, he could not be one. If God had a body, consisting of distinct members, as ours; or all of one nature, as the water and air are, yet he were then capable of division, and therefore could not be entirely one. Either those parts would be finite or infinite: if finite, they are not parts of God; for to be God and finite is a contradiction; if infinite, then there are as many infinite as distinct members, and therefore as many Deities. Suppose this body had all parts of the same nature, as air and water hath, every little part of air is as much air as the greatest, and every little part of water is as much water as the ocean; so every little part of God would be as much God as the whole; as many particular Deities to make up God, as little atoms to compose a body. What can be more absurd? If God had a body like a human body, and were compounded of body and soul, of substance and quality, he could not be the most perfect unity; he would be made up of distinct parts, and those of a distinct nature, as the members of a human body are. Where there is the greatest unity, there must be the greatest simplicity; but God is one. As he is free from any change, so he is void of any multitude (Deut. 6:4): “The Lord our God is one Lord.”
3. If God had a body as we have, he would not be invisible. Every material thing is not visible: the air is a body yet invisible, but it is sensible; the cooling quality of it is felt by us at every breath, and we know it by our touch, which is the most material sense. Everybody that hath members like to bodies, is visible; but God is invisible. The apostle reckons it amongst his other perfections (1 Tim. 1:17): “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible.” He is invisible to our sense, which beholds nothing but material and colored things; and incomprehensible to our understanding, that conceives nothing but what is finite. God is therefore a Spirit incapable of being seen, and infinitely incapable of being understood. If he be invisible, he is also spiritual. If he had a body, and hid it from our eyes, he might be said not to be seen, but could not be said to be invisible. When we say a thing is visible, we understand that it hath such qualities which are the objects of sense, though we may never see that which is in its own nature to be seen. God hath no such qualities as fall under the perception of our sense. His works are visible to us, but not his Godhead. The nature of a human body is to be seen and handled; Christ gives us such a description of it (Luke 24:39): “Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as you see me have;” but man hath been so far from seeing God, “that it is impossible he can see him” (1 Tim. 6:16).
There is such a disproportion between an infinite object and a finite sense and understanding, that it is utterly impossible either to behold or comprehend him. But if God had a body more luminous and glorious than that of the sun, he would be as well visible to us as the sun, though the immensity of that light would dazzle our eyes, and forbid any close inspection into him by the virtue of our sense. We have seen the shape and figure of the sun, but “no man hath ever seen the shape of God.” If God had a body, he were visible, though he might not perfectly and fully be seen by us; as we see the heavens, though we see not the extension, latitude, and greatness of them. Though God hath manifested himself in a bodily shape (Gen. 18:1), and elsewhere Jehovah appeared to Abraham, yet the substance of God was not seen, no more than the substance of angels was seen in their apparitions to men. A body was formed to be made visible by them, and such actions done in that body, that spake the person that did them to be of a higher eminency than a bare corporeal creature. Sometimes a representation is made to the inward sense and imagination, as to Micaiah, and to Isaiah (6:1); but they saw not the essence of God, but some images and figures of him proportioned to their sense or imagination. The essence of God no man ever saw, nor can see. John 1:18. Nor doth it follow that God hath a body, because Jacob is said to “see God face to face” (Gen. 32:30); and Moses had the like privilege (Deut. 34:10). This only signifies a fuller and clearer manifestation of God by some representations offered to the bodily sense, or rather to the inward spirit.
For God tells Moses he could not see his face (Exod. 33:20); and that none ever saw the similitude of God (Deut. 4:15). Were God a corporeal substance, he might in some measure be seen by corporeal eyes.
4. If God were not a Spirit, he could not be infinite. All bodies are of a finite nature; everybody is material, and every material thing is terminated. The sun, a vast body, hath a bounded greatness; the heavens, of a mighty bulk, yet have their limits. If God had a body he must consist of parts, those parts would be bounded and limited, and whatsoever is limited is of a finite virtue, and therefore below an infinite nature. Reason therefore tells us, that the most excellent nature, as God is, cannot be of a corporeal condition; because of the limitation and other actions which belong to every body. God is infinite, “for the heaven of heavens cannot contain him” (2 Chron. 2:6). The largest heavens, and those imaginary spaces beyond the world, are no bounds to him. He hath an essence beyond the bounds of the world, and cannot be included in the vastness of the heavens. If God be infinite, then he can have no parts in him; if he had, they must be finite or infinite: finite parts can never make ap an infinite being. A vessel of gold, of a pound weight, cannot be made of the quantity of an ounce. Infinite parts they cannot be, because then every part would be equal to the whole, as infinite as the whole, which is contradictory. We see in all things every part is less than the whole bulk that is composed of it; as every member of a man is less than the whole body of man. If all the parts were finite, then God in his essence were finite; and a finite God is not more excellent than a creature: so that if God were not a Spirit, he could not be infinite.
5. If God were not a Spirit, he could not be an independent being. Whatsoever is compounded of many parts depends either essentially or integrally upon those parts; as the essence of a man depends upon the conjunction and union of his two main parts, his soul and body; when they are separated, the essence of a man ceaseth: and the perfection of a man depends upon every member of the body; so that if one be wanting the perfection of the whole is wanting: as if a man hath lost a limb, you call him not a perfect man, because that part is gone upon which his perfection as an entire man did depend. If God therefore bad a body, the perfection of the Deity would depend upon every part of that body; and the more parts he were compounded of, the more his dependency would be multiplied according to the number of those parts of the body: for that which is compounded of many parts is more dependent than that which is compounded of fewer. And because God would be a dependent being if he had a body, he could not be the first being; for the compounding parts are in order of nature before that which is compounded by them; as the soul and body are before the man which results from the union of them. If God had parts and bodily members as we have, or any composition, the essence of God would result from those parts, and those parts be supposed to be before God. For that which is a part, is before that whose part it is. As in artificial things you may conceive it: all the parts of a watch or clock are in time before that watch which is made by setting those parts together. In natural things you must suppose the members of a body framed before you can call it a man; so that the parts of this body are before that which is constituted by them.
Martin Luther | (1483-1546)
Sect. CXXXII. — READ therefore the Diatribe in this part through five or six pages, and you will find, that by similitudes of this kind, and by some of the most beautiful passages and parables selected from the Gospel and from Paul, it does nothing else but shew us, that innumerable passages (as it observes) are to be found in the Scriptures which speak of the co-operation and assistance of God: from which, if I should draw this conclusion — Man can do nothing without the assisting grace of God: therefore, no works of man are good — it would on the contrary conclude, as it has done by a rhetorical inversion — “Nay, there is nothing that man cannot do by the assisting grace of God: therefore, all the works of man can be good. For as many passages as there are in the Holy Scriptures which make mention of assistance, so many are there which confirm “Free-will;” and they are innumerable. Therefore, if we go by the number of testimonies, the victory is mine.” —
Do you think the Diatribe could be sober or in its right senses when it wrote this? For I cannot attribute it to malice or iniquity: unless it be that it designed to effectually wear me out by perpetually wearying me, while thus, ever like itself, it is continually turning aside to something contrary to its professed design. But if it is pleased thus to play the fool in a matter so important, then I will be pleased to expose its voluntary fooleries publicly.
In the first place, I do not dispute, nor am I ignorant, that all the works of man may be good, if they be done by the assisting grace of God. And moreover that there is nothing which a man might not do by the assisting grace of God. But I cannot feel enough surprise at your negligence, who, having set out with the professed design to write upon the power of “Free-will,” go on writing upon the power of grace. And moreover, dare to assert publicly, as if all men were posts or stones, that “Free-will” is established by those passages of Scripture which exalt the grace of God. And not only dare to do that, but even to sound forth encomiums on yourself as a victor most gloriously triumphant! From this very word and act of yours, I truly perceive what “Free-will” is, and what the effect of it is — it makes men mad! For what, I ask, can it be in you that talks at this rate, but “Free-will!”
But just listen to your own conclusions. — The Scripture commends the grace of God: therefore, it proves “Free-will.” — It exalts the assistance of the grace of God: therefore, it establishes “Free-will.” By what kind of logic did you learn such conclusions as these? On the contrary, why not conclude thus? — Grace is preached: therefore, “Free-will” has no existence. The assistance of grace is exalted: therefore, “Free-will” is abolished. For, to what intent is grace given? Is it for this: that “Freewill,” as being of sufficient power itself, might proudly display and sport grace on fair-days, as a superfluous ornament!
Wherefore, I will invert your order of reasoning, and though no rhetorician, will establish a conclusion more firm than yours. — As many places as there are in the Holy Scriptures which make mention of assistance, so many are there which abolish “Free-will:” and they are innumerable. Therefore, if we are to go by the number of testimonies, the victory is mine. For grace is therefore needed, and the assistance of grace is therefore given, because “Free-will” can of itself do nothing; as Erasmus himself has asserted according to that ‘probable opinion’ that “Free-will” ‘cannot will any thing good.’ Therefore, when grace is commended, and the assistance of grace declared, the impotency of “Free-will” is declared at the same time. — This is a sound inference — a firm conclusion — against which, not even the gates of hell will ever prevail!
The Bondage of the Will or Christian Classics Ethereal Library